Public schools are adding the 35 second shot clock to boys basketball games. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun video)
1. Perry Hall
Coach: George Panageotou
Last season: 26-2, No. 1
Postseason: Class 4A champion
Outlook: After the program’s first state championship, the talk at Perry Hall is going back-to-back behind a sensational senior class that’s determined to add to its legacy. All-Metro forwards Anthony Higgs and Laquill Hardnett bring versatility and are capable of taking over games. Senior guard Tyler Holley does all the little things that add up to wins. The Gators graduated eight from last year’s team, so they will be looking for contributions from forward Anthony Walker and point guard D.J. Cloud, who were key to last year’s junior varsity team that reached the Baltimore County championship game.
Outlook: The Gaels have a tough act to follow after sweeping the MIAA A and BCL championships last season, but they have the pieces to continue their dominance. It starts with Maryland-bound forward Jalen Smith, who emerged as the area’s most dominant player at both ends of the court to earn Co-Player of the Year honors. He’s surrounded by talented players who understand their roles and play quality team ball. Shooting guard James Bishop brings instant offense, with point guard Tyree Myers joining Kendall McMillan, Tim McDonald and Ryan Marshall as other key pieces.
Outlook: The Engineers plan to pick up right where they left off after their first state title, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t. Four starters are back, and it’s All-Metro guard Demetrius Mims’ turn to be the centerpiece after the graduation of fellow All-Metro standout De’Vondre Perry. Poly welcomes Calvert Hall transfer Justin Lewis, a sophomore forward, and will have a more balanced offense. Sophomore point guard Rahim Ali, Amani Walker, Cleveland Horton and Seth Jones are other key returning players with big-game experience.
Outlook: Even without last year’s All-Metro Co-Player of the Year Marvin Price, who transferred to Huntington Prep, Patterson is poised to defend its Baltimore City and state championships. Don’t be surprised to see four guards in the lineup most of the time with All-Metro junior Gerard Mungo leading the way. Last season, the Clippers held opponents in check (40 points per game), and the same can be expected this year. Guard Daesean Jones and forward Darrion Pitts are also key returnees, and Riverdale Baptist transfer Zach Blackwell, a sophomore guard, should fit right in with his tough defense.
Outlook: With the area’s most talented backcourt in Immanuel Quickley and Montez Mathis and a deep roster, the Patriots are ready to make a significant jump after injuries slowed them last season. Quickley, a Kentucky commit, is regarded as one of the country’s finest point guards with do-everything tools and championship experience. Qadir Ismail and Cameron Byers lead a deep frontcourt with transfers Yavuz Gultekin (Turkey) and Brandon Craig (Tennessee) expected to make significant contributions from the start. Staying healthy was a concern last season and is again with Quickley expected to not start practicing with the team Dec. 1 because of an illness.
Outlook: It would be hard to find another team that got more from its roster last season than the Cougars, who played hard and played together to reach the title games in both of their demanding leagues. The plan is the same this season with much of the same nucleus. All-Metro second-team forward Jordon Jones is the centerpiece, and will be asked to provide leadership after the graduation of All-Metro guard Terry Nolan Jr. Point guard Dwight Felton and sharp-shooter William Miller will take on bigger roles with Lake Clifton transfer Rasheed Brown, coming off a knee injury, an important addition to the backcourt.
Outlook: With three starters among the returnees and some promising transfers, the Panthers are hoping things can quickly come together to enjoy a banner season. The returning backcourt of Elijah Epps and Adrian Baldwin provides a solid foundation with power forward Koran Moore. Newcomers Jason Murphy (Chapelgate) and Bassirou Diop (Virginia Beach) bring quality size and skills up front. The Panthers want to play fast and challenge opponents to keep up.
Outlook: The Poets have a quality player in All-Metro senior guard Da’Shawn Phillip, a four-year starter who consistently brings points, assists and rebounds. More importantly, he brings vital leadership to a talented young cast that includes Jamal West Jr. and Malik McCormick. The Poets don’t have much size, so they will rely on their tough defense and balance on offense. Phillip can be leaned on to close out wins. Tymu Chenery, a key contributor last season as a sophomore, transferred to Episcopal in Virginia.
