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By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

1. Scott County Cardinals (Georgetown, Kentucky): It's hard to say that the 2007 state champs are a surprise team, especially with the talent this group has. The Cardinals were bounced out in the first round of the playoffs last season by a solid Lexington Catholic team, and this year's Cardinals have redemption on their minds. Scott County has many opportunities to prove its worth as they play one of the hardest schedules in the nation.

 

2. Gastonia Huss Huskies (Gastonia, North Carolina): This young team made a statement by winning a game in last season’s playoffs. Sophomores Jarvis Anderson and T.J. Wilson are two of the Charlotte area's brightest young stars. This team still has some maturing to do, but they will learn fast in a city with great talent. If this team comes together, they can go deep into the playoffs.

 

3. White Station Spartans (Memphis, Tennessee): Last season's state runner up won’t sneak up on anyone this season. The Spartans are consistently one of the top teams in Tennessee and the nation. White Station has won four state titles since 2000 and wants to finish what they started last season. Junior guard Joe Jackson is emerging as star and senior forward Ferrakohn Hall is a strong post presence.

 

4. Austin East Roadrunners (Knoxville, Tennessee): Austin East made another appearance in the AA playoffs last season but look to go deeper this time around. The Roadrunners feature senior twins Chase (6-5, 210 lbs.) and Chance (6-0, 185 lbs.) Jones, two forces to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, Travei Pryor has a nice post game that complements well with the Jones brothers. These three also play football, so it might take some time for the tem to gel, but they will be a force by season's end.

 

5. Bishop O’Connell Knights (VA): O’Connell is a traditional D.C. powerhouse and a four-time Virginia Independent school champion. The Knights came up short of the coveted WCAC title to Gonzaga last season. The D.C. league is one of the best in the nation and features other formidable teams like DeMatha, Good Counsel and Gonzaga. Gonzaga and DeMatha received all the hype last season, so look for O’Connell to try and steal some for themselves. They will get their chance against DeMatha on Feb. 17, which will be aired on ESPN.

 

 

 

6. Wheeler Wildcats (Marietta, Georgia): Wheeler has won four state titles and is favored again this season. The Wildcats posses one of the best frontcourts in the country. Forward Ari Stewart is a 6-7 wing man who can shoot the three, and 6-8 forward Richard Howell averaged 17 points and 11 boards last season. Wheeler will showcase its talents as they play one of the toughest schedules in country.

 

7. Porter Gaud Cyclones (Charleston, South Carolina): Small forward Khris Middleton has become one of the best outside shooting threats in the country. Porter Gaud fell short in the SCISA title game last season to Pinewood Prep and look to finish the job this year. Plus, they will have two shots at Pinewood Prep during the regular season and either of these two matchups could be game of the year candidates.

 

 

 

8. Redan Raiders (Stone Mountain, Georgia): The Raiders try to make another step in the playoffs after bowing out in round one last season. Power forward Kenny Hall is one of the toughest players in the state. The Tennessee commit averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in ’07-’08. Redan looks to make its mark in the talent-rich state of Georgia.

 

9. Fayette County Tigers (Fayetteville, Georgia): The Tigers made a somewhat surprising run to the AAAA title game last season before falling to Columbia. Two-guard Noel Johnson is a great pull-up shooter in transition and has signed with USC. Fayette County has the depth and tools to make another title run.

 

 

10. Mt. Zion Christian Academy (Durham, North Carolina): Mt. Zion is just one more in a long list of great North Carolina private schools. At 6-11 and 240 lbs., center Bawa Muniru is physical specimen and is still developing his skills around the net. Muniru is signed to play at Indiana next fall. Mt. Zion plays a tough schedule and has plenty of opportunity this year to showcase its talent.

 

11. Lake Norman Wildcats (Mooresville, North Carolina): This team has the chance to open some eyes in the Charlotte area. Garinger transfer Reggie Price adds his 20 points per game to center Paul Larson’s potent inside game. This potent inside-outside threat could make some waves across the state.

 

 

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

1. Bellevue Wolverines (Bellevue, Washington): The dominant Metro league in Seattle usually produces the state champion, but if there is another team making a case it's Bellevue. The Kingco league school is very talented and hopes to change the tide of champions in the Evergreen state.  After missing the 3A tournament with a 19-7 record from a year ago, they have too much talent to not be successful.

 

2. Chandler Wolves (Chandler, Arizona): Chandler looks for success in '09 after advancing to the state tournament round of eight just a season ago. They feature a mixture of seniors and juniors, but will rely on the younger juniors to carry the team. A vigorous offseason program could be what the Wolves need to be state champions in March.

 

3. Bingham Miners (South Jordan, Utah): The road to the state championship most likely will go through South Jordan. The Region 1 champs from a year ago look poised to make a run at the state title. Junior Ben Clifford will be a top scoring threat for a talented team that went 18-9  a year ago.

 

4. Regis Jesuit Raiders (Aurora, Colorado): The Raiders finished the '08 season at 19-8 overall, but really made a strong push in the state playoffs. Despite their 6-6 record in the league last year, the Raiders went to the state quarterfinals by upsetting top-seeded Poudre along the way.  The late season surge showed the true potential of the team, which could surface in '08-'09.

 

5. Kentwood Conquerors (Covington, Washington): The Conks should be able to make waves this year after failing to qualify for the state tournament last season. After winning their league title then failing early in district play, expect an improvement over last year's 19-7 record. Josh Smith is their go to guy down low and should hover around 20 points a game again this season.

 

6. Roosevelt Roughriders (Portland, Oregon): Despite a 14-13 record last year, the Roughriders should be much improved this season. A few of those losses came against powerful Jefferson, and so Roosevelt could certainly sneak up anybody this time around with an improved team. Look for the Roughriders to become contenders and not pretenders this year.

