Part two of the HoopsByUgland.com SoCal preseason Top 20 rankings - No.'s 11-15:
2014-15 record; results: 32-3 overall; won Los Angeles City Section Open Division championship, 56-47, over Westchester; lost in CIF State Southern Open Division Regional championship, 51-40, to Mater Dei
Key returning players: G Donald Gipson (6-3, 180, Sr., Loyola Marymount-signee); F Babacar Thiombane (6-7, 190, Sr., verbally committed to Army); Antoine Monroe (6-3, 175, Sr.); G/F Jeremy Hamilton (6-4, 185, Sr.); PG Jamal Hartwell (5-10, 150, Soph.); C Brett Deans (6-6, 200, Soph.); PG Lawrence McGee (5-10, 170, Sr.)
Key newcomers: G Robert McRae (6-3, 170, Fr.); G Ethan Anderson (6-1, 180, Fr.)
Key departures: PG Lindsey Drew; G Lorne Currie; PF Foster Dixson
Where you can see them in SoCal: El Segundo Tournament, Dec. 1-5; Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Fairfax State Preview, Jan. 30; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6
Outlook: There are many scenarios where Fairfax could rise or fall in this ranking and a lot of it is dependent on the health of Donald Gipson. Gipson suffered a knee injury last season in a playoff win over Etiwanda which resulted in surgery and him having to miss the rest of the postseason. Gipson’s status for the start of this season is still uncertain. He went through warm-ups with his team at the one-day Fairfax fall league but did not play. Harvey Kitani’s Lions did have a player impress that day in 6-foot-7 forward Babacar Thiombane. The senior made big strides over the summer, adding a face-up jumper and even more high-energy play to his game. Fairfax will need Jamal Hartwell to take over the reins at point guard full-time with Lindsey Drew now graduated and getting ready for his freshman season at Nevada-Reno. Hartwell is a completely different player than Drew, but still very talented and capable of running a team. Fairfax might also lean on a couple of very good freshmen in Robert McRae and Ethan Anderson. Physcially, Anderson is more ready to deal with the rigors of high-level varsity basketball, but McRae has the size and feel of a big-time prospect down the road.
12. Orange Lutheran
2014-15 record; results: 24-6 overall; lost to Bishop Montgomery, 69-47, in CIF-SS Open Division semifinals; lost to Fairfax, 75-53, in first round of CIF State Open Division playoffs
Key returning players: PF KaVaughn Scott (6-6, 200, Sr.); SG Chris Williams (6-3, 175, Jr.); PG Joe Riley (5-10, 160, Sr.); F Zac Jervis (6-5, 205, Sr.); SG Zack Phororo (6-2, 170, Jr.)
Key newcomers: SF Cade Potter (6-5, 180, Fr.)
Key departures: PG C.J. Hankins; SG Rogers Printup; PF Keisean Lucier-South
Where you can see them in SoCal: Godinez Tournament, Nov. 30-5; North/South OC Challenge at El Toro, Dec. 22; Fairfax State Preview, Jan. 30; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6
Outlook: This year’s Orange Lutheran team will play much like the 2014-15 team with a fast, guard-oriented attack. The Lancers lost their top three scorers from last season, but the experienced crew of Williams, Riley, Scott and Jervis are more than capable of reaching the 20-25 win mark this season. Riley will take over the point guard duties in full from C.J. Hankins, Williams will be looked to as OLu’s main perimeter scoring threat with the departure of Rogers Printup and Scott and Jervis are both big, strong and tough forwards who rebound and defend well and both can run the floor and put the ball in the basket. The Lancers will need Zac Phororo to be a guy who can take some pressure off the other four with his ability to shoot from deep.
13. Cantwell-Sacred Heart
2014-15 record; results: 17-14 overall; lost to Etiwanda, 52-39, in the first round of the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs; lost to Damien, 63-41, in CIF State Southern Regional semifinals
Key returning players: SG Jacob Davison (6-3, 170, Sr., Eastern Washington-signee); F Luka Radovic (6-8, 210, Sr.); PG Eli Zedan (5-8, 140, Sr.); G Cyrus Shepard (6-1, 175, Sr.)
