San Diego Preseason Top 11-40
The rest of our preseason Top 40 takes us all across the county and looks at a number of teams that will have chances to compete for league and section titles. In fact, you could argue that Teams 11-20 could easily find their way cracking the Top 10. Parity, once again, plays a big role.
San Diego Preseason Top 40: 11-40
11. Santa Fe Christian
Key Returners: Trevan Martin, Trent Hall, Griffin Morris
Key Newcomers: Hayden Gray, Keatten Smith, Sam Dudley, Chase Pagon, Saagar Dhanjani, Alex Yphantides
Outlook: The Eagles, back to back Division 1 champs, turnover many of the pieces of the team that helped them clinch the championships, but they will still be talented. Last year's team was predicated on size. This team, however, will be predicated on perimeter play. Gray, Smith and Dudley - who returns after a year at Balboa School - are talented guards, and Martin, the 6-3 wing, gives them toughness and athleticism. Watch out for Pagon, who transferred from Battlefield (MD), who also gives them a dose of toughness and scoring. Morris, the team's de facto big, will have to come up big on the boards against teams with size.
Key Returners: Adam Sevier, Jeff Lubisich, Lucas Shepherd, Nathan Orton, Noah Araujo
Cole Stephens, Quin Johnson,
Key Newcomers: Garrett Pyle Aidan Parsons, Logan Shepard, Tanner Swindall
Outlook: The Titans might surprise people being ranked this high, but the team absorbed the loss of stud wing Zach Reiter to finish 20-10 last year, and almost every key piece returns. Sevier is one of the most underrated players in the section, the type that will will his team to victory. Lubisich is sneaky athletic and scores it well on the wing. This team also has underrated size: The 6-9 Stephens is coming into his own, the 6-5 Shepherd twins provide energy and toughness, and Swindall at 6-5 205 might be one of the most improved prospects in the 2020 class. And the Titans will always be well coached. This could be a Top 10 team before it's all said and done.
13. La Costa Canyon Key returners: Graham Cook, Taro Boyd, Charles Williams, Sam Kramer, Carson Cook, Charlie Schmitz, Alex Mangano
Key newcomers: Baylor Brimmer, Connor Miller, Brendan Perry
Outlook: This is Coach Dave Cassaw's most talented team in a long time. Cook returns as the unquestioned leader and his back court mate, Boyd, is a very underrated scorer. The front court is huge with the vastly improved 6-8 Kramer and 6-6 Williams, and will get better in December when Brimmer, a talented 6-5 wing, is eligible. The question for this team is who will assume the playmaking role, as many of the players are ball dominant scorers. If Cook can grow into that role, this team will rise quickly.
Key Returners: Jackson Larsen, Patrick Roberts, Javier Jimenez, Johnny Williams, Desean Lynch, Cameron DeJesus Key Newcomers: Miles Williams, Kobe Sanders, Kobe Price, Michael Perez, Vinny Signorelli Outlook: Davion Famber's team had a tumultuous offseason full of transfers in and out, and the season-ending injury to sharpshooter Isaiah Robinson. But when the dust settled, he still has talent. Larsen, who committed to Northern Arizona, is as springy a forward as there is in the section, and his skillset is rapidly catching up to his athleticism. The back court might be slight in stature, but Williams and Sanders are skilled and Williams especially is excellent on defense. The durability of the 6-8 Roberts is a concern, but if he is healthy, Famber's group has the pieces to contend in Division 1.
Key Returners: Carter Plousha, Brogan Pietrocini, Chase Murray, Gavin Schmidt, Caleb Nelson, Adam Allen, Blake Adams
Key Newcomers: Jailen Nelson, Bradley Smidt, Henry Hartwell
Outlook: This is the Lancers year. The clear favorite in Division 2 after returning almost all of the key pieces of its Division 3 runner-up team, Sam Eshelman has a number of weapons at his disposal. The senior duo of Plousha and Pietrocini are underrated and Murray keeps getting better as a shooter and ball handler. Caleb Nelson is a legit 6-5 and spreads the floor with as good a corner three ball as there is in the county. And the team filled its biggest need from last year - point guard play - with the transfer of Nelson from Sage Creek. who is one of the county's top junior point guards. This team should take off once he becomes eligible after the 30-day sit-out period. 16. Rancho Buena Vista
Key Returners: Jason Danso, Patrick McLachlan, Aiden Ross, Jack Bailey, Noah Fields, Zee Willis, Carson Hamro
Key Newcomers: N/A
Outlook: The Longhorns return almost every key piece from a team that accomplished what no other Avo East team could do last year: beat San Marcos. McLachlan in year 2 in San Diego will be a bona fide star, and his supporting cast has defense (Danso, Fields), shooting (Bailey) and toughness (Ross, Willis). Last year's team ascended to the 2 seed in Division 3, but suffered a big upset in the first round. This year's team appears poised to learn from that misstep. Could this be the year that the Longhorns finally beat backyard rival Vista? Coach Aaron Abrams definitely has a chance.
