The Carmel Christian and United Faith boys will duke it out for the Southern Piedmont title all season long. Both are exceptionally talented and will be contenders in the NCISAA title races after Carmel Christian played in the 2A championship game and United Faith made the Great 8 of the 1A bracket last year. Queen’s Grant is in the PAC-7 IA league that has some really good competition, but the Stallions will be very good and should be one of the top teams.
Coach: Byron Dinkins, second season (185-27)
2016-17 Record: 21-7, 10-1 in Southern Piedmont
Returning Starters: 4
The Cougars are back after playing in the NCISAA 2A championship game and are loaded once again to make another big run.
All-conference returnees Myles Pierre and Marten Madie join all-state guard Donovan Gregory to form a dynamic and gifted backcourt.
All three are juniors and will play a key role in getting the Cougars back among the state’s elite teams.
Greg McDonald, a 6-7 senior, will anchor the inside. He is a capable scorer and rebounder.
Sophomore guard Ford Cooper is a key rotation guy as is senior guard Markai Francis and senior forward Jack Lendhart. Those guys add depth and scoring punch off the bench and will get plenty of big minutes.
The Cougars are welcoming in five transfers to an already deep and
talented team and all five are expected to play big minutes this year.
Covenant Day transfer Josh Price, a 6-3 guard, was the Lions leading scorer at over 12 points per game and will fit nicely into this talented backcourt.
Union Academy transfer Jake Boggs is a 6-7 forward who will provide size on the inside. Last year, he averaged eight points and five rebounds with the Cardinals. He will fit right in up front.
Northwest Cabarrus transfer Kenny Gwynn is a 6-3 forward who averaged about four points per game last year as a reserve. He’ll find his niche with the Cougars.
Senior Ardrey Kell transfers Twaan Thomas and Jonathan Murphy are a pair of 5-9 guards who will be rotation guys this season.
Coach: Josh Coley, second season (25-5)
2016-17 Record: 25-5, 10-2 in Southern Piedmont
Returning Starters: 4
Coach Josh Coley turned around the Falcons after they had suffered a pair of losing seasons and got them back to the quarterfinals of the NCISAA tournament.
With abundant talent and four starters back, that will be the expectation again this year.
KC Hankton, a 6-8 forward, has 15 Division I offers and is a smooth scorer and polished rebounder. He’s back as the team’s leader in both categories after averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds as an all-state junior.
Brett Swilling adds more size to the wing at 6-6. Swilling averaged 13 points and 3.5 rebounds last year. He’s generating next-level interest. Jason Thompson is another Division I prospect. The 6-7 wing averaged nine points and seven rebounds.
Senior point guard Rafael Jenkins is a steady ball handler and yet another next-level talent who averaged 12 points per game last year.
Sam Wolfe adds size and depth up front. The 6-7 forward averaged about four points and three rebounds per game last year. Elias Tewolde and Bryson Canty were rotation guys last year and will contribute.
The Falcons were already deep and talented, but welcome four new faces who will contribute immediately.
Jaylen Sims is a 6-6 guard committed to UNC Wilmington. He will make a huge impact and will fit in nicely with the returning starters.
Six-foot-10 center Nathan Springs, who averaged over six points and nearly six rebounds at Myers Park, is a Ohio University commit who will be a good addition.
Metrolina Christian transfer Malcolm Wade and Hough transfer Chris Hill will add depth at guard for a team capable of making a run for a state title this year.
Coach: Jay Forsythe, fifth season (64-38)
2016-17 Record: 13-11, 7-3 in Uwharrie Athletic
Returning Starters: 4
Coach Jay Forsythe has led the Stallions to three consecutive winning seasons. This year, he returns four starters and a host of newcomers looking to continue that streak.
Jah’Quez Sanders has started every game of his career at point guard. Sanders is back after averaging 11 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. He’s a next-level talent that will run the show and distribute the ball.
Jeremiah Murphy joins Sanders in the backcourt after averaging six points and four rebounds as a freshman.
Up front the Stallions boast 6-5 forward Khalil Chapman (seven points, five rebounds per game) and 6-3 wing Xavier Westbrook (six points, six rebounds).
Andre Cooper provides another interior player with his 6-4 frame. He is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Junior Josh Suggs will backup Sanders at the point, and both returners will see plenty of time.
Porter Ridge transfer AJ Gallagher is receiving Division I interest and will be a force inside. The 6-6 senior is a go-to scorer and skilled passer out of the post.
Prince Lemon will add depth at the guard position, and 6-4 sophomore guard LB Boyette is another talented kid who is a rotation player for sure.
The Stallions seem to have all the pieces to continue their winning season streak and have a chance to be very good.
Coach: Scott Taylor, second season at Myers Park (27-72)
2016-17 Record: 11-14, 3-9 in Southwestern 4A
Returning Starters: 2
The Mustangs struggled down the stretch last season with a 2-9 finish that included five straight losses to close the year after a more than promising start. They also lost quite a bit from that team, including six of their top nine scorers, five of their top seven rebounders and five of their top nine rebounders.
There will be a lot of turnover this season for second-year coach Scott Taylor, who came to the Mustangs after three seasons at Providence, but all hope is not lost that they can rebound.
Senior guard John Ingram is Myers Park’s top returning player and should have a huge year. Last season, he averaged nine points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Not necesarily a 3-point shooter, Ingram has a great touch around the basket and will get lots of chances this year.
Junior forward Duwe Farris is receiving Division I interest from a number of programs including Columbia, Princeton, Penn, UNCW, Elon, Belmont and Lipscom. Farris, who is 6-6, averaged four points and over three rebounds per game in a limited role last season, but will be counted on to provide much more this season.
The Mustangs are also counting on senior guard Seth Capizzi, who scored two points a game last year as a reserve, but will get more chances this year.
Aside from those three, the Mustangs don’t have anyone else who appeared in more than 16 games a season ago. It may take some time for them to click, but an increase in wins isn’t out of the question this year.