Last season: 22-5
Head Coach: Clay Witt
Class B showed last year that they could compete with the best teams in Oklahoma. Last season, Duke competed with Booker T. Washington and even beat 3A powerhouse Millwood. Tyrone has a chance to be that team from Class B this season, as they could very well be the team to beat.
The Bobcats return four out of their five starters from last season’s 22-4 squad. Those four averaged nearly 45 points combined and look to capitalize on what should be lots of offensive firepower this season.
Tyrone returns one of the best players in Class B and maybe even the state in Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez has a skill set that’s simply hard to stop and he’s very consistent game by game. He dominates on the glass too. In one of Tyrone’s biggest games of the season last year, Hernandez had 21 points and 15 rebounds after only three quarters. He can dominate the game in so many ways, using his 6’5 frame to score inside but also step out and shoot the ball too.
Tyrone also returns a key piece in senior Ethan Brown. Brown averaged 11.6 points per game and is also their biggest inside presence. At 6’4, they rely on Brown’s rebounding and rim protection just as much as his shooting.
The Bobcats bring back two role players too, in juniors Rylan Johnson and Kobie Williams. Johnson, a quick guard, averaged nearly seven points per game and Williams added almost five. If these two can provide points and quality minutes, Tyrone will have a tough starting five to guard.
Having two star players both near 6’5 is almost unheard of and will make Tyrone a matchup nightmare for every team they play. Experience will be key for this roster as they had a great season last year and look to capitalize. There’s no reason to think that the Bobcats won’t pick up right where they left off last season and make another run at the gold ball.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 28-2
Head Coach: Jon Hadley
The Whippets come into the 2020 season with one of the deepest rosters in the state. Varnum returns 4 out of their 5 starters from one of the best teams in their class last season. Team basketball along with smart, tough play is what makes this Varnum team one of the odds on favorites to win the state championship.
The Whippets return their best player and leading scorer in Martell Davis. Davis, a 6’2 junior, averaged 15.4 points per game last season. Davis can heat up any given night though, as he had scoring outbursts all year including a 33 point performance. Davis is a great shooter and he’s one of the most complete guards in the class. They will rely on him for playmaking all season long.
They also bring back two seniors that both averaged nearly 10 points per game in Cordell King and Lance Nutt. King is a solid scorer and a good rebounder for the Whippets. He has the size of a wing player at 6’3 and was a great second scorer to Davis. Nutt is a small, shifty guard that is a solid scorer and a great passer. He uses his quickness to get in the lane and pass the ball, but can also be counted on for points too.
Rounding out the Whippets is senior Terrance Madkins. As a junior, Madkins averaged 9.2 points per game but has a great chance to improve on that this coming season. Standing at 6’6 he’s usually the tallest player on the court and is the perfect fit for this team. He’s a great big man that does his job night in and night out. Madkins can score well, but also is a key rebounder and interior defender for this Whippets squad.
It’s hard to find another team in the state that returns four seniors all capable of averaging double-digit scoring. This Varnum team is one of the deepest teams in the state and have all the experience they need.
Led by star player Martell Davis and three other solid, experienced seniors, the Whippets have talent across the board. They could very well be the Class B favorites, and few would be surprised to see them in the state championship at the end of the year.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 24-4
Head Coach: Shane Putnam
When talking about the most exciting returning starters in the state, Whitesboro has a right to be in that conversation. Coming off of a dominant 24-3 season, the Bulldogs return three seniors including one of the best scorers in the state.
Whitesboro boasts one of the most impressive, complete players in the state in Jayce Ward. The 6’2 senior is a double double machine that teams simply can’t stop. Ward averaged 23.6 points per game along with 13.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists. He can score from all levels and impacts every area of the game. Ward is what makes this team go, and led by him, they are in solid hands. He is a creative scorer and plays bigger than he is, often dominating the glass against taller guys.
The Bulldogs also return two other seniors in Rhett Hunter and Ryan Huett. Both bring much needed experience from a team that made the state tournament last season and only lost three games.
Hunter, another 6’2 wing/post type player, is someone the Bulldogs will rely on to score more this season. As a junior, he averaged 9.1 points per game and helped out on the glass as well. Huett added 3.1 points per contest and will find himself in an expanded role this year as Whitesboro will need him to step up.
Whitesboro is no stranger to big games, as they played 11 ranked teams including playoffs last year. They won seven of those, including games against teams in class A and 2A.
While Whitesboro doesn’t have any taller posts they do a solid job at rebounding as a team. Their three seniors are all around 6’2 and have shown statistically that they can rebound against any team they play. The Bulldogs play hard and tough and have instilled a winning culture within the program.
With key experience returning from a team that was already able to make a state tournament run, plus one of the most dominant players in the state, Whitesboro has a chance to make this season special.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
FT. COBB-BROXTON Mustangs
Last season: 25-3
Head Coach: Scott Hines
The Ft. Cobb Broxton Mustangs are accustomed to winning. It seems every year that they are back in the mix of the top teams in Class A and are returning to the state championship.
The Mustangs have one of the best, and most well respected, coaches in the state in Scott Hines. He has led the Mustangs to championship after championship throughout the years as the Mustangs have an all-around record of 28-8 in the state tournament.
While Ft. Cobb lost on a controversial last second play in the state tournament last year, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be right back there this year and maybe even the odds on favorite.
Coach Hines will be returning leading scorer and an elite offensive player in senior guard Tyson EastwoodTysonEastwood6'2" | CGFort Cobb-Broxton | 2021StateOK
. He also averaged eight rebounds and four assists, making him a true do-it-all player for the Mustangs. Eastwood is a fantastic shooter and he is very active in all aspects of the game as he is the engine behind this team. At 6’1, he plays like a post too and is very physical.
Ft. Cobb is in a good spot depth wise, as many of their solid players are underclassmen. Kyler Denton is another senior on this team that looks to contribute in a big way coming off of a season where he averaged 10.8 points per game. Denton also provides much needed rebounding and an inside presence for this team, as he is physical and big. At 6’4, he’s often the tallest player on the court in Class A and is really able to use that to his advantage.
The Mustangs also have a stud sophomore who is already committed to play baseball at the University of Oklahoma. As a freshman Jaxon Willits was able to contribute, and even start, as he added 6.5 points per game and will have a much larger role this season. Willits is an elite all around athlete and strong for a guard.
With key starters returning and one of the best coaches in the state, the Mustangs have a solid chance to redeem their loss at state last year. If Eastwood makes yet another leap, he could very well average a double-double and lead Ft. Cobb to another championship.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 26-4
Head Coach: Ricky Gore
On paper, this has to be one of the best teams that Hydro-Eakly has ever had, and they should get a good amount of preseason attention. As a program, they’ve only won one game at state, but they have a great chance to change that this year.
Last seasons state tournament run consisted of a starting lineup with four sophomores. All four will be back for the Bobcats, as they look to make Ian even deeper run this season.
Returning for the Bobcats is do-it-all star Nolan Gore. Gore, a 6’4 junior, averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds as only a sophomore last year and led Hydro-Eakly to lots of success. Gore can score from outside and inside and is a very versatile player for this squad. He has a good chance to average over 20 points per game for the Bobcats.
While Gore could be this team’s most talented player, senior Cade Berkey could be what makes this team go. Berkey averaged 14.5 points per game last season and will be the only senior in this year’s starting lineup as he looks to take on a leadership role. If Berkey gets hot, he’s tough to cool off. Berkey is a great shooter and is instant offense for this team.
The Bobcats also have solid height throughout their team, as they bring back two juniors in Carson Propps and Paxton Price. Propps, 6’3, averaged 12.3 points per game last season and is able to impact the game on the glass and scoring too. Price, 6’4, averaged nearly 10 points per contest as he gets offensive rebounds and putbacks often. Both big men are tough inside scorers and the Bobcats will look to feed them the ball all year long.
This team returns all of their scoring and their entire starting five. After finishing last season 26-4, they have a great chance to end up in the state championship game. The Bobcats unique mix of offensive firepower and length across the court makes them so dangerous in class A. It’s a luxury to have one player who is 6’4, and Hydro boasts four of them. Offense will be the story for the Bobcats this season and it’ll be extremely hard to slow them down, especially if Gore and Berkey get going.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 26-6
Head Coach: Michael Langley
The Stuart Hornet’s are no stranger to the big moment. In one of last year’s biggest upsets and craziest finishes, they knocked off Ft. Cobb in the first round of the state tournament on a miracle buzzer beater. The Hornets had one of their best seasons ever, finishing the year 26-6.
This season, Stuart brings back their dynamic duo of Connor ClaytonConnorClayton6'1" | SGStuart | 2022StateOK
and Jared McIntosh. The Hornets will rely on a fast paced style and plenty of points. If they can keep scoring in bunches, they could find themselves right back in the state tournament.
Last season, Stuart had an explosive offensive attack as they topped 70 points on five different occasions. In their six losses, they scored more than 60 points only once. This team needs to put up points in a hurry and use their offensive firepower to lead them to victory.
Clayton, a junior, is one of the best scorers in the class. In a playoff game last season, he showcased his shooting ability by dropping 36 points in a win. He’s smooth with the ball in his hands and finishes at the rim with ease. Clayton is more than just a shooter as a good amount of his points come in the paint and he uses quick crossovers to drive. When needed though, he’s a more than capable three point shooter and has solid range.
McIntosh is another exciting player for this Hornets squad. He has great vision and he makes the unselfish play. McIntosh can float from the step out to the high post and find open shooters. His best attribute is his passing. McIntosh always makes the right pass and has perfected the dump off when he gets in the lane. He doesn’t necessarily look to shoot, but can knock down threes when he’s open too.
One thing that Stuart is really good about as a team is getting hands in passing lanes. The Hornets cause lots of turnovers and get most of their steals off of deflections and deny defense. Clayton gets plenty of fast break opportunities because of his ability to step up in opposing players passing lanes and take away the first pass.
Stuart has a great chance to improve on last year’s 26-6 record plus a trip to the state tournament because of their play style and two stars. With a high paced offense, flashy passing, and knockdown shooters, the Hornets will be a fun team to watch.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 27-7
Head Coach: Jeff Edmondson
The Dale Pirates seem to have the pieces to make a deep run this year and will be one of the toughest teams to beat in class 2A. Coming off of a stellar 27-7 season, the Pirates return three starters, each of them averaging more than nine points per game. All three returning starters will be seniors in what will be a very experienced and battle tested group for coach Jeff Edmonson.
Leading that group is Dallen Forsythe, a 5’9 senior that averaged 9.1 points last season. Forsythe is a fantastic leader and a great all-around player for the Pirates, as he is what makes this team go.
Dale also returns stud guard Ike Shirley who is a great floor general and a knock down shooter. Ike hit a massive three pointer to send the Pirates to the state tournament last season.
The Pirates best player, though, might just be someone who has yet to play a varsity game yet in Dayton Forsythe. Younger brother to Dallen, Dayton is nationally ranked and has looked incredibly promising during his AAU days with Team Griffin. Forsythe has a very high basketball IQ and a very complete game in general, as the young guard always seems to be in control. He’s a fantastic shooter and a great passer as well.
They also return a key player in Palmer Jones, who averaged 10 points last season. Jones is another solid player, and at 6’1 he gives the Pirates length and versatility on the perimeter.
Dale will be relatively guard heavy, giving them a great chance to do what they do best and speed the game up. The Pirates love to get out in transition and after watching them play, they consistently make the extra pass to find guys wide open from deep. They shoot at a high percentage because they take great shots.
This Dale team has a chance to be great, and even the favorite in class 2A, because of their depth and quality of players from top to bottom. This team is deep, and it could be a special season for the Pirates.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 23-4
Head Coach: Cache Hill
The Minco Bulldogs return one of the most talented lineups in 2A and arguably the best player, too.
The Bulldogs bring back three starters, all three averaging double digits in the scoring department. These three return from a team that finished last season 23-4 and ranked #6 in the state.
Cooper ShirleyCooperShirley6'3" | PGMinco | 2021StateOK
, a 6’3 senior, can do it all from the Bulldogs, as he’s been making a significant impact since his freshman year. Shirley was one of the top shooters in the state last year as his size and length allows him to shoot over defenders and create space easily.
Last season, he poured in 22.3 points per game as Minco made it back to the state tournament for the 5th time. Shirley was named conference MVP last year and looks to build on that by bringing the Bulldogs success in the state tournament.
Minco also returns another key piece in Nick BurchfieldNickBurchfield5'10" | CGMinco | 2021StateOK
, as the 5’10 junior was also named to the conference first team with Shirley. Burchfield is a great second option for Shirley this year as he averaged 10.1 points per game. He is a quick, shifty guard who is a reliable scorer, especially when Shirley is having an off night. Birchfield is instant offense and brings great energy.
The Bulldogs return junior Austin Brothers as well, who brings back 9.7 points per game and is a solid rebounder too. His length is used to guard taller wings and he really helps Minco on the boards.
Returning nearly 40 points per game from a starting lineup that was incredibly successful last year is a relief for Coach Hill, who is coming off of leading the Bulldogs to their 5th state tournament appearance.
Minco can somewhat live and die by the three ball, as star Cooper ShirleyCooperShirley6'3" | PGMinco | 2021StateOK
takes threes at a high volume from anywhere on the court. If the threes are falling, the Bulldogs are hard to beat. They move the ball well and have shooters all over the court.
Returning Shirley is massive for this squad and they have key pieces aside from him too. If they can replace the two seniors they graduated from the starting lineup with positive production, they’ll be squarely in the mix and right back in the state tournament.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
PAWNEE Black Bears
Last season: 27-2
Head Coach: David Page
Pawnee coach David Page has to be excited in what he has returning next season for the Black Bears.
Coming off of one of the most successful seasons in school history at 27-2, Pawnee returns their entire starting five, a unit that has been playing together for quite some time.
They return a three-headed scoring monster of almost 43 points. Gunnar GordonGunnarGordon5'10" | PGPawnee | 2022StateOK
, Brad Reeves, and Landreth Harrison are all guards for the Black Bears who provide instant offense.
Gordon, a junior and the #49 player in the PrepHoops Oklahoma 2022 rankings, was one of the top scorers in the state last year as he poured in 18.1 points per game as an underclassman. He has unlimited range and a green light to shoot from nearly anywhere. Gordon takes the most shots on this team, and as he goes the offense goes. He will be one of the older guys on the team this year and will have to sep up for Pawnee in other ways, including defensively.
The Black Bear offense looks to move the ball around too, as point-guard Gunnar GordonGunnarGordon5'10" | PGPawnee | 2022StateOK
relies on other scorers to make shots as well. This is evident in his passing numbers, as he averaged eight assists per game last season. Reeves and Harrison were recipients of this distribution often, as Reeves averaged 13.6 and Harrison 11 of his own.
Junior Jake Mitchell and senior Trent Hixon are both value players and upperclassmen for the Black Bears. Mitchell is the tallest player in the starting five, and while 6’2 isn’t the ideal size for a post, he plays taller than he his. Rebounding for this Pawnee team is a group effort, as they try hard and hustle. They know effort and competitiveness is what will boost them to the next level, so they work hard on the little things.
Having a smaller group gives Coach Page many options in transition. Pawnee loves to play fast with their guards and exploits matchups well. They also have solid spot up shooters and love to shoot from deep, especially Gordon.
This team has accomplished a lot already and they are looking to take it one more step this year. After two consecutive winning seasons, one being 27-2 and advancing to the state tournament, the Black Bears might just have what it takes this year.
Last season: 23-4
Head coach: Travis Cannady
Adair is one of the few teams that can breathe a sigh of relief in the experience they bring back heading into this season.
