Bluegrasspreps.com 13th Region Boys Basketball Preview
1. Corbin Redhounds
The Redhounds looked solid during the summer’s Laurel County Hoop Fest, and dominated their opponents during tournament play. Corbin won by double figures against Clay County, South Laurel, and defending 13th Region champion Harlan County, making them my clear-cut 13th region favorite entering the 2017-18 campaign. The Redhounds possess the best player in the region in Andrew Taylor, and he could very well be the best player in the state. Taylor can hurt you from anywhere on the floor, along with his teammates. Corbin’s defensive play could set it apart from the other teams in the 13th Region. Players such as Chase Sanders and Cameron Maguet will play big roles in Corbin’s success, too.
2. Knox Central Panthers
The Panthers have just as much firepower as Corbin. The key to Knox Central’s success could very well be the play of Markelle Turner, and Nick Martin. Both players have shown that they can take over game, and I expect them to do the same during the upcoming season. Knox Central will also enter the season with a little revenge on its mind after falling to Corbin in the 13th Region Tournament semifinals this past season. When Corbin, and Knox Central play each other during the upcoming season, it’s going to be a must-see game.
3. Harlan County Black Bears
The Black Bears lost a lot from last season’s 13th Region Tournament championship team with Cameron Carmical and Treyce Spurlock graduating, but this team is going to be fine in the long run. Coach Michael Jones does a tremendous job with his team. Don’t sleep on Harlan County this season with Andrew Creech, Drew Nolan, Tyrese Simmons and Lamar Burkhart returning.
4. South Laurel Cardinals
South Laurel still returns a solid nucleus in Ryan Anders and JJ Ramey, but someone is going to have to step up and provide some scoring options with the graduation of leading scorer Jared Grubb. Who will those players be? The growth of Matthew Cromer, Matthew Dalton and Logan Madden will be key to the Cardinals’ success.
5. Clay County Tigers
The Tigers are going to be very young, but I still believe they’re going to be much-improved next season. The kicker, though, is the 49th District could very well be a toss-up next season. There really isn’t much that separates Clay County, North Laurel or even Jackson County.
Sharp-shooting Jacob Curry returns to the mix along with Ryan Rogers and Jacob Hall
6. Whitley County Colonels
Some might think this is too high of a ranking for the Colonels, but as long as they stay healthy, I really believe the No. 6 ranking could be too low. I may be going out on a limb, but this is another team to keep an eye on. Corey Johnson returns, which is a big plus for Jerry Overbey’s squad.
7. North Laurel Jaguars
Are the Jaguars ranked too low? They may be, but for now, I’m sticking with them at the No. 7 spot. Brad Sizemore’s team is another squad that I believe will be better than what people think next season. North Laurel was hit hard by graduation, but look for players such as Adam Sizemore, Kaleb Osborne and Brian Gray to step up.
8. Jackson County Generals
Who knows, this could be the season Jackson County ends Clay County’s reign in the 49th District. Folks, this Jackson County team isn’t bad, and coach Jeff Parrott will make sure this team will be even better once the season is tipped off come December. Leading scorer Tanner Harris returns along with Hunter Bowling, Drew Akemon and Dylan Rose.
9. Lynn Camp Wildcats
I didn’t hear much from Dinky Phipp’s squad this summer, but with what they are returning (four starters), They should be pretty good. The addition of Tanner Boggs last season was huge. Granted, Phipps is going to have to find a replacement for Bruce Hopkins, who graduated this past season. Seniors Marcus Hollin and Jacob Bundy will be key along with Andrew Jones and Max Burd.
10. Harlan Green Dragons
This may be a tad too high for the Green Dragons, but hey, why not? Harlan has a new coach in Derek Akal, and I really believe he’s going to have the Green Dragons ready to compete for a 52nd District title. Not far behind, though, is Bell County. Three starters return in Killian Ledford, Cade Barnes and Jacob Wilson.
11. Bell County Bobcats
The Bobcats have a new coach in Frankie Smith and many believe he can continue his magic on Log Mountain. Bell County graduated its leading scorer from last season, but return senior Kyle Burnett and junior Tyler Partin along with Colby Frazier.
12. Barbourville Tigers
The Tigers are another team that could surprise. Coach Derek Collins’ squad returns seniors Christian Bunch, Derek Hatfield, Rex Miller and Andrew Smith to the mix along with Connor Bain and John McVey.
13. Williamsburg Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets are another team that has a new coach with Nick Napier taking over for former coach Patrick Robinson. The good news? The cupboard isn’t bare at Williamsburg. The bad news? The Yellow Jackets play in the toughest district in the 13th Region. Players such as Hunter Brown, Caleb Rose, Dalton Ponder, Stohn Hunter, Slade Hunter and company will make Williamsburg a team to keep an eye on.
14. Middlesboro Yellow Jackets
Lewis Morris left Bell County to come to Middlesboro and he will try to turn around the Yellow Jacket program that went 5-23 last season. Morris will look to juniors Christian Hubbard and Andrew Padgett to lead his team to success along with sophomore guard Jabari Kyle.
15. Oneida Baptist Mountain Lions
Senior forward Darin Calloway averaged 18 points lasts eason and looks to be even better this season for the Mountaineers. Elijah Woods also returns for OBI.
16. Red Bird Cardinals
The Cardinals could surprise with leading scorer Austin Napier returning along with Dylan Asher and Max Kitoko.
17. Pineville Mountain Lions
The Mountain Lions graduated a lot, and will be hard pressed to repeat the success they have had the past few years. Senior guard Josh Lawson returns along with Cody Scott. It could be a long year for Pineville.
13th Region Top 10 Players
1. Andrew Taylor, Corbin, Sr., G, 6-3
One of the front-runners for Mr. Basketball and could very well be the best scorer in the state.
2. Markelle Turner, Knox Central, Sr., G, 6-0
Most athletic guard in the 13th Region.
3. Nick Martin, Knox Central, Jr., F, 6-5
Best big man in the region.
4. J.J. Ramey, South Laurel, Jr., G, 6-3
Versatile player that can hurt teams from long range and can also mix it up inside.
5. Corey Johnson, Whitley County, Sr., G, 6-0
Can score with the best of them. He has unlimited range with his jumper.
6. Ryan Anders, South Laurel, Sr., G, 6-4
Is known for his defensive play, but will be counted on to step up on offense.
7. Tanner Boggs, Lynn Camp, Sr., G, 6-0
One of the best scorers in the 13th Region.
8. Tyrese Simmons, Harlan County, Sr., F, 5-10
Underrated forward can play lockdown defense.
9. Chase Sanders, Corbin, Jr., G, 6-2
If Corbin is going to win the region, Sanders will have to have a good year on offense. I believe he will.
10. Drew Nolan, Harlan County, Sr. G, 6-1
Overall solid play on both sides of the ball.