Baltimore Sun boys basketball preview: Storylines, players to watch and the top 15 teams heading into the 2021-22 season

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Here’s what you need to know for the 2021-22 high school boys basketball season in the Baltimore area:

Storylines to watch

After its stunning upset over St. Frances in last year’s Baltimore Catholic League championship game, can John Carroll repeat its success?


With four starters back from the team that caught fire to claim the BCL crown as the sixth seed, the Patriots have the goods to bring home more hardware. But it won’t be easy. The private school leagues are stacked with talented teams and the Patriots will be the hunted instead of the hunter this season.

How will the Baltimore City Public Schools coronavirus vaccines mandate affect league play?


Drastically. Some teams are having a difficult time fielding complete varsity and JV teams with perennial power Edmondson a prime example. Coach Darnell Dantzler said he usually has up to 80 players try out for the two teams, but had to go to the school hallway and football team to recruit players to complete the rosters.

What can we expect to see from teams that didn’t play last year because of coronavirus restrictions?

Speaking with coaches, they have a significant challenge ahead as they get reacquainted with returning players who skipped a year and also get familiar with new players. The early part of the season may look ragged for some teams with players still getting comfortable and roles being identified. Coaches have stressed fundamentals in the preseason with much more hands-on teaching.

Who came and who went among the key players that transferred?

Two of the country’s most promising young players — sophomore power forward Derik Queen (St. Frances) and junior small forward Kwame Evans Jr. (Poly) — transferred to Florida-based Montverde Academy. ESPN has Queen ranked No. 2 nationally in the 2024 class and Evans Jr. is No. 3 in the 2023 class. Senior guard Bryce Lindsay left Poly for St. Frances. Mount Saint Joseph has big expectations for junior center Amani Hansberry, a transfer from Washington power St. John’s.

What is ahead for the Poly Engineers after the departure of coach Sam Brand?

Tavon McGee, a 2002 Poly grad who was a three-sport star, is excited to make his own mark with a new group. In 10 years, Brand’s program gained national prominence, winning three Baltimore City titles and an unprecedented three straight Class 3A state championships from 2016-19. McGee, who coached five years at Northwestern and has extensive youth coaching experience, applauds the team’s recent accomplishments but doesn’t feel like he’s filling any shoes. He’s stressing fundamentals and the Engineers will lean on their athleticism to get after teams with pressure defense.

Players to watch

Sincere Barfield, Parkville, point guard, sophomore


Expect the 5-foot-10 Barfield to burst onto the scene this season with dynamite athleticism, savvy court awareness and his eagerness to compete. The Knights floor general has 3-point range, uses his quickness and toughness to finish at the rim and is dangerous in transition whether he’s scoring or distributing.

Asa freshman, Marriotts Ridge forward Kaden Bryan averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game.

Kaden Bryan, Marriotts Ridge, forward, junior

As a freshman in 2019, Bryan showed he could hold his own in the paint, averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game. The 6-foot-5 standout has added to his game and will be more of an inside-outside force to help make the Mustangs a formidable contender in Howard County.

Larry Bullock, Southern-AA, guard, senior

The 6-foot-2 point guard matches flash and substance as the Bulldogs’ go-to player. After averaging 13 points and four assists in his first varsity season as a sophomore, Bullock has further polished his game with crafty ball-handling skills, lights-out shooting and strong defending.

Amani Hansberry, Mount Saint Joseph, center, junior


A 6-foot-8 transfer from Washington power St. John’s, Hansberry may be the area’s most impactful newcomer with do-everything skills and fine game sense at both ends. His offensive game is expanding, but most of his damage will come in the paint, where he has polished moves and a fine touch around the rim.

Mount Carmel's Deon Perry, a Loyola Maryland commit who averaged 21 points and five assists last year, has started every game throughout his four-year career.

Deon Perry, Mount Carmel, point guard, senior

The deep Cougars have an opportunity for a special season and it all starts with Perry, their 5-foot-10 floor general. The Loyola Maryland commit, who averaged 21 points and five assists last year, has started every game throughout his four-year career, bringing dynamic play, fine court awareness and confidence.

