Five players to watch
Landry Shamet, Park Hill, senior
The 6-4 guard had a dozen Division I offers before ultimately settling on Wichita State. He averaged 20.1 points and five rebounds per game last season, leading Park Hill to a district championship. Shamet is an athletic point guard who can drive the lane with ease or step back and knock down an outside shot.
Kevin Puryear, Blue Springs South, senior
The 6-7 forward signed with Missouri last month after his game drew rave reviews from first-year coach Kim Anderson. He can fill up the stat sheet in a hurry, with an ability to score from the post or the perimeter. Puryear is also a tenacious rebounder and should be a double-double machine after averaging 19.2 points and 8.6 rebounds as a junior.
Drew Lock, Lee’s Summit, senior
Lock may be well-known for his football talents — he has committed to play quarterback at Missouri — but he also garnered Division I interest for basketball. The smooth shooting guard can score in a variety of ways, and he often makes it look effortless. He averaged 20.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season.
Tyrone Gibbs, Raytown South, senior
Gibbs has the athleticism and size (6-4) to play at the next level. He can take over a game when he’s determined to do it. After averaging 16 points and nine rebounds per game last season, he returns as one of six Cardinals with a bundle of varsity experience.
Michael Hughes, Liberty North, junior
Hughes burst onto the scene as a sophomore, providing a worthy complement to Brinkley Jolly in the post. With Jolly gone, Hughes is in line to shoulder more of the load down low for the Eagles. The rim-protector averaged 12.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season.
Five teams to watch
Lee’s Summit West
After reaching the Missouri Class 5 Final Four, the Titans waved goodbye to all-state standout Monte Harrison, but they still own one of the most talented backcourts in the city. That starts with Jarred Dixon, the younger brother of Michael Dixon Jr., and continues with Ryan Williams and Gary Davis. Dixon signed with Missouri State after scoring 15 points per game last season.
One of the most improved teams in the state last season could take another step forward this winter. The Blue Jays are a balanced team, with five players who averaged at least nine points per game last season. The offense will run through big men Jailen Gill and Derrick Walker, twin towers who churn out double-double performances.
After winning the Missouri Class 5 state title in 2013, the Hawklets endured a rebuilding year last season. But the light at the end of the tunnel should be in plain view this winter, with eight seniors returning. The talented, deep rotation will be led by Cartier Dean, Will Bazzle, Noah Spencer, Patrick Geha and Adam Bowers.
The Knights finished second in Missouri Class 3 last March, and they’re poised for another deep run this season. The bulk of last season’s team has returned, headlined by junior Jeriah Horne, who averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds last season. Barstow may compete in Class 3, but it’s talented enough to give any big-class team a run for its money.
Blue Springs South
The Jaguars are more than just Kevin Puryear. They won 21 games last season, and the bulk of that team is back, including all-conference point guard KJ Robinson and senior guard Brandon Kilgore. The Jaguars have won 20-plus games in three straight seasons, but they failed to convert any of those into a Final Four appearance. Could this be the year?