Key newcomers: G Avery Martinez (6-5, 160, Soph.); G Abel Jimenez (6-3, 170, Fr.)
Key departures: F Balsa Dragovic; C Gligorije Rakocevic
Outlook: Cantwell’s goal, as it always is under head coach George Zedan, is to defend until the opponent is blue in the face. Jacob Davison and Luka Radovic will be the focal points offensively. Davison is a freak athlete on the wing who can shoot it and attack the rim looking for a poster dunk. Radovic is a skilled four with the ability to rebound and push the break, score with his back to the basket or step out to the perimeter and knock down a set shot. If the Cardinals hope to stay this high in the rankings, they’ll need big contributions from Eli Zedan, Cyrus Shepard and Avery Martinez. Martinez, a sophomore, is the most intriguing of the three due to his size, length and athleticism. Cantwell opponents can expect to be in for a very long, uncomfortable and ugly night when they play the Cardinals.
14. Eastvale Roosevelt
2014-15 record; results: 22-5 overall; lost to Great Oak, 81-70, in CIF-SS Division IAA quarterfinals
Key returning players: G Jemarl Baker (6-3, 170, Jr.); F Matt Mitchell (6-5, 190, Jr.); PG Alize Travis (5-11, 155, Sr.); G Garrett Ford (5-8, 150, Sr.); G Tawon Elston (5-10, 155, Sr.); F Justin Lucas (6-5, 180, Sr.); F/C Caleb Brackett (6-5, 180, Sr.)
Key newcomers: None
Key departures: G/F Chris Seeley (transfer); G Khalil Stevenson
Where you can see them in SoCal: BattleZone at Corona Centennial, Nov. 30-Dec. 5
Outlook: Based on the fall league games I saw, new Roosevelt coach Stephen Singleton has one of the top three defensive teams in the area along with Cantwell and Etiwanda. The Mustangs pick-up in full-court man-to-man, deny all passing lanes on the wings, front the post, take charges in help-side and contest every shot at the rim. On the offensive side of things, look no further than Jemarl Baker and Matt Mitchell. Baker, a 6-3 wing, can play both on and off the ball, shoots it consistently from 3-point range Mitchell’s high motor, strength and good athleticism allows him to operate in the paint as an undersized power forward. He’s best in transition or slashing to the basket in the half-court, but he has shown an improved shot from the perimeter over the last few months. As of now, Roosevelt is considered a fringe Open Division team and will need big seasons from Alize Travis, Tawon Elston, Justin Lucas and Caleb Brackett to reach its full potential.
2014-15 record; results: 24-9 overall; lost to Bishop Montgomery, 56-50, in CIF-SS Open Division finals; lost to Fairfax, 58-50, in CIF State Southern Open Division Regional semifinals
Key returning players: PG Miles Oliver (6-1, 170, Jr.); G Garrett Carter (6-2, 165, Sr.); Kessler Edwards (6-4, 155, Soph.); G Krystian Wilson (6-2, 160, Soph.)
Key newcomers: G Elijah Harkless (6-1, 165, Soph.); G Darius Mason (6-2, 170, Fr.)
Key departures: F Kameron Edwards; F Delewis Johnson; C Jordan Naughton; G/F Marquis Reed
Where you can see them in SoCal: BattleZone at Corona Centennial, Nov. 30-Dec. 5; Inland Empire Classic, Dec. 12-18; MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-30; Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza, Feb. 6
Etiwanda will look to experienced junior point guard Miles Oliver (above, left) to lead them this season. Photo Credit: Andrew Drennen
Outlook: Etiwanda took a major hit across the board with the graduation of four key seniors, but it seems that Eagles coach Dave Kleckner always has something up his sleeve that surprises everyone. There will be no surprise, though, that junior point guard Miles Oliver and senior shooting guard Garrett Carter are going to be very good this season. File this under non-shockers: Sophomore’s Kessler Edwards and Krystian Wilson are also going to be very good. Etiwanda, as always, will be one of the Southland’s premier defensive units, which will keep them in just about every game it plays.
HoopsByUgland.com preseason Top 20 - No.'s 16-20