Unlike many 3A teams, Adair returns a good portion of their key players and their points. Out of their starting five, Adair only graduated one senior. The Warriors will rely heavily on two returnees who will be seniors in Garrett Long and Chance Condit.
Long is simply an all-around athlete and is a competitor in anything he does. As a senior, expect him to make the jump to 20 points per game after pacing the Warriors with 15 per contest last season. At 6’0, Long uses his height and athleticism to finish well and excels in his role. He takes most of the shots for this team and will shoulder the load on much of the scoring.
Condit, on the other hand, provides much needed height and toughness for Adair as he is a solid all-around big man. Some teams struggle to keep up with big men and teams that have size especially in small classes like 3A, but having Condit is a luxury for coach Travis Cannady.
Condit also looks to be a bigger focal point scoring the ball as he only averaged five points per game last season.
They also have solid complimentary pieces in guys like Carter Buck, Ty Duncan, and Isaiah Beetz. All three guys have proved that they can score double digits on any given night and they contribute to a culture of a team that plays hard. They will also have to step in and rebound this year, as the only departures from the Warriors were big men.
The Warriors were a team full of underclassmen last year with most of their scoring coming from sophomores and juniors. After a year under their belt and a successful, winning record this could be a promising year for Adair.
A mix of a veteran coach, veteran players coming off of a 21-5 record, and an elite scorer in Garrett Long, things are looking good for the Warriors.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
CROSSINGS CHRISTIAN Knights
Last season: 24-4
Head Coach: Shawn Schenk
The Crossings Christian Knights are another 3A team that was hit hard by departing seniors. They graduated many key players, including three starters from last year’s 24-4 squad.
They will miss nearly 30 points per game from those three graduated starters. Even with the graduated seniors, I wouldn’t expect this to be a down year for the Knights in the slightest. Coach Shawn Schenk has been able to reload and lead the Knights to impressive seasons every year since he has taken over the head coaching duties.
Returning for the Knights, most notably, is junior point guard Reid LovelaceReidLovelace5'11" | PGCrossings Christian | 2022StateOK
. Lovelace averaged 15.4 points per game last season as a sophomore and has a chance to get into the 1,000 point club pretty early on in the season. For the Knights to maintain the level of success they’d like to have, he’ll really have to elevate his game and average more than 20 points per game this season to make up for lost production. Lovelace is a great shooter from deep and is a crafty passer too.
[player_tooltip player_id="955383" first="Reid" last="Lovelace"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Joining him in the backcourt is junior Cooper GudellCooperGudell6'3" | SGCrossings Christian | 2021StateOK
who saw his points dip slightly last year but still was able to contribute 8.6 points per contest. Gudell will have the green light this year, as he and Lovelace both shoot from distance at a high clip and at high volume. Gudell has solid range and is lengthy enough to get rebounds too.
The Knights will struggle on the boards as they lose their two big men to graduation and a guard in Koonce that could really rebound. Look for guys to step into a new role and really contribute for the first time in seniors Miles Brown and Drew Middendorf. Both guys are athletic wings that will get plenty of court time this year and will have to play well for Crossings Christian to have a chance at another state run.
The Knights will rely on a good amount of new faces this year as this could be one of those teams that just gets better as the year goes on and they have a chance to gel together.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
Last season: 17-10
Head Coach: Mike Jeffries
The entirety of class 3A was really hit hard by departures of seniors this past year. Millwood was near the top of this list, as they graduated three out of their five starters including one of the best players in the state with Isaiah Williams.
Coming off a 17-10 season, the Falcons were looking to make yet another tournament run before the season was cut short. Millwood consistently dominates class 3A, as their record sometimes doesn’t tell the whole story because they play such difficult competition outside their class.
The Falcons will play a very fast paced style this year as they will be led by dynamic guard Rickey HuntRickeyHunt6'0" | PGMillwood | 2023StateOK
. Hunt is a high-energy guard that is very aggressive and attacks the rim often.
They also have an athletic big man in Clance Crosby who will be a senior this season. Crosby serves as a solid rim protector also, as he had nearly 10 blocks in one game last year. The big man will undoubtedly have to step up this year as he is tasked with helping replace Isaiah Williams. Crosby is an all-around athlete that will have an impact offensively and defensively.
[player_tooltip player_id="967381" first="Rickey" last="Hunt"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
Rounding out the Falcons three-headed monster is Kobe Law who is an elite defender. He was tasked with many tough assignments last year and will have an even bigger role for the Falcons this year. Law can single handedly take someone out of the game, as he is that good on the defensive end.
While Millwood also loses a top senior in Myles JeffriesMylesJeffries6'2" | CGMillwood | 2020StateOK
too, there’s still not much of a reason to believe they won’t be competing for a championship this year. This team will be deep and have guys ready to make an impact off the bench. They will also be one of the most versatile teams in 3A with their length and height.
With Coach Mike Jeffries, Millwood is consistently good no matter what players they lose. With three studs coming back and a deep roster ready to step into bigger roles, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Millwood near the top of the rankings for most of the season. Adding in the fact that 3A is completely wide-open with many top players graduating and so much uncertainty, it could be a special season for the Falcons.
Written by Ross Lovelace.
REJOICE CHRISTIAN Eagles
Last season: 21-6
Head Coach: Zac Briscoe
Rejoice Christian claimed the Gold Ball in 2019 before making a move to 3A.
"Last year, we were on our way to the State Tournament and felt really good about it," Rejoice coach Zac Briscoe said. "And then COVID hit."
Briscoe said Rejoice has graduated every player who received playing-time during the 2019 State Championship game.
Three players who played in 2020 return. The first, senior Harrison Hunnicutt, was a part-time starter last season.
"Hunnicutt is probably our most experienced and our oldest kid," Briscoe said. "Played a lot last year, decent chance he’s our leading scorer this year.
"We’ll run a lot of stuff through him," Briscoe said.
Sophomore Chance Wilson, who also starts for Rejoice at quarterback, returns after spending most of his freshman season in the starting lineup.
"Chance is a really athletic kid, and he just does a little bit of everything," Briscoe said. "He’s gonna bring us some defense, he’s gonna make some athletic plays getting to the rim, he’s got great vision.
"He’ll do a good job of getting his teammates open," Briscoe said.
The final returning player from last season, sophomore Jaren Foote, was a back-up point guard for the Eagles in 2020 but will have an expanded role in 2021.
"[Foote] is a really skilled guard, can shoot it, can really handle it, high iQ," Briscoe said, "so we’re excited for him and the role he’ll have."
Two newcomers, freshman Gabe Patterson and senior Griffin Paul, will round out the Eagles’ starting lineup.
"Gabe is about 6-foot-2, inside-out kind of guy, can step out and shoot it, can go play around the rim and be real physical," Briscoe said. "We really like Gabe a lot, we think he’s probably gonna score a lot for us this year.
"[Paul]’s a senior. . . probably would have played for us last year, but he dislocated his shoulder and had surgery before the season," Briscoe said. "He was a guy that was on varsity the year we won state."
Leadership from Paul and Hunnicutt will be pivotal for the Eagles, Briscoe said.
"I like the leadership they’ve had, I like the energy they’ve had in they gym trying to lead these young guys and showing them how to do it right," Briscoe said. "The sooner these young guys figure that out, the better we’re going to be."
Briscoe said defense, rebounding and ball-security will be instrumental keys to Rejoice’s success.
"They’ve got the ability to do all of that kind of stuff, but there’s a certain level of toughness and competitiveness that goes into it," Briscoe said. "There’s a big difference between freshman & J.V. ball and going and playing in varsity games.
"We think this group is going to get back to what those last two groups have been," Briscoe said.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 21-5
Head Coach: Quinn Wooldridge
Bethany posted a successful post-season that placed the Bronchos in the State Tournament for the first time in 11 years (not to mention a win against top-ranked Kingfisher).
A mix of returners and newcomers, coach Quinn Wooldridge said, will lead the way for Bethany during the 2020-2021 season.
Production starts with the interior tandem of 6-foot-8-inch Michal WooldridgeMichalWooldridge6'8" | CBethany | 2022StateOK
and 6-foot-7-inch Payton Tolle. Coach Wooldridge said that the Bronchos will affect a new scheme with more allowance for post-centric play.
[player_tooltip player_id="955385" first="Michal" last="Wooldridge"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
"The previous two years, with all the perimeter depth we had, those two guys kind of tag-teamed each other," Wooldridge said. "This year. . . that’s two of our three best players, so those guys have to play together.
"At the 4A level, I don’t know that anybody will have two of them that size, especially two of them that can actually play" Wooldridge said.
Michal WooldridgeMichalWooldridge6'8" | CBethany | 2022StateOK
will play the five-spot for the Bronchos, coach Wooldridge said.
"Mike, the best description for the way he’ll play with us is kind of like a sawed-off Gasol brother," Wooldridge said. "He’ll play a lot at the elbow, we’ll post him a lot."
Tolle, a Wichita-State baseball signee, also received high praise from coach Wooldridge.
"[Tolle] is a big, strong kid that’s a pretty good rebounder and defender," Wooldridge said, "and he’s pretty mobile and athletic for his size, too."
The Bronchos also return the talents of Luke O’NealLukeO’Neal6'2" | SFBethany | 2021StateOK
, a utility player who can fill many roles, Wooldridge said.
"[O’Neal], he’s really worked on his body, gotten a lot stronger," Wooldridge said, "he was a four, basically, last year, and this year, due to losing some perimeter guys, he’s going to be a full-time perimeter guy and will run the point for us some too.
"He can guard the one-through-five at the 4A level defensively," Wooldridge said.
[player_tooltip player_id="1015856" first="Luke" last="O’Neal"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Fellow senior David CastilloDavidCastillo6'1" | SGBethany | 2021StateOK
, who plays with O’Neal for H&H Elite, is out for the Bronchos with a torn ACL that he suffered in a scrimmage, and his timeline is unclear at this point, Wooldridge said.
After those four, Wooldridge will be fielding players with little-or-no minutes.
"We were so deep as a 4A team these last two years. . . what that did was keep some of our underclassman guys from getting any varsity experience," Wooldridge said. "They’re going to be playing in the 8 o’clock game instead of the 5:30 game now."
Junior forward Cameron Wright, who stands about 6-foot-3-inches, will be one of those players.
"[Cameron] is pretty athletic and can block shots and rebound and kind of a developing 3-point shooter," Wooldridge said. "He’s gonna get a chance to get some opportunities out there."
Six-foot-2-inch perimeter player Woods Harrell could also have expanded minutes, Wooldridge said. A senior, Daniel Ramos, will also be expected to step up for the Bronchos as a forward.
"[Ramos] has got a great scoring touch and just knack for scoring around the basket even against bigger guys," Wooldridge said.
Wooldridge said the aforementioned lack of experience will be one of the greatest obstacles facing Bethany.
"We’re still in the position to have a really good team and make a great run at things, we’re just built so much differently than we’ve been the last couple of years," Wooldridge said, "We’ve still got a good group of guys that are back, that are experienced, we’re just having to find some other guys that can step in and fill roles that were vacated."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 17-8
Head Coach: Kendal Cudjoe
Classen SAS finished 7-1 in their final eight contests in 2020 en route to a State Tournament berth that never came to fruition.
"Three-fourths of the way through the season, right before playoff time is when [our players] really kinda bought-in," coach Kendal Cudjoe said.
Cudjoe’s three returning starters: seniors Anthony TurnerAnthonyTurner6'2" | PGClassen SAS | 2021StateOK
and Camari SmileyCamariSmiley6'3" | SFClassen SAS | 2021StateOK
and junior Tony PalmaTonyPalma4'0" | COK
will be expected to carry that momentum into the new season -- if Classen SAS gets one.
"I think they’re really motivated, I think they’re excited and ready to prove themselves," Cudjoe said. "They’ve been putting in the work.
"When they’ve been able to put the work in," Cudjoe said.
Last week, Oklahoma City Public Schools announced an indefinite suspension of athletic activities, a bleak spectacle for the Comets’ basketball program. Cudjoe remains optimistic.
"There’s a lot of districts that are still practicing," Cudjoe said. "After the announcement. . . I think they will look at case numbers every Friday.
[player_tooltip player_id="953451" first="Anthony" last="Turner"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
"So we just kind of have to wait and see," Cudjoe said.
The Comets have reason to hope for a season to resume as swiftly as possible. One of those reasons is Turner, who is not only the leading returning scorer at Classen SAS, but one of the leading returners in all of 4A.
"Anthony, I’m thinking pick up right where he left off with his scoring," Cudjoe said. "He was averaging probably 20-points-a-game going into the State Tournament. . . and he also led the team in rebounding as a junior.
"He’s got four years of varsity experience, which helps," Cudjoe continued. "Those things and his leadership should be what he brings to the table."
Smiley, his senior counter-part, is no second fiddle, either; He is a talented two-way player with great vision for the court, Cudjoe said.
"Camari is a very unselfish player, he’s willing to do a lot of the dirty work defensively," Cudjoe said. "He can guard a big. . . he shoots the ball really well, can play inside-and-outside."
The youngest of his returning starters, Palma, is a talented on-ball guard who can score it himself.
"Tony has the potential to be a really, really good point guard, because he can handle the ball, he’s a great defender, he’s a great defender," Cudjoe said, "I mean he’s got the total package to play that position."
"Those three guys will be leaders," Cudjoe concluded.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
HERITAGE HALL Chargers
Last season: 20-5
Head Coach: Chris Hamilton
Heritage Hall may have been on their way to get revenge on Kingfisher last season in the State Tournament after a 20-5 record, but COVID-19 derailed those hopes and dreams. This year, Heritage Hall will get another chance at it with their senior, Trey AlexanderTreyAlexander6'4" | SGOklahoma City Heritage | 2021State#55NationOK
leading the way.
The Chargers lost two big seniors from last season; Jack SpanierJackSpanier5'10" | PGHeritage Hall | 2020StateOK
and Kenneth Daughty, who seemed to be the emotional leaders of the team.
[player_tooltip player_id="535625" first="Trey" last="Alexander"] (Matt Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
The question is, how easily will guys like Alexander, senior Miles Perry, and junior Joe Washington step into that leadership role for the Chargers? That is to be determined.
Alexander has led the Chargers on the court for three seasons now. This will be the first time that he’s the undisputed vocal leader of the Chargers on and off the floor. Miles Perry is another senior that head coach Chris Hamilton will depend on to contribute and lead this Charger team, as well as junior dual-sport athlete Joe Washington.
Additionally, sophomores Sebastian PerrySebastianPerry6'1" | PGHeritage Hall | 2023StateOK
, CJ SmithCJSmith6'2" | SGHeritage Hall | 2023StateOK
, and Orie WalkerOrieWalker6'2" | SGHeritage Hall | 2023StateOK
will each play major roles for the Chargers.
Will Heritage Hall win the gold ball this season? That’s hard to predict, but coach Hamilton will undoubtedly play a talented and prepared team.
Written by Addam Francisco.
HOLLAND HALL Dutch
Last season: 23-3
Head Coach: Teddy Owens
Holland Hall coach Teddy Owens is just ready to have his team back together.
"We’ll probably have four starters come over from football," Owens said. "I don’t think we’ll get our football team until Dec. 14th. . . we’ll probably play four games before we get our football guys."
One of those players is senior Marc Gouldsby, the lone returning starter from a 2020 team that battled through area t to qualify for the the State Tournament. The defensive specialist is expected to start at the one for Owens, who had high praise of his skill-set.
"I saw [Marc] have one bad game last year, where I just didn’t think he absolutely controlled the other team’s best player," Owens said, who recounted when Bethany’s Brennan Burns scored in double-figures against Gouldsby.
