1. ST. FRANCES
* Last season: 29-10, ranked No. 1
* The Baltimore Catholic League champion Panthers have lost Metro Player of the Year Sean Mosley (Maryland) but return standout Gs R. J. Williams, Dante Holmes and Wayne Sparrow, with Montrose Christian transfer Terrell Vinson providing a big boost to the front court.
2. LAKE CLIFTON
* Last season: 25-2, No. 5
* Upset by Long Reach in last season's Class 3A state semifinals, the Baltimore City champion Lakers have a productive mix of returning players and promising newcomers.
* Last season: 20-4, No. 10
* All-Metro standout C.J. Fair will be sidelined at the start of the season with a knee injury, but the Knights have more than enough talent to hold their own, with senior F Adam Johnson taking on the lead role.
4. JOHN CARROLL
* Last year: 20-12, unranked
* The Patriots looked right at home playing in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference for the first time last season and will make an even bigger impact with seven seniors back, led by Towson University-bound F Isaiah Philmore.
* Last season: 12-10, unranked
* Led by do-everything 6-foot-6 junior F Roscoe Smith, the Warriors are primed to hang with the top teams in the area.
6. CALVERT HALL
* Last season: 15-17, unranked
* While defending MIAA A Conference champion St. Frances is the early favorite, the Cardinals have 6-8 junior F Jonathan Graham and a strong supporting cast to present a formidable challenge.
7. DIGITAL HARBOR
* Last season: 15-7, No. 14
* With 11 players back, including four starters, the Rams are all about quality and quantity. They are prepared to wear down opponents with scrappy, hard-nosed defense to go with a balanced offense.
8. MILFORD MILL
* Last season: 15-9, unranked
* Talented and determined, the Millers have the right mix of experienced returning players and promising newcomers to put together a special season.
* Last season: 17-5, unranked
* Still smarting from a regional semifinal loss to North Carroll last season, the defending Baltimore County champion Warriors are hungry to get back on the court with a sturdy lineup full of potential.
10. MOUNT ST. JOSEPH
Last season: 31-6, No. 3
* Graduation and season-ending injuries have provided a big obstacle, but the Gaels still have plenty of resources to make their usual noise in the MIAA A Conference and BCL.
11. TOWSON CATHOLIC
* Last season: 22-12, No. 9
* Senior G Devin Spencer is the lone starter back, but the Owls have strong transfers coming in and reserves from last season who are ready to take on bigger roles.
12. GLEN BURNIE
* Last season: 13-10, unranked
* With their top two scorers returning to the front court in seniors Danny Murphy and Tyler Rudd and Cardinal Gibbons transfer Justin Kuntz another post threat, the Gophers could rise to the top in balanced Anne Arundel.
13. LONG REACH
* Last season: 25-3, No. 4
* After reaching the 3A state title game last season, the Lightning will lean on its experienced post players while a retooled backcourt settles in.
Last season: 16-9, No. 15
* Second-year coach Cyrus Jones has his experienced group believing it can return to form as one the area's top programs.
* Last season: 21-3, No. 13
* Senior PG Devon Sadler provides the spark as the Rams look to continue their dominance in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.
Others considered: Annapolis (15-8, unranked), Atholton (20-6, unranked), Douglass (20-6, No. 8), Edmondson (14-9, unranked), Loyola (18-10, unranked), New Town (12-7, unranked), Old Mill (23-2, No. 11), Parkville (18-7, No. 12), Randallstown (23-4, No. 6), Severna Park (16-8, unranked)