Boys prep basketbal
By Matt Middleton | Staff Writer
Thursday, November 26, 2009

RICHMOND COUNTY BOYS

QUOTABLE

"Our JV program has had a lot of success the last five or so years. It's a matter of getting those players acclimated to the varsity level. I think a lot of (area) teams are like us -- they lost a lot from last year."

-- Josey coach Jabari Levi

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Raston Brown, Richmond Academy: The 6-foot-3 senior was probably the Musketeers' top player during their playoff run. He shoots the ball well.

Rod Hall, Laney: The junior guard can jump out of the building and create his shot against anyone. If he has a strong season, Laney could be on its way to the state finals.

Desmond Lofland, Richmond Academy: This senior guard doesn't have gaudy statistics, but his toughness is a big part of Richmond Academy's success.

Ron Myers, Glenn Hills: Only 5-8, Myers has great athletic ability at the point guard position and will be key to Glenn Hills going after its fourth consecutive playoff berth.

Ronald Jones, Butler: Just a freshman, this 6-5 forward will be one of several strong inside players at Butler.

TEAMS TO WATCH

Aquinas: The Irish have a good shot at advancing to the playoffs again this year. Robert Turner, a 5-8 junior, should be the team's top scorer.

Butler: Could be the team to challenge Richmond Academy in Region 3-AAAA. Butler struggled to a 9-17 record last year, but returns the area's best core of young talent. The Bulldogs need to develop guard play to challenge the region's top teams.

Glenn Hills: The Spartans advanced to the playoffs a season ago after not returning a single starter from a state-title team. The Spartans return three starters and will look for more improvement in Travis McRae's second season.

Laney: The Wildcats were ranked all of last season, then slipped up in the region tournament and didn't even make the playoffs. They have probably the best player in the area (Hall) and too much other talent for that to happen again.

Richmond Academy: Everyone has pegged Richmond Academy as the area's top team. A big man must be replaced, but the Musketeers could be just as strong as last year's 28-win group.

COLUMBIA COUNTY BOYS

QUOTABLE

"(Tony Davis) gives us scoring and leadership. If he can play with a lot of energy and we put some pieces around him, we can contend for a playoff spot. Richmond (Academy) is the team to beat, but the rest of the league is going to be very, very competitive."

-- Evans coach Kevin Kenny

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Craig Garr, Evans: Garr played at Glenn Hills last season and is one of the fiercest rebounders around. He should help fill the inside void vacated when 6-foot-10 Jaleel Roberts transferred to a private school in North Carolina.

Tony Davis, Evans: The senior forward is possibly the best athlete on any team in the area. Davis is 6-4 but plays much bigger. He will be counted on to score more this season.

Darius Johnson, Harlem: A standout player on the school's JV championship team a year ago, Johnson should lead the Bulldogs in scoring this season as a junior.

Michael Punch, Lakeside: The 6-4 senior is an excellent shooter, and much of the Panthers' offense will run through him.

Chad Waddell, Greenbrier: Junior guard will be team's go-to player in transition year. Scored 21 points in early win over Lakeside.

TEAMS TO WATCH

Augusta Christian: The Lions struggled last season with only one returning player. They should be improved this season with three returning starters, including 6-5 low-post threat Austin Lewis.

Evans: Only one starter is back, but Davis is the best player in the county. The Knights might not be as deep as last season, but they could make another run at a playoff berth.

Greenbrier: The Wolfpack will be undersized against the Atlanta powers in Region 2-AAAAA in Casey Heckathorn's first year. They will need to play hard and scrappy.

Grovetown: Former Greenbrier coach Casey Dees is starting the program at Grovetown. The Warriors will jump right in to a difficult region.

Harlem: The Bulldogs captured the county JV championship last season. Top player Cedric Boatner is gone, so there will be plenty of new faces responsible for scoring.

AIKEN COUNTY BOYS

QUOTABLE

"We've got 10 returning players with varsity experience. Last year I only had three. So I think we're ahead of the game."

-- Aiken coach Tony Harrell

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Myson Jones, Aiken: The 5-foot-10 junior can play both guard positions and already has plenty of experience. His coach likes his shooting ability.

Justin Maxwell, Aiken: The 6-4 guard, who has started three years, has multiple Division I schools interested.

Travis Williams, Silver Bluff: One of two veteran guards back, along with senior L.J. Green.

Niko Hatcher, Midland Valley: His ability to bounce back from an injury-plagued season might be the key for the Mustangs. The 6-5 Hatcher teams with 6-9 Byron Coleman to form a nice front line.

TEAMS TO WATCH

Aiken: The Hornets return four starters and 10 players overall from a team that lost a play-in game for the right to advance to the state playoffs.

Midland Valley: The Mustangs should improve on last season's 11-15 record with four starters back, including senior point guard Marquett Carr.

North Augusta: It might take the Yellow Jackets some time to get in a groove because of a extended football season, but they still have the athletes to play with anyone.

Silver Bluff: The Dogs return four starters from last season's playoff team but must replace top player Theron Stephens.

From the Thursday, November 26, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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