By: Wake Hoops

The TISAC projects to be one of the more tightly contested conferences this season, with all four teams having good reason to believe they can make serious noise. This conference also has arguably the best freshman crop of anyone in the triangle, with four (!!) of the 15 all-conference selections coming from the 2027 class.

Preseason Poll

Preseason All-Conference Teams

Preseason Awards

Player of the Year: Chance Gladden | Ravenscroft | 6'3' | Jr.

Gladden had himself a monster sophomore season at Cary Academy, averaging 20p, 5r, 4a, before making the move to conference rival Ravenscroft during the summer. He joined a team that needed to fill a hole at the primary creator position, something that he should step into quite smoothly. His reliability with the ball, ability to create for himself and others, and overall efficiency (given his high usage) made him a relatively easy choice for this award as RVC comes into this season high off their 4A final-four appearance in February.

HM: Wyatt DeGraaf | Cary Academy | 6'10' | Sr.

Defensive Player of the Year: Wyatt DeGraaf | Cary Academy | 6'10' | Sr.

DeGraaf was the runaway pick for DPOY given his towering 6'10' frame and his innate shot blocking abilities. He averaged 9r, 1s, 1b last season and with improved fluidity and some added aggression, it's easy to see a path where DeGraaf becomes the most imposing defender in the triangle. Cary Academy's success will rely on his ability to breakout as an elite rim protector and we're betting on that happening.

HM: None

Newcomer of the Year: Joshua Dorsette | Durham Academy | 5'8' | So.

Dorsette steps into a situation where he'll be able to showcase his dynamism on a bigger stage. He has the playmaking chops to breakout as one of the better guards in the triangle and is now in a position where he can prove it against a difficult schedule. Look for him to be one of the more productive players in the conference and emerge as a leader on a balanced Cavaliers roster.

HM: Brennan Jefferson | North Raleigh Christian | 6'2' | Fr.

Freshman of the Year: Brennan Jefferson | North Raleigh Christian | 6'2' | Fr.

Jefferson is one of the top 2027 wings in the state and we're expecting a quick adjustment to the varsity scene. He's in a program where he can become the top option and impact winning almost immediately. His shotmaking, positional size, and fearlessness make him the most enticing option for this award.

HM: Max Shearin | Cary Academy | 5'10' | Fr.

Coach of the Year: Ishua Benjamin | Cary Academy | 4th Season

Coach Benjamin has built a winning program pretty quickly, finishing just one game below 0.500 in his only losing season thus far. Everything seems lined up for him to take this program to the next level as they have the most complete roster in the conference. Look for Coach Benjamin to guide this program to new heights (and sustain it) this season and in the foreseeable future.

HM: Ronnie Kruger | North Raleigh Christian | 4th Season

1) Cary Academy

2022-23: 11-12 (1-5), 4th in TISAC, 1st Round of Playoffs (L to Durham Academy 47-58)

Key Losses

Chance Gladden – 20p, 5r, 4a, 2s, 35 3pm – Transferred to Ravenscroft

Key Returners

Wyatt DeGraaf – Sr – 11p, 9r, 1s, 1b
McCoy Williams – So – 10p, 4r, 2a, 1s
Aidan Rousseau – So – 7p, 6r, 2a, 1s, 1b
Champ Lando – Jr – 7p, 1r, 1a, 1s

Key Newcomers

Preston Moore – Fr
Max Shearin – Fr
Darron Ward – So – Transfer from Cardinal Gibbons

Deep Dive

The biggest question mark for the Chargers is how they go about replacing the production of Chance Gladden. They have multiple promising young guards who will all do a serviceable job making up the lost production, even more so as they continue to grow and develop. The main option to step up is sophomore McCoy Williams. He's a 6'2-3' guard who has proven to be an elite shotmaker this summer. With more shots available this season, Williams is in a prime position to explode in production. The other two guards in line to take on big roles are freshmen Preston Moore and Max Shearin. Both are crafty combo guards who make shots and limit turnovers. Expect them to be two of the more productive freshmen in the triangle this season.

This team will have one of the best frontcourts around, headlined by senior Wyatt DeGraaf and sophomore Aidan Rousseau. DeGraaf is one of the best interior defenders around (see Defensive Player of the Year above) and is rapidly improving as an offensive threat around the rim. Rousseau had a wildly productive summer with WCBA, dominating the 15u scene with his touch, footwork, and motor. Rousseau also flashed some improved shooting ability this summer, something that is crucial to his long-term development.

