2017 MPSSAA boys basketball media poll: Preseason
1. Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. Pumas (6) — 260 points (2015-2016 record: 15-4)
After getting upset by Bowie in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs last year, Wise returns a lethal scoring trio of Michael Speight (18.5 points per game, seven Division I offers), Darron Barnes (15.6 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game) and Brent Pregram (7.6 points per game, 5.6 assists per game); plating the Pumas as early favorites.
2. Eleanor Roosevelt Raiders (3) — 242 points (24-3)
Fresh off a dominant Class 4A title season in which they only lost to one public school team — Bowie by three (other two losses came to private powers DeMatha and Bishop McNamara) — Eleanor Roosevelt retains three of their top eight leading scorers, led by Jaden Faulkner (7.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists). Though the loss of Xavier-bound Naji Marshall (17 points, nine rebounds) and Trent Bishop (10 points, eight rebounds) will take a toll in the program, the Raiders should be deep enough to be a title contender out of Class 4A once again.
3. Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Engineers — 212 points (19-4)
Last season ended prematurely for Baltimore Poly, getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs to Woodlawn after being heavy favorites in the Class 3A North. The Engineers deploy one of the most potent rosters in all of Maryland, gunned by a pair of nationally scouted recruits — 6-foot-6 wing and Temple commit De’Vondre Perry and 6-foot-2 guard Demetrius Mims, who has offers from St. John’s and VCU while drawing interest from Kansas.
4. Perry Hall Gators (2) — 204 points (21-4)
One year removed from an abysmal 8-15 season, the Gators found success with a youthful roster, going all the way to the state semifinals. The eventual Class 4A state champs, Eleanor Roosevelt, ousted the Gators breakthrough run, but there’s no need to look back in regret, because they’re the only team to return five of their top six players:
Laquill Hardnett (14 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.2 steals, 2.1 blocks, 58 percent from the floor), James Rider (14 points, 4.9 rebounds, 39 percent from behind the arc), Anthony Higgs (10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 53 percent from the floor), Darrell Green (8.0 points, 5.1 rebounds) and Aaron Butler (6.7 points, 3.8 assists, 39 percent from behind the arc).
5. Seneca Valley Screamin’ Eagles — 197 points (21-5)
Seneca Valley roared to the final-four last year on a 12-game winning-streak, and were mere seconds away from advancing to the Class 3A state final. The Screamin’ Eagles graduated their top-two big-men — Quentin Twyman (6-foot-5) and Terry Milburne (6-foot-6) — but regain four of their top-six impact players — 6-foot-4 hybrid guard/forward Brandon Simpson (13.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists), 6-foot-1 guard Kareem Matthew (10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists), Triston Price (9.0 points, 3.2 assists, 36 percent from behind the arc) and Tyran Crawford (5.5 points, 56 percent from the floor). They also add 6-foot-1 guard Trey Lucas, a transfer from Urbana who averaged 15 points per game a year ago.
6. Stephen Decatur Seahawks — 182 points (25-3)
A last second turnover doomed Stephen Decatur’s title hopes in overtime of the Class 3A state championship game. Though the Seahawks graduated backcourt roadrunner Torrey Brittingham (16.6 points, 8.0 assists, 2.4 steals), three starters return from the runner-up season a year ago — 6-foot-8 forward and Wofford commit Keve Aluma (13 points, 13 rebounds), Ja’Quan Johnson (10.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists) and Kevon Voyles (10 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists). They’ll be heavy favorites out of the 3A East once again.
7. Bladensburg Mustangs — 179 points (16-7)
The seven losses Bladensburg had last year are deceiving. Stick them in any other region, and they’re destined to be unblemished. Two came from private stalwarts Bullis and Riverdale Baptist, while the other five were from Eleanor Roosevelt, who the Mustangs took to overtime in the Class 4A South championship, and Wise. With a slew of returning impact players, including double-double machine, 6-foot-6 small forward Daniel Oladapo (14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds) and Amin Sanya (11.0 points), Bladensburg is primed to have a breakout season.
8. Lake Clifton Lakers — 158 points (17-11)
The Class 1A runner-ups from Baltimore bump to Class 2A this year and slide into the North region with Dunbar and New Town. After reeling 17 wins with eight underclassmen — six being sophomores — Lake Clifton head coach and USA basketball assistant Herman Harried deploys another state championship contending roster yet again in 2016. Andre Rafus, a 6-foot-10 power forward transfer from New Jersey who has over 20 Division I offers, Rasheed Brown (13 points, 2.0 steals) and 6-foot-6 center Ronald Lucas (8.0 points, 10 rebounds) will lead the charge.
9. Frederick Douglass Eagles — 153 points (20-2)
Douglass couldn’t survive one of the toughest regions in Maryland a year ago, losing to county rival Gwynn Park by three points in the sweet-16. After a two loss season — both to Gwynn Park by a combined total of 10 points — the Eagles return one of the top point guard recruits in the DMV in Donald Carey (6-foot-4), who has an offer from George Mason.
10. Westlake Wolverines — 144 points (19-5)
Westlake backed up their Class 3A state final appearance with a 19-win season and region championship appearance in their first year in Class 2A. The Wolverines will return their top-three scorers — Everett Mouton (13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds), Aubrey Wallace (13.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals) and Jeff Simmons (13.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals) — as well as Amir Lawrence (11.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals) and Jonathan Barnes (4.0 points, 4.3 rebounds), boasting a roster that has championship potential.
