* Coach: Chris Renner (17th year).
* Last season: 29-6, lost to Trinity 59-58 in Seventh Region final.
* Player to watch: Jalen Perry, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists last season and is the Bruins’ top returning scorer. “He’s going to have some great nights and some great halves, but he’s also going to struggle at times,” Renner said. “He’s working harder than he’s ever worked, and his game is improving.”
* Other top players: G Anthony Eaves (6-1, Sr., 16.2 ppg, transfer from North Carolina); G Jamil Wilson (5-8, So., 1.8 ppg); G Paul Schiavone (6-0, Sr., 1.7 ppg); F Corey Douglas (6-7, Sr., 5.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg); F Sean Hammonds (6-3, Sr., 1.0 ppg); F Omardrick Douglas (6-3, Jr.); F Jake Ramsey (6-3, Jr.); G Brian Alvey (5-10, Jr.).
* Outlook: Renner expects the Bruins to compete for the regional title, but the losses were plenty from last season’s team. Along with Quentin Snider and Kelan Martin moving on to college, Malik Dow (Mercer County) and Brandon Berry (Taylor County) transferred and Raeshawn Robinson is no longer with the team. Along with Perry, the addition of Eaves and the maturity of Wilson should give Ballard three reliable scorers. Renner expects the team to rely on the 3-point shot more than in previous seasons.
* Coach: Chad Carr (first year).
* Last season: 11-16, lost to Eastern 61-55 in district semifinal.
* Player to watch: D.J. Scott, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 10 points and six assists last season and has All-Region potential, Carr said. “He’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever coached,” Carr said. “He has a nice jump shot, but he’s also a guy who can create a lot of his own opportunities.”
* Other top players: G Gregory Frist (6-0, Jr., 11 ppg, 4 apg); G Logan Jones (6-2, Sr.); F Jake Hollinsworth (6-1, Sr.); C Dan Ashby (6-2, Sr.); G Scott Wright (6-0, Jr.); F K.C. Purvis (6-5, So.); G Michael Woodward (6-1, So.).
* Outlook: Carr, the head coach at Whitefield Academy the past six seasons, was hired to replace Casey Smallwood, who stepped down after three seasons. The Centurions don’t have much size so will try to control tempo and take advantage of its solid group of shooters. “We’ll try to get shots up before the defense can set up,” Carr said. “We have to control tempo, especially against our schedule. There are a lot of athletic teams on there.”
* Coach: David Henley (third year).
* Last season: 20-9, lost to Manual 62-58 in Seventh Region quarterfinal.
* Player to watch: Trey Moses, a 6-9 senior center, has signed with Ball State after averaging 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds and shooting 65 percent from the field last season. Henley said Moses is a strong leader and good passer. “He probably overpasses, but he’s starting to get the ball in tight and score,” Henley said. “He has to do a better job rebounding, and he understands that.”
* Other top players: G Cameron Reed (6-6, Sr., 13.1 ppg, New Orleans signee); F Kobey Jones (6-0, Jr., 2.5 ppg); F Jonathan Lane (6-3, So., 3.4 ppg); G Sugar Ray Wyche (5-10, So., 2.0 ppg); G Demetreion Harden (5-11, Jr.); F Caleb Williams (6-5, So., 2.2 ppg); G Dominique Knight (5-10, So.).
* Outlook: Moses and Reed give the Eagles a solid 1-2 punch, but there is little varsity experience surrounding them. “We have some guys who are going to have to grow up really fast,” Henley said. “If they do, we can have a solid team by the end of the year.” Henley said his team can go 8-9 deep and should be better defensively. “Rebounding and not giving up second-chance points will determine the success of this team,” he said.
KENTUCKY COUNTRY DAY
* Coach: James Booker (seventh year).
* Last season: 17-11, lost to Ballard 93-43 in district semifinal.
* Player to watch: Anthony Mathis, a 6-0 sophomore guard, led the Bearcats in scoring (16.0 ppg) last season as a freshman and also chipped in three rebounds and three assists per game. “He has great range and is a very savvy guard,” Booker said. “He really worked on his ability to get to the basket during the off-season.”
* Other top players: G Malyiek McCray (6-2, Sr., 14 ppg, 6 rpg); G Colin Ferguson (6-0, Jr., 14 ppg, 4 rpg); G Chase Cavanaugh (5-8, Jr.); C Misha Semenov (6-3, So.); F Chris Roe (6-3, Jr.); G Kesric Mason (6-1, So.).
* Outlook: With Mathis, McCray and Ferguson leading the way, the Bearcats are hoping to return to the All “A” Classic state tournament this season. Mathis and Ferguson are solid 3-point shooters, and McCray is more of a slasher. “Early in the season we’re just finding out who can step up and fill in the gaps,” Booker said. “I’m confident we can have a strong season.”
* Coach: Kevin Manning (second year).
* Last season: 9-17, lost to Kentucky Country Day 59-40 in district quarterfinal.
* Player to watch: Charles Thomas, a 6-6 senior center, averaged 17.8 points and 9.7 rebounds last season and has developed a 3-point shot this season. “He’s improved a lot with his right hand but is a natural left-hander,” Manning said. “He plays both ends of the court quite hard.”
* Other top players: G/F Sean Dowling (6-6, Sr., 12.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg); G Mike Harris (5-10, Jr.); G C.J. Burton (6-2, Sr., 9.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg); F Drew Lipman (6-2, Sr., 3.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
* Outlook: For such a small school, Walden has some decent size with Thomas and Dowling. Thomas is an inside presence while Dowling is a top 3-point threat after shooting 34 percent (69 of 203) from there last season. “If we’re going to do anything, this is the year to make it happen,” Manning said. “I’m happy with our starting five. I just wish we had three of four more of them.”