Hoops: A look at state Top 10
November 1, 2012By David McNabb of VYPE MAGAZINE - DFW
The first day of boys basketball games is Nov. 12 with practicing starting last week. The consensus among top teams is that more Texas teams are featured nationally with a host of prominent players than most seasons. Fort Bend Travis was NCAA hoops central a month with the commitment of the Harrison twins broadcast nationally and many top programs around the country are awaiting the commitment of 6-9 senior foward Julius Randle.
Check out a Preseason Preview of the State's top 10
- Fort Bend Travis. Not often does the college recruiting world revolve around Texas, but it did in October with the commitment of 6-5 twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrisson. The high-profile duo committed to defending national champ Kentucky with a live broadcast from ESPNU. Aaron is a sharp-shooting guard who can nail drive-and-stop 3-point jumpers from NBA range. Andrew is a terrific point guard who can be Steve Nash or Chris Paul depending on which is needed.
- Prestonwood Christian Academy. Only a nationally ranked private school just north of Dallas has the high-profile, proven national talent to challenge Travis. Senior 6-9 forward Julius Randle is a cross between Chris Webber to Blake Griffin with his skills and athleticism. He’s been a long-time summer teammate of 6-5 Mike Mitchell who is one of the nation’s top football recruits. Mike’s younger brother, Mickey Mitchell is a 6-7 point guard who can defend players almost a foot smaller and drive past similar size players easily off the dribble.
- DeSoto. Eagles coach Chris Dyer is too much of a worrier to think DeSoto has a chance at a third state title, but DeSoto was one game away from the state tournament last season. Senior Matt Jones is the only senior returnee but the Duke commitment also has enough talent around him for the Eagles to receive an invite to the HighSchoolOT.com Invitational so the Dukies can get an early look at the 6-4 shooting guard.
- Kimball. The Class 4A defending state champions had to rebuild last season under Coach Royce “Snoop” Johnson and hit their stride late in the season after finishing second to South Oak cliff in district. Kimball has its trademark defense which can be intimidating and the added scoring of 6-5 shooting guard Keith Frazier make the Knights more potent.
- Houston Yates. Even with declining enrollment dropping to 3A, Yates could be the defending state 4A champ instead of Kimball. Talent-laden Yates had a five-point lead with two minutes remaining before missing costly free-throws and losing , 78-75, on final second 3-pointer. Yates returns powerful and athletic 6-5 Melvin Swift and J.C. Washington with tournament appearances Hawaii and Washington D.C. to play national programs like Oak Hill Academy and Findlay Prep.
- Spring Westfield. After losing to DeSoto in the regional semifinals last season, Westfield looks to be on the verge of establishing itself as a perennial state powerhouse. Westfield has athleticism and returns some big-game experience under Mustangs coach Van Price. Junior Chad Owens returns after a strong sophomore season. The 6-2 swingman has versatility to create many matchup problems and solve a lot too. Senior Wesley Iwundu and junior James Harrison are returning all-district starters.
- Rowlett. Venerable Coach Stan Blackmon may be the first family of DFW hoops as a former University of North Texas player with a son who starred playing for him and in then was all-conference in college and twin daughters who played at Baylor during a championship season. Blackmon’s teams always look like they’re college-level coached and the Rowlett talent pipeline is now high again with Oklahoma State commit Jeffrey Carroll, Nathan Hawkins and Austin Luke.
- Plano East. Former Panthers star Jeff Clarkson returns to try and get Plano East back to the state tournament as he did as a player in 1994. There’s speed, experience and savvy for 6-0 senior guard Marcus Mathieu. This has been a season East has expected to make a playoff run with fellow seniors Jarvis Pugh, Sawyer Kipp, Xavier Smith and Pat Burke ready to make a run for a District 10-5A title and beyond.
- San Antonio Brennan. Just in its third year, the namesake of former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, has reached the playoffs each year. Opening the school in 2009, 41-year-old Bears coach Tommy Hines has a terrific scorer in 5-9 John Azzinaro but the nucleus already reached last year’s regional tournament. There’s some height 6-5 senior John King and 6-4 senior Paul Derkowski which should help get Brennan on the basketball map in the spring.
- Richardson Berkner. A highly regarded commitment to USC, 6-4 senior guard Kendal Harris is a polished player who combines athleticism with good ball skills. Berkner went through a mid-season suspension of its coach last season for school disciplinary reasons but the Rams went 13-1 under Coach Jason Petty, who was elevated to head coach last spring. Berkner made its only state tournament run in 2007 with a talented guard in Justin Johnson (University of Houston football standout now), and while the slashing, highlight reel dunks of Harris are a different style than Johnson, it may get the Rams another trip to Austin.