Dec 1, 2010

Conference Preview: Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference

The season starts in only 3 days so it's time to look at the city league:

The city league is always, for me, the most exciting league to follow because of the high intensity created by players that all know each other and the fact that year in year out this league is loaded with talent. This year is no exception. Every team on here has enough firepower to challenge anyone in Ohio. At the top of the league expect Taft, Withrow, and Aiken to fight a heavyweight battle for the league title; Any of these three are capable of finishing on top of the standings. Shroder and West High are two talented teams that could surprise some people; and never count out two of the city's historic programs the scrappy Woodward Bulldogs and the young Hughes Big Red.

No matter what happens it's going to be a crazy ride this year in the CMAC. Here's my take on what fans should expect:

Pre- Season Team Rankings: Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Jelean Lowe and his brother Chris
    bring their shooting touch to Taft this year.
    Taft: This season at Taft will be a case of same book, different chapter. The Lowe brothers come over from NCH to replace Coach Mitchell's twin guards who graduated last spring. Kadeem Palmer has also transferred in to give The Senators another scoring punch and point guard threat. Taft returns the core of its team last year that made a real run at the state title. Junior big men Adolphus “Diesel” Washington and Dwayne “Too Tall” Stanford are the main scoring and rebounding threats. The guy who makes it all possible is point guard Orlando Berry Jr. who does not get the credit his playmaking deserves. Senior Marquez Johnson also returns to add depth on the wings with Chris Lowe and Jelean Lowe; both of whom are big time shooters. With the defensive intensity that their coaching staff demands Taft will be a force to reckon with in the city. 
  • Orlando Berry is the point man
    Key Players: Washington and Stanford are league player of the year candidates. Taft also is loaded on the outside with shooters and set up men
    • Orlando Berry Jr- Junior PG
    • Adolphus Washington- Junior C
    • Dwayne Stanford- Junior PF
    • Jelean Lowe- Junior SG
    • Chris Lowe- Senior SF
    • Kadeem Palmer- Senior PG
    • Marquez Johnson- Senior SF
  • Bottom Line: Expect Taft to be on top at the end of the season because of their defense, rebounding, and balanced scoring attack. Coach Mitch has them primed to take the title this year. Taft has a deep team, don't forget about junior wings Jermaine Freeman and Ra'Saan Jackson, and has a great combo of inside and outside. The Lowe brothers really add another level to this team from a scoring standpoint, this is particularly important considering Washington and Stanford demand double teams.

  1. Aaron Thomas- One of the top
    players in the country.
    Withrow: Not only did the top player in the state transfer over to Withrow for the upcoming season, they were already loaded. Senior wing Aaron Thomas is as good of a scorer as anyone in the country; when Aaron gets hot it really is game over. Combine that with Devin Williams in the post and The Tigers seem like a state title contender. Williams is one of the highest ranked sophomores in the state and is only getting better. Withrow has two solid role players in wing Kevin Jones and versatile power forward Carl Porter. These two are more then capable scorers who would be stars on most teams. This group also has some other talent in big man Rozelle Nix, scoring guard Damon Gooch, and several other young players. There might be questions about point guard play, shooting, and the distribution of shots; but Withrow has more talent then any team in Cincinnati and will be an intimidating sight for opposing teams.
  • Devin Williams expected to do even
    bigger things in his sophomore year
    Key Players: McDonald's All American candidate Aaron Thomas and big man Devin Williams lead the way with Carl Porter and Kevin Jones as solid role players.
    • Aaron Thomas- Senior SG
    • Devin Williams- Sophomore PF
    • Carl Porter- Senior PF
    • Kevin Jones- Senior SF
    • Rozelle Nix- Junior C
  • Bottom Line: If they get solid point guard play and can find the right combination of role players to put with their dynamic duo then Withrow will end up wining the league. Coach TY has a great team this year that will be fun to follow.

  1. Willy Moore will challenge Thomas
    for the scoring title this year in the CMAC
    Aiken: It would be tough to find a team in the state that is capable of trading blows with the Falcons on the perimeter this year. Elite talent Willy Moore will be the main playmaker this year and is guaranteed to have a huge season. Proven commodities in transfer student Austin Grimes and seasoned guard Gene Primus bring an energy that few players can match. At the point Aiken has two viable options in freshman Tyonte Robertson and talented junior Landen Gaulden, who missed last year. The Swoop is thin on postmen this year but they do have Femi Thompson returning who is truly one of the most under rated players in the league. Keep an eye on sophomore Mikey Thompson who brings a lot of versatility to the table as a wing or post.
  • Austin Grimes is a big time wing prospect
    Key Players: Aiken has a seemingly endless bench of guards that will put up big offensive numbers and apply defensive heat all season for Coach Leon.
    • Willy Moore- Junior SG
    • Gene Primus- Senior SG
    • Austin Grimes- Sophomore SF
    • Tyonte Robertson- Freshman PG
    • Landen Gaulden- Junior SG
    • Femi Thompson- Senior PF
  •  Bottom Line: If Aiken's perimeter players buy in to sharing the ball and playing together, as well as bringing effort on defense every possession, then they can easily win the league this year. No one has more scoring talent then them as a team. Primus and Thompson are great leaders, Moore is a big time talent, Robertson and Gaulden are very good point guard prospects, and Grimes bring a level of toughness that makes Aiken tough to beat.

