Greetings HS hoops junkies from across the hoops craving Piedmont! The Great One is here once again to release his picks for the QC regular season race. Last season saw a tie at the top of the regular season as North Meck and Chambers shared the title. The Vikings prevailed in the conference tournament and also stopped the Cougars in the Regional Semis in a classic. This season is bringing new faces to the landscape as multiple transfers will make their mark. The QC will almost certainly have at least one team in the regionals to see if they can wrestle control of the west from Myers Park. The ol’ cubic zirconia ball (can’t afford real crystal) has been shined up and has cast the dye on the season before the opening tap. Let’s get to the picks! After all of the dust settles, the conference regular season winner will be…..

NORTH MECK

The Vikings had plenty of scoring returning but the rich got richer in the form of 6’3 JR G Chadlyn Traylor, a three-level scorer who defected from West Charlotte. He joins 5* Duke signee 6’8 SR F,G Isaiah Evans, who has been dubbed, “Superman” by some because of his propensity to nail buzzer beaters in an ice-cold fashion. In the post, will be 6’5 SO Exzavier Young who can be an accomplished rebounder. The rest of the perimeter will be manned by 6’3 SR G Trey Maxwell and 6’3 SO G Ashton Pierce. The bench offers 6’0 JR G Greg Murray, 6’3 JR G Zion Williams and JR 6’2 jumping jack Kyce Williams to compliment the frontliners. The offense is there and the defense is more than adequate. If the Norsemen rebound well, they could put Coach Lewis in his 3rd state title game and keep an arm’s length ahead of…….

CHAMBERS

The Cougars returned to the regionals in 22-23 and tallied wins over regional finals participant North Meck and eventual state champion Myers Park.  Repeating those feats will be difficult since some key pieces led by Nick Dorn graduated.  Salving those wounds begins with another WC refugee, 6’4 SO G Markus Kerr.  Joining him on the perimeter will be fellow sophomore bombardier 6’5 W Tarris Bouie.  6’0 JR Ka’mari Cook will give stability at the PG slot backed up by another sophomore 5’8 Malik McCotter.  6’4 SR W Jordan Patton will add needed scoring backed up by yet another sophomore 6’4 Cameron Thompson.  The post will be manned by veteran Captain 6’7 SR Maurio Hanson who is an accomplished scorer and shot blocker.  The Cougars must defend and rebound on a high level to have a shot at moving up but should have enough logs on the fire to stay ahead of………..

MALLARD CREEK

The Creek is definitely rising this season and has two first-team all-conference candidates for the first time in a long spell. Leading the charge will be future D1 recruit 6’2 SO G Rassell Young. Joining him will be 6’5 SR G,F Langston Boyd who will challenge for leading scorer honors. 6’0 JR G Jalyn Connor will help distribute the rock and knock down open looks. However, the key to the Mavericks season will be the seniors in the front court. 6’3 F Cameron Rahman needs to approach double-double territory and 6’4 F Isaiah White needs to hit the boards if the Creek has a shot at moving up and staying ahead of………..

HOPEWELL

Everything about the Titans’ 23-24 campaign begins and ends with 5’11 do everything SR G Quay Watson who should be the leading scorer and floor General.  Two more seniors, 6’2 G Julian Mack and 6’0 G Derrick Eley give perimeter punch while 6’0 JR G Mike Brown will help spread the wealth. The perimeter is set but size is an issue.  6’3 SR W Tayari Hines needs to defend and rebound on a higher level and needs help from 6’4 JR Messiah Cage if the Titans are to have a chance to break the top three and stay in front of……..

WEST CHARLOTTE 

Graduation and mass defections have taken it’s toll as the Lions are in full rebuilding mode. They have gone from the biggest team in the state to one of the smallest in the conference. However, 6’0 SR G Damari Day gives experience at the point for starters. Help for the future takes the form of the “Hallelujah Trio” of 6’2 SO G Elijah Littlejohn, 6’1 FR G Christian Coleman and 6’3 FR G Amen Pressley. Another senior, 6’3 F Brandon Blakeney needs to play big if WC is to get a chance for a top-four finish, and stay in front of……….

HARDING

The Rams will also be afflicted with a lack of size but 6’1 JR G,F Chase Bryson provides versatility to help compensate. SR F C.J. Caldwell and future star 6’3 FR F DeCarlos Brown should give athleticism and much-needed rebounding. Guards 6’0 SR A.J. Jenkins, SR Wendell McGill, and JR Raymond Hector round out the perimeter attack. The Rams will be hard pressed to make the playoffs but should have enough in the tank to stay in front of……….

HOUGH

The Jason Grube era is over and the Huskies are in rebuilding mode to boot.  Coach Dan Larkin doesn’t have a full cupboard but can begin with 6’3 SR G Cole Galombeck.  Along side him in the back court is another Cole, 5’11 SR Cole Skovira, 6’1 JR G Evan Otto and 5’10 SO G Beck Spear will provide depth.  In the front court, 6’4 SR F Henry Moore must play big and young 6’5 SO F John Slusher needs to grow up quickly if the Dogs have any shot at moving up.  They should still stay ahead of………

WEST MECK 

The Hawks should show improvement over last season as three sophomores will lead the way.  5’8 G Tayshaun Jones, 5’10 G Chase McDonald and 6’5 SO Josiah Pratt are that trio that will give West a chance to notch some wins.  6’3 JR F Cam Higgins and 6’1 SR G Isaiah Crawford should round out the starting five.  The Hawks will play hard and may have a chance of nabbing a conference win or two.

There you have it folks!  The ol’ cubic zirconia ball (can’t afford real crystal) has spoken so all there is to do now is go out and take in some excellent hoop action over the next three months and watch the results.  The Amazing One will post his Furious 5 weekly rankings every Sunday on Phenom Hoops and will give out his annual superlatives after the state title game in March. Stay tuned!!!!!

SAD SAM – HS HOOPS GENIUS