1. Russell (18-13) — Most talented athletes returning will give the Red Devils the bulls-eye for 2006.
Jonathan Vanhoose is proven and role players Austin Blair and Kasey Clark add plenty of options for Head Coach Steve Dodd.
While the Red Devils will have to combat teams with plenty of size, fortunately for the Red Devils, there are not that many teams with great size in the 16th region. This team should be able to defend very well also which is a MUST for teams wanting to win a regional title. The play of Scott Gill and Jeremy Lavender may provide hoops insiders with the seasonal direction for the Red Devils. Big plays and help from these two may pave the road for this favorite.
2. Ashland (17-14) — Head Coach Mike Flynn will have talent to work with despite the departure of 6’8 bookend Brett Miller.
Matt Thomas, Drew McDavid, Tyler Reliford, Adam Cannoy, and Robbie Wilcox can play and should be enough fire power to propel the tradition drenched Tomcats to the top of the polls.
Look for the usually tough defensive pressure to wilt most opponents as well as the change of pace Coach Flynn will throw into games defensively.
3. Morgan County (22-9) — Head Coach Matthew Perry has solidified the Cougars among the top tier programs during his tenure and this year could see the Cougars making yet another run at a regional title.
However, the Cougars must replace athletic Andy Lewis, PG Davin Barnett, and sharpshooter Ralph Hamilton if the Cougars are going to find success.
Look for 6’6 Blake McCowan to be the focal point for many opponents. 6’3 Junior Katlin Haney will be a key factor along with solid guard play from 6’2 Nathaniel Peyton and 5’11 Duffy Adkins.
4. Boyd County (5-22) — Plenty of talk in NEKY about Antonio Owens, a 6’1 guard with big time skills. A newcomer to the Lion program, Owens maybe the fuel to fire a program that has had sub par seasons.
Add quality role players and another scoring option and proven athlete (Billy Blanton) and head coach Phil Pratt may have the Lions roaring back to regional power.
5. Greenup County (14-12) — Head Coach Jim Hicks will have some talent to work up the polls this season.
Tyler Wolfenbarger, Cody Tharp, and Travis Wright are skilled players that should make the Musketeers more multidimensional in their attack. Should be a solid season in Lloyd.
Look for the Muskies to possibly make a quantum leap forward along with their neighbors from Boyd Co.
6. Fairview (12-16) — Head Coach Rex Cooksey may have lost all area performer Cody Fannin, but the Eagles have plenty of size and shooting ability to carry the Eagles to a great season.
Justin Hutchinson will carry a lot of the offensive burden but will have help from improving youngster Alex Barker who has unlimited range. Jeremy Bayless is a power forward who’ll help bulk up the middle with 6’6 Cody Black on the inside.
A combination of size and ability to shoot the basketball will provide high expectations in Westwood.
7. Rowan County (27-6) — Fresh off a regional championship the Vikings must replace the wealth of experience lost off of that team.
However, head coach Don Daniel brings back super Junior Matthew Daniel. The coach's son was the spark plug in the month of March last season and flourished offensively in a breakout sophomore season.
A 6’3-6’4 frame and ability to create will make Daniel one of the area’s most prolific scorers. He will need help not only scoring but keeping teams off the glass.
If the Vikings can get some energy from their inside attack, the Vikings could post another solid year.
8. East Carter (21-9) — Head coach Brandon Baker has talent back despite graduation. Maverick Barnhill will provide a versatile scoring threat and Brad Carper and Tommy Deerfield will add athleticism. Look for Van Allen Burge to be a great PG for the Raiders and could lead them a long way.
9. Fleming County (15-14) — Head coach Todd Messer has eyes on MSU and making a splash into the regional scene. Look for PG Jordan Fritz to lead the way but the Panthers have some inside presence that could give teams fits. Will challenge everyone many nights.
10. Elliott County (18-11) — Head coach Rick Mays will turn to the youth movement in an effort to build solid success. Ethan Faulkner, a talented freshman should lead the Lions in scoring. Look for a quick, fast paced Lion team filled with excellent shooters.
11. West Carter (15-11) — Kasey Jones will do a lot in helping head coach Stan McGlone win games. However, another standout in Olive Hill is Michael Hollingsworth who could lead the Comets as well. Daniel Barker and Justin Wolfe should add athleticism for West Carter.