11. Gwynn Park Yellow Jackets — 137 points (24-3)
Despite graduating Isaiah Miles (14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 65 percent from the floor), Marlon White (11.5 points), Aaron Parker (11.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) and Kollin Mitchell (10.2 points, 5.2 rebounds), Gwynn Park returns leading scorer Justin Faison, a 5-foot-9 lead guard who averaged 15.5 points and four assists per game in the Yellow Jackets’ final-four run last year. They also return Xavier Mack, a 40 percent three-point shooter.
12. Quince Orchard Cougars — 135 points (19-3)
Quince Orchard rolled into the playoffs last year as hot as anyone in Maryland. Then, Clarksburg unraveled it all with a 52-50 upset in overtime in the Class 4A West regional quarterfinals. The Cougars should return to their winning ways, as they only graduated two seniors and return one of the best tandems in Montgomery County with sharpshooting guard Matt Kelly and savvy 6-foot-3 forward Johnny Fierstein.
13. Tuscarora Titans — 115 points (19-5)
A small slip in the Class 3A West title game wiped away Tuscarora’s chance at a state tournament appearance, as they nursed a one-point lead with under one minute remaining before the detrimental turnover. The Titans graduated a memorable senior class, but have reloaded for 2016-2017. Four-year varsity player Jaylen Washington (12.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 steals), a Frederick News-Post First-Team selection and 6-foot-6 forward Kyle Lepkowski return. Tuscarora also received three standout transfers — point guard Marcus Waddy and Obadiah Noal from St. John’s Catholic Prep and Alex Morrow from Thomas Johnson — making the Titans a force in Class 3A yet again.
14. Bowie Bulldogs — 94 points (14-9)
Like Bladensburg, Bowie fell victim to a brutal schedule. They’ve shown they’re capable of beating the state’s best — picking up two wins against Eleanor Roosevelt and Wise last year — but consistency will be the key to the Bulldogs success in 2016-2017. They return Towson commit, Quinton Drayton (12.5 points), and slasher Jalen Robinson (5.3 points).
15. New Town Titans — 87 points (24-2)
New Town, the reigning Class 2A state champions, graduated their top three players in Matthew Johnson (16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 4.0 steals), Devin Smith (15.0 points, 4.0 assists) and 6-foot-4 center Quincy Roche (6.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks), but return 6-foot-3 guard Rashad Faust — younger brother of Nick Faust, a former Maryland starter.
16. Randallstown Rams — 80 points (13-11)
Randallstown returns four of their five leading scorers from their sweet-16 appearance in the Class 2A North a year ago.
17. Linganore Lancers — 79 points (22-2)
The Lancers’ core-four program players, consisted of all-time leading scorer Thomas Lang, Jack Staub, Carter Schmidt and Keegan Lane — a group that led Linganore to a final-four appearance in 2015 and a 41-10 record the past two seasons — are long gone. Thomas’s little brother, Nicholas Lang (5.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 38 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore), 6-foot-3 forward Harry Rasmussen (58 percent from the floor) and point guard Austin Lohneis (38 percent from behind the arc) will need to shoulder the load if Linganore wants to remain a contender in Class 3A again.
18. Dunbar Poets — 77 points (16-8)
Traditional Baltimore power Dunbar aims to build off a Class 2A North region championship appearance from a year ago.
19. Frederick Douglass Mighty Ducks — 74 points (21-2)
After a sweet-16 appearance a year ago in a 21-win season, the Mighty Ducks from Baltimore return their top-two leading scorers, Malik Hollaway (15.0 points) and Shandon Adams (13.0 points).
20. Oakland Mills Scorpions — 62 points (22-2)
The 2015 Class 2A state champs were stunned by Middletown in the 2A West region championship last year. After losing their top-six scorers, the Scorpions will need to find new faces to fill the voids.
21. Largo Lions — 56 points (16-7)
Largo returns 6-foot-4 wing Ardie Dorsey (5.3 points), looking to improve on a 16-win season and survive the ultra competitive 2A South.
22. Walt Whitman Vikings — 55 points (17-10)
After an unlikely run to the final-four last year, Walt Whitman, under the control of 2006 state champion head coach Chris Lun, returns a trio of starters — 6-foot-8 center Max Oppenheim (10.0 points, 7.1 rebounds), 6-foot-7 wing Hannes Kogelnik (7.1 points, 39 percent from behind the arc) and 6-foot point guard Jack McClelland (7.0 points, 2.9 steals).
23. North Point Eagles — 51 points (17-7)
North Point earned a No. 1 seed in the Class 4A East last year, then it all crashed down in the 49-48 upset loss to Broadneck in the second round. The Eagles return three of their five leading scorers — Jalen Gibbs (15.3 points), Tyler Williams (10.0 points) and Malik Lawrence (6.3 points) — in attempt to dismantle Meade’s recent dominance in the 4A East.
24. Dulaney Lions — 50 points (14-8)
The Lions’ season came to a halt in the sweet-16, losing to Class 4A North regional champ Perry Hall, 71-61. They’ll have one of the top prospects in all of the DMV — 6-foot-6 freshman shooting guard Che Evans, who already has offers Georgia Tech, St. John’s and UNLV before stepping foot on a high school basketball court.
25. Woodlawn Warriors — 47 points (19-6)
The Warriors will look to build on an improbable run to the Class 3A North region title game from a year ago.