Louisa County High School
Head coach – Brian Wilson (3rd season)
2012 record – 4-19
Returning starters – 2
Players to watch – SG Chris Robinson, C Jayvon Jackson
Key losses – G Jamal Robinson, G Adam Williams, F Dakoda Lane
Coach’s Quote: “Yes, we are rebuilding, but we’re rebuilding with weapons ready to go to battle. We’re not going to just sit back and accept what comes. We’re rebuilding with something on our minds.”
Season breakdown: Coach Wilson only has nine wins to speak of in his two years so far with the program, and this year could be another tough one for the Lions. Their leaders in three different phases of the game – scoring, shooting and rebounding – left the gym with the graduation of Williams, Robinson and Lane.
That being said, Wilson is adamant that the foundation for success is being established. At the very least, the Lions have a new gymnasium to call home, which should provide the team with some much-needed enthusiasm. Returning guard Chris Robinson has been playing under Wilson for three years and he’ll be counted on to carry the team.
The Lions desperately need someone to step up down low though. The team’s two centers, Jackson and Raynard Richardson, both need some polishing. Without a post presence, it could be another long season for Louisa.
Defensively, Wilson wants to press the ball more, and if Louisa manages to successfully learn Wilson’s trapping techniques, it could make things a lot easier for the team to get transition buckets.
Verdict: Louisa lost a lot and they didn’t have a ton to begin with. Wilson is working hard to implement his system, but it will take some patience. Having home games should keep the team’s morale up. 7-9 wins.
Powhatan High School
Head coach – Steve Washburn (8th season)
2012 record – 4-17
Returning starters – 1
Players to watch – PG Joey Balcom,
Key losses – SG Chris DeLeon, F Tyler Allen
Coach’s Quote: “I think we can be a solid team in the Jefferson District. It’s a tough district top to bottom. You’re going to face a tough team every night, so it’s kind of on-the-job training for our guys.”
Season breakdown: No matter how you look at the situation, it’s hard to figure that this year will be anything more than a struggle to sneak out a few wins for the Indians. Eight seniors graduated, including second team all-district guard Chris DeLeon and forward Tyler Allen, who combined to score 25 points a game for the team.
To win this year, Washburn’s team is going to have to develop some continuity amongst themselves, or else it’ll be just another lackluster season for Powhatan. If the Indians do have something working for them, it’s intangibles. Point guard Joey Balcom is the team’s lone starter, but he’s been a varsity starter for three years now. At 6’2, shooting guard Sam Fleming should offer some size and scoring from the wing. Down low, the team is led by a scrappy, undersized forward, senior Teddy Dennis. The team will surround that trio with a plethora of players who starred on the team’s JV team last season.
The beginning of the season could be a matter of holding on. Chemistry likely will take a while, and waiting for the younger members of the team to adjust to the speed of varsity basketball could be exasperating. Expect Washburn to simplify his sets and game plan to cater to his team’s youth. If they have the patience to stick to the system, they could turn a head or two.
Verdict: Even Washburn was frank in admitting that “growing pains” will be a huge part of the season’s story line this year. By the end of the year, his team should pull off an upset or two. Until then, it’ll be slim pickings looking for a win. 3-5 wins.
Albemarle High School
Head coach – Greg Maynard (25th season)
2012 record – 13-12
Returning starters – 2
Players to watch – SG Cory Lesher, F Ryan Londree
Key losses – F Dee Mallory, F Harmon Hawkins, PG Logan Ford
Coach’s Quote: “My JV team was pretty successful last year, so we’re hoping a lot of those young players can move up and fill the void.”
Season breakdown: Maynard may be entering his 25th year at the helm of the Patriots, but he said this year’s squad will be one of the youngest of his tenure. Albemarle’s top three scorers from last year, Mallory, Hawkins and Ford, have all graduated. Now, the Patriots must rely on returning shooting guard Lesher and forward Ryan Londree to fill the void. To complicate matters further, Londree stars on the school’s football team, and postseason play has kept him away from the basketball court as practice begins.
The Patriots have no choice but to rely on fresh faces this season. Maynard likes to run a man-to-man defense, so developing the discipline for that system may take a few games to develop.
Verdict: Expect some growing pains early this year for Albemarle, but they will be rolling come tournament time. 11-13 wins.
Charlottesville High School
Head coach – Mitch Minor (21st season)
2012 record – 12-12
Returning starters – 3
Players to watch –
Key losses – F Darius Watson, G Jamar Pierre-Lewis
Coach’s Quote: “I think that defensively, we’re going to be much better this year. We should be quicker in every position. All of the guys we have coming back have experienced the type of pressure I want to put on people.”
Season breakdown: Last season, the Black Knights started two sophomores and a freshman with their two seniors and still managed a fairly successful season. Charlottesville will undoubtedly be the team to beat in a few years, but they very well could be a force to be reckoned with already.
The team will have to deal with losing Darius Watson, who made first team All-District last year. Replacing him won’t be easy, but the continuing development of returning forward Isaiah Greene should make the transition much smoother. He made the Jefferson District’s second team last year, and he’s a load to handle down low for teams. The team will move from having a 5’2 point guard in Pierre-Lewis to the 5’3 Caleb Cage, who will continue the Charlottesville trend of quick, sneaky point guards. Cage will share ball handling duties with sophomore Jordan Saylor, who will be the team’s “coach on the floor.” Minor also spoke highly of forward Radarius Saylor, calling him the most improved player of the offseason.
With a plethora of athletes at his disposal, Minor’s full-court, defensive mentality should be in full force this season. Charlottesville may not have the most talent, but they may win games simply by outlasting their opponents. Minor said he’s still waiting for the team’s shooting to improve, but if the team causes the amount of turnovers that Minor is expecting, they may only have to hit layup.s
Verdict: Minor’s intense defense, a la VCU basketball, will be in full swing this year. The Black Knights have a deep bench, so outrunning them won’t be an option. If they improve their shooting, they could become one of the district’s best. 15-17 wins.