Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) has plenty of talent, but what gives the Eagles potential to repeat as the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA champion is their defense, which allowed only 42 points a game last season while going 28-4.
Southern Cal commit Jordan McLaughlin, a senior point guard who averaged 15.6 points a game, and senior guard Dominick Alexander are the top returnees, along with senior forward Kenny Barnes, who averaged 12 points a game. Junior Kameron Edwards, an athletic 6-6 wing, is the top player coming up from the JV team.
Last season, the Eagles mostly relied on quickness to thwart opponents' offenses. The interesting question for Etiwanda, the No. 6 team in the Super 25 preseason boys basketball rankings, is whether the addition of 6-9 center Jordan Naughton, a transfer from Rancho Cucamonga, and 6-10 sophomore Roman Silva, who played for Etiwanda’s JV, will make the Eagles stingier on defense or just taller.
7. Prime Prep, Dallas (37-2)
Begin with one of the top point guards in the country in 6-5 senior Emmanuel Mudiay, who signed Wednesday with Southern Methodist. The Spartans cause backcourt matchup problems with Mudiay and Terrance Ferguson, a 6-6 sophomore guard, who played for the USA 16-under squad this summer. Prime Prep opened its season on Monday with a 85-79 win over Houston powerhouse Jack Yates.
8. Rainier Beach, Seattle (25-4)
With four returning starters, the Vikings have a good chance to pull off a 3A state title three-peat. Shaqquan Aaron, a Louisville-bound 6-6 forward; 6-7 senior forward Elijah Foster, junior guard Dejounte Murray, senior 6-5 forward Djuan Piper and senior 6-9 forward Fuquan Niles give the Vikings plenty of quality bigs.
9. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (33-6)
The Warriors have four players who are headed to ACC schools: twin wings Caleb and Cody Martin (N.C. State); point guard Shelton Mitchell (Wake Forest); and guard B.J. Stith (Virginia), son of Cavalier great Bryant Stith. Oak Hill will have to make up for a lack of experience, as senior forward Rokas Gustys is the only returning starter.
10. Neumann-Goretti, Philadelphia (23-6)
Ja’Quan Newton, a senior point guard who is headed to Miami, could lead the Saints to their fourth state title in the past five years. Others key player coming back include senior guard Troy Harper, who has said he will sign with Campbell, and forward Jamal Custis, who plans to sign with Syracuse as a wide receiver. Senior power forward Tony Toplyn and junior guard LaMarr Kimble give the team plenty of depth.