by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports
The end of this year’s high school basketball season left a sour taste in the mouths of sports fans across Hampton Roads. With a break in action until the summer (at minimum), we decided to take a peek at next year’s 757 high school boys basketball rankings.
Reigning Co-Class 4 state champion Kings Fork leads our first preseason poll. Much of the Bulldogs’ presence atop the initial rankings hinge on the return of I-64 Player of the Year Jayden Epps. The sophomore is being courted by a number of basketball academies, but Kings Fork head coach Rick Hite believes his star guard will return for his junior campaign.
Here is a look at the complete top five:
- Kings Fork- The Bulldogs will return a deep lineup from this year’s Class 4 state championship team. Much of their preseason ranking depends on the return of state player of the year Jayden Epps, who has been the subject of transfer rumors even during the season. All-I64 selection Quentin Livingston will also return next year, as will all-region freshman guard Ryan Hite. Plenty of reason for excitement if you’re Kings Fork head coach Rick Hite.
- Green Run– The Stallions captured the first state title in school history this season and will return much of the same firepower next year. Our coach of the year Kenneth Harris returns state player of the year Jacob Cooper at point guard. Junior forward George Wilson should also be an integral piece.
- Western Branch– A team that didn’t receive nearly enough recognition this year will be one of the top, if not the top team in the area next season. We love the backcourt duo of Cameron Edmonds and Efrem Johnson, both All-I64 selections this year. Of note, Western Branch has qualified for the state tournament in three of the past four seasons.
- Woodrow Wilson– The Presidents surprised many by earning a share of the Class 4 state title this past season. Second team All-I64 selection Khaliyl Davis departs, but Wilson returns plenty of talent to make up for the loss. Look for freshman Michael Smith to take a huge leap next year on the heels of a second-team all-region selection this year. The Presidents also return wing Nasir Cross and a healthy James Prescott.
- Landstown– I will give Landstown the edge in our final spot just head of deserving teams like Lakeland (who won Class 3 state title), Norview (Class 5 co-champion), Princess Anne and a few others. Region 6A player of the year Donald Hand Jr can shoot from just about anywhere. Expect another bump in scoring next season for Hand. Again, there were a number of viable candidates for the 5th spot, but with head coach Dwight Robinson at the helm, the Eagles are always in contention.