17. El Camino
Key returners: Tyson Robinson, Keavie Love, Brad Yasukochi, RJ Davis, AJ Green, Eugene Smith
Key Newcomers; Jayden Barnett, Taylor Forsyth, Christian Kerwin
Outlook: The Wildcats graduate leading scorer and heart and soul Jalen Flanagan, but return four key pieces to its Division 1 runners up. But how quickly the role players assume theirs star roles will dictate how good they can be. Seniors Yasukochi and Davis are vastly improved, as Davis has become one of the better two way senior guards in San Diego. The sophomore duo of Love and Robinson will provide athleticism and defensive intensity. Lacking size, the Wildcats will make up for it with defensive pressure and timely shooting.
18. Mater Dei Catholic
Key Returners: Melo Sanchez, Mauricio Reyes, Nico Meza, AJ Calderon, Jessie Campbell, Vincent Warren, Max Lane
Key Newcomers: Head Coach Jason Bryant, Kailon King, Clarence Martin
Outlook: After sustaining the graduation of Trey Anderson, the transfer of Beon Riley, and the departure of longtime head coach Kenny Caesar, the Crusaders slide a bit, but not too far. Why? Jason Bryant, who has won a state title and a CIF title at Lincoln, has got the team gelling in the preseason. The sophomore class is the deepest in the county, and got even deeper with the transfer of King and Martin, though they might not suit up for a year due to transfer rules. Campbell appears to be en route to becoming one of the breakout stars, Sanchez will be a steadying force on both ends and this team will defend.
19. San Ysidro
Key Returners: Kailen Rains, Philix Kilbourne, Raheem Nowlin, Jason Martinez, Alberto Maldonado
Key Newcomers: DJ Dudley
Outlook: After a couple of down years, Terry Tucker is back in the Top 25 with one of the best guard trios in the county. Rains and Kilbourne have been battle tested through lots of losses, and have emerged better for the experience, but all eyes will be on Dudley, the prized freshman who could emerge as one of the top prospects in recent memory in San Diego. Nowlin, an improving 6-4 junior and the energetic Martinez will provide the resistance in the frontcourt, but beyond the top five is a concern. San Ysidro is likely the favorite in Division 3, and at the start of what could be a return to prominence.
20. Mount Miguel
Key returners: Marquise Edwards, Mikeece Dunbar
Key newcomers: Dom Norales, Sinai Forbes, Lawrence Gray, Jahmon McLendonOutlook: The Matadors lost most of the key pieces from last year's dominant Division 3 title team that saw the program win a school record 31 wins and advance to the CIF State playoffs. But the two pieces that remain, plus one key newcomer will help the Matadors remain in the hunt moving up to D2. Edwards, a 6-5 wing, is arguably the most underrated senior in the class, and his back court teammate, Dunbar, has as sweet a stroke as you'll see. Gray, who missed last year due to ineligibility, is a mismatch at 6-3 and will provide the Matadors with the piece needed to have a super underrated trio. Could this be too low once again?
Key Returners: CJ McMillan, Jimmy Mattox, Isa DeLeon
Key Newcomers: CJ Jackson, Jeilen Jackson, Ariene Velasco, Julian Torres, Kris Aguilo
Outlook: The Red Devils are upside down this year. Normally we are used to seeing them have very potent, albeit diminutive back court players and smallish front lines. This year, Jesse Aguirre has a very imposing front court with the 6-5 sophomore McMillan, who averaged a double double last season, and Jackson, who at 6-7 was an All League first teamer at Mt Miguel in his first year of organized basketball. The question for Aguirre is who besides Mattox will emerge in the back court. Jeilen Jackson, the younger brother of the aforementioned CJ, has upside as a 6-4 wing.
