The boys basketball season has started for the private schools, and the public schools will begin play Thursday. That means it’s time to start rolling out the projections for this season’s top teams.
In the coming days, you can go to Varsity Letters for a countdown of the top-five teams. The area's preseason No. 1-ranked team will be posted Tuesday. The entire Top 15 poll, along with the top players to watch, will be available online Tuesday night and in Wednesday's print edition.
Here's a look at No. 3 St. Frances:
Coach: Nick Myles
Last season: 33-6, No. 2
Postseason: MIAA A Conference champion; BCL quarterfinals
Top players: Dwayne Morgan, Sr., F; Josh Ayeni, Jr., F; Jared Hamilton, Sr., F; Will Robinson, Jr., F
Outlook: The Panthers can match any local area teams in terms of talent, so it's just a matter of putting all the pieces — new and old — together.
With a strong inside-outside game, Morgan (UNLV) is one of the area's most dominant players and will be asked to provide leadership and strong defense. Joining him in the frontcourt is Ayeni along with transfers Hamilton (DeMatha) and Robinson (Digital Harbor), who give the Panthers an abundance of size and athleticism. Guard Khalil Richards has an important role as anchor of the backcourt.
Last season, the Panthers enjoyed a fast start as they took hold of the No. 1 ranking and appeared set to stay put there. After dominating the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs, however, they were stunned in the quarterfinal round of the Baltimore Catholic League playoffs by Mount Carmel. The question for the Panthers this season: Can they find the chemistry and consistency to once again dominate through a challenging regular season on their way to another title or two?