Here is a projection for the Suburban Conference boys basketball season, according to Sam McDowell, who is The Star’s Missouri high school reporter. Teams are listed in projected order of finish.
Suburban Gold Conference
1. Blue Springs South
2. Lee’s Summit
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3. Lee’s Summit West
4. Lee’s Summit North
5. Blue Springs
Outlook: The arrival of Lee’s Summit West immediately strengthens an already competitive conference. The Titans, Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs South all topped 20 victories last season, and all three are well-equipped to be factors in the Missouri Class 5 picture again this winter.
Why? Star power.
Blue Springs South senior Kevin Puryear signed with Missouri after scoring 19.2 points per game last season. Lee’s Summit West senior Drew Lock, a Missouri football commit, scored 20.5 points per game. And Lee’s Summit West senior Jarred Dixon signed with Missouri State.
As strong as the conference is at the top, its depth is rapidly improving, too. Lee’s Summit North looks to bounce back after a rebuilding year, and Blue Springs and Raymore-Peculiar bring back a healthy dose of production.
Suburban Red Conference
1. Park Hill
2. Park Hill South
5. St. Joseph Central
Outlook: Park Hill stands as the conference favorite, largely because it returns guard Landry Shamet, a Wichita State signee who is the second highest ranked recruit in Missouri in the 2015 class. Shamet scored 20.1 points per game as a junior. He shares a talented backcourt with Louis Reinmiller and Deionte Wilson, both of whom averaged double digits in scoring last season.
But it’s hardly a runaway for the conference crown.
Park Hill South won 21 games last season and welcomes back all-conference junior Ryan Welty. The Panthers have a new coach, Daniel Parra, who made the move from Sumner Academy.
Liberty joins the conference this season after swapping spots with Lee’s Summit West, which won the league in 2013-14.
Suburban Blue Conference
2. Liberty North
4. Fort Osage
5. Oak Park
6. William Chrisman
7. North Kansas City
Outlook: Raytown’s surge to the top of the Suburban Blue Conference served as a rather big surprise after it won only six games in the 2012-13 season. If it repeats as the league champions, it will surprise hardly anyone. Raytown features a deep rotation, headlined by big men Jailen Gill and Derrick Walker, who make a formidable front court duo.
Conference newcomer Liberty North should make some noise, too, with a rotation that includes Michael Hughes, Matt Richards, Brian Sharp and Cale Hanson.
Fort Osage has won three straight district championships, but it lost a key player when guard Skylar Thompson opted to sit out the season to focus on his football recruitment.
Staley is looking to improve on last year’s .500 season, led by guard Trevor Lamb, who returns after scoring 17 points per game last season.
Suburban White Conference
1. Raytown South
6. Platte County
Outlook: Raytown South lost a key player when Jabril Cox suffered a season-ending football injury, but there’s still a lot to like about the Cardinals. Most notably, the offense will run through all-conference forward Tyrone Gibbs, who can fill it up in a blink.
Coach Zane Tanner took over the Kearney program after leading West Platte to back-to-back 25-win seasons. The Bulldogs will be led by experienced point guard Pierce Moling.
Grandview, the defending league champions, must replace the top seven players in its rotation under first-year coach Reggie Morris.