"I think Brennan had like 16," Owens continued, "but still, him giving the other guy like anything was just surprising to me."
Another standout football athlete who Owens will be utilizing is Ethan Roush, a safety and wide receiver for the Dutch with two-way skills on the hard-wood, as well.
"[Roush] is a really good athlete, really good shooter," Owens said, "and probably our most unselfish player as far as getting guys open shots."
NuNu Campbell, another defensive-minded guard and Jordan Nolin, an offensive lineman and interior standout, will both return from the gridiron and play immediate roles for the Dutch.
"NuNu is another lock-down defender," Owens said. "Nolin is a big post for us. . . he’s a willing playmaker."
Owens also had particularly high praise for senior guard Elliot AndrewElliotAndrew6'1" | PGHolland Hall | 2021StateOK
, who he said will most likely lead the Dutch in scoring after seeing limited minutes during his junior season.
"Elliot’s a kid who’s just been patiently kinda waiting in the wings and has worked as hard as any kid we’ve got," Owens said. "He’s had a great attitude the whole time. . . he can really shoot it, can put the ball on the floor and can finish as well around the rim.
"Because of his development, he’s going to get all the minutes he wants," Owens continued. "He’s going to have different opportunities to score just because of his development."
Owens will also utilize sophomore Jadon CoolJadonCool6'3" | SGHolland Hall | 2023StateOK
, a talented underclassman guard with an already impressive highlight package. A freshman, Carter Benton, also will receive minutes as an underclassman thanks to his shooting capabilities.
"[Cool] can really shoot it," Owens said. "Benton can really shoot it as well. . . I mean, every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in.
Sophomore Nate Mullendore, who has converted from a post to a wing, will also receive game-time on the merit of his rigidness, Owens said.
"[Mullendore] is just a junk-yard dog," Owens said. "Every time we play or practice, you know exactly what you’re getting out of him, I mean, he’s never had a bad day. . . he’s just relentless."
Sophomore Jake Craft, whose toughness much resembles that of Mullendore’s, Owens said, will have the opportunity to play significant minutes, as well.
"Craft is another sophomore who’s just incredible in transition," Owens said, "and he just brings non-stop energy."
Last is senior Cam Robinson, a pick-and-pop forward who is currently occupied taking snaps at quarterback.
Owens said that this year’s squad will be deeper, with more players getting game-time than teams he has coached in the past.
"We’ll have more depth this year than we’ve had in the past," Owens said, "I mean I feel comfortable playing 8, 9 guys. . . and then at times, maybe even a 10th."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
JOHN MARSHALL Bears
Last season: 18-8
Head Coach: Patrick Cudjoe
The sky’s the limit for the John Marshall Bears this season, as they will have loads of potential. They will be under the leadership of one of the great basketball minds in Oklahoma in head coach Patrick Cudjoe.
The Bears play fast and they aren’t afraid to defend. John Marshall is coming off of an 18-8 season that included wins against six ranked opponents. Playing a tough schedule, the Bears always competed and knew their identity. With talent across the board coming back this season, they plan to pick up where they left off.
Leading John Marshall this season will be three seniors. Three seniors that all play key roles is most definitely a recipe for success as lots of experience returns. Leading the way is 6’4 wing Tavaun Smith. Smith is a fantastic all-around athlete. He scores around the rim and is a luxury to have in transition. He can also make highlight plays with his leaping abilities that lead to monster dunks.
Joining Smith as the other senior leaders on this squad is Blessing Ziegler and Ali Edwards. Ziegler, a 6’0 guard, is one of the team’s best scorers. He can really catch fire and when he’s on he’s on. In addition to being a scorer, Ziegler also can really defend. He has quick feet and quick hands making him a solid on-ball defender. Edwards, another 6’4 athlete, is a fantastic rebounder. He’s strong and tough inside. He also serves as a good rim protector and protects the paint for this Bears team. Edwards is a solid all-around post player and post defender.
Rounding out John Marshall’s five are two more upperclassmen in juniors Daqualynn Mitchell and Elijah Goldsmith. Mitchell is another athletic wing with long arms and a big frame at 6’3. He’s one of the team’s best wing defenders and uses his length to guard any position asked of him. Mitchell finds ways to get near the rim offensively and is a great finisher. Goldsmith, a 5’11 guard, is a pesky defender and a good ball handler. He is a high motor player that does a great job energizing his teammates and always picking up the pace. Goldsmith is a solid defender too.
The Bears will be one of the most athletic teams in 4A this year. They have length across the floor and most of their players can guard any position on the floor making them a matchup nightmare. They have potential to be one of the best defensive teams in the class too, as each player takes pride in their on-ball defensive skills.
Coming off of an ACAC Conference Champion season with experience coming back, it’s going to be an exciting season for the Bears. They will be a team that only gets better as they have time to gel together and the season goes on.
Last season: 26-1
Head Coach: Jared Reese
The defending champions from the 2018-2019 high school season are back better than ever. When they won the Gold Ball in 2019, seniors Bijan CortesBijanCortes6'2" | PGKingfisher | 2021State#195NationOK
and Matthew StoneMatthewStone6'4" | SFKingfisher | 2021StateOK
were sophomores just scratching the surface.
Now, with one signed to play next season at the University of Oklahoma and the other a the University of North Texas, the Kingfisher stars aspire to add another ring to the collection while capitalizing on their 26-1 record last season.
[player_tooltip player_id="535628" first="Matthew" last="Stone"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
The biggest question surrounding Kingfisher is whether or not they can stay focused or not after a near-flawless previous season and two of their players receiving increased publicity after signing to D-1 universities.
They’ll need contributions from more than just their star-studded duo.
Senior guard Maverick RidenourMaverickRidenour6'3" | SGKingfisher | 2021StateOK
will be expected to continue his elite shooting from beyond the arc this season.
Cortes and Stone are two of the top five players in the state, they’re on the same team, and they have an abundance of chemistry that’s accrued over the years. Barring a monumental upset, it’s highly unlikely that we don’t see Kingfisher competing in the State Tournament to defend their title from two seasons ago.
Written by Addam Francisco.
MOUNT ST. MARY Rockets
Last season: 20-8
Head Coach: Brandon Jackson
Mount St. Mary coach Brandon Jackson said the Rockets will rely on heavy utilization of the sophomore tandem of Diante PalmerDiantePalmer6'0" | PGMount St. Mary | 2023StateOK
and CJ JohnsonCJJohnson5'11" | PGMount St. Mary | 2023StateOK
Jackson had high praise for both.
"Those two are going to be our two guys with the ball in their hands," Jackson said. "It’s going to be their show."
Palmer averaged 8 points-a-night as a freshman. Jackson said he wants to see Palmer double that count this year.
"Diante, he is a three-man, transferring in to like that point guard, combo-guard situation. All scrimmage season, we had him at the one," Jackson said. "CJ played football, so we didn’t have him."
Jackson said that Palmer’s offensive skill-set is coming together.
"Truthfully, I think [Palmer] in the 2023 class is the most athletic at 6-foot," Jackson said. "He literally plays above the rim, blocking shots, literally guard one-through-five for us.
Offensively, he’s forming into a great player, really good at the mid-range, really great at finishing at the rim and very explosive," Jackson said.
Johnson, meanwhile, is an offensive play-making machine.
"CJ is the key to our engine, he’s the engine to our car. . . he just physically makes plays for others," Jackson said. "He literally makes the game easier for everybody else.
"He can be the most impactful player on the court for 32 minutes and not take a shot, or he can be the most impactful player taking 12 shots," Jackson said.
Third-in-command is senior forward Luke Harstad, the Swiss army knife behind the Rockets’ game. The third-year starter is Mount St. Mary’s returning scorer from 2020.
"Luke averaged 15 last year," Jackson said, "great player, strong, physical. . . can shoot the three, averaged eight rebounds."
Jackson also raved about Harstad’s shooting skills.
Junior Robert Kalsu and senior Karsten Logan round out the Rockets’ five. Kalsu squeezed into double-digit scoring as a sophomore sixth-man in 2020.
"[Kalsu] literally puts pressure on the defense just attacking the rim," Jackson said. "He’s gonna be a big impact this year."
Logan, a third-year starter, will be the defensive anchor for Mount St. Mary, Jackson said.
"[Logan] is a point guard, but he sets the tone on defense," Jackson said, "and he’s just a playmaker."
Jackson said that though his team is small, it has a knack for defense, and defensive rebounding could be the Rockets’ ticket to the State Tournament.
"I think we’re a really good defensive team. . . if we can rebound the ball and get out in transition," Jackson said, "we’ll put a lot of pressure on teams."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
TULSA CENTRAL Braves
Last season: 16-10
Head Coach: Aaron Daniels
Last year, the Tulsa Central Braves finished 16-10 against one of the most formidable schedules in 4A.
Only one of the Braves’ losses came to an unranked opponent. Aaron Daniels, who was announced as the Braves’ coach in June by way of Millwood, believes the Braves can give themselves a chance to be successful with four returning starters.
"If we can guard and share that basketball," Daniels said, "I think the rest will take care of itself.
"These guys, thus far, they really just enjoy one another, just being around one another," Daniels said.
Junior guard Caylen Goff-BrownCaylenGoff-Brown6'1" | PGTulsa Central | 2022StateOK
, who claims three Division-I offers, has been a key player for Daniels so far.
"[Goff-Brown] is very skilled, he can handle the ball with either hand going either direction, he can shoot the basketball from the two or the three, he’s a good free-throw shooter," Daniels said. "He can get anywhere he wants to on the floor from an offensive standpoint."
Daniels also said Goff-Brown’s leadership has been a pleasant surprise.
"He’s been coachable, too," Daniels said, "and I don’t mean to sound super shocked about that, but you know how it is when you have some household names, top talents, notoriety.
"A lot of times, they know how good they are, and it can be hard to talk to them, it can be hard to coach them, but he’s been real receptive to information," Daniels said.
Junior Tyon Cox, junior Sean Edmundson and senior KT Owens -- who plays quarterback for the Braves’ football team -- round out Daniels’ returning talents.
An additional pair of newcomers round out Central’s top six players.
Junior guard Traveon Stewart, who moved back to Tulsa, where he grew up, by way of Chicago during the summer, has been a tremendous new player, Daniels said.
"Once [Stewart] gets it going out there on the floor and hooking it up, the kid can defend, he can shoot the basketball, he’s a pretty good ball-handler," Daniels said. "He’s one of those kids, he doesn’t say too much. . . ’yes sir, no sir’ kind of kid.
"He doesn’t get rattled," Daniels said.
[player_tooltip player_id="958416" first="Caylen" last="Goff-Brown"] (white).
The second player, another junior, is Caylon Williams. The left-hander moved to Central from Owasso.
"[Williams] is arguably the most athletic kid in the program, between he and Tyon Cox," Daniels said. "He’s very versatile. He can guard multiple different positions, he can bring the ball down and run the show for us at the one spot. . . we can move him to the two.
"Ideally, from an identity standpoint, I’d probably call him a three because he can put the ball on the floor and get to wherever he wants to get to," Daniels said.
Daniels said leadership fro this core group has been a preseason bonus.
"It’s just been a great atmosphere so far," Daniels said. "Leadership has been where we wanted where we want it, buy-in has shown to be a little more expedited than what we expected."
Daniels reiterated that defense and sharing the ball will be keys to Central’s chances at success.
"I think if we can make sure that our defense travels no matter what venue. . . and simply just don’t care who gets the credit on the offensive end," Daniels said, "
I think that will lead to us having an opportunity."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
TULSA WEBSTER Warriors
Last season: 23-5
Head Coach: Scott Bowman
Tulsa Webster is expected to be a 4A contender in 2021 behind the talents of an exceptional senior class. Anthony PritchardAnthonyPritchard6'1" | PGTulsa Webster | 2021StateOK
, Martwon Taylor and Isaiah Sanders headline the Warriors’ excellent senior squad.
Pritchard, a Tennessee Tech commit, has averaged over 20 points-a-night in his previous two seasons. Coach Scott Bowman expects Pritchard’s teammates to follow suit.
"I should have all three scoring twenty this year," Bowman said. "They’ve been all three All-Conference since their sophomore years."
Bowman said Taylor is the best defensive player he has coached, while Taylor brings more of an all-around offensive factory.
Pritchard, on the other hand, is the Warriors’ do-it-all guard, Bowman said, though he kept it brief on his leading returning scorer and All-State hopeful.
"He’s a heck of a player," Bowman, "we plan on having him just be a big part."
Juniors Treyzden Davis and Markeith Smith will also play significant roles for Webster, Bowman said.
"[Davis] is about 6-3, he’s really improved," Bowman said, "I mean, he’s been playing since his freshman year guarding Anthony, Martwon and Isaiah everyday in practice."
Bowman said Davis will provide valuable minutes at the two, three and four spots, while Smith is more of a pure guard, who has been conditioned by the same means as Davis in guarding Prichard, Taylor and Sanders in practice.
"[Smith] is quick, good ball-pressure, good defensive player," Bowman said.
Bowman said his scheme will revolve around the quickness and defensive skills of his guards.
"We’re going to let our defense create a lot of our offense," Bowman said. "We don’t have much depth, and we never have. . . I’ve got seven I feel confident with.
"You’re not gonna walk the ball up on us," Bowman said.
Bowman cited decision-making on drives and taking advantage of numbers in transitions and help-side defensive adherence as keys to the Warriors’ success.
"We get one more shot maybe to get that elusive Gold Ball that everyone’s going for," Bowman said. "Hopefully things will go right. . . and we can be there at the end of the season holding the ball up."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 18-10
Head Coach: Bryan Merritt
Tuttle coach Bryan Merritt is ready for Tuttle to make a run for the State Tournament in 2021.
The deadly junior duo of Kaden VandeKadenVande6'7" | SGTuttle | 2022StateOK
and Isaac McDoulettIsaacMcDoulett6'3" | SGTuttle | 2022StateOK
, who started in 2020, will return as a focal point to the Tigers’ scoring attack. Vande and McDoulett were among the top sophomores in the state in 2020.
[player_tooltip player_id="955386" first="Isaac" last="McDoulett"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
McDoulett, whose rebounding talents were cited by Merritt, is an explosive athlete with vision for the floor, while Vande is a lanky shooter with collegiate range and defensive talents.
"With [McDoulett and Vande], they should have good years, they’ve gotta do same things they did last year," Merritt said, "get out in transition, score in transition. . . that’s a good combination.
"We’ve just gotta get our other guys," Merritt said.
A good problem the Tigers have, Merritt said, is the success of their football program. Mason Stokes and Tylor McCartheyTylorMcCarthey6'5" | CTuttle | 2022StateOK
, both returning starters for the Tigers on the hardwood, are currently occupied with a state title run on the gridiron. Merritt will not be able to utilize their talents until the conclusion of the Tigers’ football season.
"We’re not very deep in Tuttle while football season is going on," Merritt said. "[Stokes and McCarthey] will add a lot of experience, they’re both big, over 6-5, a lot of rebounding, a lot of toughness.
[player_tooltip player_id="958061" first="Kaden" last="Vande"] (left) and Booker T. Washington’s [player_tooltip player_id="955394" first="Ijai" last="Johnson"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Merritt also credited McCarthey’s mind for the game.
"Tylor is just really basketball-smart," Merritt said, "so he really helps the team be organized, and when he’s not there we’re not near as organized, so that will help a lot."
Rounding out the returning corps is Garrett RedwineGarrettRedwine5'11" | CGTuttle | 2023StateOK
, a sophomore sharpshooter who received significant minutes as a freshman.
"Last year as a freshman, [Redwine] would come in and spot-play," Merritt said, "but this year, he’ll have to start."
