Here is your 13th Region Top 10 Preview. With Reed Sheppard now making plays for UK instead of the Jaguars, the path to Rupp opens up. There is still some major star power within the region which is led by South Carolina commit Trent Noah. With a few transfers happening in the offseason, the 13th should be competitive as teams battle for the title.
1. Harlan County (27-6). Key Losses: Daniel Carmical (13 ppg)
Most had the Black Bears penciled in to play NL in the 13th region championship before they were upset by Corbin in the first round. With Trent Noah (27ppg) and Maddox Huff (17 ppg) returning, most are looking for this to be the year they break through and win the region. Trent Noah is the favorite to win 13th Region POY.
2. Corbin (23-8). Key Losses: Hayden Llewellyn (16 ppg ) Brody Wells (9 ppg)
Corbin brings back a solid nucleus of talent led by Zander Curry, Carter Stewart, Eli Pietrowski, Trey Worley, and Kade Elam. With the majority of these kids being football players, it may take a little time for them to start to gel. However, this is a team that should be dangerous and ready to make a run in the region.
3. Clay County (15-16). Key Losses: None
When Clay County is good, 13th region basketball is a better product. Clay only loses one senior off of a squad last year and he never truly played. Clay brings back their whole team, along with the addition of Jerrod Roark from Williamsburg and a new head coach in Michael Jones. Hayden Harris is another piece of the puzzle that looks to be a top 10 player in the region.
4. North Laurel (25-11). Key Losses: Reed Sheppard, Ryan Davidson, Gavin Chadwell
The heart and soul for the Jaguars these past few years has been Reed and Ryan. With them graduating a lot of new faces and role players must take the next step. Sophomore Reece Davidson will look to do just that. Colton Rawling and Brody Brock will also look to help boost a Jaguars team that will have fresh faces.
5. South Laurel (24-9). Key Losses: Eli Gover, Parker Payne, Caden Jones
The cardinals lose 4 of their top 5 starters to graduation, but bring back a top ten player in the region in Jordan Mabe. The main reason I feel comfortable putting them in this slot to round out the top 5 is their head coach. Jeff Davis is one of the top coaches in the region and always gets the most out of what he has. There is no doubt he will have the cards playing good basketball by the end of the season.
6. Whitley County (20-10) Key Losses: Ashton Reynolds, Jamie Fuson
The colonels finally got over the hump of beating one of the big two (South and Corbin) in their district but couldn’t get over that hump in the district. If there is a year to do it then it may be this year. The Colonels will be led by Senior Guard Bryce Anderson and Freshman Evan Ellis.
7. Bell County (15-16). Key Losses: Dawson Woolum
Losing Woolum hurts but bringing back essentially the rest of your team helps. Brad Sizemore is going to get the most out of the Bobcats and they’re going to be led by three non senior returners in Burnett, Hall, and Buell. With Harlan Co leading the way for the region, Bell and Harlan should be fighting out that second spot in the 52nd district.
8. Harlan (24-8). Key Losses: Kaleb McLendon, Will Austin, Jae Dyn Gist
Harlan probably gets hit the hardest with graduation in the 13th region. They bring back their superstar Kyler McLendon but lose all of the support around him. Harlan is known for having kids that can shoot and kids that get up and down the court running, and I would expect no difference this year.
9. Pineville (18-11). Key Losses: Evan Biliter
This may be the year that Pineville brings home the 51st district. They’re led by Sawyer Thompson who is one of the top ten players in the region. Pineville finally got over the hump and made the region last year before falling in the first round. This may be the year of the mountain lion.
10. Barbourville (19-11). Key Losses: A lot
The Tigers lost 6 of their top 7 scorers to graduation. There will be a lot of new faces on the court for the tigers. Ty Clark is the lone returner that hopes to help the tigers make some noise.
11. Jackson County (17-13)
12. Williamsburg (15-15)
13. Middlesboro (9-22)
14. Knox Central (4-26)
15. Lynn Camp (5-24)
16. OBI (11-21)
17. Red Bird (5-18)