Five questions for the 2018-19 boys' basketball season.
1. How are you handicapping the Valley?
Most expect Dubuque Senior to be the class of the Mississippi Division. Four starters return from an 18-5 team of a season ago, including Northern Iowa signee Noah Carter.
Cedar Falls is the defending 4A state champ and has UNI recruit Logan Wolf back, though A.J. Green has moved on to lead the Panthers at point guard.
Over in the Valley Division, Iowa City West is loaded again with Iowa recruit Patrick McCaffery and significant transfers Even Brauns (Iowa City Regina) and Nick Pepin (Waterloo West).
Linn-Mar just missed on a 4A state tourney berth last season and has some very good players in Trey Hutcheson (Albany signee) and Jaren Nelson (Division II Quincy signee). Look for Dubuque Hempstead to be good, too.
2. What does the Metro look like?
Cedar Rapids Xavier and Marion both qualified for the Class 3A state tournament last season and played each other in the quarterfinals. Xavier will find out what life is like without program cornerstones Matt Mims and Jackson Joens, though you should watch for 6-foot-8 sophomore Jaylon Moses, the son of assistant coach (and former Iowa Hawkeye) James Moses.
Marion also graduated its top player (Chase Zielke), with second-leading scorer and top rebounder Trevor Paulsen its top returnee.
Linn-Mar lost to Joe Wieskamp and Muscatine in the 4A substate finals and has D-I signee Trey Hutcheson and D-II signee Jaren Nelson back on what should be a good team.
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Cedar Rapids Prairie features twin senior shooters Keegan and Kris Murray and should pick up double-digit wins.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson always seems to be undersized but always seems to play hard. Willie Guy III, Ozzie Meibor and Raezjuan Shockley are a pretty good for the J-Hawks.
Coach Jon McKowen always finds a way to make Cedar Rapids Kennedy a threat. Look out for junior wing Jack Wetzel and sophomore forward Caleb Schlaak.
Cedar Rapids Washington has a returning three-year starter in Mick McCurry and looked to be a team that wanted to play with pace at last week’s Metro Jamboree.
3. How will North Linn do in Class 2A?
The Lynx should have another very strong regular season. Jake Hilmer is as good as it gets at point guard, and David Seber and Trevor Boge are other returning starters.
North Linn is hamstrung in that it has to play so many Tri-Rivers Conference games, though traditional 2A powers Cascade and Aplington-Parkersburg are on the schedule. And considering defending 1A champ Grand View Christian has added yet another touted transfer from out of state (Harouna Sissoko), it’s not all bad that North Linn has been bumped up a class.
4. Who do you like for Mr. Basketball?
Iowa City West’s Patrick McCaffery definitely is at the top of the preseason list of favorites. So is Bettendorf guard D.J. Carton, an Ohio State signee.
Tyreke Locure of Des Moines North has signed with South Alabama and belongs in the conversation. Other players to watch include Noah Carter of Dubuque Senior and Cole Henry of Oskaloosa. Both have signed with UNI.
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5. Can you give us your conference picks?
Cohort Jeff Linder loves doing it, though I kind of believe if just shows your ignorance when you’re wrong.
At any rate, here we go: Dubuque Senior (MVC Mississippi), Iowa City West (MVC Valley), West Delaware (Wamac East), Center Point-Urbana (Wamac West), Easton Valley (Tri-Rivers East), North Linn (Tri-Rivers West), West Branch (River Valley South), Cascade (River Valley North), South Winneshiek (Upper Iowa), Waverly-Shell Rock (Northeast Iowa), Belle Plaine (SICL East), Montezuma (SICL West).
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