Friday, December 4, 2015

5 biggest Storylines to 2015-16 High School Hoops Season

Although the Norris Cole Hi-Top Classic and Thurgood Invitational kicked off the season for some teams last week, most High School Hoop teams made their debut last weekend as basketball season is here.
   Last year was a incredible season for hoops in Dayton High Schools as 3 local mens teams reached state (Wayne, Dunbar,  Chaminade) -
 with Wayne winning it all.

Can Shaq - like EJ lead the Middies back to prominence? 
Is it "Action Jackson" Time at Dunbar?

Here's 5 of the biggest storylines for the 2015-16 season:

(1)  Will key transfers make major impact with new schools? 
With the balance of power shifting towards Wayne, Dunbar, Thurgood and Trotwood, there's no surprise that players want to go where they can be successful,  possibly win a State Championship and get a D-1 scholarship.
  With the rules governed by OHSAA, it is harder than ever to "beat the system" & have a prized player leave one school and go to another.
With that being said, there are a couple of players who will be leaned on heavily as they go to different schools:

Evan Claiborne - From Dunbar to Thurgood

   The 6'9 big man who held the fort down in the middle for the Wolverines last year, now plays for Thurgood in his senior season.  He will sit out first 11 games, but his presence inside could be the key to the Cougars making another State run.      

   Combining Claiborne with 6'8 Miami signee Derrick Daniels and Star guard Darnell Hoskins Jr, could be the recipe for a visit to Columbus come late March.

Rodrick Caldwell  -  from Stivers to Wayne

  Caldwell, who has recently signed with Bowling Green, left Stivers and joined a team filled with big time players as the Warriors look to go back to back this season. Caldwell is a dynamic guard who can play both guard spots and can score from anywhere on the court.

(2)  Who will be the next "Luke Kennard" and "AJ Harris" this season?

   After watching these two great ballers grace the Southwest Ohio High School ranks for 4 years, Kennard is now hooping at Duke and Harris at Ohio State for the next four years.
    Is there anyone remotely close to being the next Kennard? Not likely....
    The left handed All-American averaged 35+ his senior year. Unlikely to find his replacement considering he's the 2nd All-time leading scorer in OHSAA history.
And Harris?
   Not just fast and quick, but had the smarts to match; he led his Wolverine squad to a title as a freshman & when the games were on the line, he consistently stepped up and was clutch, which is one of the reasons the Buckeyes snatched him up - after his freshman year of high school,  I might add.
While there are a few names who merit consideration, which player will step up as the "Marquee" hooper in Southwest Ohio?

(3)  Can anyone stop the "WayneTrain" this season?
   Let's just be honest;
Even the biggest Wayne Train hater has to admit that Wayne Warriors is dominating boys hoops in Southwest Ohio right now.
Point blank.
Not only are they dominant in Dayton, but they are now beating the top teams out of Cincinnati and Columbus as well. And with winning the State Championship last year they have set themselves up for a great chance to repeat this year. They were in the USA Today Top 20 all of last year and don't expect them to be far from the top spot this year.      They sent 3 players to the D-1 circuit in the last two seasons, with more to come. They're loaded with talent and look for the super sophomore L'Christian "Blu" Smith to explode on the scene this year.

    Coach Travis trice has got a heavy dose of artillery at his beckon, & we look for another deep Wayne run this season.

(4)  New Coaches show Youth Movement in City League; McCullough heads to Middletown

Lions new coach Chastain relishes opportunity

  With new coaches such as Meadowdale's Dwayne Chastain & Ponitz Dwayne Hansbro entering the fray, there is a youth coaching movement going on in the Miami Valley.

  Chastain finally landed the Lions job after being turned away for a few other opportunities, which never deterred Chastain. An All-American shooting guard in college, Chastain will take over a team with talent, but look for him to put his stamp on this team with fast pace, tough defense and smart play.

     Hansbro will take over a team who lost to Franklin in the district finals last year at UD Arena. Hansbro was assistant coach last season 4 Ponitz, and looks like he will be a strong coach and which he also adopt the uptempo style with an aggressive defense from what we've seen early in the season.  
    Both coaches have won already this season.  Both understand what the city league is all about, and both should do a great job.

   Former Stivers boys Varsity coach Shawn McCullough is now working with Mark Baker in Middletown this season. There were reports that he would end up at another city school, but that wasn't the case.
   McCullough guided the Tigers to the Regional Semis in his first season, but last year the team struggled. They lost early in the tourney, and after some internal situations that were basically out of his control, McCullough decided to step down as coach.

Make no mistake though, as McCullough should be grabbing a head coaching job soon enough and his name has been floating around a lot already this season.

(5)  What will happen to the Dunbar Wolverines this season?

 When  it comes to Dunbar basketball, after the roller coaster year that they had last year, what could possibly  happen this year?

They have been the standard for basketball here in the Miami Valley for 40 years, and every year with them is a reality show in waiting when it comes to the basketball court. Questions such as:

How far will they go?... Will they win state this year? Who's the new "Star" player?.. & What will they do this season?...along with more questions.

Let's assess the Wolverines for a moment:

 Lets start with the bad news -

   After a incredible season ended just short of another state championship how will the Wolverines respond? Losing the starting backcourt of Ohio State Guard AJ Harris, sharpshooter (Vincennes JUCO) Dorianne Dawson, and Top 15 ranked Center Evan Claiborne to Thurgood, they must replace 3 of the starting 5. Considering those 3 were the backbone of the team, could be a reason of concern.
Dunbar Dynamic duo last year, Harris and Dawson

 Now the good news-  As everyone knows with Dunbar, they don't regroup, they insert hungry young studs and play.
  And with big time players such as PG Devon Baker, clutch scorer Chris Jackson, and star forward Terrence Landers , it's safe to say that the Wolverines will be in it come Regional time.

And one last note;
    Landers dropped 20 in the 2nd half of the epic Lima- Dunbar game in Norris Cole Hi-Top Classic, solidifying himself as the "go-to-guy" when the chips are down.

    He went toe to toe with Lima Sr. Guard & Michigan bound star guard Xavier Simpson; and his offense was on full display for the packed house.

(6) What surprise team will come out of the blue and make a run?
Every year a team comes outta nowhere, and becomes the "Darling" of the high school season.

Last year it was Franklin, Ponitz, and Northridge, with the teams nearly reaching the State.

  What teams could have a nice run?

Look for the Sidney team to have a good season... They have a strong team, size, and can shoot it.

Look for Middletown to break out this season.....Coach has Mark Baker talent, size, and great coaching staff, which could lead to a run the Middies are desperately looking for their 7'0 big man to bring the thunder.

Also watch for Meadowdale...They have some talent, and with a huge win at home in season opener vs Dunbar they could start out fast.

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