Cesar Tchilombo, John Carroll, center, senior

The 6-foot-9 Tchilombo, set for his fourth varsity season, brings springy athleticism and a 7-foot-1 wingspan that makes him a quality rebounder, shot-blocker and scorer above the rim. From the Democratic Republic of Congo, he averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots last season for the BCL champion Patriots.

John Thomas, Patterson, guard, senior


After averaging 15 points per game as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 Thomas is looking to pick up where he left off with an explosive first step to the basket and 3-point range making him a dominant scorer. A team leader able to play both guard positions and at small forward, he’ll lean on his quickness, length and anticipation to also wreak havoc at the defensive end.

Bryson Tucker, Mount Saint Joseph, wing, sophomore

The smooth 6-foot-6 small forward, who averaged 17 points and six rebounds as a freshman, brings do-everything skills with the ability and want to impact games in big moments. This summer, he earned a spot on the USA Basketball’s under-16 team that won the gold medal at the 2021 U16 FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico.

Archbishop Spalding senior Cam Whitmore, a Villanova commit, is the reigning Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year.

Cam Whitmore, Archbishop Spalding, forward, sophomore

A Villanova commit in his fourth varsity season, the 6-foot-7 forward dominates inside at both ends and runs the floor well as one of the area’s most explosive player. As a junior, he was named the Baltimore Catholic League’s Player of the Year after averaging 22 points and 11.7 rebounds in the Cavaliers’ 12-3 season.

Christian Winborne, Gilman, guard, senior


Able to play both guard spots at 6-foot-2, the St. Joseph’s commit brings do-everything skills with intensity and a team-first approach as the Greyhounds’ floor leader. As a junior he averaged 22 points per game — scoring at every level despite special attention from opposing defenses — and contributed six rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals.

Preseason Top 15 teams

1. John Carroll

Coach: Seth Goldberg

Last season: 11-5

Outlook: The Patriots were a major surprise last season, closing with nine straight wins and capturing the BCL title as the sixth seed. With four starters back, led by center Cesar Tchilombo, title game hero Jeannot Basima and leading scorer Tyson Commander, the Patriots have the goods to pick up where they left off.

John Carroll's Tyson Commander, right, was the team's leading scorer last season.

2. Archbishop Spalding


Coach: Josh Pratt

Last season: 12-3

Outlook: The Cavaliers are experienced and tight with the area’s most dominant player in 6-foot-7 forward Cam Whitmore as their leader. With guards CJ Scott, Jordan Pennick and Ty Peterson playing prominent roles, the Cavaliers can close out wins with tough team defense and a balanced offense that can score on the go or in the halfcourt.

3. Mount St. Joseph

Coach: Pat Clatchey

Last season: 10-3


Outlook: With star sophomore wing Bryson Tucker and St. John’s transfer center Amani Hansberry taking on lead roles, guard Ace Valentine producing big baskets and a handful of gamers understanding their roles, the Gaels have a good chance to be the last team standing in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and BCL play.

4. St. Frances

Coach: Nick Myles

Last season: 15-1

Outlook: With senior guard Jahnathan Lamothe the lone returning starter, the Panthers will lean on transfer guards Bryce Lindsay (Poly) and Carlton Carrington (McDonogh), while returning forward Cortez Johnson fills the inside void left by standout Derik Queen, who transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida.

5. Mount Carmel


Coach: Trevor Quinn

Last season: 13-5

Outlook: A deep roster checks off all the boxes for the Cougars, who are primed to make noise in the private school leagues. Four-year point guard Deon Perry is the dynamic leader while 6-foot-11 Tadas Gudonis and 6-foot-6 forward Mitchell Kalu provide strong inside play. Meanwhile, sharpshooter Drazen Sinigoj (Argentina) one of three players from abroad expected to make an immediate impact.

6. Parkville

Coach: Josh Czerski

Last season: DNP


Outlook: After missing last year, a largely new cast is in play after the Knights went 22-3 to reach the 2019-20 state semifinals before the coronavirus pandemic ended their campaign early. Sophomore point guard Sincere Barfield and classmate Kameryn Wylie, a 6-foot-6 wing, are breakout newcomers with seniors Emezie Egenou and Jadyn Williams being other key pieces as the lone returnees from two years back.