12. Raceland (12-15) — Although sharp shooting Jameson Sparks has graduated, there is good reason to believe the Rams will contend every night.
Head coach Shawn Johnson will look to Thomas Tolliver and Pecos Osborne to control the perimeter and lead the Rams to another run at an All A title.
13. Menifee County (11-17) — First year head coach Brandon Combs has talent to work with in Frenchburg. Corey Phelps, Cody Howard, Bobby Williams look to carry offensive load. Wildcats have plenty of size for small school.
14. Lewis County (12-17) — No question that the preseason rating of the Lions will be different in March. Head Coach Joe Hampton is an excellent coach who brings out the most of his teams. Look for Aaron Sparks and Marty Ruggles to carry the Lions and banger Isaac Singer to contribute quality minutes offensively and defensively. The play of PG Nathan Owens will be key for the Lions as well.
15. Rose Hill (3-21) — Head Coach Tim Fraley may have success on the way for the Royals in a quick way. A stellar youth group led by Dakota Euton, a skilled scorer with size should have the Royals perhaps making the biggest jump after the season gets under way. Possible help from a few newcomers with size could vault them even higher. A team on the rise is Rose Hill Christian
16. Bath County (6-21) — Head Coach Ian Morrison will try to put Carolina magic into a young Wildcat team. Zach Metz is a super Freshman who may lead this team in scoring and be in a lot of games.
Top Players (Based on previous performances and experience)
1. Jonathan Vanhoose—6’4”—Russell—Big time offensive skills, court awareness A+ and has great size on the perimeter
2. Blake McCowan—6’6”—Morgan Co.—Big man with guard skills. Fundamentally sound on both ends of the court.
3. Antonio Owens—6’1”—Boyd Co.—Newcomer with big time offensive skills should give Lions big boost. Reports are he is strong, quick, and explosive.
4. Drew McDavid—6’3”—Ashland—Athletic with strong defensive presence. Great mid range jumper and finishes well around the basket.
5. Matt Thomas—6’1”—Ashland—Smooth PG who penetrates well and is lockdown defender
6. Matthew Daniel—6’4”--Rowan Co.--Big time shooter…unlimited range. Great size poses match up issues vs. other teams.
7. Kasey Jones—6’1”--West Carter—Offensive juggernaut. Comet guard can create shots and score in bunches
8. Justin Hutchinson—6’0”--Fairview—2G with clutch touch. Strong player with quality skills
9. Maverick Barnhill—6’4”--East Carter—Rare Forward in guard heavy region. Excellent in the post as well as defending. Can score on perimeter as well.
10. Austin Blair—6’0”--Russell—Deceptive guard with excellent scoring punch. Can get in the lane and knock down the open “3”.
11. Thomas Tolliver—5’10”—Raceland—Lightning quick PG. Natural floor leader and distributor. Gets into lane well and can finish.
12. Corey Phelps—6’1”--Menifee Co.—Wildcats offensive source creates well off the dribble and has great range.
13. Ethan Faulkner—5’11”--Elliott Co—Quick guard who has plenty of offensive energy. Finds way to score.
14. Kasey Clark—6’0”--Russell—Defensive ace has more energy than Speedy Gonzales.
15. Nathaniel Peyton—6’2”—Morgan Co.—Big time athlete that can slash and score and get in the lane and score. Exceptional quicks and length.
Tie. Alex Barker—5’9”—Fairview—Unlimited range for this Eagle guard. Look for Barker to carry big scoring loads to take pressure off of Hutchinson, Bayless, and Black.
Five Teams that could make this pre-season rankings look silly:
1) East Carter—Offensive success and rebounding will determine success
2) Fleming County—Inside presence of Panthers could be equalizer in this region
3) Greenup County—Muskies could have multiple weapons to challenge
4) Menifee County—Should have excellent size and scoring, could challenge “A”
5) Bath County—New coach with some youthful talent in Metz could = success
16th Region Preseason All Defensive Team:
1) Matt Thomas—Ashland—Big time quicks and anticipation skills are A+, athleticism is top of the line
2) Devan Adkins—Morgan Co.—Yet another physical lockdown guard processed by Head Coach Matt Perry. Maybe the best defender of all Cougars in past 5 seasons.