Around their core position groups, guys like Champ Lando, James Joof, and new transfer Darron Ward will all make notable contributions this season. Lando is a knockdown shooter with good positional size, shooting 42% from three last season on over three attempts per game. Look for his volume and usage as a shooter to go up this year as he steps into a larger role. Joof will provide valuable frontcourt depth behind the aforementioned DeGraaf and Rousseau. He does a lot of the little things that lead to winning and should carve out a nice role because of it. Lastly, Darren Ward transferred over from Cardinal Gibbons after having a successful season on the Crusaders freshman team. Only a sophomore, look for the well-rounded guard to contribute a bit this year, while also being a key part of the Chargers' long-term plans.

Cary Academy barely edged out Ravenscroft for the top spot due to their balanced roster and solid depth. They'll need immediate production from their freshmen talent, development of their sophomores, and leadership from their upperclassmen in order to reach their highest possible outcome. If the cards can fall the right way, this will be a very dangerous team come February.

2) Ravenscroft

2022-23: 25-7 (4-2), T-1st in TISAC, State Semifinals (L to Christ School 50-52)

Key Losses

Dakota Gordon – Graduated – Playing at Washington & Lee
Harrison Poole – Graduated
Brian Corrigan – Graduated
Alex Olander – Transferred to Millbrook

Key Returners

Jackson Rein – Sr
Lauchlin Huebner – Jr
Brock Hoggard – Jr
Elijah Deifer – So
Freddie Mills – Jr

Key Newcomers

Chance Gladden – Jr – Transfer from Cary Academy

Deep Dive

Ravenscroft is coming off a great run to the 4A final four, dropping to eventual state champions, Christ School, by just two points. The Ravens lose a large chunk of their rotation and will need younger pieces to fill important roles. The headline of this program is junior transfer Chance Gladden (see Player of the Year above). He was arguably the most productive player in the conference last season and is in a perfect position to lead this new look roster. His reliability and consistency as a playmaker are only going to be further emphasized with the combination of shooting and skill around him.

Next to Gladden, senior Jackson Rein will be looked upon to carry a large offensive load. The 6'7' forward has made a name for himself as one of the top shooters in the triangle. He's flashed the ability to attack closeouts and create his own shot, which is something that he's going to have to do a lot of in order for this offense to hit its ceiling. The coaching staff will be able to use him in a lot of creative ways, specifically as a screener, shooter, and face-up threat.

Around their two stars, the Ravens have a plethora of intriguing pieces who will provide valuable minutes, including juniors Brock Hoggard, Freddie Mills, and Lauchlin Huebner, as well as sophomore Elijah Deifer. Hoggard is a knockdown shooter that thrives off the catch and off the move. He's better off the ball but has shown that he can play the one when needed. Mills, similar to Hoggard, is a great shooter that thrives off the catch. Huebner (just like his counterparts) is also a strong shooter off the catch; however he's displayed more ability to score around the rim, something that will compliment his teammates well. Deifer has arguably the highest intrigue of any of these names given his reliability and production as just a sophomore. He'll be able to play as the lead guard either beside or behind Gladden. Other names such as Josh Ratcliff, Jacob Gilbert, Dugan Stewart, Caleb Finley, and Logan Gilbert all have a chance to make an impact throughout the season.

Despite just being edged out by Cary Academy for the preseason top spot, this Ravenscroft team will still be squarely in contention for the TISAC title come February. They have the top end talent and the coaching to make noise, they'll just be relying on a handful of their unproven pieces to step up.

3) Durham Academy

2022-23: 16-10 (4-2), T-1st in TISAC, 2nd Round of Playoffs (L to Ravenscroft 42-68)

Key Losses

Jake Chisholm – 17p, 5r, 2a, 1s, 39 3pm – Graduated – Playing at Roanoke
Bryson Tupper – 12p, 5r, 2a, 1s, 48 3pm – Graduated
JP Dilweg – 9p, 6r, 2a, 1s – Graduated
Matthew Chaves – 9p, 4r, 2a – Graduated – Fencing at Brandeis
Hugh Wheeler – 3p, 4r, 1a – Graduated
Sean McLean – 2p, 2r, 2a, 1s – Graduated
Darren Bland – 2p, 2r, 1s – Graduated

Key Returners

Amare Burrus – Jr – 6p, 2r, 2a
Quin Frasher – Jr – 5p, 1r, 32 3pm
Bef Steinberg – Sr – 5p
JJ Wilcox – Jr – 3p, 1r, 1a
Nathan Bullock – Sr – 2p, 1r

Key Newcomers

Josh Dorsette – So – Transfer from Durham School of the Arts

Deep Dive

Durham Academy is coming off a great season that included a TISAC championship and a playoff win. Their 2023 class was incredibly deep, headlined by Roanoke freshman Jake Chisholm. They graduate seven rotation pieces, returning just five players, all of whom had marginal roles at best. They'll have hardly any seniors in important roles this season and regardless of how the year goes, will be set up for a promising 2024-25 campaign. This team will play with great synergy, evidenced by their solid summer campaign with Carolina Flyers, a team that consisted of a handful of Cavaliers, including their newest member, Josh Dorsette.

