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Boys basketball preview: Preseason O.C. top 10
OCVarsity’s preaseason boys basketball top 10:
1. Mater Dei: This is the usual position for the Monarchs because they have the usual talent and depth. Point guard Spencer Freedman was All-Orange County first team last season, and Justice Sueing and Matt Weyand were All-Trinity League first team. The Monarchs are No. 4 in the CalHiSports.com state preseason rankings. Mater Dei was 29-5 last season, won the Trinity League championship and advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals.
2. Santa Margarita: This could be the best Eagles team in several years. Kaden Rasheed, who was All-CIF last season, is an excellent shooter, Adrease Jackson and Jordan Guest can score inside and Jake Kyman is one of Southern California’s better sophomores. CalHiSports.com has the Eagles at No. 10 in its state preseason rankings. Santa Margarita was 18-12 last season and advanced to the CIF Southern California Regionals second round.
3. Esperanza: The Aztecs have five returning All-Century Conference players. Among them is All-County first-team forward Kezie Okpala, who signed with Stanford. Esperanza was 20-4 last year and won the Crestview League championship.
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4. Edison: The Chargers already were going to be strong, with All-CIF returning guards Nate Matthews and Randall Walker. Brothers Matt Serven and Spencer Serven, transfers from Fountain Valley, bring additional scoring punch, and Josh Phillips, at 6-8, is an inside presence. The Chargers were 24-9 last season when they reached the CIF-SS Division 2AA finals.
5. Orange Lutheran: Despite the loss of point guard Joseph Riley, who transferred to Los Alamitos, the Lancers should be fine. Senior guard Chris Williams, All-CIF last year, has exceptional shooting range. Lutheran is young, with several sophomores expected to play key roles, but that is a talented group of sophomores. The Lancers finished 23-9 last season and advanced to the CIF Southern California Regionals second round.
6. Los Alamitos: Last year’s Orange County player of the year, Eyassu Worku, now is at UC Irvine, but the Griffins should remain one of O.C.’s better teams. Joseph Riley is a super-quick, high-energy point guard. Junior forward Jacob Eyman will block shots at one end and snag offensive rebounds at the other. The Griffins won the Sunset League championship last season and advanced to the CIF Southern California Regionals semifinals.
7. JSerra: Sebastian Much, a 6-8 senior who signed with Princeton, will be among the county’s scoring leaders. A transfer from the east, Joel Mensah, is a 6-11 junior who certainly is going to help. Lions coach Zach Brogdon also is new, having moved from Capistrano Valley Christian which he built into one of Southern California’s better small-school programs. JSerra was 18-11 last year.
8. Sonora: The Raiders have several top players back from last year’s team and they had a fine summer, going 43-6. Kevin Marlow was Freeway League MVP in 2015-16. Austin Carter and Bryce Rutledge were all-league first team last season. The Raiders were 20-10 last season and won their fifth straight league title.
9. El Toro: All of the Chargers’ promising sophomores on last season’s team should provide even better contributions this season. Among them are 6-8 Maxx Hazely who was All-South Coast League second team in 2015-16. Another junior, point guard Julan Bruce, has been a starter since his freshman year. El Toro was 21-8 last season.
10. Capistrano Valley: They might not have a dominating inside player, but the Cougars have plenty of fine players elsewhere. Dawson Baker was All-County fifth team last year. Fellow juniors Grayson Beeman and Nic Lipovic were All-Sea View League selections. Capo Valley was 20-10 last year.
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