Posted On: 10/19/18 6:00 AM
Basketballs have started bouncing all around Kentucky in the last 5 days as we are officially underway with the 2018-19 basketball season. It’s still several weeks until games start and we won’t have scrimmages for a few more weeks but it’s never too early to make predictions on who will win the regional and which senior player will represent their region at the Mr. Basketball banquet in March. Here’s an early breakdown of regions 9-12.
Champions: Covington Catholic. Different year, same result for the 9th region. The Colonels graduated a lot last year but they return an experienced core, a JV team that went undefeated last season and the same coaching staff that knows how to win the 9th region. Cooper and Newport should challenge them but neither is likely to have the firepower to beat Cov Cath when it counts in March.
Mr. Basketball Finalist: Nick Thelen, Covington Catholic. Fresh off his commitment to Bellarmine, the 6’6 forward for the reigning state champions is in good shape to be the MVP of the ninth this season. His points and rebounds averages should go up with a much bigger role this season and being the best player on the best team is generally a strong recipe for making the Mr. Basketball banquet.
Champions: Campbell County. The Camels return Seniors Reid Jolly and Drew Wilson to form a nice inside-out duo that helped lead the Camels to Rupp Arena last season and look to do so again. George Rogers Clark is the other popular choice in the tenth but after watching them this summer, I don’t know that they can replace what they lost to graduation and I generally question their team toughness. Pendleton and Scott could factor into the title race as well.
Mr. Basketball Finalist, Dontaie Allen, Pendleton County. Allen is on track to have one of the most remarkable careers in KHSAA history. He should end up around 3,600 points and 1,400 rebounds for his career. Dontaie may see double and triple teams all season due to the lack of quality contributors for the Wildcats after losing 9 seniors to graduation last year. Look for Dontaie to get the invite to the banquet and likely be the favorite to win Mr. Basketball in March.
Champions: Scott County. Let’s face the facts. If anyone other than Scott County wins the 11th, it will be a pretty massive upset. In my opinion, this will be the last great Scott County team for a while as they will graduate a ton and next year the new (second) high school opens in the county and will see the talent pool split. With such a talented, veteran core coming back from last year’s state runner-up team, the Cardinals are the heavy favorite to win the region and most people’s favorite to win the state.
Mr. Basketball Finalist: Michael Moreno, Scott County. Moreno is another Senior who has had an outstanding career and will be rewarded for it when awards season rolls around. With well over 1,000 career points and rebounds, Michael will end up with a resume worthy of being crowned Mr. Basketball. For the record, I think that Kyle Rode and Isaiah Cozart are good enough that the 11th region will “have a tie” in the voting and all 3 will make the banquet like in 2015 when Ray Spalding, Dwyane Sutton and Quentin Snider “tied” for the Mr. Basketball nomination.
Champions: Lincoln County. The Twelfth is wide open and up to 6 different teams could win it this season. I chose Lincoln here because they can grind teams out with their 2-3 zone and the approximately a million sets they run each night out. If Lincoln wins the region it will be by keeping games in the 40s and 50s. Wayne County, West Jessamine, Mercer County, Danville and Boyle County could all peak in March and win it all.
Mr. Basketball Finalist: Dalton Bruner, West Jessamine. The majority of talent in the 12th this year is younger and there are several freshmen and sophomores in the region who will make an impact this season. Bruner is going to be among the leading scorers in the region while West Jessamine should be one of the best teams and could win the region when the dust settles. Look for Dalton to get the invite to the big banquet in March.