22. Mira Mesa
Key Returners: Noah Tumblin, Zack Tynes, Life Wade, Albert Lemon, Justin Lewis, Cameron Minor, Joevi Cuyugan
Key Newcomers: Jeremiah Brown
Outlook: The Marauders outlook took a bit of a dip with word that 6-5 Christian West and 6-0 guard Jett Wilson would not suit up this season, but there is still a lot to be bullish about for Coach Lonnie Jones. He has a bona fide stud in Tumblin, who is also a star on the gridiron, and returns a very capable supporting cast including the tough combo guard Tynes, an athletic wing in Lemon and a rapidly improving big in Wade. But the addition of Brown, a Serra transfer, gives Mira Mesa as electric a back court as you will find in San Diego.
Key Returners: Maurice Holmes, Jadyn James, Marcos Idioma, Sam Stewart IV, Kai Jessie, Jahari Hill
Key Newcomers: N/A Outlook: The Highlanders will always be in the mix in the Grossmont Valley League, and this year's team has a chance to turn some heads. Holmes, a 6-6 forward, is poised to be one of the region's breakout stars, as is Jessie, who has the pieces to be a special talent at 6-4. The backcourt is long and quick with Stewart and James. Helix will need nice minutes from Hill, Idioma and other glue guys to keep pace with Mount Miguel, but between the Highlanders and Matadors is your Grossmont champion.
Key Returners: Rico Hopping, Jackson Krogman, Michael Grendahl, Elijah Johnson, Troy Melnick, Trevor Fillat
Key Newcomers: Ian Linn, Hunter Martinez, Eldin Alibegovic, Mikela Bresenden
Outlook: Another team whose outlook was downgraded with a late departure, this one being 6-5 Adam Chang, who has decided to focus on volleyball after committing to Stanford. Still, the team's senior trio of Hopping (Azusa Pacific), Krogman and Grendahl are interchangeable and tough. The Wolverines will need contributions from its JV call-ups such as Linn, Bresenden, Martinez and Alibegovic to really move up.
25. La Jolla
Key Returners: Bezhad Hashemi, Nick Hulquist, Langston Aron, Diego Solis, Evan Brown, Otto Lenz
Key Newcomers: Jett Wilson, Max Raulston, Christian Gamboa, Harry Kaseff
Outlook: Don't sleep on the Vikings. Even though the graduated the focal point of the offense in 6-6 Charlie Gal, the Vikings return a load of solid guys who might not wow you as prospects but play hard and play the right way. Hashemi, the returning leading scorer, is a sparkplug on both ends who has a great motor. Hulquist is a big wing with point-forward skills, and Aron, Brown and Lenz are solid role players. Coach Paul Baranowski is bullish on his underclassmen, especially the grizzled Solis, who played nice minutes as a frosh, talented sophomore swingman Gamboa and the athletically gifted Raulston, who also plays water polo. If 11th-hour Mira Mesa transfer Wilson can gel with the squad after the sit out period, the Vikes are very dangerous.
26. Army Navy- Watch out for the Warriors, who were bolstered by the arrival of star freshman Alexis Marmolejos and junior sharpshooter Cobey Harraway, who has to sit 30 days. Albert Pichardo returns as the focus of the offense.
27. Bonita Vista - Diminutive and young, the Barons are not to be trifled with. Sophs DJ and DM Sanders, Rashaun Square and Momo Stokes pair with seniors Skylar Nelson and Adrian Wade to give coach Don Dumas a sleeper squad in the South Bay.
28. Del Norte - Could be the most underrated group of the top 30, the Nighthawks return almost every key piece from what was a down team, but always had upside. 6-5 bookends David Letu and Alex Moore are skilled and create mismatches, and the team has shooters galore, including Tanner Tollestrup and unheralded sophomore Jake Sanderlin. Transfer Andrew Skopec is reportedly a nice athlete.
29. Rancho Bernardo - The Broncos have one of the better senior point guards in the county in Roman Wright, an intriguing big man in Drew Cisse and a hard-working senior guard in Sam Rex. The pieces around the trio have to develop fast for the Broncos to keep pace in the Palomar League.
