The high school basketball season just ended, so is it too early to talk about the teams to watch for next season?
Yes and no. Of course, it’s ridiculously early because a lot can happen between now and next fall, including injuries, transfers and players who grow four inches over the summer. But, it’s never too early to talk about who might be good because it’s fun. Here are a few teams to watch for:
Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.). The Mustangs finished No. 2 in the Super 25 rankings and the team’s three key players are back: big man Chandler Lawson will be a junior and the guard tandem of T.J. Moss and Alex Lomax will be seniors. Add in the motivation of not being allowed to play in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals last season and that’s a pretty good recipe for a good year.
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). The Ascenders lose ALL-USA point guard Trevon Duval from their 11th-ranked team, but return a lot of athletic seniors in small forward Keyontae Johnson, and power forwards Emmitt Williams and Silvio De Sousa. If IMG can land a point guard, the Ascenders will be back in the mix.
Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). The Eagles were the No. 7 team and return their top player in guard R.J. Barrett, who will be a junior. Besides Barrett, fellow Canadian guard Andrew Nembhard will be a junior as well. Swing man Rechon Black will be a senior. Montverde loses a lot of height with the graduation of Grant Shephard, Sean Mobley and Sandro Mamukelashvili, but will likely pick up a solid transfer or two to replace them.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). The Monarchs finished 33-3 and No. 15 in the rankings. Bol Bol, a 7-1 center who will be a senior next season, is a dominating presence in the front court and forward Harrison Butler, who will be a junior, gives them some firepower, along with point guard Spencer Freedman, who was the Trinity League Player of the Year last season as a junior.
Hudson Catholic (Jersey City, N.J.). The Hawks won the state Non-Public B title and return three key seniors in guard Jahvon Quinerly, who was the state Player of the Year, small forward Louis King and guard Luther Muhammad. With St. Anthony (Jersey City) closing, the Hawks will have a wider talent pool to choose from as well.
Fairfax (Los Angeles). Like Hudson Catholic, the Lions didn’t finish the season in the Super 25. However, Fairfax went 26-6 and returns its entire starting lineup. Guard Jamal Hartwell, forward Shawn Booker and center Kirk Smith will be seniors and guard Ethan Anderson and swingman Robert McRae will be juniors.
Shadow Mountain (Phoenix). The Matadors were bumped in the first round of the DICK’S Nationals, but the experience should help the ninth-ranked team, which has two of its top three scorers returning in guards Jovan Blacksher and Jaelen House, both of whom will be juniors next season.
Also look for: Super 25 champ La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) all graduate a lot of talent, but they are traditional powerhouses that attract talented transfers and all have at least two key players back. La Lumiere can build around point guard Tyger Campbell and shooting guard Grant Beucler, who will be a junior and a senior, respectively. Findlay Prep returns Spencer Washington and Reggie Chaney and Oak Hill Academy returns senior posts David McCormack and Kenneth Nwuba.