The 2010-11 high school basketball season in Kansas City could turn-out to be one of the more competitive we have seen in several years. With teams such as Raytown South, Ottawa, Truman and Blue Valley Northwest returning a great deal of talent from ’09-10, and as new programs emerge such as Olathe Northwest and Lee’s Summit North, the Kansas and Missouri side of the state line are hard to project. A number of programs such as Kearney and Sumner Academy are losing top scorers after championship seasons while long-time powers like Bishop Miege are in full-on rebuilding campaigns.
In Kansas, we have four 4A teams in our top 10, and in Missouri we have noted four teams alone from Class 5, District 13 and three teams from District 16.
Though these rankings don’t include Wichita or Springfield programs, we do believe that Wichita Heights and Springfield Kickapoo would likely be at the top of these polls had they been considered. So, here’s our shot at the KC metro and surrounding area:
Kansas – Last year’s state champions included 6A Wichita Heights, 5A Bishop Miege, 4A Sumner Academy. Several teams in our 2010 rankings of Kansas City area schools also have real prospects to hold trophies in March.
1. Blue Valley Northwest – With a group of strong guards returning, including the team’s leading scorer – Brett Fisher- and super-fast Morgan Smith, the 2009-10 state runner-up Huskies should again be a contender. Watch-out for frosh PG Clayton Kuster and Coach Fritz is rumored to have picked-up a big man transfer from Highland Park in Topeka.
2. Olathe South – The Falcons are always strong and will be one of the most athletic teams in Kansas with Derek Cole and Charles McAllister in the back-court. They also add 6’7″ junior Tyler Thomas inside and have tradition on their side – South has been in the top three of the Sunflower League for 11 of the last 13 years.
3. Olathe Northwest – With what is probably the best junior class on either side of the state line, this relatively new school could contend for a championship. 6’10″ junior transfer Willie Cauley doesn’t hurt as he continues to move up the national rankings and could become one of the most notable players in Sunflower League history. Add him to the mix in a steadily improving program and you have a team that could win it all.
4. Ottawa – Led by the best sophomore in Kansas (Semi Ojeleye) and a veteran guard in Adam Hasty, Ottawa is the 4A favorite even with Sumner, Basehor-Linwood and St. James still strong. Ojeleye is considered a high-major prospect and Hasty has started for three years in a system that will feature a cast of role players such as Dustin Burnett and 6’5″ James Peoples.
5. Shawnee Mission Northwest – With AJ Spencer, the Cougars will be in a position to win every game as long as he stays healthy and out of foul trouble. Spencer will have help with the perimeter scoring of Trey Fruehling and the inside physical presence of 6’5″ Drew Goodger.
6. Olathe East – With probably the strongest senior class in Johnson County, the Hawks will be led by Tyler Kalinoski and he will be surrounded by a deep and talented group including Cole Cooks, Logan Souder and several players from last year’s dominant JV squad.
7. Sumner Academy – Another 4A power that will make the state tourney interesting, the Sabres return Benny Parker and Eli Alexander from their state championship team.
8. Washington – Tra’ Vaughan White is the best pure scorer in the metro and he has some help this year with Kalen Allen, 6’6″ junior Rakim McCoy as well as Myles and Michael Hibler also back. The KCKL will make for a competitive schedule, but the Wildcats could contend for a 5A title.
9. St. James Academy – 6’6″ Clint McCullough is a mid-range force and he has transfer Jonathan Anakwe to bring an athletic, up-tempo game to a team that hasn’t managed to get past the other 4A powers in their school’s brief history. The McCullough/Ojeleye(Ottawa) match-up should be one to watch this year.
10. Basehor-Linwood – The Murphy twins – Ryan and Colin – are both big, superior athletes, and BL has a number of good role players returning including Ryan O’Donnell and Austin Stubbs. If not for Sumner in their sub-state last year, they would have been even odds for the 2009-1o 4A state title.
Other contenders on the Kansas side of the state line include:
Blue Valley North, Gardner-Edgerton, Harmon, Lawrence, Leavenworth, Schlagle, Shawnee Mission South
Missouri – Raytown South and O’Hara are both threats for state championships in Missouri, and a number of other teams could build on KCMO’s success in 2009-10. MO State champions last year included Class 5 Hillcrest, Class 4 Kearney, Class 3 Cardinal Ritter (Hogan Prep 2nd in Class 3).
1. Raytown South – Loaded. Just loaded.
2. Rockhurst – Oklahoma football commit Dan Tapko is a good high school post player and has good guards returning around him in Pat Jones and Matt Lampo. At 6’5″, quarterback prospect Frank Arbanas will make the Hawklets a tough match-up.
3. Liberty – Denton Koon, 6’7″ PF who has committed to play at Princeton, will lead the Bluejays back from a disappointing loss to Park Hill South in last year’s playoffs. He is joined by fellow-senior Austin Weese after a 23-6 2009-10 season. With a JV team that was 17-3, LHS should have depth at every position.
4. Lee’s Summit North – At 6’9″ and getting stronger, David Kravish is KC’s best big man and he is flanked by another big-time player in 6’8″ sophomore Tory Miller. Watch out for the Broncos out of District 14, especially if they improve their guard play.
5. O’Hara – Great talent coming back with guards Jevon Lyle and DJ Jackson to go along with bigs Daniel Hurtt and Josh Rupprecht. If they can play together under a new head coach, they could be dangerous in Class 3.
6. Truman – The one-two punch of Antonio Winn and Zach Large builds on their years of playing together as young players. The Patriots will also have Darrien Harris back at the point and hope that 6’9″ Derek Kern will make big contributions this year.
7. Park Hill South – From a team that made the Class 5 semis last year, you have 6’9″ post Adam Schemenauer back, the team’s leading scorer in Christian Hildebrandt returning and leading defenders from a team that allowed only 37 PPG last season. Last year’s Missouri coach of the year, Anthony Perry, will have a tough road in the Suburban Big 6 to make it back to the state final four.
8. Grandview – With a vastly improved RJ Leverette at the point to go along with 6’5″ SF Tyler Rambo, GHS could make a run for the very competitive District 13 title. Leverette also has a younger brother that apparently could make an impact. Update – Tyler Rambo has left the program for Texas but Bulldogs have young players that could fill gap.
9. Park Hill – Led by 6’2″ senior guard Chris Nsenki and strong returning veterans including Dearius Flint and Brady Kreitzer, Park Hill should build on last year’s solid season in the Big 6.
10. Ray-Pec – The Panthers started the season 17-1 last year before faltering late, but they return a core of players like gritty Cameron Coffman, the Hill brothers and Deron Washington.
Other Missouri schools to watch: Barstow, Blue Springs South, Hogan Prep, Kearney, Lee’s Summit West, Raytown, Ruskin, Smithville
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