A newcomer into the Tigers’ rotation is a transfer, Mason Dennis, is playing football but will provide vital bench minutes for Tuttle, Merritt said.
Kendon Reed has also helped the short-handed Tigers and should expect to see important minutes, Merritt said.
Merritt said leadership will be an important factor in Tuttle’s success.
"If the older guys now that have been our younger guys like Kaden, Isaac and Tylor can lead well, then we’ll have a good chance," Merritt said.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
BISHOP McGUINNESS Fighting Irish
Last season: 13-13 (*4A)
Head Coach: Jake Brown
The Irish are very excited about this upcoming season under new leadership in head coach Jake Brown and assistant Jade Carter. They have depth, size, and athleticism to really compete in 5A this year.
For the third straight season, Bishop McGuinness will look to Graham TawwaterGrahamTawwater6'6" | SFBishop McGuinness | 2022StateOK
as an anchor for them. Now a junior, Tawwater has started since he was a freshman and will be the most versatile player on the court in most games. He can guard every position on the court, a trait incredibly valuable in today’s game. Tawwater has the size of a post but moves and plays like a guard, as he’s athletic and can really do it all.
They also return a pair of key seniors in Matt Williams and Luke Chansolme. Williams, a forward, is one of the best defensive players in the class. He is the anchor for this defense and is a great rim protector. Williams is strong and tough and uses that inside game after game. He’s also a solid rebounder and gets a good amount of putback baskets. Williams is also an athlete who will have some highlight dunks this year.
Chansolme, a similar type of player, is a huge leader for this squad. He’s a high energy guy who the coaching staff can always count on to play hard and do the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet.
Two new faces to look out for this year are 2023 studs Price Bradley and Mike Taffe. Taffe can take over games with his athleticism and quickness. The Irish are excited to have him this season as he transferred from Millwood. Bradley will get a chance to showcase his skills early as it looks like he will get the starting nod at point guard. Bradley is a fast paced guard and makes those around him better. They also have much needed depth and shooting with junior guard Andrew Smith.
Coming off of a 13-13 record last season, the new coaching staff will look to build off of that and showcase their talent defensively as a team. With more experience this year, and exciting young guards that can really go, McGuinness is a force to be reckoned with.
BISHOP KELLEY Comets
Last season: 13-14
Head Coach: Jordan Nagel
Bishop Kelley coach Jordan Nagel said he believes his Comets have potential be one of the best teams in school history.
"We are literally aiming for a Gold Ball," Nagel said. "I know everybody in the state goes, ’oh, we want to go win a State Championship,’ but this team may be one of the best teams at Bishop Kelley in a long time."
The Comets are lead by a ten-deep senior class, a facet of his team Nagel believes will be very important as the season progresses.
"This team is very, very together," Nagel said. "All of these kids are best friends, because you’ve got a group of kids, they’ve all grown up together, and they all go over to each others’ houses on the weekends and hang out."
[player_tooltip player_id="938855" first="Jake" last="Gendron"] and Griffin Been (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Leading the Comets on both ends will be the highly-touted recruit, forward Jake GendronJakeGendron6'5" | SFBishop Kelley | 2021StateOK
, a 6-foot-5-inch talent who can soar above the rim with as much consistency as he shoots from beyond the arch.
"Jake can flat-out score, everybody in the state knows it," Nagel said. "My job is to get him in space to where we can run some stuff to relieve some pressure."
Helping him lead the floor will be Eli WallaceEliWallace6'0" | PGBishop Kelley | 2021StateOK
, a quick shooter who has gained some recruiting traction of his own in the past couple months.
"We can absolutely shoot it," Nagel said, "and it’s not just [Gendron and Wallace]. We know we’re gonna light up the scoreboard, but we’ve gotta be able to defend and stop people from scoring."
Helping to fulfill some of those defensive needs is the interior talents of forward Collin Morrison.
"Collin was the missing link last year to what we needed," Nagel said. "He absolutely helps us offensively, ’cause he’s got a soft touch. Defensively, [Morrison] can guard somebody, we don’t have to go zone, we can go man-to-man, and he helps us on the boards."
[player_tooltip player_id="938856" first="Eli" last="Wallace"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Another importance piece to Kelley’s puzzle is guard Matthew Plaisance, to whom Nagel gave much credit after he helped Kelley to advance to the State Tournament following injuries to Gendron and Morrison.
"He’s a guy that’s not talked about," Nagel said. "When all of those guys were out due to injury, Matthew led us in the Area Tournament last year. He had 20-plus in a couple postseason games. . . he absolutely makes us go."
Other guards like Griffin Been, Adam Roy and Thomas Dee, will play expanded roles for the Comets.
"Griffin was a starter for us last year due to injury," Nagel said, "little-bitty guy out there, but he’s our scrapper, he’s gonna talk some noise, he’s gonna defend on the perimeter and get up-in your guard and pressure you really well."
One of the Comets’ few juniors, Justin Wormell, will also play a big role for Kelley after receiving limited minutes as a sophomore.
"Justin may be the hardest-working kid we have in the program," Nagel said. "That kid is in the gym more than I’m in the gym, and I have to kick him out. . . he can flat-out shoot it, and there’s a guy who’s gonna come onto the scene this year."
Nagel said the Comets’ unlucky tendency for injuries in 2020 could help them in 2021.
"My ninth man and 10th man ended up being starters for us," Nagel said. "Because they had those quality minutes for us, we’re really, really deep this year."
That depth could help Kelley become one of the best teams in the state.
"We have, definitely, the talent," Nagel said. "This team can absolutely get there."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
CARL ALBERT Titans
Last season: 18-7
Head Coach: Jay Price
Carl Albert may have lost more games than expected last season, finishing the year 18-7, but each of their losses came against the most competitive competition. They lost to 4A’s Heritage Hall twice, 6A’s Midwest City twice, 6A’s Southmoore once, 5A’s Tulsa Memorial once, and Del City towards the end of the season.
They still managed to sweep through the 5A playoffs and clinch a State Tournament birth.
Expect Carl Albert to connect the dots this season and make that transition from being ’good’ to ’elite.’ As usual, 5A will be competitive but top-heavy, and I expect Carl Albert’s stacked senior class comprising of James LockeJamesLocke6'3" | SGCarl Albert | 2021StateOK
, Jaden HarrellJadenHarrell5'10" | PGCarl Albert | 2021StateOK
, Curtis RoseCurtisRose5'11" | PGCarl Albert | 2021StateOK
, Maurice CudjoMauriceCudjo5'9" | SGCarl Albert | 2021StateOK
, and Quentin Woodson to play the Titans to the top of 5A.
[player_tooltip player_id="745376" first="James" last="Locke"] (Matt Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
The Titans’ four talented guards are all ranked in the top 105 of our 2021 class. They’ve also been playing with each other for at least three years (not considering the years they may have played together in middle school), so the chemistry is there to pair with their talent. Carl Albert’s big guy rounds out their talented quintet. Woodson is the glue guy for this team and the enforcer. Giving him the ball in the paint is almost an automatic bucket because of his brute strength and lengthy wingspan. He’s able to overpower and out-rebound most high school bigs, and his court vision makes him an above-average facilitator as well.
Last season, Carl Albert was on the fringe of being the best team in 5A. They lost to Del City by two points and lost to Memorial by three in two nail-biting contests. Expect the continuity and experience from this year’s Carl Albert team to put them over the top and place them right back into the 5A State Tournament once again.
Written by Addam Francisco.
LAWTON MacARTHUR Highlanders
Last season: 20-7
Head Coach: Marco Gagliardi
Lawton MacArthur finished last season with a 20-7 record, which reflects a great year. This team is stacked with talent and will be an elite team in Class 5A for at least a few years.
Four of their first seven losses came in their first five games. After that, they went 19-3. It’s safe to say that MacArthur settled into things and capitalized on what could have been a horrendous season.
This year Danquez DawseyDanquezDawsey5'11" | CGLawton Mac | 2021StateOK
, the 28th ranked point guard in Oklahoma’s senior class, will lead Mac to be one of the top teams in 5A. More so than last season. Two other senior guards, Earl MosebyEarlMoseby5'11" | SGLawton MacArthur | 2021StateOK
and Brandon Cowan will lead help Dowsey lead this team along the way.
Mac has a junior guard, Arzhonte DallasArzhonteDallas6'0" | PGLawton MacArthur | 2022StateOK
, and a sophomore forward, Tristen Klien, who showed signs of being the future of this basketball team for the next few seasons last year during the Area tournament.
[player_tooltip player_id="745374" first="Danquez" last="Dawsey"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Dawsey is a quick guard that can handle the ball very well. His ability to create separation against defenders is unmatched, and his ability to get into the lane makes him a threat getting to the rim.
Moseby is a straight-up shooter, but what people fail to recognize is his ability to create off the dribble and drain difficult shots from beyond the arc.
Dallas is another guard that’s a hybrid between Dawsey and Moseby. He’s a high-IQ point guard who is quick, can handle the ball well, and can shoot, so Mac is stacked at the guard position. The youngest of the bunch potentially has the most talent, though. Klien, a sophomore forward, showed signs of being a Division 1 caliber player last year as a freshman and blossomed in the playoffs. If he and Dallas can elevate their games and play the way they played to end last season, this team will go far in 5A’s playoffs.
Carl Albert is a great team, but Lawton Mac will surely give them a run for their money this season.
Written by Addam Francisco.
Last season: 2-21
Head Coach: Will Holiman
McAlester coach Will Holiman is vying for a State Tournament berth in his second season leading the team.
A valuable asset that may help the Buffs get there is his son, Adante HolimanAdanteHoliman5'11" | PGMcAlester | 2022StateOK
Holiman, who capped off a spectacular junior summer with a few Division-I offers and a national ranking, has sparked interest from numerous schools about the country. His talents as a scoring guard will be the focal point for McAlester.
He is joined by his younger brother, freshman Adonis Holiman, in the starting lineup.
The Buffs’ rotation is rounded out by seniors Derek and Ethan Hearod, Anthony Brailsford, junior Eythan Lenardo, sophomores including Lewis Woodmore, Trey Garcia, and Ryhlan Riddel, and Eric McArty.
"I’m looking forward to an exciting year," Holiman said, "we got more basketball players, more guys that actually put some time in with it. . . it’s my second year here and all the guys know what we expect out of them."
Holiman said that his starting unit will have the momentum of altruistic experience on their side this season.
"Those guys, they’ve got a lot of experience together," Holiman said, "our first five that I’ve got going on right now has been playing together awhile."
Adante’ Holiman (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
The Holiman brothers, the Hearod brothers and Riddel, in particular, are expected to lead the charge for the Buffs, the elder Holiman said.
"Those will probably be the guys that will be leading us out most of the time," Holiman said.
Leading McAlester to the State Tournament is not Holiman’s only goal, he said. The Buffs have never won a State Championship.
"We don’t only want to get there, we want to get there and compete," Holiman said," and try to win one. . . that’s what we came over here for, is to compete," Holiman said.
"This year, we’re really pushing forward to get that winning done," Holiman said.
With the talents of the Adante HolimanAdanteHoliman5'11" | PGMcAlester | 2022StateOK
and the added skills of the younger Holiman and their supporting cast, McAlester may just have the tools to reach new heights this season.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 9-15 (6A*)
Head Coach: Rickey Bruner
The Sapulpa Chieftains are slated to be an instant contender in their first year in 5A after classing-down.
Coach Rickey Bruner credited the strength of his new competition.
"5A is super competitive," Bruner said, "so nothing really changes.
"Tulsa Memorial year-in, year-out is as good as any team in 6A as well as Carl Albert and many other 5A schools," Bruner said.
The focal point of the Chieftains’ attack will be senior forward Jackson SkipperJacksonSkipper6'7" | PFSapulpa | 2021StateOK
, a 6-foot-7-inch powerhouse with above-the-rim athleticism, a slander build and the ability to hit shots from deep. He had an excellent summer with BTR.
"[Skipper] has had a great preseason," Bruner said, "gotten stronger, really matured as a leader, and is scoring on all three levels and defends guards and bigs."
Joining Skipper as a defensive presence is Vernon Durant, who moved back to Sapulpa after spending time in Hawaii.
"[Durant is] a game-changer defensively," Bruner said. "He is a freak athlete and is a big-time shot-blocker and high-flyer."
[player_tooltip player_id="745360" first="Jackson" last="Skipper"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
In the back-court, the Chieftains have a three-headed monster with Tezohn TaftTezohnTaft5'11" | PGSapulpa | 2021StateOK
, Mason DementMasonDement6'0" | PGSapulpa | 2021StateOK
and Brandon Niyah, each of whom bring different skills to the court.
Taft, a remarkably fast two-sport athlete, has improved his shot-sinking from the perimeter, according to Bruner. Dement, meanwhile is "cat-quick" and has had a great preseason with on-ball defensive skills. Both are seniors.
Kylen Edwards, a 6-foot-1-high-flying freshman, will be a newcomer into the Chieftains’ lineup, Bruner said.
"[Edwards] may get some varsity run," Bruner said, "and with improved skill-set will be special."
Bruner said Sapulpa will remain in the Frontier Conference despite their reclassification.
"We will play a 6A schedule all year long," Bruner said. "With us playing a 6A schedule , hopefully the coaches will take that into account when ranking us in 5A.
"We are just ready to play and compete regardless of class," Bruner said.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 21-6
Head Coach: Paxton Kilby
Every team that Shawnee lost to last season was at the top of their class. Daniel Webster, Ada, Choctaw, Del City, and Carl Albert are the only teams that defeated Shawnee, and all of those teams are upper-tier squads in their class.
The Wolves are such a hard-fighting team with the ability to defeat teams with their defense and their hustle. There are three guys, in particular, that stick out, and it’s their three hardest-working: Tanner MorrisTannerMorris6'2" | SGShawnee | 2022StateOK
, Jaylon OrangeJaylonOrange5'10" | PGShawnee | 2022StateOK
, and Karran Evans.
[player_tooltip player_id="964491" first="Tanner" last="Morris"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Orange is a guard, but he’s strong and uses his guard skills and strength to get to the rim. What puts him over the top is his shooting ability and his ability to get his teammates the ball. There are very few things on offense that he doesn’t do well.
Evans is a great mid-range player, has a great mid-range jumper, and is a defensive-minded player.
Shawnee doesn’t have as much star power as the other upper-tier teams in 5A, but they have a ton of continuity and can give teams like Carl Albert, Tulsa Memorial, and Lawton Mac a run for their money in the state tournament.
Written by Addam Francisco
TULSA MEMORIAL Chargers
Last season: 22-4
Head Coach: Bobby Allison
Tulsa Memorial coach Bobby Allison has a unique tradition in the Chargers’ locker room.
"One thing we do every year is, we write down all the stats of the seniors before," Allison said, "I think last year’s seniors had 941 points and 600 rebounds. . . and we tell the kids, ’those are gone, but now those are opportunities for you to go get those points, for you to go get those rebounds.’"
Graduating four college-bound seniors will certainly leave a vacuum for the Chargers, but if anybody is up for the task, it’s Allison, whose program was recently named the best in the state for the 2010s.
A pivotal piece in Tulsa Memorial’s rebuild is Tyreece FriersonTyreeceFrierson5'10" | PGTulsa Memorial | 2022StateOK
, the Chargers’ leading returning scorer, who averaged 10 points-a-night as a sophomore.
"He’s one of only, probably, ten sophomores in the history of Memorial basketball to average double-digits his sophomore year," Allison said.
Frierson is joined by Juwan Provitt, a senior guard, as the Chargers’ lone returning starters.
