Seventh Region BGP Boys Basketball Preview
This was supposed to be the breakout season for the Eastern High School boys’ basketball team and its talented junior class.
But the Eagles are ahead of schedule.
Eastern surprised many folks last season and won the regional title, making it into the state tournament semifinals before losing. Now, much of that team is back for a new season and the expectations are lofty.
The Eagles are ranked among the state’s top teams but they will have a tough time just making it back to the Sweet 16.
Ballard, Jeffersontown, Trinity, Male, Seneca, Manual and Christian Academy are among the top teams in the rugged Seventh Region race.
Here’s a closer look:
EASTERN (31-3) – The Eagles are loaded with talent.
Junior guard Remy Abell had a sensational summer and is considered one of the top college prospects in the state. He averaged 12 points and five rebounds last season.
Senior guard DelQuan Thomas averaged 13 points and five boards a year ago, while juniors Lyonell Gaines and Armon Marks are also top scoring threats.
But there are plenty of others.
Kameron Woods is a 6-foot-7 junior that might be the team’s most improved player and will get minutes, while Jon Davis is a banger in the middle.
Couch has plenty of options for this Eagles’ squad.
BALLARD (25-7) – The Bruins will again be strong, using a couple of standout seniors mixed with some talented youngsters.
Coach Chris Renner must replace steady guard Wesley Cox, but there’s not going to be a drop off from the Bruins at the top of the regional pack.
Keisten Jones is a talented senior that averaged 15 points a game last season and has signed with Bellarmine. He’s an athletic freak who can hit from outside.
Ian Chiles is another one of the regions top players, while Devonte Parker and Tyrrell Means are also back. Parker is a junior and will run the point.
JEFFERSONTOWN (27-5) – The Chargers have been to five consecutive regional title games and have a big-time shot to make it six in a row.
Guard Aaron Cosby left the school and is now at a prep school, but coach Jeff Morrow has a deep senior class and some talented underclassmen on the roster.
Senior guard Thomas Jackson is one of the top seniors in the state and was the leading scorer for the Chargers last season as a junior.
Rickard Kennedy and Tom Jackson are two other top seniors, along with Trey Porter and Dominique Smith. Junior Harry Cross is a talented reserve, while sophomores Desmond Dorsey and Daniel Ross are two top younger talents.
TRINITY (22-8) – The Shamrocks could be the sleeper team in the region, returning one of the regions top players and adding several talented youngsters.
Senior Josh Sewell averaged 15 points and nine rebounds a game last season and has signed to play college ball at Miami of Ohio. Other top seniors are Taylor Epley, Aaron Bisig and Dylan Kupper, who is a football player.
The Shamrocks add one of the state’s top freshmen in James Quick and sophomores Charles Foster, Eric Zipperle, Nathan Dieudonne and Troy Saxton will all log plenty of quality minutes.
Trinity’s freshman team went undefeated last season.
MALE (16-12) – The Bulldogs only lost three seniors from last year’s team that as in nearly every game and they get a key player back after injury.
Senior shooter James Pillischafske missed much of last season with an injury but returns to the lineup and is a big-time scoring threat from the wing.
Senior guards Kevin Glenn and D’Carlo Hayes also give the Bulldogs one of the best backcourts in the region.
Male coach Tom Crews is excited about the season but will need some solid, consistent play from the post to make a big move against the region’s elite teams.
SENECA (16-12) – The Redhawks were disappointed with 12 losses last season and return a host of top players for this winter.
While playing together this summer, Seneca was one of the top teams in the region. Several players came out late because of football.
The leading scorer back is senior Aaron Nance, who averaged 15.1 points. Guard Zach McElwain averaged 11.7 points, while Martez Harris averaged 10 and Kevin Shaw averaged 9.8 points a game.
Other top players back in the fold are Jordan Jacobs, Roy Stone, Mike Fluellen and Walter Alexander.
CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (12-17) – The Centurions were one of the surprise teams during the summer, posting several solid showings.
New coach Clay Moody takes over a program on the rise with several solid seniors, including Tim Henderson. The 6-foot-3 Henderson is one of the regions most athletic players and averaged 18 points a game last season.
Senior guard Collin Lopez is another standout returning player after averaging 15 points and five assists as a junior.
MANUAL (15-13) – Several years ago it looked like Manual had a program on the rise with so many good young players.
It didn’t pan out with a few guys leaving and now standout Jacob Jenkins graduating after an injury-plagued senior season.
