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Posted On: 11/29/18 8:37 PM
Princeton absolutely ran the Greater Miami Conference last season, winning the league title by four games on their way to a 16-0 conference record. Darius Bazley, Darweshi Hunter, Gabe O’Neal and Dominic Pierce are no longer walking on the court for the Vikings. Will Coach Steve Wright talented class of 2020 step-up and make it back to back conference titles? We discuss that and more in our 2018-19 GMC Preview.
What will it take for Princeton to repeat?
There before mentioned class of 2020 must live up to their potential in what will be a tough conference race. They have five ranked players in the 2020 class on the roster and a 6th who deserves a ranking, so the time is now for them to turn the hype into reality.
Who are the biggest challengers to Princeton?
Lakota East is one of two serious threats to the throne that the Vikings sit on. They have two of the better players in the Cincinnati area in Bellarmine commit Bash Wieland (2019 PHO #39) and 2020 stud Alex Mangold (PHO #35). Add in 2021 guard Nate Johnson (PHO #42), who already holds an offer from Fairmont State, and you have a team ready to challenge for the conference crown.
But also do not sleep on the Hamilton Big Blue as well as they return the top scoring tandem in the GMC with guards Jaylen Robinson (Northern St. commit, 2019 PHO #97) and D’Marco Howard (2019 PHO #68) who combined to average over 34ppg last season. Howard had an outstanding showing at the Prep Hoops Top 250 back in September where he was named upperclassmen MVP by fellow PHO writer Anthony Garcia. If the pieces around them can play up to potential, including F Trey Robinson (2020 PHO Top 40), Big Blue could walk away with the conference title.
Who are the dark horse team (s)?
While they do not have the talent to win the conference, expect Lakota West to be much better than last season. Led by legendary coach Jim Leon, West showed at the Cincy Boys High School Preview last weekend that his team is going to play much faster pace than last season while looking much better on the defensive end. And Carter Combs is a ball-player.
Who will lead the league in scoring?
It was already mentioned the Hamilton duo of Howard and Robinson are leading returning scoring duo in the conference with Howard finishing 4th, one spot behind Robinson last season. Both will have the ball in their hands a great deal, but we will go with Jaylen Robinson as the leading scorer in the conference for the season. It was a tough decision, but he gets the slight edge due to being a better perimeter shooter than his teammate. Lakota East W Bash Wieland should also be right there as well.
Who will lead the conference in rebounding?
While moonlighting as one of the best defensive linemen in the country during the fall, 2020 F/C Darrion Henry (PHO #115) is also one of the best rebounders in his class in the state. Good quickness and hands along with size (6’4) and strength are all traits that the big fella possesses. But he will get a serious challenge from Lakota East F/C Alex Mangold who was the best rebounder at the Top 250 Expo in September. It will be fun to watch these two battle in the paint for the next couple of seasons.
Who will win conference POY?
Bash Wieland of Lakota East will be the man for the ThunderHawks with the graduation of Jarrett Cox, and this past summer he looked the part. He showed improved ability to create off the bounce and in transition. With his ability to shoot the basketball, Wieland will be among the leading scorers in the conference. And it is for these reasons that Wieland has been chosen as pre-season POY.
But expect serious challenges from the Big Blue backcourt of Howard and Robinson who both will average close to if not 20ppg for a team that should contend for the conference title. Also expect Wieland teammate Alex Mangold to make a push as well.
Who is the conference breakout candidate?
Princeton 2020 G D’Airius Bazley is coming a very good debut varsity season with North College is poised to breakout this season. He showed at the Prep Hoops 250 Expo back in September that he could lead a team, facilitating at a high level and looking more like a natural point guard. If you followed him at NCH then you know his mid-range game is mean and he has a very nice handle. And if you follow him on Twitter (@D_Barks), then you know he has much, much improved bounce. Look for this young man to have a big season.
Predicted Order to Finish
* Photo from the Greater Miami Conference website