"Replacing those guys’ fourth-quarter toughness is going to be one of the biggest obstacles," Allison said. "It’s just going to be on those guys coming back to find ways to win in the fourth quarter the way a lot of Memorial teams have the last couple of years."
[player_tooltip player_id="955392" first="Tyreece" last="Frierson"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
Provitt, along with post standout Dannon Lundy, will play important roles as senior leaders for the Chargers, Allison said.
"They’ve witnessed that team-first mentality it took to get there," Allison said. "As long as they don’t break that chain of accountability. . . we think we can play with anybody we come across."
"Those two guys," Allison added, "have been real senior leaders, especially through the pandemic and all the uncertainty, they’ve been nothing but consistent."
Starring in the paint with Lundy is James Green, a 6-foot-6-inch interior energy-pusher with great rebounding talents.
Allison nodded also to Seth PrattSethPratt6'2" | SGTulsa Memorial | 2023StateOK
, a returning sophomore who led the state in 3-point percentage as a freshman.
"Pratt is one of the best sophomores in the state, I believe," Allison said. "He works hard, he’s doing a great job, and is ready to take the next step in his game."
Fellow sophomore Montae Collins is also set to help Frierson and Provitt on-the-ball, utilizing his quickness and vision to help the Chargers.
"Collins also got valuable minutes as a freshman off-the-bench," Allison said. "He’s another guy that’s looking to play even a bigger role as a sophomore. . . he’s one of the best sophomore guards around in Tulsa."
Ronnie Dixon, a fiery 6-foot-3-inch junior swing, will also see significant minutes for the Chargers.
"He’s another one to keep an eye on," Allison said. "I feel like we can go nine-to-10 deep this year, and we’ll definitely need everybody this year."
Allison mentioned a trio of junior transfers: guard Jakolby Record, along with forwards Bradyn HubbardBradynHubbard6'6"Tulsa Memorial | 2022OK
and Killian SpellmanKillianSpellman6'4" | PFTulsa Memorial | 2022StateOK
, will each play an important role for the Chargers after sitting out their state-sanctioned 365-day transfer-period.
"They waited their turn, played JV last year, had great attitudes, and just want to be a part of the Memorial basketball program," Allison said. "They all three could be college basketball players and all three are going to make big headway for us this year."
Allison said Spellman and Hubbard could be starting for the Chargers.
"They want to be a part of something special here at Memorial," Allison said, "and they’re working hard, and a lot of people are going to know about them early in the season if they keep working."
Allison said with a difficult schedule, the Chargers will learn quickly whether or not they belong.
"The ending of last year, was an ending like no other," Allison said, "and to get to an ending this season, it’s going to be a season like no other."
"We’re prepared for whatever comes our way," Allison said, "and we know that no matter what, if we get to play, it’s a blessed compared to having to say ’what if?’"
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 6-16
Head Coach: Sam Fairchild
Bixby returns a few of its key players from last season.
Having one of the best football teams in the nation can be a struggle to a basketball coach.
Bixby’s Sam Fairchild has had to prepare without the services of the third piece of his big three, sophomore guard (and wide receiver), Luke HaszLukeHasz6'3" | SFBixby | 2023StateOK
"When your basketball program is trying to gain some ground, and your football program is the best in the country, it’s tough," Fairchild laughed.
Hasz is a sharp, explosive guard with aspirations to earn Division-I offers for both sports, Fairchild said -- a rare feat that Hasz may be one of few with the talents to achieve.
"Luke is one of the best athletes in the state," Fairchild said.
Rounding out the aforementioned big three are the talents of senior guard-forward Xavier GlennXavierGlenn6'5" | SGBixby | 2021StateOK
and sophomore shooting guard Parker FriedrichsenParkerFriedrichsen6'1" | SGBixby | 2023StateOK
[player_tooltip player_id="967379" first="Parker" last="Friedrichsen"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Glenn, a William Woods University signee, has been a three-year starter for the Spartans and led the way in scoring with over 18 points-a-night as a junior. Fairchild said he may be Bixby’s bet returning athlete.
"[Glenn] is a good player, great mid-range game, gets to the rim well," Fairchild said. "He’s got a chance to be an elite player in the Frontier Conference."
Friedrichsen is the second-leading scorer returning to Bixby, and he has gained about two inches and 15-to-20 points, according to Fairchild. The sharpshooter is heralded as not only one of the top shooters in Oklahoma, but is in the conversation for most notable shooters in the country in his class.
Fairchild said he may be the hardest-working athlete in the state.
"[Friedrichsen] has definitely matured, and we’re looking for a really good season from him," Fairchild said. "He’s one of the best shooters in the state, and I think who’s watched him will back that up."
Another significant contributor to the Spartans will be Braden WeaverBradenWeaver6'1" | SGBixby | 2021StateOK
, a senior guard who started as a sophomore but took an off-the-bench role as a junior. Fairchild said Weaver has "massively improved."
[player_tooltip player_id="1015793" first="Xavier" last="Glenn"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
"I don’t know that I’ve ever had a kid improve in one-year’s time more than Braden," Fairchild said. "Confidence level, physique changed, attitude changed, and his ability to put the ball in the net has really changed."
Senior guard Connor Loney also returns for the Spartans after starting off-and-on as a junior.
"[Loney] is kind of our trash man, doesn’t necessarily look the part but always has good numbers and always gives us something," Fairchild said.
Forward Davonte Owens, who last played as a sophomore at Tulsa Rogers, will be joining the program for the first time.
"[Owens] should be able to help us as a new guy coming in," Fairchild said.
Six-foot-8-inch forward DC Harris will also help the Spartans at forward. Tristan Madden and Macquelin Ware, both of whom did not play much in 2020, will play more expanded roles this season, Fairchild said.
A key to the Spartans’ success this season, Fairchild said, will be to face fewer obstacles related to injuries or illness-related absences.
[player_tooltip player_id="1015839" first="Braden" last="Weaver"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
"Last year was one of those years that we never had all of our best five players healthy at the same time," Fairchild said. "Luke got hurt. . . Xavier missed a couple of games with an ankle injury, then he caught the flu twice. . .
"Hopefully this year we can stay away from that," Fairchild said.
Fairchild also said that playing athletes he knows can benefit the team will be a central focus, as well.
"Last year, we were trying a lot of things with players that we didn’t get a reward from. . . we had some good-looking kids that we invested time and energy in that just didn’t pan out," Fairchild said. "This year we’re trying to invest our time and energy into the ones that we know can make it.
"If we can stay healthy, I think we’ve got a real shot this year to kind of turn the corner with the program, Fairchild said, "and come playoff time, be in the picture."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON Hornets
Last season: 20-5
Head Coach: Eli Brown
Booker T. Washington will be without the services of Bryce ThompsonBryceThompson6'5" | CGBooker T. Washington | 2020State#15NationOK
, Trey PhippsTreyPhipps6'1" | PGBooker T. Washington | 2020State#171NationOK
or Jalen Breath this season. Coach Conley Phipps also called it quits following the 2020 season.
Regardless, first-year Hornets coach Eli Brown does not look at the 2021 season as a lost cause, but rather a new chapter in Booker T. Washington’s basketball history.
[player_tooltip player_id="955391" first="Kam" last="Parker"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
"The expectation for me, as well as everyone else, is to go play for state," Brown said. "That may not seem like a legitimate expectation for what we lost. . . I see how people can gather that, but our success as a coaching staff is that we can get the most we can out of our players.
"I firmly believe that this team can make a push for the State Tournament," Brown said.
That push will start with Kam ParkerKamParkerPGBooker T. Washington | 2022StateOK
and Ijai JohnsonIjaiJohnson6'1" | SGBooker T. Washington | 2022StateOK
: the junior corps and only returning starters for the Hornets. Both were central in helping the Hornets to the 2019 Gold Ball, and their experience will be indispensable for Booker T. Washington’s campaign through the Frontier Conference, Brown said.
"Anybody who’s been around high school basketball the last two years knows that those two guys are really essentially the only two returning contributors," Brown said, "so it’s going to be essential for those two to kinda lead the way in terms of what the expectations are for Booker T. basketball."
Parker, a scoring guard, is a poised two-way contributor with shooting skills, defensive strengths and passing capabilities. He can distribute the ball into tough spots, both in the half- and full-court, often displaying great vision and floor leadership.
Johnson is an athletic scorer with a similar skill-set. He also shoots the ball well, but does a great job attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line, as well, and he can handle the responsibilities of a point guard when necessary.
"[Kam and Ijai] work hard every day, they come in and compete," Brown said, "and I think they have us headed in the right direction."
Tuttle’s [player_tooltip player_id="958061" first="Kaden" last="Vande"] (left) and [player_tooltip player_id="955394" first="Ijai" last="Johnson"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
The Hornets will be playing a new style without the presence of a pure post and will rely on their speedy play and sharpshooting skills. Senior point guard Leo Ruffin will be stepping into an expanded role for the Hornets in their guard-centric offense, Brown said.
"Leo is a very skilled passer," Brown said, "and he’s a wonderful shooter, and you mix that with senior leadership, and Leo has the opportunity to emerge as one of the better passers in the state and one of the better shooters in the state."
Another senior leader, Chase Carpenter, will also bring a leadership aspect as a significant contributor, Brown said.
Lathan Boone, a two-sport star at quarterback, will be helping Ruffin at the one, Brown said.
"The first thing I think about is [Boone’s] poise," Brown said. "He’s very under-control. He’s a really good shooter and a really good subtle athlete. . . like, you don’t look at him and say ’he’s super athletic,’ but he is a sneaky athletic player."
A host of two-sport athletes, including Boone, will be starring along the perimeter for Brown. Defensive lineman Jayden Oates and receiver Demitrius Prudom are among those players.
"Kam and Ijai are those two that everybody knows," Brown said, "but there’s about eight more kids that could be in starting positions. We’ve got so many kids that are interchangeable, so that the style we’re playing, the numbers help us.
"Once we get those football players in and acclimated, we plan on taking off and having a brand of basketball that’s exciting and fun to watch," Brown concluded.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
BROKEN ARROW Tigers
Last season: 19-8
Head Coach: Beau Wallace
Coach Beau Wallace is looking to lead the Broken Arrow Tigers to a State Tournament berth for the first time since 2018.
"We probably have seven guys that have started for us, and they’re all returning," Wallace said, "so it’s nice to have a lot of leadership and they understand what I want from them, and I don’t have to say very much to them."
Anthony AllenAnthonyAllen6'4" | SFBroken Arrow | 2022StateOK
, a junior forward, pairs with senior Jaiell TalleyJaiellTalley6'3" | PFBroken Arrow | 2021StateOK
, who is occupied with the Tigers’ run for a football title, to combine for a powerful one-two punch in the interior.
"Allen and Talley just rebound the ball for us," Wallace said, "I mean, I think Talley had almost 200 rebounds last year, and Anthony was second with about 98."
[player_tooltip player_id="938854" first="George" last="McCurdy"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Ian GoldenIanGolden6'1" | PGBroken Arrow | 2021StateOK
, meanwhile, also returns for a senior season with the Tigers in a facilitatory role.
"Ian is just that guy who makes plays for everybody," Wallace said. "Ian’s gonna create offense for a lot of people.
Seniors George McCurdyGeorgeMcCurdy6'2" | PGBroken Arrow | 2021StateOK
and Tyler PinderTylerPinder6'2" | PGBroken Arrow | 2021StateOK
, a pair of versatile scoring guards, round out the starting rotation for Broken Arrow. Wallace said both have made great improvements.
"Pinder’s really shooting it well, George is becoming one of those floor leaders and understanding how to pick his spots," Wallace said.
Another key returning piece is center Jared BarnesJaredBarnes6'3" | SFBroken Arrow | 2021StateOK
, an explosive and humble forward.
"Jared does all the dirty stuff," Wallace said, "so he’s always gonna be in the right position, blocking out, jumping on loose balls, getting on the floor."
Simon BlairSimonBlair6'7" | CBroken Arrow | 2021StateOK
, who also played significant minutes at the five, will return for a senior season at Broken Arrow, as well.
"[Blair] is another big kid inside that just does a good job of kinda clogging up the middle a little bit," Wallace said.
[player_tooltip player_id="745361" first="Tyler" last="Pinder"] (left) and [player_tooltip player_id="1049323" first="Aaron" last="Johnson"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Aaron JohnsonAaronJohnson6'2" | CGBroken Arrow | 2022StateOK
, a junior guard with remarkable versatility, can play and defend the one-through-four, Wallace said. He saw limited minutes in his sophomore season, but will be a mainstay in the rotation, Wallace said.
"Aaron has really grown up," Wallace said. "He’s got a kinda chip on his shoulder ’cause he probably felt like he should’ve played more last year, and I felt like I should have played him a little more.
Ethan Ellison, an impressive and sizable forward, and Connor Dow, a talented sharpshooter with high expectations, are both talented young players who will provide depth for the Tigers as the season progresses, Wallace said.
Wallace said rebounding will be a major factor in the Tigers’ success.
"I think that’s the biggest thing," Wallace said, "defensive rebounding as a group with our guards is really our focal point."
Wallace also cited staying in the plus-margin in turnovers as a primary focus to the Tigers.
"I think every team is gonna tell you they gotta take care of the ball," Wallace said, "not turning the ball over in crucial situations."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 13-11
Head Coach: Jermaine Simpson
Two years ago, the Choctaw Yellowjackets were still searching for their first win after Winter Break. Last season, they improved to 13-11.
Coach Jermaine Simpson expects that number to improve even more in 2021.
"It’s definitely going to be an exciting year for us," Simpson said, "I think we’re definitely changing the curve of Choctaw from what it’s been known."
"I don’t care how good of a coach you are, you’ve gotta have players," Simpson said. "These guys have bought into the extra work, to the unseen hours, doing stuff the right way."
Simpson credited his players.
Production will start for the YellowJackets with their three-headed senior monster, LJ GurleyLJGurley5'10" | PGChoctaw | 2021StateOK
, Sean FranklinSeanFranklin6'3" | SFChoctaw | 2021StateOK
and Oklahoma-City commit Raul NunezRaulNunez6'3" | CGChoctaw | 2021StateOK
"Those three obviously are going to be head-hunting it," Simpson said.
Gurley led the YellowJackets in scoring, steals and assists en route to a first-team All-Big-10 first-team selection.
"And he was probably second in rebounds," Simpson added.
[player_tooltip player_id="745371" first="Sean" last="Franklin"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Franklin, who has had an exceptional off-season, has matured offensively after earning second-team honors as a junior.
Perhaps the most improved YellowJacket, however, is Nunez, a crafty combo guard with power and speed.
"Raul’s a bright spot," Simpson said. "He’s worked his tail off this summer."
Also returning is Jordan MukesJordanMukes6'3" | SFChoctaw | 2021StateOK
, a Sooners-commit at defensive back who saw significant minutes during his junior year. Once he returns from the gridiron, Simpson said, his athletic talents will be of heavy utility for Choctaw.
Elijah Wilder, a 6-foot-6-inch wing, is also a standout on the football field, as he recently earned his first Division-I offer from New Mexico State. The senior will see an expanded role on the hard-wood, Simpson said.
"We’ve got a really solid group that’s returning," Simpson said. "They all got playing time last year, and some of those guys are starting to get looks as far as college coaches. . . I have high expectations for them for sure."
With whom locals may not be acquainted, however, is the freshman duo of guard Ja’Mon Valentine and forward Isaiah Taylor.
"Both of those guys are going to get a lot of playing time," Simpson said. "Both are starting to get some Division-I interests."
Simpson said he is confident that opposing teams will be alerted to their presence soon.
Also inflating his role will be Robert GambillRobertGambill4'0" | COK
, a multi-talented junior forward.
