1. POTOMAC (18-8, 2018-19 overall record)
Don’t except a drop-off as the two-time defending Cardinal District champions move up from Class 5 to Class 6 this season. The Panthers, who have reached states five of the last six seasons, including capturing two state titles, bring back a strong group of juniors who helped them advance to last season’s state quarterfinals.
The key returners are 6-3 junior guard Anthony Jackson (first-team, all-district, averaged 2.0 3’s a game last season), 6-6 junior forward Tyrell Harris (10.5 ppg) and 6-2 junior forward Caleb Satchell.
Then there are newcomers from the junior varsity: Larry Wright (6-5 junior center), Rakim Lamarre (6-4 junior forward), Lorin Hall (6-1 junior guard) and Ed Simms (6-0 junior guard). Simms’s father is a former Potomac football standout who played in NFL Europe and was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sophomore guard Kyle Honore (5-11) returns to run the offense, while 6-2 senior guard Manny White is an outside threat. Davion Morris, a 6-8 senior center, is also back.
The depth, balance and versatility gives Potomac multiple options in its lineups.
2. BATTLEFIELD (13-11)
The return of senior Carter Svenson provides the Bobcats experience at point guard. The 5-10 Svenson spent his first two seasons at Battlefield before playing at Stone Bridge as a junior.
The Bobcats also return two starters in 6-foot senior guard Jordan Radford and 6-5 senior forward Trevor Bounds. A quick and strong player, Radford was second-team all-district last season and finished as the team’s second-leading scorer (12.4 ppg). Radford is a three-year varsity player.
Junior Bonsu, a 6-5 junior forward, will contribute upfront.
3. JOHN PAUL (16-10)
The top two scorers are back from last season’s VISAA Division I state qualifier: Seniors DJ Slaughter, a 6-foot point guard (15.4 ppg) and Coretez Lewis, a 6-2 guard (16.3 ppg).
Charles Amo, a 6-1 junior transfer from Paul VI, will contribute.
4. PATRIOT (23-3)
The Pioneers return no starters from last season’s team that set a school record for wins and reached the state tournament for the first time.
Still, the two-time Cedar Run District regular-season champions are expected to remain in the mix under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Sherman Rivers.
Senior Zack Blue (6-1) is the Pioneers’ most experienced player and leads a strong core of guards along with 5-10 junior Trey Nelson.
Look for 6-7 junior forward Tyler Stringer to step in down low. Chad Watson, a 5-11 junior guard, Darrell Johnson, a 6-4 sophomore forward, and Nasir Coleman, a 5-9 freshman guard, are newcomers to watch. Senior center Tyler Negron, a 6-4 JMU football commit, will play again and give the Pioneers good size in the post.
5. OSBOURN PARK (9-16)
The Yellow Jackets are on the rise under second-year head coach Jeremy Coleman. Osbourn Park returns three starters from last season’s team that reached regionals for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Ethan Wilson, a 6-0 senior guard, averaged 19.8 points a game last season and is the area’s top returning boys scorer. He was first-team, all-Cedar Run District and holds offers from Division II schools Georgia Court University (NJ) and Wilmington University (DE).
Cameron Cole, a 6-1 sophomore guard, and Logan Dwyer, a 5-9 sophomore guard, are also back.
The arrival of transfers Rahim Woni and Peter Oduro will boost Osbourn Park’s frontline. Woni is a 6-6 junior forward who played for Stonewall Jackson and the Virginia Academy. Oduro is a 6-7 junior forward who came over from Battlefield. He is the younger brother of George Mason University freshman Josh Oduro.
Carson Miller, a 6-2 junior guard, transferred from Centreville. Dominic Shoemaker, a 6-2 sophomore guard, is up from the junior varsity.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
FOREST PARK (13-12)
The Bruins look to continue to build on last season and a strong offseason. Forest Park returns three starters: 6-2 senior guard Kevin Johnson, a returning first-team all-Cardinal District selection. KC Clark, a 5-11 junior guard, and Leon Farley, a 6-4 junior forward.
Tyler Smith, a 6-3 junior guard, CJ Harmon, a 6-6 senior forward, and Evan Reed, a 6-3 junior guard, were varsity reserves last season. Keyani Lee, a 5-9 sophomore guard, finished last season on the varsity. Kameron Lewis, a 6-2 junior guard, Tanez Brown, a 6-2 junior guard and Jalen Forouzi, a 5-9 junior guard, are up from the junior varsity.
With four starters back, the Vikings might be the most improved team this season: 6-2 junior guard Mehki Mims, 6-4 sophomore wing Frankie Lee, 6-2 sophomore guard/forward Michael Cooper and 6-1 senior guard Jelani White. Lee led the team in scoring last season (9.8 ppg) and was second-team, all-Cardinal District.
Newcomers expected to contribute are Dylan Simmons (6'2 freshman guard), Nazir Armstrong (6'3 senior wing), Denzel Quaicoo (6'4 junior wing) and Kai Bowers (5'10 senior guard).
Armstrong, a transfer from Freedom, started at quarterback for Woodbridge’s football team.