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
Fronted by esteemed coach J.R. Holmes, the boys from Bloomington South capped a 26-2 season (6-1 in league play) with another Class 4A title last year. Although their core group of seniors -- including Xavier-bound guard Dee Davis -- departs, the Panthers remain title contenders thanks to development of Michael Bower and Trae Washington. They have a lot to live up to. Over the past four seasons, Bloomington South is 94-5.
Although a 19-3 record (9-0 in league play) would typically be considered a successful season, it was only good enough to earn coach Brian Satterfield and Co. Indiana's No. 4 ranking last season. They'll look to move to the top of that list this year. The Royals are among state title favorites, led by Gary Harris, an undeclared five-star shooting guard, and Zak Irvin, a versatile wingman and Michigan commit.
Kokomo advanced to last year's Class 4A final, falling to Bloomington South 56-42. Coached by Brian McCauley, this Wildkat group has a chance to avenge that loss. D.J. Balentine, an Evansville-bound guard, will look to build off a 23-3 campaign (6-1 in league play) and add to the program's prestigious history: 71 sectional championships, 34 regional titles and 19 state finals appearances.
Coach Billy Wright piloted Pike to a 21-5 mark (7-2 in league play) last season, benefitting from the stellar play of Kentucky-bound point guard Marquis Teague. Even in his absence, the Red Devils should improve. Sharpshooting guard R.J. Hunter and junior floor general Zavier Turner, both of whom averaged 14.2 points last year, return to lead the attack.
Perennial powerhouse North Central should find themselves in the thick of the title hunt again in 2011-12. Ronnie Johnson, Patrick Ingram and budding forward Perry Poindexter -- the former two Big Ten commits -- form a talented nucleus, and coach Doug Mitchell has built a winner in Indianapolis (128-25 since taking over in '05). As usual, expect Central to be a tough out in March.
Senior, Park Tudor (Indianapolis)
Indiana coach Tom Crean has plenty to be excited about in 2012 commit Yogi Ferrell. He's a complete, old school-type point guard, much in the same vein as Chris Paul. Despite his lack of size, Ferrell has the speed and dribbling skills to get to the rim, and can torch defenses with his polished outside jumper. His greatest asset may be his on-court IQ, though, a prerequisite for any aspiring point guard.
Senior, La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.)
Like Ferrell, Perea is another member of the Hoosiers' highly touted 2012 recruiting class. He's a physical nightmare, blessed with explosive power and tremendous athleticism. He's a force at the rim, providing a spark with his thunderous dunks. Though he's raw -- and needs to learn to make a greater offensive impact -- Perea's a defensive menace with his aggressive blocking and rebounding. Look for him to wreak havoc during his senior season in La Porte.
Senior, Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.)
Mentioned above, Harris is arguably the top uncommitted player in all of Indiana. He possesses a dynamic first step that allows him to slash through the lane and a defensive savvy that generates a bevy of turnovers. He averaged 17.6 points and 4.9 rebounds as a junior, numbers that could improve if he steadies his streaky jumper.
Senior, Lake Central (St. John, Ind.)
Although Brewster Academy (N.H.) forward Mitch McGary is the centerpiece of Michigan's 2012 recruiting haul, it's a mistake to sleep on Glenn Robinson III. The son of 11-year NBA veteran Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, he can do it all, with a 36-inch vertical and a well-developed three-ball. He'll look to round out his game while bettering Lake Central's 14-9 mark (7-7 in league play) from last season.
Senior, Lawrence Central (Indianapolis)
A jack-of-all-trades, Hollowell should continue Lawrence Central's basketball resurgence. The Bears transformed from a 1-19 team in 2007-08 to a 15-10 unit last year, and could be even better this season. The 6-7, 200-pounder can knock down shots from up to 20 feet, finish at the rim and control the pace of the game with his poised on-court demeanor. Not an overwhelmingly talented athlete, he compensates with fundamentals. He committed to Indiana in March.