"Pick-and-pop, finishing at the rim, about 6-6, can shoot it really well," Simpson said, "he’s a kid that’s going to play a lot for us."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
DEL CITY Eagles
Last season: 24-1 (*5A)
Head Coach: Lenny Hatchett
With Nate GoodlowNateGoodlow6'2" | PGDel City | 2020StateOK
off to college, the Del City Eagles will look to maintain their greatness this season after a 24-1 record last year, led by their star senior Keyondre YoungKeyondreYoung6'7" | SFDel City | 2021StateOK
, who is currently ranked fourth in the class of 2021.
However, Del City and coach Lenny Hatchett face a new obstacle in 2021: bumping-up to class 6A. Hatchett has a track record of success from Mount Saint Mary’s to Edmond Santa Fe, where he obtained experience coaching at the 6A level.
This season coach Hatchet will have a plethora of talent and leadership to lead Del City to another state tournament birth.
In addition to Young, Del City will feature two other talented seniors: Javeon McCalisterJaveonMcCalister5'11" | SGDel City | 2021StateOK
, who is a playmaker and defensive aficionado, and Sherrod DavisSherrodDavis6'4" | PFDel City | 2021StateOK
, who uses his size and strength to have his way against the majority of his competition.
[player_tooltip player_id="1068562" first="Brandon" last="Garrison"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Sophomore forward Terry McMorrisTerryMcMorris6'5" | PFDel City | 2023StateOK
is a talented young player that fits the mold of one of Hatchet’s typical lineups: quick and athletic. Morris has improved immensely since last season, looking more coordinated and developing into his 6-foot-5 frame. Expect a leap from this sophomore this season.
Brandon GarrisonBrandonGarrison6'6" | CDel City | 2023StateOK
may be the most promising prospect of them all. The 6-foot-8-inch forward pieced together an outstanding highlight reel during the summer, and now the sophomore looks to make an immediate impact for the Eagles behind his powerful defensive game and developing offensive arsenal.
Guard Ladarius Crutchfield is also looking to make a greater impact for Del City this season.
Del City was on a roll in 5A the past couple seasons, but it would be a tall order for any team in the state to make the leap from one class to another. If any team is built for that task, however, it’s Del City. This well-coached, highly athletic team has aspirations to be a powerhouse regardless of classification.
Written by Addam Francisco.
EDMOND MEMORIAL Bulldogs
Last season: 22-4
Head Coach: Shane Cowherd
Wwhen it comes to playing on the biggest stage, there are few teams who return more experience than Edmond Memorial.
"You’d be hard-pressed to find another team with more returning State Tournament experience than the Bulldogs have right now," Memorial coach Shane Cowherd said. "That’s something that can be a stabilizing force for us right now, and our guys are hungry and want to get back there."
That quest starts with senior guard and Virginia-Tech commit Sean PedullaSeanPedulla6'1" | PGEdmond Memorial | 2021State#81NationOK
, to whom Cowherd gave high praise.
[player_tooltip player_id="745355" first="Sean" last="Pedulla"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
"[Pedulla] is a great competitor, and that fuels kinda what we do and how we do our work on both ends of the floor," Cowherd said. "We take a lot of direction from his energy and his commitment on both ends.
"His ability to score the ball at three different levels is pretty unique right now in high school basketball," Cowherd said. "More than that, Sean has. . . a unique ability to be his absolute best in the biggest moments."
JV SeatJVSeat6'3" | SFEdmond Memorial | 2022StateOK
, a junior forward and third-year starter for the Bulldogs, also returns with State Tournament experience. Cowherd said that Seat, an anomalous freshman-starter at Memorial, earned his stripes as a sophomore.
"JV has done a great job of growing different parts of his game every year," Cowherd said. "He has one of the sweetest shooting strokes in the state. . . we anticipate getting him a involved a whole lot more there this year without losing his effectiveness as an inside-outside guy.
"He’s really gonna see his game explode," Cowherd said.
[player_tooltip player_id="954194" first="JV" last="Seat"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Senior guard Keyshon SpotwoodKeyshonSpotwood6'1" | CGEdmond Memorial | 2021StateOK
, Memorial’s third and final returning starter from its 2020 squad, returns with expectations of a more immersive role. Cowherd said he believes Spotwood may be the best defender in 6A.
"People talk about Key and know that he’s a high-level athlete, high-level defender," Cowherd said, "but this year, you’re going to see the ability for Keyshon to really dominate a game on both ends of the floor, particularly his work in transition."
Cowherd expects juniors Gabe SeatGabeSeat5'11" | PGEdmond Memorial | 2022StateOK
and Will CainWillCain6'6" | FEdmond Memorial | 2022OK
to see expanded opportunities this year.
"These are two guys that got a taste of varsity action last year at different points and times, and they’re having to transition now into a role where there’s a whole lot more expectations," Cowherd said, "and both of those guys, I think, are excited about challenging and trying to show how much they’ve built on their game to allow the Bulldogs to be successful.
"With Gabe, you’re going to get a very, very steady player, a guy who’s going to make limited mistakes," Cowherd said, "and I think that you get the same thing from Will CainWillCain6'6" | FEdmond Memorial | 2022OK
in that respect."
[player_tooltip player_id="954194" first="JV" last="Seat"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
A quirk of not being able to participate in summer activities, Cowherd said, was complications in utilizing younger talent. Players like Justin AyubiJustinAyubi6'1" | SGEdmond Memorial | 2023StateOK
, Aden RoweAdenRoweSGEdmond Memorial | 2023StateOK
and others will have to develop as the season progresses.
"I think that in a normal year, our sophomore class is a really talented class, but probably no class was disrupted more by the pandemic than the sophomore class," Cowherd said, "because these are kids that have not really experienced the varsity level.
"If we have a chance to get to mid-season, I think we’ll see a whole different level of play around the state as those sophomores really mature," Cowherd said.
Cowherd said the expectation for Memorial is the same as any year, to predicate its play on two factors.
"I think everything about our program has always been two things, and that’s the defensive end of the floor, being really, really solid in what we do defensively," Cowherd said, "and then secondly, just the ability, when we’re playing at a high level, to make sure that we simplify the game offensively.
"Those have been staples of Bulldog basketball," Cowherd said.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
EDMOND NORTH Huskies
Last season: 20-7
Head Coach: Scott Norris
Edmond North coach Scott Norris said that his ten-deep senior class -- most of whom have played significant minutes -- may provide Edmond North its best window to compete for a championship since 2017.
"It’s been something we’ve looked forward to since the first time I was on-campus with them when I took the job, when they were just finishing up their freshman year[s]," Norris said. "We knew how much ability they had. . . we were really only one turnover away from being in the State Tournament last year.
"I think that showed them that they can do it," Norris said.
North returns each of its starters from 2020. Senior guard Dalante ShannonDalanteShannon6'2" | CGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
headlines that talented group after scoring 16 points-a-game as a junior.
[player_tooltip player_id="745358" first="Dalante" last="Shannon"] (Matt Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
"[Dalante] had a really good spring and summer with Buddy Buckets, has come in in really good shape, he’s gotten stronger," Norris said. "He’s one that just wants to put in the work every day."
Third-year starter Landry HarrisLandryHarris5'11" | PGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
will help to lead the floor with his quick handles and speed, Norris said.
"I think [Harris’s] shot has gotten a lot better, so he’s been playing at a really high level," Norris said.
Josh PriceJoshPrice6'4" | SGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
and Sam WalkerSamWalker6'2" | SGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
, both of whom started some or every game as juniors, also return for their senior seasons playing defensive and sharpshooting roles.
"[Price] has got tougher each season and is probably one of our best kids as far as being a teammate and really buying into making everybody better and being an encourager," Norris said. "Sam WalkerSamWalker6'2" | SGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
is probably our most consistent kid, tremendous shooter, and I think he’s gotten a lot better since last spring. . . he’s playing with a lot more athleticism, getting to the rim better."
Senior post Abraham AghasedoAbrahamAghasedo6'6" | CEdmond North | 2021StateOK
, who has worked closely with North assistant and former Central-Oklahoma forward Corbin Byford, has made tremendous improvements to his game since arriving at North as a junior, Norris said.
"Abraham. . . is the one not having a spring and summer in our program hurt the most, ’cause he had made so many strides last year," Norris said, "and then not to have that time with coach Byford has hurt him a little bit, but he’s gotten back in shape now and is playing well."
[player_tooltip player_id="938851" first="Josh" last="Price"].
Cameron Lee, a heady senior guard, will help North’s back-court on both ends, Norris said.
"Cameron has been an off-and-on starter for two years, he’s our high-energy guy," Norris said, "always wants to be playing hard defense, rebounding and it’s just him getting self-confidence with his shot."
Guard Joell WilsonJoellWilson6'2" | CGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
, another off-and-on starter for the Huskies, also returns for his senior season.
"Joell WilsonJoellWilson6'2" | CGEdmond North | 2021StateOK
is kind of a streaky-type player, we’re just trying to get him to be more consistent in practice" Norris said, "I mean, he’s definitely a gamer and somebody whose come up big for us in a lot of tough situations."
Senior wing Layton Moore, a 6-foot-inch swingman, will help the Huskies with his versatile play in an expanded role, Norris said.
"Layton has made great strides, can hit the three," Norris said, "he’s become tougher inside where we can have him on the floor as an inside-outside presence. . . just a tremendous student of the game and wants to contribute a lot more his senior year."
Senior Zack Russell, the Huskies’ feature speed-back on the gridiron, returns for North.
"Zack Russell’s just coming out of football, we haven’t been able to see him on the floor," Norris said, "but he’s a great teammate, somebody who brings a great intensity and a great desire to win to our guys."
[player_tooltip player_id="745366" first="Landry" last="Harris"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Kris Frazier -- you guessed it, a senior -- also returns for the Huskies after dealing with a knee injury during his junior year.
"[Kris] was playing really, really good last year when he ended up hurting his knee eight before Thanksgiving," Norris said, "so he’s still trying to work himself back into shape, and he’s done a great job with the rehab, so hopefully he can get in there and compete, give us some good-quality minutes."
A freshman, Dylan Warlick, will compete for playing time at the post in his first year with the Huskies, Norris said.
"We really like what [Warlick] brings to our team with toughness and a little more size at the four-and-five positions," Norris said. "He can guard a five-man, or he can also play outside and give people some problems there, so I really look for him to help us for four years."
Norris said that the Huskies’ depth has helped to fuel their competitive drive.
"We’re senior-led, but we have a lot of guys that want to compete," Norris said, "the competition is good in practice every day."
The Huskies, who are among the early favorites to hoist the Gold Ball, will rely on that competitive spirit, but also the experience of their upperclassmen to adjust, Norris said.
"I think flexibility and being able to adjust at any time. . . is going to be key," Norris said. "Hopefully we can show maturity and be able to prepare on short amount of time."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
EDMOND SANTA FE Wolves
Last season: 13-13
Head Coach: Troy Lallemand
Edmond Santa Fe coach Troy Lallemand has a couple of unique problems.
First, most of his team, including two of his returning starters -- Talyn and Tabry ShettronTabryShettron6'4" | SFEdmond Santa Fe | 2022StateOK
-- are preoccupied with another sport until the 6A football State Championship game Saturday afternoon.
"This is a different job right now just because of the influence of football," Lallemand said, "Right now, I’ve got eight-to-nine guys still in football.
"So for us, right now, it’s kind of crazy," Lallemand said.
Second, though Lallemand returns four starters from the 2020 season, the missing one -- graduate point guard Donovan VickersDonovanVickers6'1" | PGEdmond Santa Fe | 2020StateOK
-- tied for first in scoring and led every other major statistical category for the Wolves while earning conference defensive player of the year honors.
"The biggest thing is having to replace Donovan," Lallemand said. "We’re missing a big piece with that he did.
[player_tooltip player_id="745367" first="Colby" last="Onyekuru"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Aside from the Shettron brothers, Michael ReevesMichaelReeves6'1" | SGEdmond Santa Fe | 2022StateOK
and Colby OnyekuruColbyOnyekuru6'5" | SFEdmond Santa Fe | 2021StateOK
return for the Wolves.
Reeves is the leading returning scorer for Lallemand’s squad.
Onyekuru is Lallemand’s "Swiss Army knife."
"Colby is perfect for what we do. . . he’s kind of in position-less basketball," Lallemand said. "He’s 6-5, he’s long, athletic, he can shoot it, he can handle it.
"He can play all five positions, and he can guard all five positions, more importantly," Lallemand said.
Lallemand said that Onyekuru may even handle point-guard responsibilities given the right circumstances.
"We kind of joke about it. . . he’s probably the best point guard in the league," Lallemand said. "Simply because of a mismatch problem."
Seniors Kristian Baccus and Willie Watkins, junior Joe AdamsJoeAdams6'1" | CGEdmond Santa Fe | 2021StateOK
, and sophomores Kayden Gipson, Jayden CincottaJaydenCincottaSGEdmond Santa Fe | 2023StateOK
, and Kaden Stewart will also be expected to step into larger roles for the Wolves, Lallemand said.
[player_tooltip player_id="955390" first="Talyn" last="Shettron"] (Bryce McKinnis/Prep Hoops).
Lallemand said that defense will be Santa Fe’s No. 1 priority this season.
"We’re gonna have to have the same attention to detail, defensively, that we did last year," Lallemand said. "We went zone, but it was really just what we had to do to help out our offense.
"We’re gonna man more this year," Lallemand said.
Offensively, Lallemand said that the Wolves have to shoot the ball better this season.
"We shot 26 percent from three, and it wasn’t even that," Lallemand said. "We weren’t very high from, you know, two-foot range.
"I think being a year older, a year stronger, we should be able to do that," Lallemand said.
Lallemand noted that due to football absences early in the season, the Wolves will need to peak later in the season.
"We’re not gonna be playing our best basketball in December," Lallemand said. "A lot of teams say this, but we really have to be playing our best basketball in January and February."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 21-5
Head Coach: Clay Martin
The Jenks Trojans will look to gather early victories behind a young but deep roster, coach Clay Martin said.
"If we can find a way to grind some wins out early, I think our team has got the making to be another good team," Martin said. "Hopefully we’re going to be able to play some guys and be able to keep everyone fresh."
Three starters return for Jenks: juniors Chase MartinChaseMartin6'5" | SGJenks | 2022State#243NationOK
and Ben AverittBenAveritt6'5" | SFJenks | 2022StateOK
and senior Stephen Kittleman.
Chase, coach Martin’s son, is regarded as the best prospect in the Oklahoma 2022 class. Coach Martin credited the pairing of Chase and Averitt.
"I think it’s really neat because they do play well together," coach Martin said. "When Chase gets into the lane or is driving the basketball, he’s able to find Ben and get the ball to him in scoring positions. Ben is so good around the rim.
"On the flip-side, Ben is just a tremendous penetrator, so when he puts the ball on the floor, it creates a lot of attention and help, and so it frees up Chase and other guys for shooting opportunities," Martin said.
Kittleman, the Trojans’ three-year starting quarterback, will not be able to offer his services until the conclusion of Jenks’s playoff-run. Martin credited Kittleman’s experience on the football field to helping the Trojans in pivotal moments.
"[Kittleman] has been in a lot of big moments, and so he’s never rattled, and with the ups-and-downs of basketball, he does a great job of keeping our team grounded ," Martin said. "He’s just a gamer. . . No moment is too big for him."
[player_tooltip player_id="955379" first="Chase" last="Martin"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
Martin also said he will focus to developing younger guards during Kittleman’s absence.
"We’ve got to find a way to win early with our youth in the back-court until we get Stephen back," Martin said.