7. Lake Clifton

Coach: Herman “Tree” Harried

Last season: DNP

Outlook: The lack of continuity will hit some teams more than others, but the Lakers do have some with nine players on this year’s varsity together on the program’s successful JV team in the 2019-20 season. Senior guard Davon Mosley and junior forwards Kristopher Mitchell and Quinton Monroe provide a stable foundation with team chemistry already in place.

8. Loyola Blakefield


Coach: Josh Davalli

Last season: 8-6

Outlook: Cohesive team play at both ends will be the key for the Dons against the competition in the rugged private school leagues. Led by 6-foot-8 forward Gavin Walsh — one of six seniors and seven returnees — they have the proven makeup to push every opponent. Fellow seniors Charley Hepting, a 6-foot-7 forward, and Owen Fischer, a 6-foot-2 guard, also will play big roles.

9. New Town

Coach: Derek Wise

Record: DNP


Outlook: Only two players are back from the 2019-20 team that was two wins away from a state title, but small forward Camaren Sparrow and point guard Cameron Blackmon-Bush are quality players to pair with emerging new talent that appears eager to step up. Sparrow, who can score at all levels and plays tenacious defense, is primed to set a positive tone.

Gilman senior Christian Winborne, a St. Joseph’s commit, brings do-everything skills with intensity and a team-first approach as the Greyhounds' floor leader.

10. Gilman

Coach: Will Bartz

Last season: 7-5

Outlook: Senior guard Christian Winborne is one of the area’s most complete players and the Greyhounds have an experienced surrounding cast that can’t be overlooked in MIAA A play. Fellow senior guard Jalen Marshall, a three-year starter, is an ideal complement with sophomore guard Dejuan Lane being another versatile player who loves to compete. The Greyhounds are deep with roles identified to make a cohesive unit.

11. Broadneck


Coach: John Williams

Last season: DNP

Outlook: Parity is expected in Anne Arundel this season with the Bruins depth and athleticism giving them the nod as the early favorite. Guard heavy, led by Josh Ehrlich, they will play an up-tempo style with high pressure on defense. Senior guard/forward Tromaine Jones and guards Jalen Carter and Jordan Brown will play key roles.

12. Milford Mill

Coach: Ryan Smith

Last season: DNP


Outlook: An experienced backcourt can go a long way for teams that missed last season and the Millers have a talented pair in point guard Sammy Scott and shooting guard Drew Rheubottom. Forward Chauncey McGee also returns to provide strong inside play, while sophomore newcomer J’Von Hale, a 6-foot-6 small forward, is expected to make an immediate impact.

13. Patterson

Coach: Harry Martin

Last season: DNP

Outlook: Four starters are back from the 2019-20 team and senior guard John Thomas will set the tone at both ends. The Clippers will count on their tough defense and strong play in transition, using up to 10 players early on to find the right mix. Also back is 6-foot-6 senior center Khaijae Wilson, who provides an inside presence, with newcomer Caleb Burgess, a 6-foot-4 sophomore wing, expected to stand out as well.

14. River Hill


Coach: Matt Graves

Varsity Highlights


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Last season: DNP

Outlook: The Hawks have the ingredients for a special season in Howard County with a senior-laden core that features quality size and a number of scoring options. Levi Lawal, a 6-foot-4 wing, can score in bunches with Brandon Tookes, a 6-foot-8 forward, bringing inside-outside play. Captains Curtis Williams, a 6-foot-6 center, and point guard Chris Owens bring winning intangibles.

15. Aberdeen

Coach: Bill Jones

Last season: DNP


Outlook: Jones, the longtime coach at Harford Tech who spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Aberdeen, takes the helm with a good mix of returning talent and promising newcomers. The backcourt duo of senior Donovan Peyton and junior Tylan Bass returns intact to provide a steadying influence with junior guard Artarus Brown, a Mount Carmel transfer, added to the mix. Senior forward Ru Mubia is another key cog.

Others considered: Atholton, Calvert Hall, Century, Dunbar, Mervo