Now that we have looked at the early girls’ basketball Dirty Dozen heading into the 2015-16 season, let’s look at the boys’ side.
A Class AA team from West Tennessee has brought home the state championship eight of the last 12 years.
Could another area team win the state championship this year?
Yes, the season is a few months away, but it is never too early to look at which teams are expected to be the best in West Tennessee.
1Westview (13-AA) (26-6) — The Chargers had one senior on last year’s team, which won the District 13-AA title and reached the region semifinals.
Westview is under a new head coach in Mike Greer, an experienced coach with multiple teams across West Tennessee.
The Chargers have two players that are already well-recruited in senior Justin Johnson, a UT Martin commit, and junior Garrett Sams. That post-guard combo is tough to stop when they are on their game.
2South Side (14-AA) (19-10) — Yes, the Hawks will be without Western Kentucky signee Chris McNeal next year, but this team has already shown it knows how to adapt.
Terrandus Smith and Joshua Greer are back for their senior year, and junior Geordan Reed was named The Jackson Sun’s 2014-15 Newcomer of the Year.
South Side will be a team that improves as the season goes on and is ready to make a postseason run.
3Haywood (15-AA) (35-2) — The Tomcats are the defending Class AA champions, but they graduated 10 players off the state tournament roster.
Haywood will be in rebuilding mode, and replacing the talents of Jordon Varnado and Kyler Douglas as the toughest job.
The Tomcats do return five players who were at the state tournament last year, led by juniors Tristan Jarrett and Dedric Boyd.
4Lexington (14-AA) (23-6) — The Tigers completed the most successful season in recent history last year by winning the Region 7-AA crown and hosting a sectional game.
Players like Nick Marshall, Dillon Smith and Jordan Branch are all gone.
But second-year coach Andrew Hicks will produce a talented group when November hits. Tariqious Tisdale is back, and hopes are that Tylan Johnson will be healthy this time around after football.
5USJ (D2-A) (21-8) — The Bruins have come so close to taking the next step and qualifying for the top four in the region tournament. Could this be the year?
USJ will miss the point guard abilities of Nigel Peeples along with some strong role players.
But senior Clayton Hughes is back for his senior year. Hughes has a strong skill set that has him being recruited by NCAA Division I programs.
Senior George Markos and sophomore Brandon Craig are also key returners.
6Humboldt (14-A) (21-11) — The Vikings and coach Ron Abernathy proved last season there is no such thing as a rebuilding year at Humboldt.
Troy Agnew and Jaylon Strayhorn are gone, but senior Kaylon Thomas and junior Jarred Walker are back.
The Vikings will again try to get back into the top four of District 14-A and make a deep postseason run.
7North Side (15-AA) (15-13) — The Indians have had a young squad the last two seasons, but this year they return with more experience.
Two starters are gone in Julian Curry and Khylan Sullivan at the guard position, but the post play is back.
Chavis Fuller returns for his senior season, and Diego Womack will be a junior. Marquis Clark is also back as a returning starter.
8South Gibson (13-AA) (17-11) — Last year’s success has made the Hornets hungry for more. South Gibson finished third in District 13-AA last season.
The Hornets had a strong graduating class, but point guard Logan Dyess will be back for his senior season.
The team is also under a new head coach in Mark Wilkins, who will bring in some new ideas for the team.
9TCA (15-A) (25-10) — With three runs to sectionals in the past four years, the Lions are always a team to watch out for when the season begins.
Four key contributors are gone in Ryan Smith, Kyle Akin, Alex Northcut and James Bond, but TCA coach Ken Northcut liked to play deep in his bench.
Eli Parker, Thomas Harvey and Sergio Pagoaga are back for their senior season.
If the Lions can develop bench depth again, they will be a tough team to beat again.
10McKenzie (13-A) (26-4) — The Rebels won the District 13-A title while taking three losses in the regular season.
But McKenzie will have big holes to fill to try and stay on top of the district, like Breshaun Oglesby, Tyree Owens and Ed Dudley.
Players like Jack Surber, Chase Kelley and Brandon Baucum will have to contribute more for the team to stay successful.
11Hardin County (13-AAA) (18-11) — The Tigers have had a full year under Rory Carpenter now, and they will be ready to execute his game plan.
Will Shelton and Ryan Guyer are two key losses to graduation, but players like Antonio Davis, DeAngelo Anderson and Tyree Bumphus are back.
Hardin County plays in the tough District 13-AAA with Dyer County, Brighton and Munford.
12Middleton (15-A) (23-7) — The Tigers always find a way to maximize their athleticism and be one of the top teams in District 15-A.
Middleton will have spots to fill with the losses of Latavvis Golden and Steven Wright.
Justin Morman will be the key returner this season and the senior leader.
Michael Odom, 425-9754