Dorsette transferred to DA this summer after playing the past two seasons for his father at Durham School of the Arts (DSA). At DSA, Dorsette was charged with running the offense and carrying the scoring load. He handled the high usage relatively well and that experience should translate nicely into his new role at DA. He'll still be tasked with running the offense and being a primary scoring option, but he'll have more talent around him to help lift the playmaking burden. Look for Dorsette to be one of the most electric players to watch in the TISAC and make a name for himself as one of the top 2026 guards in the triangle.

The bulk of their rotation will be made up of members of their deep 2025 class. Guys like Amare Burrus, Quin Frasher, and JJ Wilcox all bring a good combination of production and potential to the table. Burrus is a physical wing that has a great frame and athleticism. He's great in transition and when getting downhill. He'll bring a dynamism to this group that will be crucial to their success. Frasher and Wilcox are both knockdown shooters, with Frasher being more of a pure shooter, thriving in seemingly every shooting action, while Wilcox has shown more off the dribble game, able to create for himself and others with regularity.

Like we mentioned above, this will be a rebuilding year for the Cavaliers. They have just two seniors projected to play meaningful minutes and have plenty of reasons to be excited about the future. Outside of their future outlook, it shouldn't be surprising to see DA winning important games this year. They have a dynamic young point guard, versatile forwards, and plenty of high IQ shooters around the outside. This will be a fun team to watch and the brand of basketball they'll play should equate to more wins that one would assume.

4) North Raleigh Christian

2022-23: 14-15 (3-3), 3rd in TISAC, 1st Round of Playoffs (L to Metrolina Christian 62-64)

Key Losses

Parker Hodgson – 16p, 5r, 2a, 2s – Graduated – Playing at William Peace
Mykal Williams – 13p, 4r, 2a, 2s – Graduated – Playing at Word of God
Zak McMahon – 6p, 3r, 2a, 2s – Graduated
Jackson Watt – 6p, 3r, 2a, 1s – Graduated
Gabe Demorest – 6p, 1r, 1a, 1s – Graduated

Key Returners

Cody Dickerson – Jr – 7p, 2r, 1a, 1s
Jayse Buckley – Sr – 4p, 2r
Soren Grandy-Richardson – Sr – 3p, 3r, 1a, 2s
Brooks Buie – Sr – 3p, 2r
Sam Dutton – Sr – 2p, 2r

Key Newcomers

Tristan Thompson – Jr – Transfer from Voyager Academy
Bralyn Williams – So – JV
Julian Hernandez – So – JV
Brennan Jefferson – Fr
Caiden Jenkins – Fr

Deep Dive

The Knights have a decent crop of depth returning, with five rotation members (four seniors) coming back. Guys like Cody Dickerson, Jayse Buckley, and Brooks Buie will headline this veteran core. Dickerson is a downhill scorer that plays with a tough, rugged mentality. He gets after it on defense and seems to be the heart of this program. Buckley is a knockdown shooter that knows how to score within the flow of offense. He's low maintenance and simply knows how to fill his role at a high level. Buie will act as an undersized forward, disrupting plays defensively and attacking the offensive glass with his motor and toughness. Junior transfer Tristan Thompson will also provide some much-needed size on the interior. His 6'6' frame will be vital to this team's success on the defensive end.

The biggest headline with this team is their star freshman duo in Brennan Jefferson and Caiden Jenkins. Jefferson shined for Garner Road this summer and has established himself early on as one of the best wings in his class (see Freshman of the Year). His offensive production and ability to takeover down the stretch will be vital to this program, both this season and for the foreseeable future. Jenkins has improved a lot over the past 8-12 months, coming along nicely as an off-guard. He scores it in a variety of ways, defends the point-of-attack and has shown flashes of being a solid playmaker. Both will be relied upon heavily, despite their young age.

Other important pieces include sophomore duo Bralyn Williams and Julian Hernandez. Williams is your prototypical lead guard, playing with great speed, vision, and decision-making. His playstyle and ability to limit mistakes will make it difficult to keep him off the floor. Hernandez is one of the best shooters in the triangle's 2026 class, able to get hot at a moment's notice. Look for him to be an important part of this programs future as he continues to develop physically.

Similar to Durham Academy, NRCA is in a rebuilding year. They're relatively young, with four underclassmen expected to play real minutes, and will rely heavily on unproven pieces to produce. Given the talent (and lack of teams) in the conference, we have this team picked to finish last. However, don't let the fourth-place vote fool you, this team will surprise people and have the capability to finish in the top half of the TISAC. Coach Kruger has been building for the past few seasons and it seems like any year now the Knights will be a real force in the area. Whether that happens this year, next year, or the one after remains to be seen.