BluegrassPreps.com 5th Region Boys Basketball Preview
1. John Hardin (35-1): Despite losing two starters to graduation, reigning champion John Hardin is favored to repeat in the 5th Region. Senior guard/forward Alex Matthews (18 ppg, 11 rpg) is the top player back for the Bulldogs. Matthews averaged a double-double for John Hardin during the 2018-19 boys' high school basketball season. Along with Matthews, senior guard Trevon Harris (6-4) and senior center Preston Murrell (6-9) are back for the Bulldogs.
2. Marion County (22-9): With a senior-heavy lineup, Marion County is a 5th Region title contender. First-year head coach Maze Stallworth is set to guide the Knights.
Tyshay Epps (16.3 ppg) is the leading player back for the veteran-laden Marion County team. Additional seniors who will excel for Marion County are John Adams, Mason Sullivan and Jamison Epps.
3. Elizabethtown (13-14): The Panthers will look to push 17th District nemesis John Hardin for the top spot in the 5th Region. Elizabethtown will be much-improved after concluding the 2018-19 season 13-14. All five starters are back for the Panthers. Junior guard JaQuias Franklin (20.5 ppg) is the top returnee for Elizabethtown. Along with Franklin, Elizabethtown features junior forward Camden Williams (17.6 ppg). Senior Myles Fields and juniors Kam Sherrard and Khia Sherrard are also returning players for the Panthers.
4. Bardstown (15-16): With 6-8 senior swingman J.J. Traynor (11.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3 bpg) leading the way, Bardstown will push teams throughout the 5th Region.
But Traynor isn't the only talented player back for the Tigers. Senior guard JaRel Montgomery (14 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is another leader for 19th District frontrunner Bardstown.
5. Central Hardin (19-10): After winning nearly 20 games during the 2018-19 season, Central Hardin returns a pair of players who averaged double figures in scoring. Seniors Gavin George and Deonco Wilkerson are poised to lead the Bulldogs. A veteran-laden team, Central Hardin will also feature seniors Chase Elmore and Shaun Hay.
6. LaRue County (26-5): After reaching the 5th Region Semifinals, LaRue County must replace three starters. A 6-6 senior, Mark Goode (14.5, 9 rpg) is the top player back for the Hawks. Junior guard Jeremiah Belton and seniors Warner Bryan and Chase Childress also return for 18th District favorite LaRue County.
7. Campbellsville (18-13): Former University of Kentucky star player Anthony Epps is set to guide Campbellsville in his first season as the Eagles' head coach. Senior point guard Malachi Corley is poised to lead the Eagles on the floor. Corley averaged 19.9 points and 8 rebounds per game for Campbellsville during the 2018-19 season. To compliment Corley, junior guard Arren Hash (9.0 ppg) is back for the Eagles.
8. Taylor County (23-8): The Cardinals will be under the direction of first-year head coach Montrelle Irvin. Taylor County excelled throughout the 2018-19 season but must replace some key players. Senior guards Nick Knifley (13.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg) and Kybrin Smith (9.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg) are back for the Cardinals.
9. Thomas Nelson (18-13): Junior Andrew Mason (9.5 ppg) will be expected to help lead Thomas Nelson as he's the team's top returning scorer. Additional players set to deliver for Thomas Nelson are senior Austin Burba and sophomores Braden Smith, Andrew Hogan and Garrett Downs.
10. North Hardin (12-19): A trio of guards are prepared to lead North Hardin after the Trojans' football team made a postseason run that included an appearance in the Class 6A State Semifinals, eSophomore Queshaun Davis (10 ppg), junior Jalen Sharps Jr. and senior Naasir Johnson are all back on the hardwood for the Trojans.
11. Adair County (12-19): The Indians face the tough task of replacing four starters from the 2018-19 season. Sophomore guard Lucas Pooler is the lone returning starter for former region title contender Adair County. In addition to Pooler, Adair County will feature senior D.J. Brown and junior Brice Starks.
12. Green County (10-18): Graduation didn't spare the Green County boys' basketball program. The Dragons will be minus multiple experienced players. But Green County returns junior Gunner Bush (15.4 ppg). Along with Bush, seniors Bryce Blakeman and Braeden Sluder and junior Jackson Johnson return for the Dragons.
13. Hart County (10-19): The Raiders will be under the direction of first-year head coach Justin Line. Five seniors are set to contribute for Hart County in the 2019-20 season. Swingman Jordan Burden (11.7 ppg) is the top player back for the Raiders. In addition to Burden, Hart County returns guard Braydon Bell (10.5 ppg), who connected on 45 3-point field goals last season as well.
14. Washington County (19-13): The Commanders face the chore of rebuilding after the majority of the scorers from last season graduated. Junior point guard Josh Burkhead is poised to pace Washington County from one of the Commanders' five starting positions. Washington County flirted with 20 wins last season.
15. Nelson County (3-28): Sophomore forward/guard Bryce Riley is back to lead Nelson County after excelling for the Cardinals as a freshman. During his freshman season, Riley averaged 12.6 points per game and drained 63 3-point field goals. Nelson County will look to show a vast amount of improvement early in the 2019-20 season.
16. Bethlehem (8-20): Two scorers who averaged double figures during the 2018-19 season are back for the Eagles. Bethlehem returns seniors Kruse Harned (11.3 ppg) and Lain Peake (10 ppg). Ranking as Bethlehem's top long range shooter last season, Peake drained 32 3-point field goals.
17. Fort Knox (2-24): The Eagles are expected to show improvement with the return of sophomore Corey Brown (9.5 ppg). While averaging nearly 10 points per game for Fort Knox, Brown connected on 54 3-point field goals during the 2018-19 boys' high school basketball season.
18. Caverna (1-26): The Colonels will enter the 2019-20 boys' high school basketball season on a 26-game losing skid. However, Caverna returns four senior starters. After nearly averaging a double-double last season, 6-8 Jaxton Dunagan (12.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg) is back to lead the Colonels.
Top 10 Players
1. Alex Matthews, John Hardin, Sr., F
2. J.J. Traynor, Bardstown, Sr., F
3. Tyshay Epps, Marion County, Sr., G
4. Mark Goode, LaRue County, Sr., F
5. Trevon Harris, John Hardin, Sr., G
6. Malachi Corley, Campbellsville, Sr., G
7. JaQuias Franklin, Elizabethtown, Jr., G
8. Gavin George, Central Hardin, Sr., F
9. Camden Williams, Elizabethtown, Jr., F
10. JaRel Montgomery, Bardstown, Sr., G