Posted On: 10/5/18 11:46 AM

Continuing with some very early 2018-19 regular season previews, we are breaking down the top 5 teams and top 5 college prospects in each region. We move to the fourteenth region as we start down the homestretch. Estill County shocked everyone by making the Sweet Sixteen last season. Traditional favorites Knott County Central and Perry County Central both expect to find their way back to Rupp Arena this season after Estill’s surprise run last year.

Top 5 Teams:

  1. Perry County Central – Noah Back returns for a Perry Central team that had a disappointing season last year. They won 20 games but took a 27 point beating in the regional at the hands of Knott. On the bright side, they return their entire team this year. They should be experienced and motivated after getting beaten so badly to end their season.
  2. Knott County Central – Knott was the favorite to win the region last season and fell short to Estill. This year they will start as a one of the favorites again this season although they will be a little younger than your typical Knott team, They are likely to start two sophomores this year in Josh McGuire and Colby Napier. Napier should have a breakout season.
  3. Hazard – One of the traditional powerhouse schools in the mountains, Hazard looks to get back on track after a few down seasons. Sophomore Wade Pelfrey will lead a team that returns their top 4 scorers from last season and didn’t lose much to graduation. They could be a sneaky pick to contend for the title this year.
  4. Wolfe County – Deven Stone and his 2,000 career points graduated but the cupboard isn’t bare at Wolfe. The ball should move more instead of most of the scoring going through Stone. Wolfe is at least a year away from competing for a regional title as it should be a two horse race this season but this young team should show signs of growth.
  5. Breathitt County – Senior Jalen Taulbee is back to lead a Bobcat team that finished the regular season 14-19 but did win the district championship before losing to Knott by 20 in the regional tournament. They lost 6 seniors to graduation but most of the main contributors return and will look to repeat as district champions.

Top 5 College Prospects:

  1. Noah Back – Back has a ton of college interest heading into his Senior season. He likely ends up at the D2 or D3 level but he has been a popular target for many smalls schools and should end up playing college basketball at some level next year as a specialist shooter.
  2. Wade Pefrey – Just a sophomore, Pelphrey led Hazard in scoring last season and should be among the regional leaders in scoring this year. His college ceiling will be determined by his ability to guard his position at the next level. Definitely one to watch for the next 3 years.
  3. Jaz Johnson – Jaz should inherit the Deven Stone position of being the go to scorer for Wolfe for the next 3 seasons. Johnson shoots it well and is a willing passer. Like Pelphrey, Jaz is going to have to show he can guard his position at the next level in order to prove to coaches that he can play at the highest levels.
  4. Colby Napier – Another sophomore, Napier is a lights out shooter who already has good size for the position and could keep growing. After being the sixth man last year, Napier should be a starter for Knott and could get plenty of shots. If he continues growing and developing, he could be the best prospect in the region for the long term.
  5. Chimaobi Ajuonuma – Mobi is still learning the game and is only going to keep getting better over the next two seasons. He’s an undersized post right now but Ajuonuma is a high level athlete that could become a good college prospect if he can improve his shooting and ball handling.