But coach Jimmy Just isn’t fretting.
Senior guard Sean Samsel is the best shooter in the region and center Alexandar Nikolic (6-foot-10) is the tallest player in the region.
The combination is talented enough to keep the Crimsons in most games.
Guard Derek Woodmore and seniors Miles Mitchell and Trey Jones are also returning and should give the Crimsons a talented starting lineup.
MOORE (23-8) – The Mustangs have two of the state’s top senior prospects, according to several scouting services.
Reginald Breeden averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 assists a game last season and shot 56 percent from the field, while Tim Harrison chipped in 15.2 points a game.
Senior center Deondre McWhorter is 6-foot-8 and the team’s most improved player, while coach Larry Miller also expects big things from newcomer Carlos Taveras.
ST. XAVIER (13-13) – In the first year under coach Kevin Klein – a former St. X player – the Tigers’ program opened a new gym and improved by seven wins.
Now, Klein thinks the program can get into the win column even more.
The Tigers return several key players, including their top returning scorer in senior forward Patrick Butcher.
FERN CREEK (10-13) – The Tigers have two big-time scorers and one of the regions most underrated players returning this season.
Orlando Rutledge is an athletic 6-foot-5 senior forward that has to be considered one of the regions top players. He averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior.
Junior Jerrell Moore is also back after averaging 14.2 points a game, while seniors Carlos Smith, Vincent Irvin and Tyren Robinson also return for the Tigers.
WAGGENER (14-14) – Dayvon Slone led the region in scoring last season at just over 25 points but he’s in college and the Wildcats will be hard-pressed to replace him.
Senior Jomari Bradshaw averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds and is one adequate scoring threat but will need help from some of his teammates.
Seniors Aaron Steele and Derrick Johnson will have to give coach Toby Curry some quality minutes while he works three newcomers into the lineup.
ATHERTON (13-13) – The Rebels graduated five seniors from last year’s team but coach Thomas Wilson will return one of the areas top scoring threats.
Dwayne Gordon is a senior who averaged 19 points, five assists, five rebounds and four steals a game last season. He had three games of 30-plus points and also hit six three-pointers in one contest.
Sophomore Andy Read is a 6-foot-3 wing who is the only other player returning with much varsity experience. He only averaged one point a game.
COLLEGIATE (8-18) – The Titans return all five starters from last season, including guard Layth Masri who averaged 18 points a contest.
Chris Townsend is back after averaging 11 points a game, while Max Burge, Jeremy Buchanan and Harris Levine are also back for Collegiate.
KCD (10-16) – The Bearcats return three starters from last year’s team and have some size in the frontcourt that should be tough for opponents to match.
Junior center Ward Paschal is 6-foot-6 and averaged seven points and seven rebounds a game last season. Senior guard Alex Semple and junior guard Jason Geer both averaged seven points apiece for KCD.
WHITEFIELD ACADEMY (11-17) – Second-year coach Chad Carr has five returning players but said his program is in a rebuilding mode.
Jeff Gardiner has the most experience of the returning players with Sean McNary, Nathan Killer, Matt Carman and Brian Brookshire also returning.
Top Players in the Region
1. Josh Sewell, Trinity, 6-4, Sr.
Comment: Miami of Ohio signee has turned into one of the state’s top players.
2. Remy Abell, Eastern, 6-3, Jr.
Comment: Considered the state’s top junior by some.
3. Thomas Jackson, Jeffersontown, 5-11, Sr.
Comment: Can penetrate and score but also likes to dish it out.
4. Jomari Bradshaw, Waggener, 6-5, Sr.
Comment: A tough matchup for nearly any other guard in the region.
5. Keisten Jones, Ballard, 6-4, Sr.
Comment: Another in a long line of standout athletic players from Ballard.
6. Tim Henderson, Christian Academy, 6-3, Sr.
Comment: Big-time summer gave him some Division I options.
7. Orlando Rutlege, Fern Creek, 6-5, Sr.
Comment: Any other region and he’d be the best player around.
8. Sean Samsel, Manual, 5-9, Sr.
Comment: Best shooter in the state? Hit 11 three-pointers in a game this summer.
9. Delquan Thomas, Eastern, 5-11, Sr.
Comment: Will be the calming influence on the Eagles loaded roster.
10. Ian Chiles, Ballard, 6-3, Sr.
Comment: The last of the Chiles bunch is athletic as his brothers and can score from anywhere.