Posted On: 11/25/18 1:00 PM
Benton Community (14-9, 12-7): The Bobcats return just two of their top eight players from last year’s team, but one of those returnees is our pick for Player of the Year in the division in Nathan Michels (13.5), a long, athletic guard who can score from anywhere. He led the ‘Cats in rebounds and assists last year in addition to finishing second in scoring. Also returning is third scorer Dylan Spina (9.4), a quality perimeter shooter. That tandem is going to be among the best duos in either division of the WaMaC, and as such, should win them plenty of games. But they’ll need to find some quality role players to put alongside them in order to remain at the top of the division.
Center Point-Urbana (10-12, 8-11): The Stormin’ Pointers lose both of their double figure scorers from last year’s team in Grant Dirks and Dylan Harris, who combined to average more than 30 points a game. They do bring back a quality piece to build around in Brandon Moore (9.2), a deadly shooter who was 45% from behind the arc last season. Caleb Andrews (7.5) returns on the wing, while Cody Westcott (6.9) looks like he could be a major player in the paint. He’s a strong, 6-5 big man who runs the floor and finishes at the rim at a high level. He should have a big senior season as the primary interior option. Cam Hasleiet (3.1), Alex Wade (2.5) and Jacob Metzen (1.4) give them some additional returning experience. Despite losing their top two scorers from last year, CPU brings back as much experience as anyone in the division and should be a strong contender.
Clear Creek-Amana (9-13, 7-12): Like CPU, the Clippers lose a lot of scoring, but their loss comes in the form of just one player, Darius Moore, who averaged just under 20 points a game last season. The next three scorers return in Tyler Schrepfer (8.2), Nolan Schwarting (8.0) and TJ Bollers (7.5). Schrepfer will be the team’s primary ball handler, and he pairs with Schwarting to give CCA some perimeter shooting, while Bollers is a big, physical and athletic 6-5 sophomore forward who is a beast on the glass and in the paint. His strength is unrivaled by most in the state and he should be really good for the Clippers. In a division without much experience back, having three key returnees is a major boost.
Independence (15-9, 13-7): The Mustangs put together their best season in quite a while last year, winning 15 games and advancing to the district final before falling to South Tama, one of three losses to the Trojans last year. They bring back their top scorer from that group in senior guard Sean Geertsema (14.4), a physical guard who can get to the rim or pull up from the arc. He also showcased outstanding decision making last season, dishing out 111 assists against just 32 turnovers. The issue for Indy is that Logan Schmitt (4.5) is the only other returnee who scored more than 11 points last season. Schmitt, a 6-0 guard, will need to become a quality secondary scorer. This group has a lot of production to replace and will need to do it quickly.
South Tama (15-9, 13-7): The Trojans, like Independence, put together one of their best seasons in recent memory last year, making their way to the substate final, where they outplayed two-time defending champion Cedar Rapids Xavier for about 30 of the 32 minutes, falling 59-56. The bad news is that only one player who scored more than 16 points last season is back from that group. The good news is that he’s a really good piece to build around in Keith Keahna (8.8), a big, physical interior presence who led the team in rebounding and should be a force in the paint. They need to find guard play in a hurry.
Vinton-Shellsburg (5-17, 3-16): The Vikings struggled to score last year, averaging just 42.5 points a game with 35-25-61 shooting splits. They’ll need to become much more efficient if they want to improve in the win column, and they’ll have to do so with the top two scorers from that team graduated. Nolan Haisman (7.1) is the leading returnee, with Seth Patterson (4.5), Jose Wilson (2.2) and Isaac Wiley (1.4) the other returnees with significant experience. It’s hard to see this team being any more efficient on the offensive end, and as such, it’s hard to see them winning more games.
Williamsburg (10-11, 7-10): Nobody who scored more than 40 points last season returns for the Raiders, so it will be a big group of new faces in big roles this year. Clayton Thurm (2.1) is the leading returning scorer, and Jordan Martin (1.9) likely steps into the primary ball handling role. With next to no experience returning, this group may find themselves in the basement of the division.
Projected Order of Finish
1. Center Point-Urbana
2. Benton Community
3. Clear Creek-Amana
5. South Tama
Analysis: This is going to be an interesting race to watch unfold. Only one team in the division returns their leading scorer from last year (Independence), but they don’t bring back much else. With the amount of talent that has departed this division, this could go in a number of directions. CPU has been a fairly consistent program, and looks like as good a bet as any to win the league.
Preseason Player of the Year
2019 Nathan Michels, Benton Community: 13.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Either Michels or Independence guard Sean Geertsema looks like a solid selection for the Player of the Year, but with the shots that are opened up following the graduation of Spencer Touro, we expect to see Michels put up some huge numbers for the Bobcats, who are routinely near the top of the division.
2019 Cody Westcott, Center Point-Urbana: A 6-5 forward who runs the floor well, finishes around the rim and rebounds effectively, Westcott should step into a much larger role for the Stormin’ Pointers this year following the graduation of Grant Dirks.
Players to Watch
2019 Nathan Michels, Benton Community
2019 Dylan Spina, Benton Community
2019 Sean Geertsema, Independence
2020 Logan Schmitt, Independence
2019 Keith Keahna, South Tama
2019 Brandon Moore, Center Point-Urbana
2019 Cody Westcott, Center Point-Urbana
2020 Caleb Andrews, Center Point-Urbana
2020 Tyler Schrepfer, Clear Creek-Amana
2019 Nolan Schwarting, Clear Creek-Amana
2021 TJ Bollers, Clear Creek-Amana
2019 Nolan Haisman, Vinton-Shellsburg
2019 Seth Patterson, Vinton-Shellsburg