 

7. Cheyenne Desert Shields (North Las Vegas, Nevada): The most talked about team in Nevada might be Findlay Prep, but once March rolls around, Cheyenne could join their counterpart's success.  The Desert Shields finished the '08 season at 19-8, but the squad only lost each game by an average of four points. 6-4 guard Elijah Johnson is one of the state's best players and should lead his team far in the state tournament.

 

8. Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (New Hope, Minnesota):  After advancing to the state semifinal last year, the Hawks could be the team to knock off Minnetonka in the state tournament in '09. Minnesota recruit Rodney Williams might be the best player in the state and may have to carry his team to the state championship. The Hawks will have to learn to win away from their friendly confines as all of their losses came away from their home court last season.

 

9. Sylmar Spartans (Sylmar, California): With a 17-9 record from a year ago, Sylmar looks to improve significantly on its winning ways. The Valley Mission league champions are lead by 6-8,180 lbs. small forward Tyler Honeycutt. Slymar also has added Malik Johnson at point guard who looked impressive in preseason workouts. The UCLA recruit will have to carry more of the load this year for the Spartans to exceed expectations in an ultra tough Los Angeles City Section.

 

10. West Valley High School (Cottonwood, California): This is one team that could sneak up on people this year, but one player certainly will not and that is 6-7 forward Joe Burton, an Oregon State recruit, who will look to beef up the inside for West Valley. The supporting cast does a solid job of distributing the ball inside to Burton, who has great vision for a big man. West Valley could make some noise this year behind their super talented forward.

 

 

To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor

 

1. Jefferson Orange Wave (Brooklyn, NY): After going 23-8 last year, Keith Spellman, David Coley, Davontay Grace and Joel Wright all return to shape one of the top cores in the city. In ’09, there is no shortage of talent, so it’s championship or bust this season with many of the squad’s top players graduating in the spring. Last year, the Orange Wave blew a lead to rival Lincoln late in the PSAL semifinals, so you know that the potential is still there for greatness.

 

2. Lawrenceville Prep Big Red (Lawrenceville, NJ): After a 13-11 campaign last year, the Big Red has the potential to be one of the region’s top teams. With McDonalds All-American nominee Leonard Hayes leading the way and standouts Devin Figueroa and Will Kernan providing support, the Big Red possess quickness up and down their lineup. Team depth is another strength and you can expect to see a balanced scoring attack at Lavino Field House this year.

 

3. Bishop McNamara Mustangs (Forestville, MD): The Mustangs are coming off a 17-12 campaign, but can improve on that margin by perhaps eight games if the squad plays to its potential. This year’s team is headed by Talib Zanna, a 6-9 forward and Pittsburgh recruit who averaged 15 points per game, 13.5 rebounds per contest and 3.5 blocks per game last year. Rashard Whack, a 6-3 senior guard and George Mason recruit (16 ppg last year and 5.5 rpg) and Lawrence Smith (6-5 guard/forward and North Carolina A&T recruit) are two more headliners for this athletic team. The trio combines to make one heck of a unit and will likely propel the Mustangs towards an improved campaign.

 

4. Edison Inventors (Queens, NY): Edison went 17-8 last year en route to the PSA semifinals. This season, expectations will be even higher with Isiah Stokley and Stephon Hodges leading the way, in addition to big men Eddie Egharevba and Stephen Nwaukoni. Jevon Thomas and Kris Owens make up part of a deep bench for the squad – which should improve on last season’s record.

 

5. Archbishop Molloy Stanners (Queen, NY): After a 13-13 campaign in ’07-’08, Ashton Pankey left for St. Anthony and Devin Figueroa left for Lawrenceville Prep, but expect Sr. G Russ Smith and 6-6 forward Jim Hong to fill the void. Also, Ryan Dillon should provide some sharp shooting from the outside. Molloy should be a definite dark horse CHSAA contender.

 

6. DeMatha Stags (Hyattsville, MD): With a lineup blessed with talent, the Stags should be much improved from last year and have the potential to be one of the region’s most versatile teams. Texas A&M recruit Naji Hibbert heads the cast at shooting guard while junior guard Josh Selby is one of the nation’s elite scorers. Head coach Mike Jones believes that this season’s team may be the deepest in all of his years at DeMatha. With that said, expect this perennial basketball power to be frontrunners for another WCAC title.

 

 

7. Penn Wood Patriots (Lansdowne, PA): The Patriots offered a possible glimpse of the future after going 23-9 last year and earning a spot in the PIAA AAAA quarterfinals. Junior guard Tyree Johnson and forward Duane Johnson are back and will likely be the focus on offense, while newcomer Aaron Brown will provide additional support. Expect this team to emerge as one of the Keystone State’s best.

 

8. Northland Vikings (Columbus, Ohio): The Vikings are coming off one of their best campaigns in history after going 21-1 and are once again equipped to win a state championship. It’s no secret that center Jared Sullinger will be the talk of the team. The junior is one of the nation’s best players

 

9. Paterson Catholic Cougars (Paterson, NJ): After a 23-5 campaign, Paterson returns with a young but athletic squad that can compete with the state’s top programs. Forward Fuquan Edwin is the catalyst in the paint while T.J. Clemmings adds another imposing element as a 6-7 forward.

 

10. Neumann-Goretti Saints (Philadelphia, PA): The Saints went just 15-10 last season, but can certainly eclipse the 20-win plateau in ’08-’09. The dynamic trio of Andre Gillette, Daniel Stewart and Tony Chennault already make the Saints one of the city’s best, but with a tough Catholic League schedule, they will have to play to their capabilities to make a title run.

 

 

 

 

 

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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