The boys basketball season is underway for the private schools with the public schools beginning play Dec. 5, so it’s time to roll out the projections for this season’s top teams.
In the coming days, Varsity Letters will count down the top five with the area’s preseason No. 1 team posted Tuesday. The Top 15 poll, along with the top players to watch, will go live online Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here’s a look at No. 3 Mount Saint Joseph:
Coach: Pat Clatchey
Last season: 31-8, No. 4
Postseason: MIAA A semifinalist; BCL semifinalist
Key players: James Bishop, Sr. G; Javonte Brown, Jr., C; Will Sykes, Sr., F; Ausar Crawley, So., PG
Outlook: No area team has bigger shoes to fill than the Gaels, who graduated All-Metro Player of the Year Jalen Smith. And while 6-foot-10 junior Javonte Brown, a transfer from Canada, is not quite at the level of Smith, he does bring a strong inside presence at both ends to help offset the loss. All-Metro senior guard James Bishop is the team’s only returning starter, but a lot of reserves played valuable minutes last season, which is vital to the team having success this year. Sophomore point guard Ausar Crawley is in charge of the offense with guard Tyler Brelsford and forward Will Sykes prepared for bigger roles. Bishop is a proven scorer in big moments, but he’ll need help. Brown’s development in the system will play a major role and the rest of the team — from the new starters to the less-experienced players on the bench — must understand roles and thrive in order for the Gaels to maintain their high standards.