High School basketball is by far the most popular high school sport in the Seattle area. By churning out top talent yearly, fans, parents and players are all guaranteed to see some great basketball being played around the area. Here is an early look at some of the top teams and players in the state for next year.
3A (Last year's record, Last year's state place)
Franklin Quakers (28-1, 1st place)
The biggest hit the defending 3A state champs take is losing their best player since Aaron Brooks, Louisville-bound Peyton Siva. The Quakers also will lose Chris Holmes who will be going to Eastern Washington and Freddy Wilson who is going to Seattle U.
However, it looks like Vonchae Richardson will be granted a fifth year of eligibility and will suit up for the Quakers next season, he was key to their run at State this past year. Anrio Adams and Vionte Reid are both great complements in a strong Franklin back court. They look to be undersized again, but their talent and depth will help them compete at the top of Metro and State.
Bellevue Wolverines (26-3, 3rd place)
Bellevue ended the season on a disappointing note after failing to make it to the championship game after losing against the eventual runner-up, Columbia River. If there was one team that could have given Franklin a run for there money, it would have been Bellevue. Bellevue will lose three critical players to graduation; Alex Schrempf (UCLA), Colton Christian and Taylor Olson (Pepperdine). But not all is lost, Aaron Bright, their best player, will be returning as a senior.
Bright is our No. 4 four player in the state, he is super talented and will probably end up at a high-tier college program. Ian Gordon and Nick Sikma (son of Jack Sikma) will have to step up big time if Bellevue is to compete next season. If Bright wasn't on this team I'd say it would be a rebuilding year, but Bright is that good.
Seattle Prep Panthers (22-9, 4th place)
The Panthers surprised critics, finishing fourth at state last year. It is obvious they have a sustainable system in place that will bring the program lots of success in the future. The Panthers lose seven seniors who logged the majority of minutes for them, and will depend on the talents of senior Julian Mason and the up and coming Mitch Brewe. Expect them to finish near the top of Metro again next season.
O'Dea Irish (22-9, 5th place)
The Irish finished out strong last season by placing fifth at state last year. They lose impact players in both Jordan Suther and Sean Jones, but they have a solid core in place for next season. Devante Williams was their leading scorer averaging 12 ppg last year and will return for his junior season. Dustin Watts, Jalen Ward and Zach Fogerson are all players to watch. I have a feeling this team will be competing for a state title next season if they're able to make it out of league play unscathed.
Rainier Beach Vikings (18-10, N/A)
The Vikings had one of the most disappointing seasons in recent history by not placing at State. Injuries plagued the team as the season winded down and the post season started up. They also seemed worn out from all the national tournaments they were competing in.
If Bethea can get his players healthy and focused, this team will be a threat to win it all. The Vikings lose Dotson (LSU), Stern (Idaho), Najee Ali and Pickett (Eastern Washington) all to graduation. However, they return one of the state's top players in Jaamon Echols. Lonnie Pearson is also a player to watch out for, he has deadly stroke and can have a break out season next year. A.J. Fuller and Hakeem Stewart are also impact players to watch next season. This team isn't as loaded as last year's team, but if healthy, this team can compete with anyone in the state.
Federal Way Eagles (27-2, 1st place)
The Eagles lose three strong players in Michael Hale III, Jeffery Forbes and Andre Barrington, but return their top scorer and best player, Cole Dickerson. Dickerson is ranked No. 6 in our player rankings and will be a key component in helping the Eagles return to State again next season. The team looked solid in the Quaker Summer Slam, expect them to win SPSL.
Garfield Bulldogs (20-4, 2nd place)
All eyes are on Tony Wroten. With all the controversy away, Wroten will look forward to leading his team to a state championship next season. The Bulldogs don't have too much turnover as they lose both graduating seniors Christian Blanks and De'Andre Taylor, but other than that, they should be good. Glen Brooks is the second most important player on this team to Wroten, however his impact will be minimized with the presence of Wroten.
Salim Gloyd and Pierre Wright are two young and up and coming talents within the program, it will be interesting to see what kind of strides they make next season. Expect Wroten's scoring average to reach the 20 point mark. This team has become dependent on his scoring and he's become dependent on his teammates letting him go to work. Wroten has the talent to single handedly carry his team to a state championship, no matter how much himself, his teammates, or his coaches might deny the fact.
Kentwood Conquerers (19-7, N/A)
Kentwood narrowly missed State again this past season, despite having one of the top recruits in the nation in Josh Smith. I have a good feeling of the general makeup of the squad. They meshed really well during their summer league games and were a lot more focused then the other teams I have been watching. They return their top three scorers and their whole starting five. With experience, a top recruit, and a mission, Kentwood will make some serious noise next season and could be the team to beat next season in 4A.