Junior guards Cain Smith and Seth Wilkins, as well as senior forward Carson Cooper, will return after playing significant minutes in 2020. Six-foot-8-inch forward Noah Borchers will help the Trojans at the post, Martin said.
Two sophomore guards, Gron Tata and Dylan GolightlyDylanGolightly6'2" | SGJenks | 2023StateOK
, are in the hunt to play expanded roles for Jenks, Martin said.
"[Tata] is a bulldog on the ball defensively and a really good decision-maker offensively," Martin said. "Dylan can really stretch the floor and make shots."
Alex Dodder, also a sophomore, could have an expanded role for the Trojans.
"He’s a very versatile player and can play just about every position on the floor," Martin said. "He’s got a great feel for the game.
"We’ve got some kids that have never played in a varsity game that we think are gonna be really, really good," Martin said. "Those three sophomores have played really well. . . What they’re doing is giving our staff some comfort."
Three juniors, Colton Coffey, Jacob Dickson and Jacob Simmons, are also battling for more playing time, Martin said.
"We’ve got a lot of sophomores and juniors on this team that are kind of battling," Martin said.
Albert Diarra, a 6-foot-8-inch transfer, will be Martin’s "wild card," he said.
"[Albert] is really long and athletic, can run the floor, has guard-skill, and can also play inside," Martin said.
Six-foot-8-inch center Noah Borchers will also play minutes at the post, Martin said.
Martin said the Trojans’ goal is to get back to the State Tournament after qualifying in 2020, and he reiterated that young talent will be a key to Jenks’s success.
"We’ve got so much young talent on our team," Martin said. "If we can find a way to get back this year, we’re setting ourself up for some new opportunities.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
MIDWEST CITY Bombers
Last season: 22-3
Head Coach: Corky McMullen
Coach Corky McMullen, who spent a season coaching the Lady Bombers, was announced as Midwest City’s next boy’s head coach in May.
McMullen, though in a new role, expects his players to buy-in to maintaining the rich tradition of Midwest City success.
"There’s a huge tradition here," McMullen said, "Circumstances change all the time, but the expectation never changes."
[player_tooltip player_id="955382" first="Kevin" last="Overton"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
To help support that tradition, McMullen made a point to appoint former Bombers as assistants; Torrey Noel, a second-year Midwest City assistant who graduated from Midwest City in 2014 before playing at Lamar University; and Kentrell Gaddis, a former State Champion at Midwest City who played at Rose State and Central Oklahoma, who also assisted McMullen on the girl’s staff in 2020.
"We want the guys who have been here, who have walked the same halls and been in the same locker room," McMullen said.
On-the-floor, junior guard Kevin OvertonKevinOverton6'3" | SGMidwest City | 2022StateOK
will be expected to lead the floor for the Bombers in his third season as a starter, McMullen said.
"That experience is huge," McMullen said, "not only verbally, but just with how he approaches every day. He’s very business-like in his approach, and he’s hungry to learn and the other guys kind of feed off that."
[player_tooltip player_id="938861" first="Israel" last="Hart"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Also a returning starter, Oklahoma-State-football commit and senior guard Makale SmithMakaleSmith6'4" | PGMidwest City | 2021StateOK
will rejoin the Bombers’ basketball team after the Bombers’ state-title run has run its course on the gridiron.
"The thing with Makale is he kinda just has a knack for putting the ball in the hole," McMullen said, "and because of that, that attracts a lot of attention and allows him to make his teammates better.
"The one thing [Makale] does really well is his presence, alone, is gonna help his teammates," McMullen said.
A pair of seniors, Israel HartIsraelHart6'3" | PGMidwest City | 2021StateOK
and Ethan GanawayEthanGanaway6'5" | PFMidwest City | 2021StateOK
, will also play inflated roles from their junior year.
"Ethan didn’t get a ton of playing time before. Israel got some," McMullen said, "but as seniors, they’re going to be a major catalyst to what this program does.
"They’re both playing with a ton of confidence right now," McMullen continued. "Both of those guys are guys that all the guys in our locker room respect. . . and how they interact with the young guys is something that’s really important. I think that’s something the tradition is built on here."
That torch will also be shared with some newcomers, McMullen said. In the paint, Jacobe Sebock and Keivon Hudson both stand above 6-foot-5-inches and will be important pieces to Midwest City’s success.
[player_tooltip player_id="938860" first="Ethan" last="Ganaway"] (Clare Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
"[Jacobe] is a guy who’s really versatile," McMullen said. "He’s pretty long strong, but he can step out and shoot the three. He handles it pretty well and makes good decisions.
"Keivon has just a really high motor, really long and athletic, can really make a difference on the glass," McMullen continued. "He’s somebody who’s kind of a game-changer on the boards, but he has a pretty good knack for the ball and can go offensively, too."
Another football player who will enter a major role once he returns is junior Artez Young.
"We have eight guys that could start," McMullen said, "and we probably could go 10-or-11-deep."
AJ Easlick will also play in a more exposed role for the Bombers, McMullen said.
"He’s a senior who hasn’t played a whole lot," McMullen said, "but he’s really been an engine for us, specifically in practice. . . he’s earned himself some time because he’s really organized, plays with great effort, and he’s really just a team guy."
To organize his deep roster into a winning team, McMullen said his focus will be to get better every day.
"One of the things we say is ’we want to get one percent better every day,’ and that’s really our focus," McMullen said. "Obviously, I think everyone’s mission is we want to win our last game. . . but our expectation is to be our best every day."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Lasts season: 8-16
Head Coach: Greg Hardin
Despite an 8-16 finish in 2020, Moore coach Gregg Hardin believes the Lions have a shot at a winning and season.
"I think this will probably be our year, we’ll finally get over that hump," Hardin said. "I think this year we’ll be able to play more experienced kids."
That experience will start with a pair of seniors and the Lions’ lone returning starters: 6-foot-3-inch forward Dylan McDougal and 6-foot-even guard Justin Martin.
"Dylan attacks the goal well, he penetrates well, he can shoot the 3-ball a little bit, and he’s a good rebounder," Hardin said. "And he provides a whole lot of leadership for us."
Martin, Hardin said, has been the Lions’ best player during the preseason.
"This year, he’s been really playing well," Hardin said. "He can really light-it-up and is really solid on defense, as well."
Marcus Dockins, a junior who plays receiver for the Lions’ football team, also returns for the Lions. He started some games as a sophomore and led Moore in rebounds.
"[Dockins] is a good slasher, rebounder of course and a pretty good defender, as well," Hardin said. "We’ll be looking for him to provide a lot of spark for us as a starter this year."
Fellow junior Lonato Henderson, a 6-foot-4 two-sport athlete, also returns for Moore as an expected starter.
"[Henderson] attacks the rim for us a little bit," Hardin said, "so we’re gonna be expecting a lot from him."
Sophomore Malichi Lee, who led the Lions in scoring in six contests as a freshman, will be an important piece for Hardin, also.
"[Lee] is going to be a really good ball-player," Hardin said. "he’s a really strong, real physical kid, kind of knows the game. . . can score the basketball and run the floor, as well."
Two players will be splitting time at the one, Hardin said: senior Greg Lewis and junior Rejond Hayes.
"[Lewis] started a couple games last year," Hardin said, "pretty heady kid, really gets after you on the defensive end."
Hayes, also an aggressive defender, has valuable ball-handling skills and will help Lewis provide the talent the Lions need to compete in 6A, Hardin said.
"I think being able to compete at the level that you need to be at 6A," Hardin said, "I think these kids can finally realize this is what we need to do to get it done."
Hardin reiterated he believes 2021 can be Moore’s best opportunity to "make some noise in 6A."
"We had a hit-and-miss last year because of experience," Hardin said. "I think the maturity level of the kids now and also the experiences we had to go through last year. . . will make a big difference this year.
"We’ve been knocking on that door," Hardin said.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 9-14
Head Coach: Scott Hodges
Mustang returns most of its players from 2020, including guards Ethan ScottEthanScott5'10" | PGMustang | 2022StateOK
and Jacobe JohnsonJacobeJohnson6'3" | SGMustang | 2023StateOK
, who led the state in scoring among sophomores and freshmen, respectively.
"We’ve got a chance to have a pretty good year," coach Scott Hodges said. "The majority of our team is back."
Scott, heralded as perhaps the best sharpshooter in the state, is expected to produce from the 3-point-line in his second year at Mustang, while Johnson is expected to help the Broncos scoring from the mid-range and attacking the rim.
"I think the great thing about those two is their game compliments each other really well." Hodges said. "It was obvious at times, last year, they had never played together. . . they’re still a work-in-progress as far as learning to play off of each other.
[player_tooltip player_id="967377" first="Jacobe" last="Johnson"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops).
We think they could become the best duo in the state of Oklahoma in the next few years," Hodges said.
Hodges said that Mustang’s corps of role players has improved since 2020. Jacob Henderson, a 6-foot-7-inch junior forward, will provide an interior advantage for the Broncos.
"Jacob played a lot last year, but he’s really gotten better," Hodges said. "He’s gotten bigger and stronger, filled out his body, really worked hard in the weight room, finishing around the rim a lot better. . . he’s got a lot of potential."
Sophomore guard Keegan BassKeeganBass5'10" | PGMustang | 2023StateOK
also returns after playing significant minutes as a freshman.
"Kergan really had some good games last year, and he learned a lot," Hodges said.
CJ Young, the only senior in the Broncos’ rotation, will be a new face to Hodges’s lineup this season.
"CJ didn’t play a whole bunch as a junior but we think he’s going to have a really good year for us," Hodges said.
Hodges also noted junior Reese Strange, junior Austen Smith, sophomore Bryson Sharp and junior Kaden Bogard as role players who will receive pivotal playing time.
"We’re gonna be a deep team, we feel like we can probably play nine, 10, 11 guys if we need to," Hodges said. "I always tell our guys, ’the strength of our team is our team,’ you know, our depth and being able to have guys that can hurt you on any given night."
[player_tooltip player_id="955384" first="Ethan" last="Scott"] (Matt Reynolds/Prep Hoops).
Hodges noted defense as being a key factor to Mustang’s potential success.
"We feel like we’re gonna score the ball with a lot of people," Hodges said, "but being able to stop people has been our focus in the offseason."
Shot-selection and group cohesion are also important traits for the Broncos, Hodges said.
"We struggled at times last year, we took really bad shots, our selection was questionable," Hodges said. "We didn’t always trust each other.
"I think this year having great possessions and playing as a team are the most important things for us," Hodges finished.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
NORMAN NORTH TimberWolves
Last season: 17-7
Head Coach: Kellen McCoy
The TimberWolves are determined for a trip to the 6A State Tournament this season.
Norman North, led by coach Kellen McCoy, return a trio of primary players: Jaylon WhiteJaylonWhite5'11" | PGNorman North | 2021StateOK
, Aiden WalkerAidenWalker5'11" | PFNorman North | 2021StateOK
and Kayden CarterKaydenCarter6'5" | SFNorman North | 2021StateOK
White, who led the T-Wolves in scoring as a junior, returns for his third season as a starter.
"JJ brings a lot of play-making ability," McCoy said. "He can score it, he can get other guys involved, and he’s gonna be really important part of what we do."
Walker, a counterpart to White as a three-year starter, will help him bear the load as a senior leader.
"[Walker] is high-energy, does a lot of the dirty work down-low," McCoy said, "and gets a lot of rebounds and scores it."
Carter, who was a staple in the T-Wolvles’ starting lineup before an early-season injury that sidelined him until the summer, will return as a paint-enforcer. McCoy expects high production from the athletic senior forward.
"Coming off of his leg injury, [Carter] will be a big factor coming back for us," McCoy said.
Jaylon "JJ White (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
A trio of football players; Caelin HearneCaelinHearne6'3" | SGNorman North | 2021StateOK
, Gavin FrakesGavinFrakes6'3" | SFNorman North | 2022StateOK
and Duncan ParhamDuncanParham6'3" | PFNorman North | 2022StateOK
each saw significant minutes or started in 2019. McCoy said all three will be reprising their roles for North.
"Duncan started all last year for Kayden, Caelin started a year-and-a-half. . . came on for us towards the end of the year, and then Gavin also came on at the end of the year," McCoy said.
McCoy cited Frakes’ talents as an important piece to the T-Wolves’ attack.
"Gavin has grown a whole bunch," McCoy said, "he’s gotten a lot bigger, a lot stronger, he looked like a different person. . . we’re real hopeful for him this year."
The T-Wolves also have a few newcomers taking over pivotal roles, McCoy said. Joel Adkinson is one of those players.
"Adkinson, he’s got some good scoring abilities, smooth lefty," McCoy said.
Three guards, Nate Lancaster, Nasir Williams and Malachi Evans, were all mentioned as quick guards with ball-handling capabilities looking to play expanded roles in North’s lineup.
"They’re all small guard that we can get up and pressure with," McCoy said, "we’re gonna be able to play some different ways with some different personnel."
McCoy said defensive rebounding would be among the T-Wolves’ keys to success.
"We’ve got more than enough size and ability to do it," McCoy said, "we’ve just gotta get the determination to do it."
McCoy also said that if North could score in transition, it could put itself in the positive margin and help its chances for success.
"These guys, they’re always going to play hard, they’re gonna play together," McCoy said, "you’ll be able to watch and see the energy that they’re playing with, and they’ll be fun to watch. . . hopefully force a lot of turnovers and get back to score in transition."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 13-13
Head Coach: Brian Montonati
Owasso coach Brian Montonati said the Rams have experience on their side this season.
"We’ve got everybody back from our team last year, which is unique, and those guys played in a lot of big basketball games," Montonati said. "We’ve got depth where we can play probably eight-to-10 kids."
Returning for the Rams is senior guard Trent EllisonTrentEllison6'3" | CGOwasso | 2021StateOK
, a touted prospect with a powerful scoring attack. Montonati also cited his 35-inch vertical as being the highest on Owasso’s roster.
"Trent’s biggest strength is how strong he is," Montonati said. "He’s in the weight room a lot, he’s gained over 10 pounds since last year."
"Trent’s shooting it a lot better than what he did last year, but also his mid-range game, I think, is his best asset," Montonati said.
Guard-forward Bryce JourneeBryceJournee6'4" | PFOwasso | 2021StateOK
, who Montonati said is among the most improved players in Owasso’s conference, will also return to play a significant role for the Rams.
"Bryce is extremely athletic, he’s a guy that can finish at the rim, he plays above the rim," Montonati said. "He shoots it really well from three. . . and he’s just one of those kids that can play multiple positions."
[player_tooltip player_id="1015854" first="Bryce" last="Journee"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops)
Also a versatile playmaker in Owasso’s starting unit is junior Caden FryCadenFry6'8" | COwasso | 2022StateOK
, a 6-foot-7-inch forward with remarkable strength.
"Caden is one of the better 2022s in the state," Montonati said. "He’s skilled. He’s one of those guys that can play with his back to the basket and also step out and knock-down a 15-footer. He’s also got a tendency to play above the rim."
Next in the rotation is the talented point guard, EJ Lewis, a sophomore who started every game for Owasso during his debut season.
"[Lewis] is a heady player, smart, takes care of the ball, gets us in the offense, doesn’t turn it over a lot," Montonati said. "He’s just one of those guys who makes our team go."
Senior Kyler MannKylerMann6'5" | SFOwasso | 2021StateOK
, who received second-team all-conference recognition in 2020, will team with Fry in the paint. After scoring 14 points and nabbing 12 rebounds as a junior, Mann is not only expected to be an important offensive weapon, but also the Rams’ best defender, Montonati said.
"[Kyler] is a matchup nightmare," Montonati said. "He rebounds the basketball so well. . . he gets up off the floor pretty well. He’s a walking double-double."
