It’s my favorite time of the year!! The temperature is dropping, it’s Scorpio season, it’s wives/gf’s steal your man’s hoodie season, and more importantly it’s the start of basketball season! This was a tough list to compile, Rob Carroll and I went back and forth for a couple of weeks to come up with the Preseason Top 25 greater Houston area team rankings.
1. Yates– Rubin Jones, Antwon Norman, Gerald Doakes, Chuks Isitua, and Allen Udemadu are the best starting 5 in the area. Then throw in recent St. Thomas transfer, Elijah Elliott… Coach Greg Wise will be getting sized for another ring come March.
2. Morton Ranch– Last year’s team disappointed, as they were the deepest team in the city, and didn’t make it to San Antonio. The dynamic duo of HM’s LJ Cryer and Eddie Lampkin are back, along with their glue guys, Westley Sellers, and Adrian Caldwell. I thought long and hard (pause) about them being #1 because of Lampkin and Cryer, they are the 6A favorite in the region.
3. Dickinson– Tramon Mark & Marcus Williams are a scary back court that will combine for 80 in a game at some point this season. When Deuce Guidry gets back to full strength, it will get even scarier. Jabari Miller and Xzavion Bordelon give them depth and athleticism. 2022 All American TE Donovan Green will return during district play to give them the inside presence required to make a run up I-10.
4. Summer Creek– When I watched them play in the #Super16 they played so fast it was like they had 8 guys out there, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. But, like Willie D said, “when I looked over my shoulder and peeped around the “CONA” it was just 5 on the court. They come at you in waves, led by 2021 Javon Jackson, & 20’s Dylan Miles and Dylan Scales, coach Kenneth Coleman has them bought in, & that’s dangerous for everybody else.
5. Beaumont United– It’s hard to argue against them not being a top 3 team. They have the toughness and star power to get it done. Kasen Harrison & his senior crew of Justin Pleasant & Jaylen Subject have experience and grit. If Terrance Arceneuax can turn the corner & become a star, and freshman sensation Wesley Yates can give them consistent shooting…the road to REGION III could go through BMT.
6. Episcopal– The SPC runner up will be looking to capture the title this year with the 2020 class. The division 1 back court of Jahari Long (Seton Hall), & D’Avian Houston (College of Charleston), will carry this team along with inside force 6’9 DJ Nussbaum. The addition of sophomore Brendan Mwamba gives them more depth and talent & coach Wayne Jones will lean on him to help some of his upperclassmen. It’s SPC title or bust for this crew.
7. PA Memorial– The best front court in the state reside in the land of the Trill. Oral Roberts Pledge, Nate Clover and La Tech commit, Kenneth Lofton Jr are a load inside, they work well with each other and their hi-low game is unmatched. 2022 PG Amaree Abrams will be counted on to lead his team & their lofty expectations. If the guards can answer the call, the Titans can get fitted for their 2nd ring in 4 years.
8. Shadow Creek– The youngest, most athletic team in the city. They have pieces & talent to win a lot of games. Will youth be their downfall? An injury to PG Trey Ware, who’s their unequivocal leader, will hurt them a lot as the Texas A&M Texarkana commit will be out till February. 2022 Shawn Jones ,’21’s Ramon Walker, Will Young & Louisiana import ’21 Zy’Tarious Mortle are good enough to win the region.
9. Atascocita– Dylan Dawson, 2021 Tom Hart, and Trey Davenport are more than a formidable trio capable of having a banner year. Coach David Martinez has some horses in the stable, they move the ball well and ALWAYS defend. Those two games against Summer Creek should be epic.
10. Bush– Coach Brandon Gay’s team made an unbelievable run to the regional final four last year. This year’s team is anchored by big man Stephen Faramade, who has made some huge strides as a player. Ethan Yancy gives them an elite athlete with size and shooting ability. DJ Stewart will run the team efficiently as always. Danny McAdory will be counted for leadership and hustle, & the addition of 6’8 freshman Tyler Smith is huge for the future of the program.
