MISSOURI BOYS BASKETBALL: Five teams to watch
The Knights are the Missouri Class 3 defending state champions, and they are talented enough to play with bigger schools. Forward Jeriah Horne, wing Shea Rush and point guard Jacob Gilyard combined to average 49.4 points per game last season.
Blue Springs South
The Jaguars won the Missouri Class 5 state championship last March, but star Kevin Puryear is now playing for the University of Missouri. KJ Robinson, Briley Moore-McKinney and Tyler Clark are the lone three returners from the state championship rotation.
While the Trojans have experienced a lot of turnover — even on their coaching staff, where former Smithville coach Chad Jones has taken over —Tanner Zeil, Dru Smith and Brandon Townsell offer the program reason to believe it could still compete for a conference championship.
Several key pieces are back from a team that won 20 games last season, though top forward James Sappington will miss time with a broken wrist. Twin senior guards Nick Janssen and Nate Janssen rarely leave the floor.
After going undefeated in the Suburban White Conference last season, the starting lineup will see a complete overhaul this time around. But a young team still has talent and quickness. Raytown has already picked up a win against state-finalist Park Hill South.
MISSOURI BOYS BASKETBALL: Five players to watch
Jeriah Horne, Barstow, senior
Horne, a Nebraska signee, enters the season as the top-ranked senior recruit in the Kansas City area. He's a 6-foot-7 forward capable of stretching the defense, and he averaged a double-double last year with 20.1 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Michael Hughes, Liberty North, senior
His impact takes place on both ends of the floor. Hughes is the third all-time scorer and second all-time rebounder for Liberty North, and hess shattered the school’s blocks record with 215 for his career. He has signed with Akron.
KJ Robinson, Blue Springs South, senior
The quick-footed point guard is the top returner from a team that won the first state championship in program history last March. Robinson, a Nebraska-Omaha signee, has a knack for getting to the rim. He averaged 17 points per game last season.
Blake Spellman, Lee’s Summit, senior
The Tigers won 21 games last season and have four starters back — a group headlined by Spellman, who has signed with Northern Kentucky. The point guard makes the offense click with his ability to drive and pass, but he also scored 17 points per game last season.
Ryan Welty, Park Hill South, senior
There may not be a better deep-range shooter in the Kansas City area than Welty, who made 49 percent of his three-point shots last season. He averaged 18.2 points per game for the Panthers, who finished second in the Missouri Class 5 state tournament.