Here are some key players from the northern panhandle heading into the delayed 2021 season.
D.J. Saunders, Wheeling Park, 6-0, Sr.
As good as Saunders is he is even better at making teammates around him better.
A prototypical pass-first point guard, Saunders averaged 5.8 assists per game, a high number in today’s game.
He can do more than pass.
In a 72-67 loss to Class AAA No. 1 University Saunders had a career-high 24 points.
One of the most intriguing stat lines, and something he will likely make routine during the coming season, was against St. Clairsville (Ohio) when he had 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
The Patriots high-motor returning leader averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as well, and shot 36.4 from 3-point range and 70.8 from the free throw line.
A Class AAA honorable mention selection, Saunders will stay close to home to continue his career at Wheeling University.
J.C. MaxwellJ.C.Maxwell6'4" | SFWheeling Central | 2021StateWV
, Wheeling Central, 6-4, Sr.
A returning first-team Class A all-state performer, there isn’t much that Maxwell can’t do.
Recently he was one of two boys players in West Virginia, along with George Washington’s Mason PinkettMasonPinkett6'2" | SGGeorge Washington | 2021StateWV
, to be nominated for the McDonald’s All-American team.
He can play multiple positions and excel at each one offensively and as a defensive stopper he always guards the opponents best player.
Offensively Maxwell averaged 14 points, six rebounds and three assists per game, ranking second on the team in scoring and third in the other two categories.
Maxwell shot 58 percent from the field, including 40 percent from 3 and 75 percent from the free throw line.
The one time Maroon Knights ball boy will get a chance to show his wares at a higher level this season, with Central slated to make the jump from Class A to Class AAA.
Maxwell was also a member of the All-Ohio Valley team last season.
Ryan ReasbeckRyanReasbeck6'3" | SGWheeling Central | 2022StateWV
, Wheeling Central, 6-3, Jr.
Reasbeck was certainly the main scorer for Central last season, averaging 19 points to help lead the Maroon Knights to a state tournament berth. The state tournament was ultimately cancelled by Covid-19 but it didn’t take away from the breakout season of Reasbeck.
Showing his versatility, Reasbeck also led the team in rebounds (165) and made 3 pointers (47), those numbers likely to expand by average this season.
All that was good enough to help the emerging Ohio Valley Athletic Conference star earn second-team Class A all-state at seasons end. He was also a member of the All-Ohio Valley team.
Over the summer Reasbeck shined in AAU play, when playing up an age group at Myrtle Beach he averaged 26 points in six games with 27 3s.
Lucky PuliceLuckyPulice6'2" | SFWeirton Madonna | 2021StateWV
, Madonna, 6-3, Sr.
It’s better to be Lucky than good, and Madonna’s Lucky PuliceLuckyPulice6'2" | SFWeirton Madonna | 2021StateWV
was better than good for the Blue Dons. As a junior Pulice filled up the stats page averaging a double-double, scoring 14.0 points and grabbing 10-.2 rebounds per game.
Coach George Vargo said his forward was “the hardest worker on the team.”
The Blue Dons team captan was also an standout on both sides of the floor, typically guarding the opponent’s best player. He averaged 2.5 steals and 1.3 deflections per game and led the team with eight charges taken and had 10 blocked shots.
For the season Pulice shot 57 percent from the floor (126-221) and was near 60 percent from two-point range (121-203). He also shot 79.3 from the free throw line (65-82). He also averaged nearly three assists a game.
Pulice was a 2020 Class A honorable mention all-state pick and is nearing 1,000 points for his career.
Avery LeeAveryLee5'11" | SGWheeling Park | 2021StateWV
, Wheeling Park, 5-10, Sr.
A slick 5-10 shooting guard, Lee transferred to Park from Wheeling Central for his senior season.
He showed what kind of player he is when he scored 32 points, including the game-winner with a driving layup with three seconds remaining to give Central an 87-85 win against Clay Battelle in the OVAC semifinals.
In that game he had four 3s and was 14 of 14 at the free throw line.
Last season at Wheeling Central Lee averaged 10 points per game.
Lee has already signed to play baseball at Marshall.
Trevor Williamson, Magnolia, 5-11, Jr.
It didn’t take Williamson long to etch his name in the history of tradition-steeped Magnolia when the then-sophomore hit a game-winning 3 to defeat St. Mary’s in the Class A Region 1 co-final.
That gave Magnolia another berth in the state tournament that was ultimately cancelled by Covid-19.
Last season the Blue Eagles’ point guard averaged 11.1 points per game, had a team-best 64 3 pointers, and averaged 3.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds and had a nearly 2-1 assist-turnover ratio.
Williamson, who had a career-high 25, including seven 3s, was a Class A honorable mention all-state selection. He also had 21 in the Region 1 victory against St. Mary’s.
Shaheed JacksonShaheedJackson5'7" | CGWheeling Park | 2021StateWV
, Wheeling Park, 5-9, Sr.
Jackson will reprise his starting role for the Patriots, where he is considered an elite perimeter defender.
Coach Mike Jebbia always put Jackson on the opponents top guard and he more often than not responded with a good defensive game.
This year, the explosive guard will need to add to his game, with the graduations of Alex Vargo and Travis Zimmerman.
There are shots to be had and his ability to get to the rim, despite his size, will be an asset to the Patriots. He is one of the most athletic players in the northern region of the state.
He also has a decent board game and his prowess as an all-state football player is a bonus in that regard.
Gavin PostlethwaitGavinPostlethwait6'7" | PFMagnolia | 2021StateWV
, Magnolia, 6-7, Sr.
A player who began to emerge last season, Postlethwait made his presence felt with 54 blocked shots, nearly half of the Blue Eagles’ total of 110 for the season.
This season, with the graduation of leading of the teams top two scorers, Postlethwait will have a chance to expand his game.
In addition to his blocked-shot dominance last winter, Postlethwait averaged 4.7 points per game, 4.1 rebounds and shot 44 percent from the field.
A scholar off the court, Postlethwait has been inducted into the Math Honors program, Mu Alpha Theta and the Magnolia chapter of the National Honor Society.
Beau HellerBeauHeller5'8" | SGWheeling Park | 2021StateWV
, Wheeling Park, 5-11, Sr.
Heller was a valuable sixth-man last season for the Patriots, helping Park claim a region championship.
As a junior Heller had 18 3 for the Patriots who will be counting on his athleticism to expand his role on both ends of the court.
Heller, the Wheeling Park quarterback in the fall, has signed to continue his football career at nearby West Liberty.
Isaac Isinghood, Brooke, 6-3, Jr.
The sophomore had a standout season that ended in being named to the Class AAA honorable mention all state list.
Others to watch:
Trevor Beresford, Cameron, 6-5, Jr.
Derrick DerrowDerrickDerrow6'1" | SGJohn Marhall | 2021StateWV
, John Marshall, 6-1, Sr.
Tyler Kelly, Weirton, 6-3, Jr.
Cole Sperlazza, Brooke 5-6, Jr.