FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
Blue Valley Northwest
The Huskies went undefeated last season with a 25-0 record on their way to winning the Kansas Class 6A state title. Four of their five starters have already signed letters of intent to play college ball next season, highlighted by senior guard Clayton Custer and his commitment to Iowa State.
Shawnee Mission South
The Raiders also went undefeated in their quest for last years Kansas Class 5A state championship. They return a loaded lineup that includes talented seniors in Danian Swoope, who was named first-team All-Sunflower League and second team all-state last season, and Devin Newsome, who is signed to play at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Blue Valley West
The Jaguars went 15-10 last season and made it to the state championship game with 10 underclassmen on the roster. They return juniors Blaise Gammon and Connor Kaiser. Both received all-state honorable mention nods.
The Bobcats return four starters from last years squad, including senior guard Chase Younger. He averaged 19 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists last season. Seniors Tim Sanders, Zach McNabb and JP Downing added 8.9, 8.0 and 7.8 points, respectively.
The Lions went 22-2 last season and finished as the Kansas Class 5A runners-up. They return a talented group of seniors, led by Joe Schneider, who averaged 13 points per game and was selected first-team all-state. Behind him, they have returning starters Khalil Bailey (7.5 points per game last season) and Dontae Gibson (5.7).
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Clayton Custer, Blue Valley Northwest, senior
Custer is the most talked about senior on the Kansas side and for good reason. As a junior, Custer set new school records for career points, assists and steals while leading the Huskies to a 6A state title. He will play collegiately at Iowa State.
Joe Schneider, Lansing, senior
Schneider averaged 13 points and 3.1 assists per game last season for the Lions, who finished second in the 5A state tournament. He was named a first-team all-state selection and has committed to play for the Air Force Academy.
Noah Knight, Olathe South, senior
Basketball runs in the family for Knight, who had two uncles and his older sister play for the University of Kansas. He led Olathe South with 13 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season and has committed to play at UMKC.
Khadre Lane, Lawrence Free State, senior
Lane ranked among the top five in the Sunflower League with 13.3 points and five rebounds per game last season. The Firebirds lost in the first round of the 6A state tournament to eventual champion Blue Valley Northwest, but Lane was named second team all-state.
Ezra Talbert, Olathe East, senior
As a junior, Talbert led the Sunflower League in three categories, recording 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and 23 blocks. This fall, the 6-foot-7 junior forward signed a letter of intent to play for Creighton University.