30. Hoover - Graduating a lot pieces from last year's Central League title team, the Cardinals bring back some key pieces, including seniors Andrew Peters, Jeremiah Bosley and Ali Nayele. They'll need JV studs Wayne Hampton III and Peyton Hillie to not skip a beat, but the road through the Central League still goes through El Cajon Blvd.
T-30. Bishop's - This one is a tough call, because the offseason was unkind to the Knights, who lost two of their top returners to transfer and likely starter Tyler Buchner to a torn ACL in football. But 2019 F Christian Rose gives Nick Levine a puncher's chance and 2020 G Zach White is growing in confidence. 2021 Scripps Ranch Transfer Owen Hill will have a big role after the sit-out period.
31. Mission Hills - The Grizzlies lost their heart and soul in Warren Washington, but return a group of tough players who execute under coach Curtis Hofmeister. Look out for junior guard Robert Ligayon and sophomore Austin Schultz in the back court.
32. San Diego - The Cavers graduate the two leading scorers, Thomas Marcus and Emanwel Henry, but return almost every other contributor from the D4 title team. Sophomore AJ Burgin has taken on a major leadership role, and Victory Christian transfer Steve Stinson is as potent a scoring guard in the junior class, and senior Daniel Thomas combines to give them a very strong backcourt. CJ Johnson also returns as a valuable glue guy. The Cavers will need a breakout year from Tyler Castillo and Jaliel Jackson to battle on the interior.
T-32. Lincoln - The Hornets under Jeff Harper Harris have been one of the toughest defensive groups, and this group will be no different. Anchored by senior transfer Dorian Blue, the team returns a solid group of young players including Marquese Patmon, Marvin Washington, Devin McCoy and Raymond Spriggs.
33. Madison - Expectations are raised in Clairemont, as the Warhawks return a load of players from a team that barely missed the D4 playoffs. Keyshawn Bradley, Donovan Baasch and Davon Lampkin are a super underrated trio and role players Tyson Gangstad and Javon Curtis will add toughness. Learning to win will be the most important thing.
T-34. Tri-City Christian - The small school in Vista returns several key pieces, including scorer deluxe Chase Webb, athletic rebounder Josh Thompson, shooter Josh Sedlock and underrated sophomores Keaton Webb and Justin Mitchell.
34. Escondido - The Cougars have a lot of intriguing pieces, including senior guards Jacob Hutchinson and Chris Landry, juniors Sam Nelson and Justin Fox and intriguing freshman Nick Payne. They are the favorites in the Valley League, and could be even better if 6-6 forward Jacob Sauls can get healthy.
35. San Diego Southwest - The Raiders were the most dominant team in D5 and move up to D4 and have been installed as the odds-on favorites. Returning back court players Diego Edwards, Isaac Gonzalez and Jorge Castillo are oh so good, and big men Xavier Finley and Dyon Ford are rapidly improving.
36. Otay Ranch- Howard Suda always has something up his sleeve, and watch out for senior sharpshooter Diego Sanchez, 6-5 bigs Ray King and Calvin Taylor. Olympian Transfer JD Singson could play a big role after his sit out.
37. Ramona- The Bulldogs break in a new coach, but have a number of key returners, including Cam Necochea, Zach Balcone, Jason Gotowala, Derek Newman, Seth Conley and Cam Capito. Could we see a change in the guard in the Valley League?
38. Point Loma- Lots of size and intriguing pieces fill the Pointers roster, which returns dual sports star JL Skinner, sophomore center Tyler Morris and guard Jakob Tonnaer DiCarlo. Sophomores Trent Bell and Gabe Harrison need to take the next step forward. Watch out for junior sleeper Riley Harris.
39. Valhalla- The Norseman just got a windfall from Christian High when Dominic Safarta and Jordan Gaines transferred into school. Combined with holdovers Tre Wims, Evan O'Neill, Micah Campos and Owen Dirkes, the Norseman are much improved.
40. Steele Canyon - Senior guard Grant Childs is super underrated, and the team will get out and run. 6-5 senior James Ponder needs to turn the corner if the Cougars are to emerge.
T-40: Canyon Crest Academy - Big turnover after a strong two-year run, but starter Frank Gelfman will be joined by Torrey Pines transfer Luke Stratton, sophomore JJ Pearson and seniors Brennan Bordok and Kamon Stewart.
Other teams: Orange Glen, Serra, Mt Carmel, Sage Creek, Coronado, El Capitan, Oceanside