Basketball season is almost here. The Cardinals of Taylor County won their 3rd straight region title last year. This year, my top 4 teams was the last 4 standing last year. Those teams are John Hardin, Taylor County, Adair County and Larue County. The region has some great individual talent this year, and it should be an exciting season.

Preseason 5th Region Rankings

1. John Hardin (23-11): The Bulldogs look to be the favorite in the 5th region this year. They had a good year last year, but this year expectations are even higher. They return a great player in Mickey Pearson, a Saint Louis commit. They return another all 5th region player in Anthony Witherspoon. He provides toughness to the team. They added a transfer from Mississippi, Malik Wright. He is expected to start, and be a major player in the region. A player to watch for them is sophomore center Preston Murrell, at 6 foot 9. With his size, he could make John scary.

2. Taylor County (20-15): The Cardinals have won 3 straight region titles, and last year may have been the most impressive. The cards are trying to win a remarkable 4th straight region title this year. They return 4 starters, with one of them being standout player Trevon Smith. Smith had a great sophomore year and the lefty looks to be even better now. He's not a big name statewide, but he should be. Another player to watch for them is Dejhon Irving. His stats won't blow you away, but his quickness and athleticism are really elite for the 5th region. Irving and Smith provide a really good one two punch.

3. Adair County (32-2): Adair had a fantastic year end on a bad note, when they lost to rival Taylor in the region final. They also lost 4 starters, but with the addition of freshman Zion Harmon from Bowling Green, things look bright for Adair. Harmon is the number one player nationally in the 2021 class. Adair does have senior Corey Melton back who was an all-region performer last year. Another player to watch for them is sophomore Dre Boyd. He also came from Bowling Green. Boyd, a 6 foot 3 guard/forward, will be relied on inside where Adair lacks interior depth.

4. Larue County (26-8): Larue had a good year last year, and this year should be no different. They return 2 of their top 3 scorers in big man Mark Goode and point guard Shane King. Goode is the best traditional big man in the region. If he gets the ball in the paint, it's almost a guaranteed basket. King is an athletic point guard, and when he is making jumpers, he can be an elite player in the region. Also, a player to watch for Larue is Anthony Adkins. He will be expected to have a bigger role after the graduation of Embree.

5. Elizabethtown (14-16) : This is a team that has gotten better over the last two years. They have their top 3 scorers back from last year, and this is a very experienced team. This team is led by Darius Harding; the senior was an all-region player last year. With this team being an experienced group they could be a tough out for anybody in the region. The player to watch is Tyler Durbin. Durbin is probably more known as QB of the Panthers, but the kid is a really good player and a very good shooter.

6. Bardstown (22-8): The tigers graduated their six leading scorers from last year. For most teams, you would say that team has no shot at contending. But with James Brewer coaching them, I wouldn't count them out, as he tends to get the max out of his players.

7. Central Hardin (14-17): The Bruins graduated seven seniors last year. However, they do not have a good piece to build around in 6 foot 8 Hobbs. They graduated some good talent, but Central should be very competitive in the 5th region.

8. Marion County (15-15): Marion returns their top three scorers from last year. Leading scorer Lez Means, who can really shoot it. Look for them to be even better than they were last year.

9. North Hardin (23-9): Trojans graduated six players and lost a key transfer from last year. It looks to be a rebuilding year for North, though a North rebuilding year could still be a solid year for most teams.

10. Washington County (19-12): Washington will have to replace the regions leading scorer last year in DT Yocum. However, they do return two players Cameron Willis and Drew Yates, who averaged double figures. They have a very good shot to make region.

11. Hart County (5-22): Hart's record wasn't good last year, but Hart has optimism. They have all-region player John Shoulders back. Hart also has their top 9 scorers from last year back this year. So look for a much improved team.

12. Bethlehem (20-9): New coach Chris Taylor replaces Artie Braden. His son, Jacob Taylor, is the leading returning scorer. Bethlehem graduated six seniors, so a lot of younger guys will get opportunities.

13. Green County (15-13): Green returns their second leading scorer last year in Isaac Young. Green graduated 3 seniors. This is a young team that will get better game by game.

14. Campbellsville (7-24): The eagles return leading scorer Tyrion Taylor. Eagles have a good mix of youth and experience on this year's team. Look for the record to improve from last years.

15. Caverna (12-18) : Leading scorer Jobby Howard returns. Caverna graduated some good talent, but will have seven seniors on this year's team. It will be tougher to make region this year.

16. Nelson County (12-17): Zach Allendar takes over the program this year. He will have his work cut out for him, as Nelson graduated a crazy 10 players last year. Looks like a rebuilding year for the Cardinals.

17. Thomas Nelson (3-25): Generals have a new coach in Chris Toliver. They had a rough year last year, but return two of the top three scorers from last year. Expect them to be much more competitive this year.

18. Fort Knox (10-19): Fort Knox graduated seven seniors last year. Four of five leading scorers graduated last year, so this will be a very inexperienced team. Fort Knox has won 10 games in the past two years, but will be a challenge to do so this year.

TOP 10 Players

1. Mickey Pearson (Sr John Hardin): The 6 foot 7 senior averaged 22 and 9 last year. He's a Saint Louis commit who can dominate the game on both offense and defense. His shooting ability, at his size, really makes him impossible to guard.

2. Zion Harmon (Fr Adair County) : The 5 foot 10 freshman is the number one ranked player in the 2021 class. He averaged 17 points a game at Bowling Green last year. He's everything you want in a point guard, great shooter, good passer, and a very poised player.

3. Trevon Smith (Jr Taylor County): The 6 foot 3 senior averaged 17 points for the region champions last year. He really came out of nowhere, as he became a top player in the region. He is a kid who can score in a variety of ways, as he will be the guy at Taylor this year.

4. Darius Harding (Sr Elizabethtown): The 6 foot 3 senior averaged 18 and 6 last year. He plays a very physical game and is a really good slasher. If he can consistently hit the outside shot, he's a nightmare for opponents.

5. Malik Wright ( Sr John Hardin): Wright is a 6 foot 3 senior who transferred from out of state. He will make a very good John Hardin team even better. Wright will be one of the best athletes in the region, if not the best.

6. Mark Goode (So Larue County): The 6 foot 6 sophomore averaged 14 and 6 last year. He is the best back to the basket big in the region. Goode has great hands and has great touch around the basket.

7. Anthony Witherspoon (Sr John Hardin): The 6 foot 3 senior averaged 11 and 7 last year. Stat's don't tell it all with Witherspoon. He can guard multiple positions, and is a nightmare for opponents because of his physical precsence.

8. John Shoulders (Jr Hart County): The 6 foot 1 junior averaged 21 and 5 last year. He does it all for Hart County. He's a good overall player who can score in many ways, not a big name, but a very good player.

9. Corey Melton (Sr Adair County): The 6 foot 2 senior averaged 18 and 6 last year. Melton can really score, and he's a good offensive rebounder. With the addition of Harmon, look for Melton to get a lot of great looks.

10. Jobby Howard (Sr Caverna): The 5 foot 8 senior averaged 22 points a game last year. He may be small, but Howard can score and score a lot. Don't be surprised if Howard leads the 5th region in points this year.