As the high school basketball season draws nearer, anticipation grows. Five-Star plans to add to that fever pitch. It's unveiling an all-encompassing new preview package: 50 States in 50 Days. Until Nov. 23, it will examine a different basketball state, breaking down its top teams, players and rivalries.
Which schools are title favorites? Which players are flying under the radar? All the answers are yet to come. The package -- which can be found in its entirety
There's little doubt that the loss of Achraf Yacoubou, a Villanova recruit, will hurt Lutheran's Tournament of Champions repeat chances. But John Buck has a reputation as one of the best coaches in Long Island for a reason. He'll look to capture a third straight 20-win season behind a host of new talent, including jump shot extraordinaire Shane Plunkett and guard Brandon Alford, who scored 12 points in last year's final victory over St. Mary's.
The defending Federation Class AA champs seek a record sixth state championship, but it won't come easy. West Virginia-bound point guard Jabarie Hinds graduated, as did Khalid Samuels, a savvy guard. But the roster is far from bare. The Knights return dual offensive threats forward Randy Stephens and guard Isaiah Cousins, the former a double-double machine and the latter a three-point threat.
The Red Rams certainly don't lack star power. Led by a tandem of top recruits, they might have the best frontcourt in New York. First there's DaJuan Coleman, a 6-10, 280-pound banger headed to Syracuse next year. Then there's Tyler Cavanaugh, Coleman's 6-8, 215-pound running mate who committed to Wake Forest in September. If coach Bob McKenney can also derive production from 6-2 combo guard Pete Drescher, expect Jamesville to be an increasingly tough out in March.
Brooklyn is loaded with basketball talent, with schools like Lincoln, Jefferson and Midwood perennially in the mix. Consider Boys & Girls the preseason favorite. Led by seniors Jeffland Neverson and Leroy Fludd, the Kangaroos have the talent to make a national splash. Last year, coach Ruth Lovelace and Co. made the ESPN RISE national semifinals before falling to Montrose Christian (Md.), 83-61, in April.
Make no mistake: Christ the King is Omar Calhoun's team. The UConn commit can score at will, and averaged more than 25 points in the AAU circuit this summer. Factor in juniors Jon Severe (6-2, 180), Isaiah Lewis (6-3, 170) and Jordan Fuchs (6-6, 195), and Royals have the pieces in place for a second Federation AA title in three years.
Senior, Jamesville-Dewitt (Dewitt, N.Y.)
Tall, strong and a force in the paint, Coleman averaged 24.5 points and 14 rebounds as a junior, seemingly destined to become the next freshman phenom. At least, that's what Jim Boeheim and Co. are hoping for. Coleman committed to Syracuse over Kentucky and Ohio State, citing proximity to home as his decisive factor.
Senior, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
The Royals' decorated shooting guard could soon be the second-most famous Calhoun in Storrs. But first, the Huskies' recruiting headliner will look to build on an already prolific career. Entering 2011, he has more than 1,000 points at Christ the King, leading the Middle Village power to 48 wins since 2009.
Senior, Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.)
Few players can match Obekpa's strength and energy. Even fewer can replicate his otherworldly athleticism. The Nigerian native is a two-way terror, soaring for highlight-reel dunks on one end and emphatic blocks on the other. He could soon be taking flight in the Big East: Obekpa is weighing offers to West Virginia, Cincinnati, St. Johns and UConn, among others.
Sophomore, Lincoln (Brooklyn)
A do-it-all guard, Whitehead is also drawing interest from several Big East programs. Rutgers, St. John's, Syracuse and Pitt are in the running, as is Xavier, a perennial A-10 power. It's easy to see why. A gifted mid-range shooter, Whitehead also boasts the ability to slash, spark a fast break and create open looks for teammates. Just a sophomore, he's creating buzz as New York City's next big thing.
Senior, St. Raymond (Bronx)
Undersized for his position, Dingle was questioned by many scouts entering his junior year. No longer. The Ravens' blossoming forward averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds, repeatedly stuffing the stat sheet. His basketball IQ may be even more impressive, helping to garner offers from Auburn, Rutgers, Boston College and Temple.