Last season: 20-10, No. 6
Postseason: MIAA A semifinalist
Outlook: The Eagles will lean heavily on All-Metro guard Noah Locke while a largely new cast gets settled around him. One of the area’s top shooters, Locke has emerged as a complete player and will set the tone with his hard work at both ends and leadership skills. Fellow guard Kevon Brown is expected to have a breakout season after playing significant minutes last season, and Lake Clifton transfer Drew Green is an important addition. Jordan will continue to emphasize strong defense and rely on Locke’s ability to take over close games at the offensive end.
Outlook: After two straight trips to the state championship game, the Lakers had an early exit in the region playoffs last season. Can they bounce back? With an experienced group of seniors — Ronald Lucas, Steven Parker and Benjamin Carter are all three-year varsity players — and emerging talent from last year’s undefeated JV team, the Lakers are confident the answer is yes. Senior guard Rasheed Brown, a standout scorer who missed most of last season with a knee injury, transferred to Mount Carmel.
Coach: Bobby Richardson
Last season: 20-5, No. 8
Postseason: Class 3A North Section I finalist
Outlook: Coming off a 20-win season, the Warriors believe the best has yet to come with an experienced group of seniors. They have an excellent shooting team with Demauri Warren, Mark Brinkley and Reshaud Garrison all capable of enjoying big scoring nights. Nigelh Redd provides a strong inside presence and consistent rebounding. Team chemistry is a big plus with most of the top players having been together since their JV days as freshmen.
12. Old Mill
Coach: Mike Francis
Last season: 22-3, not ranked
Postseason: Class 4A East Section I finalist
Outlook: With just about every key player back from last season’s Anne Arundel County title team, Old Mill has the potential to make a promising run. Senior guard Avion Robinson is the focal point with Daevone Robinson, Hollique Smith-Johnson and Ryan Savage bringing versatile skills. The Patriots are deep, quick and athletic enough to give opponents problems at both ends of the floor.
Coach: Matt Lochte
Last season: 18-6, not ranked
Postseason: Class 4A North, Section I finalist
Outlook: The Lions will bring some of the area’s finest young talent to the court, but are they ready to win big games now? The lone returning starter is standout sophomore Che Evans, who brings a smooth and complete offensive game. Ryan Conway, one of two freshman starters, can be an instant impact player, and Calvert Hall transfer Josh Cornish brings needed leadership as the lone senior starter. With a smaller lineup, the Lions will attack at both ends of the floor with their up-tempo style.
14. St. Paul’s
Coach: Seth Goldberg
Last season: 19-8, not ranked
Postseason: MIAA B champion
Outlook: TheCrusaders will rely on their chemistry and defense in their quest to repeat. They return nine of their top 10 players, including starters Trayon Wright, A.J. Sawyers, Ziggy Reid and Jonathan Walker. The tight group plays hard and together, and they thrive on taking away their opponents’ biggest strengths. With emerging Severn among the quality teams they will face in the B Conference, complacency shouldn’t be a problem for this senior-laden team.
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Outlook: Along with a fine returning core led by sharpshooter Ugo Obasi, one of four starters back from last year, the Millers have promising newcomers who increase their potential. Jeremiah Simmons is another key returnee, with St. Frances transfer Jordan Goodwin expected to make a big impact. The Millers are deep and athletic with plenty of scoring options and have the ability to turn their tough defense into more points. How well the team comes together will determine how far it goes.
Others considered: Annapolis, (17-9, No. 13); Calvert Hall (14-19, not ranked); Dundalk (19-6, not ranked); Edmondson (20-6, No. 15); Joppatowne (19-5, not ranked); Meade (19-7, not ranked); Mervo (7-9, not ranked); River Hill (16-7, not ranked); Severn (19-10, not ranked); Wilde Lake (17-9, not ranked)