2018-19 Baltimore-area preseason high school boys basketball Top 15 poll
The Baltimore Sun|
Dec 05, 2018 | 5:00 AM
1. St. Frances
Coach: Nick Myles
Last season: 36-7, ranked No. 1
Postseason: MIAA A semifinalist; BCL champion
Outlook: After finishing with the best records in the MIAA A and BCL last season, the Panthers are poised to pick up where they left off. And then some. Junior point guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin is the area’s most efficient and dynamic floor general, and he’s surrounded by a quality mix of returnees and newcomers. Guard Rajeir Jones, guard Jordan Toles and forward Jason Murphy are among those back, while Dunbar transfer, Jamal West, an All-Metro second team pick last season, adds a dominating presence in the paint.
Outlook: With two straight state titles and two of the past three Baltimore City championships, the Engineers have established themselves as one of the area’s elite programs. This season, they plan to continue to raise the bar with Brand confident they can go 10 deep. All-Metro forward Justin Lewis dominates all over the floor with point guard Rahim Ali and forward Armani Walker other key returnees. Brandon Murray, a transfer from New York, is academically ineligible for the start of the season but will add do-everything skills for the stretch run.
Outlook: With four starters lost to graduation, including All-Metro Player of the Year Jalen Smith, the quality depth the Gaels had last season comes in handy. All-Metro second-team pick James Bishop is a proven go-to scorer with Ausar Crawley now in charge at the point and fellow guard Tyler Brelsford and forward Will Sykes primed for bigger roles. Javonte Brown, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Canada, is expected to make a huge impact at both ends.
Outlook: The big news from the East Baltimore school is the return of guard/forward Marvin Price, who earned co-Player of the Year honors as a sophomore before transferring out of state last season. The Clippers swept city, region and state titles that season and have similar aspirations this year with a senior-laden team that has logged plenty of varsity minutes. The ball will be in reliable hands with Gerard Mungo and T.J. Thomas; Zach Blackwell is a proven scorer and Joppatowne transfer Jalen Willis brings grinding do-everything play.
Coach: Matt Lochte
Last season: 18-6, not ranked
Postseason: Class 4A North semifinalist
Outlook: Are the Lions primed for a breakthrough? All signs point that way with an experienced group that is highly motivated. Four starters return from last year’s team that fell to two-time defending state champ Perry Hall by a point in the region playoffs with point guard Ryan Conway and shooting guard Che Evans the catalysts. An inside boost comes in John Carroll transfer Cameron Byers. The Lions are equipped to play fast and efficient at both ends with pressure defense setting the tone.
6. Boys Latin
Coach: Cliff Rees
Last season: 25-7, No. 7
Postseason: MIAA A finalist
Outlook: The Lakers, entering their fourth season in the A Conference, have emerged as regular contenders and aim to build on last year’s run to the league title game. The Lakers want to hurry the pace, share the ball and shoot their share of 3s — Cameron Spencer, Cameron Watts and Sam Grace providing balanced scoring — and play pestering defense. Junior forward Jake Nichols, called up to varsity late last season, will be leaned on heavily inside to offset graduation hits.
Outlook: Legendary coach Mike Daniel stepped down, giving way to his longtime assistant Wise, who brings much of the same coaching philosophies. The top priority remains the same with the Titans: strong team defense. Led by junior point guard Martaz Robinson, they will score the basketball with Mount Saint Joseph transfer Maurice Smith, Kyree Johnson, Andrew Mills and big man Julian Reese providing plenty of options. Highly successful fall league play has the Titans raring to go.
Outlook: The pieces are in place for the Greyhounds to make significant noise in the MIAA A Conference. Senior point guard Jalen Rucker, who has already surpassed the 1,000-point plateau, is the team leader; versatile sophomore Malik Missouri is primed for a breakthrough; and senior newcomer Chase Drew brings athleticism and long-range shooting. Going nine deep, the Greyhounds are hungry and have roles well defined to play quality ball at both ends. Chris Winborne is a freshman to watch.