11. Concordia Lutheran– The vaunted 1-3-1 will give teams fits this season. This well coached group features 2021 Rj Keene, ’20 Keyon Holcombe, & ’22 Adam Stewart gives them an interior presence. Their young back court of ’21 Beaux Brashear & ’22 Trey Miller will have to set the table & defend for them to have success.
12. Northshore– I learned last year to never count out a Sam Benitez coached team. Josh Cooper & Randy Woodard are experienced & tough, sophomore Deveon Taylor gives them scoring in the back court. Don’t sleep on them.
13. Woodlands Christian– Seniors Bakari Lastrap & EJ Jones want to go out with a bang. The newcomers, 22’s Austin Benigni & Chanse Perkins, & 2020 big man Tucker Nooe will give them a chance at a Tapps title.
14. Hightower– The Bryce Griggs show enters its second act, and coach Stephen Woods has big plans to keep the show going as long as possible. Seniors Chris Harris, Kris O’neal II, & Cameron Collins have proven this is no one man act, & their leadership will be vital to the success of the Hurricanes.
15. Manvel– With a strong junior class of Mason McBride, Shaun Walker, Zaire Hayes & Azari Woods along with senior Myles Levine, the Mavs will look to challenge Shadow Creek & Hightower for the district crown.
16. Cy Creek– Texas State commit Nate Martin will be counted on to lead this team. Juniors Chas Kelley, Braylon Haynes, and DJ Richards will all need to have big years if they want a deep playoff run.
17. Sam Houston– Coach Ralph Barreas will count on the Baines twins Garrick and Jerrick to lead with their experience. 2022 Cam Amboree & ’21 Jackson Banks will give them more perimeter scoring & shooting. Big 6’9 John Shanu should provide the defensive presence in the paint.
18. Houston Christian- The back to back SPC champs will be in rebuilding mode after losing Sahvir Wheeler, but juniors Noah Kon, Kobe Haynes and Elijah Bernstein are experienced & winners. They love the underdog role. Look for them to make a run at a 3peat.
19. Cy Ridge– The back court of Jestin Porter & Gary Grace are giving me vibes of last year’s George Ranch team. They are talented and experienced and compliment each other very well. They will contend for the district title with Cy Creek.
20. Sharpstown– Led by the athletic and versatile tandem of ’21 Josh Farmer & Tre’von Banks, the Apollos have a chance at having a good season. Lead guard Fadi Mott is a bull and will carry some of the scoring load offensively. I’ll repeat this statement again, IF they can mature and play the right way it’ll be tough for opponents to beat them.
21. Northside– Junior dual sport star Ronald Holmes is the unquestioned leader. They’ll have to wait for him, & senior point guard leader Jeremiah Richardson to return from the football field. 6’8 ’21 Daniel Contreras is a double-double guy who will have to hold it down until they’re back.
22. Fulshear– Junior guard Demari Williams will carry the load but doesn’t have to do it alone, sophomores Sam Akinrele & Isaiah Barganier will be counted on to pick up the slack. Karson Gabrel will add toughness and perimeter shooting.
23. Legacy School- Coach PJ Cousinard has his second year program making some progress. Newcomers Roland McDougal, PJ Neal, & Gerrard Living give them three impact starters. Senior Nate Lacewell will have to live up to his potential for this team to make any noise this season.
24. Elkins– Veteran 2021 PG Jacolbi Harris is the leader, Shane Bell will be asked to play a bigger role, & the addition of senior Jemarcus Holt gives them some much needed versatility. Freshman Chris Johnson has been playing really well this fall, is a good glue guy for the Knights.
25. St. Thomas– Coach Gary Hall has added juniors Johnathan Massie and Everett Marlatt and will count on Maddox Kopp to give them that “pop” when he returns from his star quarterback role. They will be well coached, & be sure to keep an eye on 6’7 freshman Jake Pike. They will play one of the top schedules in the city.