CIK 2020-21 Boys Basketball Preview
All rankings from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Dec. 8 poll. Catch It Kansas looks at top favorites, contenders, dark horses and overall class notes. The boys’ side was heavily impacted by top players going to prep/private schools, including KC Piper’s Tamar Bates, Wichita Collegiate’s Gradey Dick, Wichita Southeast’s Jackie Johnson and two top players from Bishop Seabury.
Favorite: No. 1 Blue Valley Northwest
Contenders: No. 2 Blue Valley North, No. 3 Lawrence, No. 4 Haysville Campus
Dark Horses: No. 6 Derby, NR Wichita East
Notes: Blue Valley Northwest did not lose to a Kansas team last winter and finished 21-2 under longtime coach Ed Fritz. Northwest returns a pair of Division I talents with Alston Mason and Jack Chapman. Lawrence brings back Zeke Mayo, the player of the year for his area. Campus was widely considered Kansas’ best basketball team in ’19-20.
Campus lost multiple key players, though Sterling Chapman is back after he cleared 1,000 career points in the season opener. Derby finished 14-8. The Panthers fell to Campus by three, eight and 11 and Andover by three. Seniors Isaac Ray and Blake Chadwick are key players for Derby. Wichita East, which won its season opener in overtime against Wichita Southeast, has legendary coach Clint Kinnamon after he posted a longtime successful run at St. John. Just two seniors were in East’s rotation last year. Senior Dalyn Jones opened with 15 points. Seven seniors played in the season opener. Campus had its 24-game winning streak halt with an 85-66 loss to Andover on Tuesday.
Favorite: No. 1 Andover
Contenders: No. 2 Basehor-Linwood, No. 3 Bishop Carroll, No. 4 Maize
Dark Horses: No. 5 St. James Academy, No. 7 Hays High
Notes: This is a close call for the favorite. B-L went 20-2, won 17 in a row and averaged 68 points per game. They defeated K.C. Piper, the eventual 4A champions, and several top Missouri schools. Andover finished 23-0 and averaged 68 points per game. Andover returns Jack Johnson, a Dallas Baptist commit, along with Isaiah Maikori. Andover steadily pulled away from McPherson in the season opener and then delivered the sizable win versus Campus on Tuesday. Both opponents were ranked.
In addition to Johnson and Maikori, Eli Shetlar tallied 22 points versus Campus. Bishop Carroll finished 21-1 and brings back Enrique Langford and Alex Littlejohn. Maize is expected to have a big jump after a 12-9 season. The Eagles return Jacob Hanna and Kyle Grill, the coach’s son. Hays High was surprisingly unranked entering the preseason, and then went 3-0 with a Hays City Shoot-Out championship.
HHS was a Class 5A Final Four team and has strong guard play with T.J. Nunnery, Carson Kieffer and Jason Krannawitter, and its 6-foot-6 posts Dalyn Schwarz and Jace Linenberger. SJA went 8-14 last winter but had just one senior. Senior Tyler Claiborne, junior Sam Somerhalder and sophomore Brian Hawthorne all return.
Favorite: No. 1 Bishop Miege
Contenders: No. 2 Augusta, No. 7 Buhler
Dark Horses: No. 10 Mulvane
Notes: Bishop Miege and Augusta are clear favorites in 4A. Miege returns junior Mark Mitchell, Kansas’ top sophomore last season. He has grown to 6-foot-8, 205. Mitchell has multiple power 5 offers, including KU. Senior Harrison Braudis is also back for a team that was extremely non-senior heavy last year. Augusta opened with a 58-51 win versus Goddard after a 19-4 season The Orioles have back-to-back final four appearances.
Augusta has a new coach with Ryan Petty, formerly at Liberal. The Orioles have seniors Ely Wilcox, Brendan Parker and Ryan Andrews. Buhler returns Max Alexander, who averaged 17 points per game. Mulvane has Trey Abasolo. Entering this year, he has played in 64 career games with 1,044 career points. Abasolo averaged 22.9 points and 7.1 rebounds a contest last winter. He opened with 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 62-55 victory versus Wellington. Mulvane was 10-12 last winter.
