Posted On: 10/17/18 4:00 PM
Several teams around the state find themselves having to replace an excellent group of seniors after a successful 2018 season. For those teams to keep up the winning ways, somebody will have to step up and have a big season. Here are some players who are looking to step up and fill that role:
Isaiah Ervin 6’2″ Hazelwood Central (’19): The Hawks graduated a big crew of seniors from a team that won 26 games and advanced to the Class 5 state quarterfinals. The addition of Ervin will help accelerate the rebuilding process. A transfer from Alton Marquette, Ervin is a three-level scorer who averaged 13 points a game in leading Marquette to a 30-1 record last season. He will provide immediate help in the scoring department.
Ray Adams 6’3″ Webster Groves (’19): The Statesmen will be without its dynamic duo of Courtney Ramey (Texas) and Carte’are Gordon (Saint Louis U.) from its two-time defending Class 5 state championship teams. Adams averaged seven points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range last season as the team’s designated shooter. Look for those totals to increase this season as Adams becomes more of a focal point for a Webster Groves team that will contend again this season.
Rich Johnson 5’10” Lee’s Summit West (’19): The Titans featured one of the state’s frontcout duos last season in 6’8″ Christian Bishop and 6’10’ Yor Anei. Bishop is now at Creighton and Anei is now at Oklahoma State to begin their collegiate careers. Johnson now becomes the main option on the opposing team’s scouting report. He had a strong junior season after transferring in from Texas last year. He’s super quick with a nice perimeter stroke from 3-point distance.
Dylan Massey 6’5″ Mountain Grove (’19): After three consecutive Final Four appearances in the Class 3 state tournament, the talented senior group of Carter Otwell, Cade Coffman and Connor McNew graduated, leaving a strong legacy. The top returning player for Mountain Grove is Massey, an excellent post player who averaged 12 points and eight rebounds a game. He now becomes the main option for a team that is looking to contend once again. He had a huge game in MG’s win over Northwest in the Class 3 third-place game.
Devion Harris 6’6″ Parkway Central (’20): Led by All-State guard Deandre Campbell, forward Arther Green and a talented 2018 class, the Colts made a run to the Class 4 Final Four in 2017 and a state quarterfinal berth last season. That group has moved on which means the mantle has been passed to the 6’6″ Harris, who averaged 9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2 blocks as a sophomore. After a solid summer with the Brad Beal Elite 16U team, Harris now becomes the centerpiece of the Parkway Central program.
Ahmad Louis 6’2″ Oak Park (’19): The Northmen graduated a talented group, led by current Kansas freshman xx, Kayden xx and Jaylin Richardson. That is a lot of scoring to replace. The 6’2″ Louis returns to become one of the focal points for Oak Park. He is a scoring point guard who had an excellent summer while playing for Marcus Denmon Elite 17Us. He showed the ability to knock down 3-pointers and create offense off the dribble.
Samuel Bledsoe 6’2″ Charleston (’20): The Bluejays advanced to the Class 3 state finals last season behind its senior dynamic duo of Demarcus Sharp and Mardareyon Clark. Both have graduated which leaves a big hole in the offense. Looking to help fill that production will be Bledsoe, who was one of the top perimeter shooters in Southeast Missouri. As a sophomore, Bledsoe averaged six points a game while making 61 3-pointers. He has worked hard during the summer on improving his offense off the bounce to compliment his 3-point shooting.
Sofara Rasas 6’4″ St. Mary’s (’20): The Dragons graduated a very talented Class of 2018 players that put the program on the statewide map and the top returning player, Yuri Collins, is on the mend after off-season shoulder surgery. One of the top young players who will be counted on in the rebuilding process is Rasas, a talented wing player who is the younger brother of graduated forward Yahuza Rasas. Sofara is a slashing wing who can also shoot the 3-pointer.
Devin Phillips 5’8″ Confluence Academy (’20): It was a breakthrough season for Confluence as the Titans won 23 games behind its dynamic duo of Brandon Frederick and Leon Perry. Eight seniors have graduated from that team. The new leader will be Phillips, a talented little guard with excellent scoring and playmaking skills. He had an excellent summer and he looks ready to accept the mantle.
Tahj Patterson 5’11” Lutheran North (’20): The Crusaders were hit by the transfer bug as their top two scorers Jordan Nesbitt (St. Louis Christian) and Jalen White (Marquette) moved to new schools. Patterson now becomes the main scoring option at North and he is quite capable of filling the role after averaging 10 points a game as a sophomore. He should also flourish under the guidance of new head coach Gerald Jones.
Tre Kempker 6’4″ Eugene (’20): The Eagles enjoyed back to back 20-victory seasons with a talented group of 2018 players leading the way. All of them have graduated, leaving the versatile Kempker as the lone returning starter. Kempker is playing virtually every position on the court with his skill set and he can also defend. His work rate will increase much more this season as he breaks in a new set of teammates.
Jack Pronger 6’5″ MICDS (’21): The Rams graduated a six-man class, which included Metro League Player of the Year Austin Thompson and sharpshooter Julian Cheany, plus double-double machine Darion Smith has transferred to Trinity. Look for Pronger to step into a big role after getting many valuable minutes as a freshman. He is an excellent 3-point shooter with good size and an improving skill set. He had a productive summer with the Gateway Basketball Club 15U team.
Will Sullentrop 6’5″ Duchesne (’19): The Pioneers graduated a tremendous 2018 Class, including top scorers Mitch Fairless, Adam Moore and Luke Lowenstein. They won a ton a games for the Pioneers. The rebuilding effort will center around Sullentrop, a hard-working post player who has the ability to score and rebound around the basket.