Is this a down year in the SAC or just one with more parity? There are probably three distinct levels in the conference, but last season proved that you have to win for any of it to matter.
We are looking forward to the SAC, but can anyone compete with one of last season’s co-champions?
NOTE: The order of teams listed is Bounce’s personal predicted order of finish. Don’t sue me.
Homestead finds a way to be successful through every roster rebuild they have had in recent years. But how often do they reload with three of their top six players back? Luke Goode is one of the state’s best players, Zak Krueger was an Indiana Junior All-Star and Chris Johnson is still on the sidelines. No reason to rank anyone above them yet.
Snider returns a lot of players and have a big senior class. How will the Panthers balance depth this season? Dillon Duff and Michael Eley are arguably the area’s best tandem and they are loaded behind them. Bounce likes Jon Barnes as a calming influence and I am pretty intrigued about Elijah Wimby‘s production on both ends of the court, especially as a perimeter defender.
Carroll lost their traditional scorers, but like Homestead, there is no reason to assume new guys won’t step into those roles. Behind the leadership of Ray Vollmer, we could see guards Ryan Preston and Jalen Jackson team up to fill a similar role to what Dan McKeeman produced for years. Richie Gross is an underrated defender.
South Side won’t have the height they had in the past, but have the ability play fast and loose with a bunch of guys who can grab rebounds and go. Ashton Johnson, Treveon Jones and Kamron Mitchell will all pick up the slack of lacking size and they can all get to the basket or take jumpers. Not a bad package to have,
Northrop may look like a completely different team without two All-Area performers lost to graduation, but there is a lot back to really like. Khamani Smith and Qualen Pettus are two high caliber scorers who can attack from 15 feet in, but the Bruins also return two really good defenders in TaQuay White and Te’Noah Ridley who can handle tough matchups. Nick Haines is one of the best pure shooters in the conference and Elijah Fincher could slide into the point guard role.
Bishop Luers is a team not only with a purpose but finally one with a foundation with a returning coach for the first time in a while. Naylon Thompson and Jalen Causey are known commodities and quality defenders. The Knights’ abilities are raised by DeMarcus Hudson, who averaged 17 points per game last season before falling to injury early on in the year. A healthy Hudson means a lot of good. John Peterson and Nicholas Thompson will add to depth.
Concordia returns a talented and diverse scorer in Brayden Pearson and will see a lot of scoring needs opened up. The Cadets are going to be a good conditioned team who really are going to build on their system that started last season. Jeren Kindig and Jaden Parnin will be helpful producers back as seniors. Arnad Samardzic moves over from Canterbury and Cheyanne Quintana is back on the roster after getting a few varsity as a sophomore but spending last season at Snider.
Bishop Dwenger has to replace a host of guys, especially on the inside, where they were very good and very big a year ago. Brenden Lytle and Hunter Burns return and will have to handle a load of scoring. Much smaller inside and the midrange, Braden Groves and Tobe Eke could provide some physicality.
Wayne will have an interesting season with an eager and knowledgeable young coach in Byron Pickens. They will take some lumps that come with growing a program but having seniors Michael Redding and Quincy Miles means that those down times won’t be so bad. Greg Gorman will be another fun exterior piece and Jashan Hargrave showed at North Side in the past that he can handle some scoring load.
North Side is in the middle of a hard reset for Gary Andrews after being a team last season that was trying to transition identities. Freshman Brashawn Bassett will get the chance to handle the ball a lot, which he does well and with maturity will come more consistency as an immediate leader. Rodney Woods will lead in many other ways, vocally and with his aggressive nature. There will be a lot of new faces for North Side this season, so we sit in wait and see mode.
Like with the Northeast 8, this is hard to lay down. Almost every team has an impact player so they can’t all be listed. So here are just a couple to watch.
Michael Eley of Snider has put up some muscle and that is going to help him score through contact better. Snider with an aggressive Eley is better and Eley seems like he is going to want to play at or even above the rim.
Luke Goode of Homestead started to showcase why he is one of the state’s best in his class. He played up some this summer with Spiece Indy Heat and even made some big plays at the Peach Jam that made the nation take notice. Goode scores better and smoother than anyone in the conference.
Brenden Lytle of Bishop Dwenger will have a lot on his back this year, but he is great at handling pressure. Lytle has literally no conscience when it comes to making plays and throwing himself around. If the Saints are to have a good season, Lytle will need to make a major impact.
PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Treveon Jones of South Side had a really good summer and fall and is looking like he could be the SAC’s breakout player this season after being more of a role player last season. Jones’ three ball looks cleaner and he is willing to attack the basket with a good elusiveness.
Jake Archbold of Homestead is playing basketball and some of us couldn’t be any happier. Archbold is a high level defender, or was when we last saw him. His presence will give some freedom to the Spartans’ newer perimeter players who are up on the varsity level for the first time.
Te’Noah Ridley of Northrop is a highly underrated defender who works as hard as anyone on the Bruin roster. Ridley is a kid who give it his all every second he is on the court and developed some good lockdown tendencies through last season, on or off ball.
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