So far, so good. There is going to be a boys basketball season in high school.
It’s taking longer than usual, due to a pandemic that continues to build and build, ruthlessly. While this is building, some teams have had to rebuild due to the fallout from COVID-19. Like defending champion 6A Phoenix Desert Vista.
Meanwhile, with everything daily and fluid, many schools are training and preparing for basketball.
Here’s a look at the top 10 Arizona Republic men’s basketball teams playing in the Arizona Interscholastic Association for the 2021 season, regardless of conference, with the upcoming season scheduled to begin the week of Jan. 18. The Republic will update our rankings throughout the season.
Coming next week: The Republic Girls’ Preseason Basketball Super 10.
Super 10 pre-season
1. Pride of Phoenix Mountain Pointe
Made a surprise run to the 6A final last year. It will surprise no one this year. Mountain Pointe boasts a formidable backcourt, led by Jason Kimbrough and Mark Brown, and a strong inside presence of center Zereoue Williams and transfer winger Roosevelt “Tru” Washington.
2. Phoenix Sunnyslope Vikings
They’re down to 6A, but they have the pieces to make a championship run with 6-foot-10 center Carson Basham and junior guard Oakland Fort leading the way. They were a solid 5A semi-finalist team a year ago.
3. Knights of Phoenix St. Mary
After flying under the radar, they emerged last year to reach the 4A semis. They’re even better now with the return of All-Arizona guard Keiren Brown and electrifying players Jason Fontenet Jr. and Garrison Phelps. Coach Damin Lopez could have seven future Division I players.
4. Pumas Gilbert Perry
This should be the year for Sammy Duane Jr.’s Perry team to emerge as championship challengers with 7-foot junior Dylan Anderson set to elevate his game further after averaging 12 points and 7.3 rebounds the last season. Add in goaltender Christian Tucker, along with Cody Williams and DeMarco Wiley and this could be Perry’s best team since Markus Howard’s first two years in high school.
5. Wolves of Chandler
Coach Jonathan Rother has lost a player to a prep academy, but he’s returning a solid core with a Big Three consisting of guard Carson Kelly, center Nick Riley and explosive forward Elijah Johnson. Last year they reached the last four in 6A and are planning a similar run this year.
6. Glendale Ironwood Eagles
The defending 5A champions flip 6-4 guard Bailon Black and 6-3 guard JJ White, both of whom were instrumental in their 78-70 championship victory over Goodyear Millennium which was one of the most major shocks of the 2019-2020 school year.
7. Goodyear Millennium Tigers
Even with the losses of DaRon Holmes and Justus Jackson, coach Ty Amundsen still has enough strong athletes to take this team back to the 5A Championship Game for a third straight year. They will be led by Isaac Hymes and Coleman Fields.
8. Phoenix Brophy Broncos Prep
This may be coach Matt Hooten’s best team with 6-3 junior Patrick Chew, an all-around wing with a great work ethic and high hoops IQ. Desi Burrage is back after averaging 11 points and being named to the All-Premier Region first team as a junior. He is also a solid defender. Junior guard Miles Nash is expected to be significantly improved after being named to the VisitMesa.com Basketball Challenge All-Tournament Team last December.
9. Surprise Paradise pays homage to panthers
They’re in 4A now, but they’re capable of a title chase, led by a formidable senior backcourt in Jalen Scott and Wyatt Bell. A big out-of-state addition, Luke Light of Illinois, could put them over the top and make a run against St. Mary’s in 4A.
10. Surprise Valley Vista Monsoon
They are set to become the surprise team in 6A with coach Ben Isai featuring his five most talented and complete players since he started leading the program. Elijah Thomas, an explosive 6-6 winger, is ready to deliver, along with pure shooter Aadem Isai, Ben’s son, after a strong freshman season. Dwight McKnight, a primary point guard, is ready to go big.
Teams looking for:
Paradise Valley, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows, Gilbert, Phoenix Pinnacle, Scottsdale Chaparral, Mesa, Mesa Mountain View, Phoenix Shadow Mountain, Tempe McClintock, Laveen Cesar Chavez, Goodyear Desert Edge, Peoria, Tucson Salpointe, Phoenix Arcadia, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, Phoenix South Mountain, Goodyear Estrella Foothills, Glendale Deer Valley, Gilbert Highland, Chandler Basha, Desert Vista
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