  1. Jalen Billups is a talented low post scorer for the Jags
    Shroder: Plenty of size and experience are the main strengths at Shroder this year. One of the big keys to their success will be how well point guard Trey Dees can distribute the ball to his big men inside. Look for Dees to have a breakout year this year. The possible weakness' are quickness to guard smaller lineups and outside shooting ability. Kairo Cannon is the only known shooter on the team, although the bench has a few marksmen on it. Keep an eye on junior big man Ladell Griffin, the D1 prospect is improving everyday, he is a know shot-blocker and really plays hard. Shroder also gets help from transfer Randale Griffith who has big time offensive talent inside and outside and is a tough match-up for any team. Finally, Shroder returns big man Jalen Billups who has seemingly been there forever. Jalen is a proven low post scorer and rebounder who is back for one more season for the Jaguars.
  • Trey Dees (shown on defense) will be leading the show again
    this year at Shroder
    Key Players: Shroder returns four key players from a team that made a run in last year's tournament. Depth is a concern but the starting five is loaded with talent and experience.
    • Trey Dees- Junior PG
    • Kairo Cannon- Senior SG
    • Randale Griffith- Junior PF
    • Ladell Griffin- Junior C
    • Jalen Billups- Senior PF
  • Bottom Line: This team really plays together and looks focused on making an impact in a deep conference. They are going to be in every game and will probably end up being much better then the fans think they will. This could be Shroder's year.

  1. West High: The Mustangs have a chance to earn some major respect this year in the league because this team has talent on it. The guard spots are loaded with scoring power with Lionel Hill and Jamarcus Crawford expected to start and Darell Bullock and Ivan Dunn both seeing some time. Junior Kevin Tyus returns as does young postman Marquez Carpenter on the inside. Expect to see Woodward transfer Josh Chancellor on the low block all season for the Mustangs; and keep an eye on Cortez Adams another post man that can really rebound.
  • Key Players: The Mustangs have a great combination of guards and big men.
    • Jamarcus Crawford- Senior PG
    • Lionel Hill- Junior PG
    • Darell Bullock- Junior SG
    • Josh Chancellor- Senior C
    • Marquez Carpenter- Sophomore PF
    • Kevin Tyus- Junior PF
  • Bottom Line: West High can be really good this year. They are going to be able to score with everybody, especially if Hill and Crawford can get hot from the outside. Their depth on the interior gives them an opportunity to turn heads.

  1. Woodward: The Bulldogs might have had a lot of guys transfer out from last years team but they still have some guys that are willing to go to war with Coach Timmons. Expect Trent Donald to step up and handle the scoring load this year. Wing players Demetrius Pruitt and Zacheriah Mustafa are also big time assets for Coach Timmons. Transfer point guard Mark Durrgan will probably see the majority of the action as the primary ballhandler.
  • Top Players: There are some diamond in the rough type of players this year at Woodward. Don't sleep on giant center Isaiah McCullar who could have a big year.
    • Trent Donald- Sophomore PF
    • Zacheriah Mustafa- Junior SF
    • Mark Durrgan- Senior PG
    • Demetrius Pruitt- Senior SG
    • Isaiah McCullar- Junior C
  • Bottom Line: No one really knows what to expect from Woodward this year; but know this, Coach will have them competing. With a lot of new faces they might need some time to gel but the talent is there to match anyone in the league.

  1. Hughes: The graduation of three year starters BJ Lowry and Jack Jackson will be felt this year over at Hughes. The cupboard is not bare however; Coach Wyant has several talented freshman and enough returning guys to make a run. Returning players Shaquille Prather, Terry Cook, and Ryan Green give them some solid wing players and junior D'Juan Bankhead could take them to the next level. Inside is a concern as Hughes will probably end up playing a wing heavy lineup. Freshman David Mitchell and Dwight Nored could be counted on early inside. At the guard spots expect to see Terry Cook and Ryan Green getting the majority of the shot attempts with freshman point guard Aaron Oden running the show. Freshman guard Kevin Daniels also could crack the rotation at some point early in the year.
  • Key Players: Many of the top players are underclassmen this year.
    • Ryan Green- Senior SF
    • Terry Cook- Sophomore SG
    • Aaron Oden- Freshman PG
    • David Mitchell- Freshman PF
  • Bottom Line: There are a lot of question marks at Hughes this year but these guys will play hard and they overcame a lot of doubts to make a run last year. They are probably a year away but expect to see some impact from the talented freshman class. If Cook and Green can put some points up then Hughes could be better then expected.

Pre-Season Awards:
  • Player of the Year:
    • Aaron Thomas- Senior SG Aiken

  • Dwayne Stanford is a all-league
    candidate at Taft
    All League: 
    • Willy Moore- Junior SG Aiken
    • Dwayne Stanford- Junior PF Taft
    • Adolphus Washington- Junior C Taft
    • Devin Williams- Sophomore PF Withrow
    • Jalen Billups- Senior PF Shroder

  • Freshman of The Year: Tyonte Robertson – Aiken & Aaron Oden - Hughes
  • Best Shooter: Jelean Lowe – Taft & Lionel Hill – West High
  • Best Dunker: Carl Porter & Aaron Thomas – Withrow
  • Best Scorer: Aaron Thomas – Withrow & Willy Moore - Aiken
  • Best Defender: Gene Primus- Aiken & Ladell Griffin – Shroder
  • Best Passer: Trey Dees- Shroder & Kadeem Palmer – Taft
  • Sleeper Player: Jamarcus Crawford – West High & Carl Porter – Withrow
  • Best 6th Man: Landen Gaulden – Aiken & Jermaine Freeman – Taft
  • Gene Primus can be counted on to
    bring maximum effort every single game
    All Heart Team:
    • Orlando Berry – Taft
    • Devin Williams – Withrow
    • Gene Primus – Aiken
    • Ladell Griffin – Shroder
    • Chris Lowe- Taft
    • Austin Grimes – Aiken    

It would be tough to find a place other then the CMAC where players, coaches, and fans would disagree with each other more on who has the best team. So obviously some argument is expected here. You think I'm crazy? Drop me a line at If I like what I read then I'll put your comments up here on The CPHR.

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