3) Kasey Clark—Russell—Physical, athletic, and quick. Clark gets toughest assignments and usually with great results
4) Blake McCowan—Morgan Co.—Fundamentally the best big man defensive player in the 16th…screening him is difficult and his presence is well known
5) Drew McDavid—Ashland—Smaller version of McCowan in terms of defensive presence…however, his knowledge, positioning, and physicality usually spells doom for opponents.
16th Region Preseason All Offensive Team:
1) Jonathan Vanhoose—Russell—Silky smooth 6’4” guard will have college coaches noticing his offensive skills.
2) Kasey Jones—West Carter—Look for this Comet to put up astronomical numbers
3) Matthew Daniel—Rowan Co.—Will carry offensive burden for Vikings and is continually developing his game. Look for this main weapon to see plenty of scoring opportunities nearly every trip.
4) Antonio Owens—Boyd Co.—New kid on the block has game according to those in-the-know along the river. Maybe best offensive player by season’s end?
5) Ethan Faulkner—Elliott County—Should get ample opportunities to score in the Lion’s den. Against many opponents, should produce 20+ points a night.
Five Names You Will Know By the End of the Season:
1) Tyler Wolfenbarger—Greenup Co.
2) Travis Wright—Greenup Co.
3) Zach Metz—Bath Co.
4) Aaron Sparks—Lewis Co.
5) Katlin Haney—Morgan Co.
16th Region ALL ATHLETE TEAM:
1) Matt Thomas—Ashland
2) Thomas Tolliver—Raceland
3) Jordan Fritz—Fleming County
4) Kasey Clark—Russell
5) Drew McDavid—Ashland
Don Daniel (Rowan Co.)—Great at mastering game combinations and substitutions. Offensive production is very sound with a scheme and continuity.
Todd Messer (Fleming Co.)—Newcomer will add solid half court offense and play hard attitude. Excellent background and looks to guide Fleming to new regional home
Ian Morrison (Bath Co.)—UNC alum has interest flying in Owingsville, a town starved for hoops success. Should bring ample knowledge to Wildcat country.
Brandon Combs (Menifee Co.)—Young and energetic with coaching stops at proven programs before arriving at Frenchburg.
Matthew Perry (Morgan Co.)—Top notch fundamental coach. Makes individual players better and built system on efficient offense with incredible defensive pressure.
Brandon Baker (East Carter)—consistently produces teams that play well and hard each night. Excellent offensive system and gritty defensive units.
Stan McGlone (West Carter)—Disciplined coach transforms tough mindset approach to Comets. Hard worker and quality coach.
Rick Mays (Elliott Co.)—The Wily Vet has always had guards who can shoot lights out. Look for youth movement to again be excellent shooters from all over the place for this longtime Lion Icon.
Joe Hampton (Lewis Co.)—A coach that has built reputation on making magic in March and molding teams into tough minded athletes. Excellent motivator and game planner. Top notch person.
Shawn Johnson (Raceland)—Always puts a team on the floor that can play both ends of the court. Excellent game planner and organizer.
Steve Dodd (Russell)—Excellent X and O coach. Proved self in college ranks and has made the transition to high school well. Brings patient approach offensively but quality defensive efforts
Jim Hicks (Greenup Co.)—Animated coach that’s fun to watch. Teams like to fire it up and take chances defensively. Teams always play hard and are loyal.
Mike Flynn (Ashland)—Excellent coach that loves to prepare his teams. Solid program building/sustaining coach with great intelligence of the game. Great ambassador of the game.
Rex Cooksey (Fairview)—Everyone has to love watching Rex Cooksey coach. He plays as hard as his athletes and is everywhere. Great leader and motivator. Lays it on the line for his loyal school.
Phil Pratt (Boyd Co.)—Great fundamental coach who develops his kids. Hands on coach that is effective and should have a formidable unit in 2005-2006.
Tim Fraley (Rose Hill)—Excelled as player and asst. for years at Greenup Co. Has excellent knowledge of game and looks to instill basic schemes and winning ways for the Royals.