Players To Watch
DONDRE ALEXANDER (Iowa City West) — The 6-foot-3 senior guard led the Class 4A state champion Trojans in scoring last season (16.0 ppg). Hit 56 percent of his field goals. Has signed with Southern Mississippi.
SPENCER BARNES (Anamosa) — Second-team all-state guard last season who averaged 16.2 ppg. The 6-foot senior hit 60 treys.
BRYAN FORBES (Lone Tree) — Third-team all-stater in Class 12A. The 6-3 guard averaged 19.5 points, attempting a whopping 203 free throws.
JACE HANNA (Cedar Rapids Prairie) — A 6-1 point guard who has signed with Division II Upper Iowa. A three-year starter who averaged 10 points last season. Excelled in football at quarterback this fall as MVC divisional player of year.
T.J. LAKE (Western Dubuque) — Helped Western Dubuque to runner-up finish in Class 3A last season. A first-team all-stater, the 5-11 senior guard averaged a team-best 17.7 ppg.
KASEY LASACK (Midland) — The 6-foot senior guard finished sixth in scoring in the state last season at 25.0 points per game.
MATT LASSEN (Linn-Mar) — Scary concussion in December game interrupted his junior season. A signee of D-I Albany (N.Y.), the 6-4 shooting guard is poised for big year.
WYATT LOHAUS (Iowa City West) — The 6-foot-1 junior has committed to Northern Iowa. Averaged 11.7 points in 2011-12, shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range.
C.J. MASON (MFL/Mar-Mac) — Averaged 16.0 points last season. The 6-3 senior was third-team all-state in 2A, helping team to state tourney.
JEREMY MORGAN (Iowa City West) — A smooth 6-6 senior forward who averaged 14.8 points a season ago, shooting 44 percent from 3-point land and 84.5 percent from the free-throw line. A UNI signee.
RYLAN MURRY (West Branch) — A 6-8 senior who averaged 23.7 points last season. Second-team all-state in Class 2A. Signed with Nebraska-Omaha.
GRANT SAGAN (Vinton-Shellsburg) — Vikings made it to 3A substate finals thanks in large part to 6-3 senior’s production (18.5 ppg, 56.5 field-goal percentage). Third-team all-stater.
Teams To Watch
CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON, CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER, IOWA CITY HIGH — How will new coaches (Adam Sanchez, Ryan Luehrsmann, Don Showalter, respectively) impact these programs?
IOWA CITY WEST — Went 26-0 last season en route to Class 4A state championship. Returns top three scorers in Dondre Alexander, Jeremy Morgan and Wyatt Lohaus, all Division I college recruits (Alexander-Southern Mississippi; Morgan and Lohaus-Northern Iowa). Also returns starting center Myzeah Batie-Gaddy and 3-point shooter deluxe Austin Swank.
LINN-MAR — Don’t sleep on these guys. Been to state tournament nine straight years, placing fourth or better all nine. Lose all-everything guard Marcus Paige, but returns Division I college player Matt Lassen (Albany), Division II player Jimmy Roth (Upper Iowa) and NAIA signee Derik Gogg (Dordt).
LONE TREE — Four of top five scorers return from a 20-4 team, including all-state guard Bryan Forbes (19.5 ppg).
VINTON-SHELLSBURG — Return top four scorers, including all-stater Grant Sagan, from team that went 19-5 last season and lost in Class 3A substate finals. Max Griffith (11.2 ppg) and Max Kearns (10.3 ppg) and averaged double-figures points.
WEST BRANCH — It’s a good start when you’ve got a 6-foot-8 all-state post guy back. Rylan Murry (23.5 ppg) has signed with Division I Nebraska-Omaha. The Bears went 18-5 last season.
WESTERN DUBUQUE — Bobcats lost the heartbreaker of all heartbreakers to Mount Pleasant in double overtime in last year’s Class 3A state championship game. The Bobcats move up to 4A this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare. The top returning player is senior guard T.J. Lake (17.7 ppg), a first-team all-stater a year ago.
Conference Winners (Predictions)
Mississippi Valley Conference (Mississippi Division) — Iowa City West
Mississippi Valley Conference (Valley Division) — Cedar Falls
Wamac Conference (East Division) — Western Dubuque
Wamac Conference (West Division) — Vinton-Shellsburg
Cedar Valley Conference — West Branch
Big East Conference — Bellevue Marquette
Northeast Iowa Conference — Waverly-Shell Rock
South Iowa Cedar League — Lynnville-Sully
Tri-Rivers Conference — Cascade
Upper Iowa Conference — MFL/Mar-Mac