Favorite: No. 7 Hoisington
Contenders: No. 1 Hesston, No. 2 Wichita Collegiate, No. 3 Rock Creek, No. 9 Galena
Dark Horses: No. 5 St. Marys
Notes: This was a wide-open class last winter. Hesston beat Haven in the regular season, then Haven defeated Hesston in the sub-state finals to earn the No. 1 state seed. Then, St. Marys – after it beat three ranked teams in sub-state – defeated Haven in the first round of state. Galena was picked sixth in its league and went to the final four. This year could yield more of the same. Collegiate lost 3A Player of the Year Gradey Dick to Sunrise Christian. Hoisington finished 17-5 and returns its dynamic 1-2 of 6-foot-7 Drew Nicholson and senior point guard Mason Haxton. They combined for 31 points a game. Hoisington returned 87 percent of its scoring. RC has its top-two of Dawson Zenger and Brooks Whaley. Hoisington has been highly impressive with 76.5 points per game in a 2-0 start. Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel is known for having plenty of depth and has four key seniors, including Michael Fair.
Favorite: No. 1 Hoxie
Contenders: No. 2 Berean Academy, No. 3 Sterling, No. 7 Hillsboro, No. 8 Hutch Trinity
Dark Horses: No. 9 Ellinwood, No. 10 Sedan
This is expected to be a very deep class as well after Bishop Seabury was clearly the best team in 2A last winter. Seabury’s top-two players, both with Division I offers, transferred to prep schools. Seabury coach Jonathan Raney is now a Washburn men’s assistant. Hoxie features well-known 7-footer Harlan Obioha, who averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a contest last season.
The class is well-known for its individual standouts with Berean’s Chase Wiebe, Sterling’s Tyus Wilson, Hutch Trinity’s Lucas Hammeke, and Sedan’s Dameion Hatten. Ellinwood returns its highly talented two sophomores Tyler Stuhlsatz and Brit Dutton. Ellinwood has already beaten La Crosse, 59-27, and has averaged 63 points a game in a 2-0 start. La Crosse had defeated Ellinwood twice in ’19-20. Dutton averaged 25 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and three steals a contest thus far. Belle Plaine has outstanding point guard Eli Wiseman, though lost key player Tim Bible to a season-ending injury in the season opener last Friday. Berean took one loss in 1A last winter and has moved up to 2A this winter.
Class 1A, Division I
Favorite: No. 1 Little River
Contenders: No. 2 South Gray, No. 5 Lebo
Dark Horses: No. 10 Meade
In a somewhat odd event, Little River was ranked No. 9 in the preseason poll after a final four showing in 1A last winter. LR returned the bulk of its roster, including 1A Player of the Year Jayden Garrison, Graham Stephens and Trey Rolfs. Stephens, a three-sport standout, missed last season with a knee injury. Garrison has cleared 1,500 career points. However, LR quickly moved up to No. 1 in the poll released this week.
The Redskins and South Gray are the clear favorites in the class. SG coach Mark Applegate has four state titles and 700 career victories. The Rebels had one senior in ’19-20, a reserve. Aaron Skidmore, Ethan Salmans and Brady Deges are among the key players back. Lebo has reached the state tournament each of the past two winters, and Devan McEwen is a standout player. Meade coach Aaron Dardis has consistently won with a previous stop in Hoxie and currently with the Buffs. Meade opened with a 49-41 win versus ranked Pawnee Heights but took a 64-38 loss to South Gray on Tuesday.
Class 1A, Division II
Favorite: No. 4 Hanover
Contenders: No. 1 St. Francis, No. 2 Logan-Palco
Dark Horses: No. 6 Wheatland-Grinnell, No. 9 Tribune-Greeley County
Class 1A split back into two classes, and this should be a relatively wide-open group. However, the five above teams all should very strong. Notably, Greeley County is not as well-known on the statewide level, but the Jackrabbits went 16-9.
Sophomore Jaxson Brandl had a huge freshman season with 21 points and 10 rebounds a contest. GC returned more than 35 points per game from last season. SF, a state qualifier, and Greeley County are both in the Northwest Kansas League. St. Francis finished 16-8 and has seniors Jesse Baxter and Colton Neitzel, along with sophomore point guard Ben Busse.
Greeley County has beaten St. Francis four straight times, including three times last year by a combined 14 points. Logan-Palco and Wheatland-Grinnell are each in the Western Kansas Liberty League. Junior Dylan Van Laeys and senior Ian Sparks combined for 22 points and 16 rebounds a game for L-P last winter.
W-G coach Will Bixenman is 39-25 at his alma mater and has senior Trevor Zarybnicky (11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds per game) returning for a deep squad. Longtime power Hanover features Emmitt Jueneman after coach Kim Lohse (six state titles) stepped away from coaching.
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