Senior BJ ArmstrongBJArmstrong6'0" | PGOwasso | 2021StateOK
is expected to play important minutes for the Rams, also.
"We’re looking to utilize [Armstrong’s] size," Montonati said, "and having him be a lock-down defender, but also he’s one of those guys who’s a great distributor of the ball."
[player_tooltip player_id="955380" first="Caden" last="Fry"] (Noah Weber/Prep Hoops)
Junior shooting guard Caleb LeslieCalebLeslie5'11" | SGOwasso | 2022StateOK
will also provide important scoring as a versatile offensive presence.
"Every time [Leslie] shoots it, I think it’s going in," Montonati said. "He’s our specialist from the 3-point range, but he can play also with the ball in his hands just from the experience he’s gained."
Kole Manuel will back-up fry in the post, Montonati said.
"[Manuel] has grown since last year and added weight from being in the weight-room," Montonati said.
Montonati also credited the role that conditioning has played in helping develop his returning corps.
"The one thing I love about these guys is they’re gym-rats," Montonati said. "We ask them to come in at 6:30 in the morning and spend an hour with our strength coach and then come back in the afternoon. . . They’re so much more physical than they were last year."
Montonati said his group will have a few key points of focus for success, including defense and rebounding, among other things.
"We’ve just gotta play team basketball, it’s gotta be defense-first and making sure we’re dominating the glass," Montonati said, "and that’s gonna lead to opportunities for us to score in the open floor in transition."
Montonati said the expectation for the Rams is to not only get to the State Tournament, but to also "make some noise there."
"You can have the expectations but you’ve gotta have the work ethic that matches your expectations," Montonati said, "and these guys have so far put in the time, energy and attitude to meet those expectations of our program.
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
PUTNAM CITY WEST Patriots
Last season: 16-11
Head Coach: Lenny Bert
Despite losing one of the best senior classes in the state, coach Lenny Bert and the Putnam City West Patriots are among the early contenders for the 6A title.
The reunification of P.C. West and Tobias Roland JrTobiasRoland Jr6'3" | SGPutnam City North | 2021StateOK
., who played at West as a freshman before transferring to the rival P.C. North, will undoubtedly be a significant factor in the Patriots’ success. Bert said he will be one of the best players in the state this season.
"Tobias, right now, to me it’s not a weird dynamic, because he played here a year," Bert said, "I mean, he’s the hardest worker in the gym, and he’s vocal, he talks, he does all of things. . . to me, it’s an easier game when you have somebody like that coming in."
Roland, a touted Division-I prospect, has leadership skills to go with his work ethic, too.
[player_tooltip player_id="773474" first="Tobias" last="Roland Jr"]. (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops)
"[Tobias] is a great person," Bert said. "He’s the first one in the gym. When you have guys like that, it’s easy to follow him.
"And he’s talented," Bert added.
Sharing the spotlight with Roland Jr. will be the impressive Daylon AndrewsDaylonAndrews6'0" | PGPutnam City West | 2021StateOK
, a fellow senior and the Patriots’ leading returning scorer. The sharpshooting point guard had memorable performances in the postseason in 2020, including a 31-point night to help the Patriots outlast top-ranked Southmoore.
"[Daylon] really had a big playoffs," Bert said. "He’s just getting better and better, he’s increased his athletic ability. A lot of people know him as a shooter, but now he’s attacking the rim a lot better.
"One thing that I love is that he’s probably our best defender right now," Bert continued.
[player_tooltip player_id="938857" first="Daylon" last="Andrews"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Another important shooting presence to the Patriots’ rotation is Jacob Blount.
"I think he’s probably one of the best shooters," Bert said. "I mean, he gets it off quick, and he goes right with the ability of Tobias and Daylon."
A pair of junior footballers, Elijah JamesElijahJames6'0" | CGPutnam City West | 2022StateOK
and Corey GordonCoreyGordon6'3" | SFPutnam City West | 2022StateOK
, will also be significant contributors, Bert said. James has started since his freshman season, while Gordon played after sitting due to transfer restrictions late in his sophomore season.
"Both of them guys are talented," Bert said, "so they’re going to bring something."
Gordon, Bert said, is among the most talented athletes in the state, standing about 6-foot-4-inches with great finishing skills at the rim. James, meanwhile, is a smooth two-way guard who can distribute the ball efficiently and attack the rim.
Boomer Barnes (left) and Jordan Warrior (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
In the paint, senior Boomer Barnes is helping P.C. West get back to its old style-of-play at the five, Bert said.
"When [Boomer] is moving, active, we’re a different team," Bert said. "He’s gonna get better and better. . . the iso moves that he has available for him."
A new addition is junior transfer Payton AckermanPaytonAckerman6'0" | PGOKC Storm | 2022StateOK
, a shifty point guard with long-range shooting capabilities.
"He can shoot the ball, getting stronger with the handle," Bert said, "and he’s doing some good things defensively for us."
Freshman Jordan Warrior, the younger brother of 2020 graduate MJ WarriorMJWarrior6'1" | PGPutnam City West | 2020StateOK
, is an important new piece to the Patriots’ attack.
"[Jordan] is a true point guard," Bert said. "He understands the game, he understands spacing. . . he hasn’t turned the ball over much during scrimmage season."
[player_tooltip player_id="964490" first="Elijah" last="James"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Another young, talented guard, O’rian ScalesO’rianScales5'10" | PGPutnam City West | 2023StateOK
, has shown improvements to his already crafty game, Bert said.
"We’re gonna have a deep rotation," Bert said.
Bert cited team chemistry and health as important factors for P.C. West, as well as players stepping into bigger roles.
"It’s a lot of new dynamics to what we do," Bert said, "like for [Daylon}. . . now, he’s the first or second option."
Bert also said that this year’s P.C. West will resemble teams he coached from 2014 and 2015, and Barnes’s interior presence will play a big part of that.
"Last year, it was kind of a blessing and a curse with most teams focused on one player," Bert said, "now, it’s like ’what do we stop’ with all of these moving parts."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
SAND SPRINGS Sandites
Last season: 19-7
Head Coach: Eric Savage
The most notable player returning for Sand Springs, coach Eric Savage said, is senior guard Marlo FoxMarloFox6'1" | PGSand Springs | 2021StateOK
, who led the Sandites in scoring as a junior.
"We’ll rely pretty heavy on [Fox] this year," Savage said.
Fox’s right-hand man will be senior Cason SavageCasonSavage6'0" | PGSand Springs | 2021StateOK
, a shifty and high-energy guard who started his junior season, as well. The Sandites will need increased production from the younger Savage, coach Savage said.
"We’ll ask [Cason] to try to pick up his scoring," Savage said. "He’s always been more of a distributor, but he’s going to have to score a little more this year."
Coach Savage also said that Cason may also be Sand Springs’ best defender.
The Sandites will be without the services of senior forward Jaeden HurdJaedenHurd6'6" | PFSand Springs | 2021StateOK
, a 6-foot-7-inch post who injured his knee during a game against Booker T. Washington his junior season. Savage said asking another player to equal Hurd’s production will be a difficult ask.
Junior Ethan Oakley will provide some of that production, Savage said.
"Oakley played a lot in Jaeden’s absence last year," Savage said. "He’s capable of getting in there, banging-in and rebounding. . . he’s coming along nicely."
Trevon Corona, a transfer junior forward, will pair with Oakley to alleviate the Sandites’ post-needs.
"[Corona] is kind of a big kid, about 6-4, 250, so we’ll rely on him to pull some rebounds and give us some toughness in the paint."
[player_tooltip player_id="745359" first="Marlo" last="Fox"] (Bryce McKinnis/Prep Hoops).
Helping Fox and Savage around the perimeter will be a host of returners and newcomers. Seniors Darron Hawkins and Corbin Fisher are two of those players.
"[Hawkins] will help a lot, he just got in from football," Savage said, "[Fisher] is a pretty good athlete."
Savage said Hawkins, Fisher, Fox and Savage will need to provide instrumental senior leadership.
"Those four guys will kind of be the backbone of the team," Savage said.
Junior guard Jason Clark will also be in the mix of rotation players.
"[Clark] will probably be, if not starting, the first guy in," Savage said. "He brings a lot of energy, came in and played well in the playoffs for us off-the-bench.
"He can run some point to free up Cason and Marlo on the wings to score a little more," Savage added.
The Sandites will need to continue to make adjustments on-the-go, Savage said.
"Coming into the season, I was really fired up, ’cause this group of seniors has always won a lot of games and have been together a long time," Savage said, "With Jaeden going down, it changed some things for us so it’s kind of revamping the way we were going to play.
"We’re probably not going to be able to take as many chances without a 6-7 guy in the paint to erase mistakes," Savage said.
The Sandites will need to spread the floor with Fox and Cason SavageCasonSavage6'0" | PGSand Springs | 2021StateOK
, coach Savage said.
"[We’ll] not play through the post as a first option and utilize some of our guards with good size, so I think you can put them in some inside-out situations," Savage said. "There may be some five-guard lineups this year."
Savage said that he hopes to adjust to continually improve in the tough Frontier Conference.
"I think our conference is really tough again," Savage said, "I’ll look for us to definitely be able to win some games and hopefully be in the mix at the end of the season as we get better."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 22-4
Head Coach: Tim Stogsdill
Coach Tim Stogsdill and the Southmoore SaberCats are looking to rebuild in 2021 after graduating half of their team, including five college-bound players.
A pair of seniors, Jamarion ButlerJamarionButler6'4" | SFSouthmoore | 2021StateOK
and Damian KlineDamianKline6'0" | PGSouthmoore | 2021StateOK
, return after playing significant minutes as juniors.
"[Kline and Butler] played a big part last year," Stogsdill said. "The rest of these guys, they got a lot of fourth-quarter time because we were ahead."
Stogsdill said both Kline and Butler bring valuable experience to the game.
"Damian was on the floor as a sophomore in the state semifinals against Booker T.," Stogsdill said, "and then J.B. played some good minutes last year. . . both of them gave us good minutes, and now their roles have changed and they’ve gotta step-up.
"Not just vocal, they’ve gotta be go-to guys," Stogsdill said.
[player_tooltip player_id="1049309" first="Jamarion" last="Butler"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
A pair of freshman, Jesse Ledbetter and David McClarty, will be newcomers into the SaberCats’ rotation.
"We’re excited about both of them" Stogsdill said. "They’re two kids that have come up through our feeder program, and we think both of them could be really good players.
"You know, you better be a stud as a freshman," Stogsdill continued," but we’re gonna throw them in the fire, and give them an opportunity. . . and they’re kind of our future right now."
Two bright spots in the early season, Stogsdill said, have been senior Peyton MusickPeytonMusick5'11" | PGSouthmoore | 2021StateOK
, a wing sharpshooter and junior Keilan HowardKeilanHoward5'11" | PGSouthmoore | 2022StateOK
, a talented slasher and point presence.
"Keilan’s probably our most-improved player right now," Stogsdill said. "He’s worked so hard in the offseason."
[player_tooltip player_id="1049306" first="Keilan" last="Howard"] (Joshua Cleary/Prep Hoops).
Stogsdill also praised Musick’s shooting capabilities.
"When he’s on, he’s on," Stogsdill said.
Stogsdill said that a new roster means adjustments in scheme, as well.
"We’re trying to get out and do some things defensively we haven’t normally done," Stogsdill said. "The bottom line is you’ve gotta stay healthy, you’ve gotta bring it every day in practice, you’ve gotta work on all of the little things, all of the details."
Stogsdill also cited developing young talent as a primary goal for the season.
"It’s all about February," Stogsdill said. "Being better than where we were at the beginning of the season. . . we’ll probably take lumps and some bruises, but we really like our group."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
UNION High School
Last season: 21-5
Head Coach: Rudy Garcia
Despite graduating its starting unit, Union is looking to make a State-Tournament run in 2021, coach Rudy Garcia said.
"As we build, usually as the year goes, our teams get a lot better," Garcia said. "I think this is that type of team."
The focal point for offensive production will be a sophomore, Trent PierceTrentPierce6'7" | SFUnion | 2023StateOK
, who has diverse scoring talents from the paint and perimeter alike.
"I think [Trent] is the guy that we’ve gotta have go out and score points for us to have a chance," Garcia said. "As he grows and gets older, he’s gotta fill out and get stronger, but he’s gonna be a tremendous leader for us."
A trio of seniors who have received minutes in the rotation, including Jediah JonesJediahJones6'5" | SGUnion | 2021StateOK
, AJ Reed and DaYan Aromaye, will provide indispensable experience, Garcia said.
"They played last year and got valuable minutes," Garcia said. "Now that they’re actually the guys, it’s a little bit different than being a role guy. . . they’ve gotta be able to handle situations and make plays for us, and I think those things will come with a little bit of experience."
[player_tooltip player_id="1068563" first="Trent" last="Pierce"] (Joshua Cleary/ Prep Hoops).
Some seniors who have received little or no varsity experience will also get to play a bigger role for Union.
"Obviously trying to adapt to the speed of what it means to be a varsity player," Garcia said. "It’s a big learning curve for them right now.
"I think that, with no returning starters, it’s just the continuity of trying to find the right mixes, and things right now, who’s gonna play best together," Garcia continued. "I think they’re finding out you gotta do things right if you play at this level, and if you don’t, you get exposed."
Garcia said that his players buying in will make the difference for Union.
"If they’ll buy-in to the philosophy of what we teach and listen and wanna learn from all of these experiences, then we’ll have a chance to develop into, I think, a pretty decent team," Garcia said.
Garcia also said that team defense will lead to success for the Union basketball team.
"I think once they figure out that end of the floor," Garcia said, "we’re gonna build and we could be really solid at the end."
Written by Bryce McKinnis.
Last season: 14-12
Head Coach: Kevin Ritter
It’s always a sigh of relief for any coach who returns two star players. That’s the story for the Yukon Millers this upcoming season.
The Millers return two very exciting players in Brayden DuttonBraydenDutton6'2" | SGYukon | 2022StateOK
and Colby BakerColbyBaker6'4" | SFYukon | 2021StateOK
. Both of these guys can get hot on any given night and are very comfortable leading an offense. They’ll count on these two a good amount this season.
Dutton, a junior, is one of the state’s best athletes. As the quarterback on the football team, his vision translates to the hardwood as he is a very capable passer. Dutton averaged 11 points per contest as a sophomore last year and is a microwave scorer. When he’s hot, he’s incredibly hard to stop. He’s also a solid ball handler and fast with the ball in his hands. Dutton is an elite shooter with range and is a hard guard to slow down.
Baker will be back for his senior campaign and has a case for one of the best shooters in the class. He had a good amount of games last season where he made over six threes. Baker has a quick release and is always looking to shoot the ball. Baker, who has good length at 6’4, likes to defend too and uses his long arms to get in passing lanes. He really adds to the athleticism of this Yukon team.
Rounding out the Millers lineup are solid role players that bring depth to this squad. Shannon Henthorne, another senior, will look to step into a bigger role for Yukon. He’s a quick guard that gets to the basket at ease and finishes well. They also have a solid player in Zach Cantwell who uses his 6’5 frame to block shots and get rebounds. Cantwell isn’t afraid to step out and shoot mid range shots either, as he will be an anchor down low. Damontrell Adams is a guy that the Millers are really excited about. As a sophomore, he’ll have to step up and show he’s ready to play early, but his offensive skills and shooting abilities are undeniable.
Coming off of a 14-12 year, the Millers have the talent and star power to really compete this year. They will have plenty of experience and lots of shooters on the floor. Yukon has the talent to produce the best team they have had in awhile, and they have their eyes set on the state tournament.
Written by Ross Lovelace.