9. Lake Clifton
Coach: Herman “Tree” Harried
Last season: 22-5, No. 10
Postseason: Class 2A champion
Outlook: Last season, the rigors of the Baltimore City league had the Lakers well prepared come playoff time as they brought home the program’s fifth state crown. They are banking on the same with a quality mix of experienced returnees and hungry newcomers. Guard Michael Gray and guard/forward Armon Harried are the returning starters primed to lead the way with senior guard David Harris, a Digital Harbor transfer, a key addition.
10. Annapolis Area Christian
Coach: Doug Scheidt
Last season: 15-12, not ranked
Postseason: did not qualify for MIAA A playoffs
Outlook: The senior-laden Eagles closed out last season on a high note by winning the Maryland Independent Schools tournament championship and they have all the ingredients to do more this season. Continuity is the key. Four of their eight returning players earned starts last season and some new talent in the mix. The backcourt is loaded with point guard Dylin Borden leading the way and DeMatha transfer Ray Ritter a key addition. Inside, forward Aaron Celcis is a force at both ends. The Eagles are ready to make an impact in the MIAA A and could end up the area’s biggest surprise.
Outlook: Coming off a second straight Anne Arundel County title and their first region crown since 2010, the Patriots are looking for more this season and have the goods to get big things done. The team’s experience and quickness will be tough to match. Senior guards Daevone Johnson and Avion Robinson make up the county’s top one-two punch and they set a terrific pace. The Patriots, who averaged more than 11 steals a game last season, have a strong supporting cast with roles clearly identified. Tyrek Almaralis can flat out score and Zach Boston is a grinder at the defensive end.
Coach: TJ Jordan
Last season: 15-14, not ranked
Postseason: MIAA A quarterfinalist
Outlook: The Eagles graduated the program’s all-time leading scorer, Noah Locke, but believe they can fill the void with a mix of returnees and newcomers primed to step up. Senior Drew Green, the team’s second leading scorer last season, can get to the rim and has improved his jumper, while junior Curtis Jacobs should continue to pile up double doubles. Senior Lukas Michaelson’s scrappy play sets a positive tone and sophomore point guard Jared Billups, injured most of last season, is ready to break out. Sophomore Dave Brown, a St. Mary’s Ryken transfer, scores from anywhere on the floor.
13. Milford Mill
Coach: Ryan Smith
Last season: 21-4, No. 8
Postseason: Class 3A finalist
Outlook: The Millers have a largely new cast with a new plan after reaching the state title game last season with a guard-oriented lineup that mostly scored in transition and from the perimeter. The team’s lone returning starter is 6-foot-7 senior center Darius Woods and pounding the ball inside to him becomes the top priority. Versatile junior Jermaine Goodwyn also returns, and transfers Deonta Dunlap (Catonsville) and Derrick Shoats (Towson) are key new additions. Junior point guard DeShaun Johnson returns after spending last season at St. Frances.
Coach: Omarr Smith
Last season: 15-5, not ranked
Postseason: Class 3A South quarterfinalist
Outlook: With guard/forward Jalen Yates the only player returning from last year’s team, the Knights will be a constant work in progress. But a quality mix of transfers and other newcomers bodes well for the present and future. Yates, one of only two seniors, is a quality starting point with his leadership and ability to score from anywhere. Seven transfers will be incorporated into the system with point guard Darrius Tilghman (Calvert Hall) and forward Clarence Obiajulu (Concordia Prep) two key components.
15. Oakland Mills
Coach: Jon Browne
Last season: 18-6, not ranked
Postseason: Class 2A South semifinalist
Outlook: With most of their starters back from last year’s co-Howard County title team and improved depth, the Scorpions enter the season with high expectations. Guard Daeshawn Eaton (county-high 17 points per game last season) makes a big impact at both ends and Frederick Eiland and Jaelen Gaymon add to the perimeter while Kevon Simpson holds his own inside. With a smaller lineup, the Scorpions with push the tempo to wear down opponents. Some younger players have size and will provide a boost as they develop.
Others considered: Atholton (11-14, not ranked); C. Milton Wright (20-5, not ranked); Dunbar (26-3, No. 5); Dundalk (20-6, not ranked); Gerstell (19-12, not ranked); Liberty (20-4, not ranked); St. Vincent Pallotti (24-11, not ranked); Woodlawn (21-4, No. 9)