This is the 11th preview in my 2015-2016 season preview series. Week 3 of the 6 week preview series starts with a look at the St. Paul City Conference. For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.
Central Minutemen (2014-15 season 13-13, 10-2 Conference, 2nd) Lefty forward Sam Gubbrud and shooter Jack Beckman return to the lineup after being the top 2 scorers last season. Abdikalak Muse also returns to the starting lineup. Guard Charles Smith is one of 2 starters that needs to be replaced. Combine that with a JV group that won the conference and the Minutemen should be poised to remain near the top of the league.
Como Park Cougars (2014-15 season 7-20, 6-6 Conference, Tie 3rd) Leading scorer Demetrice Mitchell raised his scoring average to 18.5 PPG and should be good for that this year. But the lineup around him is very thin. Shawn Phillips graduated and brother Deland Phillips is now at Cretin-Derham Hall. Head coach John Robinson comes over from leading the girls program to replace Steve Scroggins.
Harding Knights (2014-15 season 6-18, 2-10 Conference, Tie 6th) Shooter Essa Adam returns to the Knights lineup after leading the team in scoring last year at 13.8 PPG. Ben Thompson also returns to the starting lineup. Everybody else graduated. Guard Malik Samuels 11.7 PPG is the biggest loss that will need to be replaced. No size returns. While they may take some lumps this year, the freshmen did win the city title last year.
Highland Park Scots (2014-15 season 8-19, 6-6 Conference, Tie 3rd) Amitri Collins-Westlund leads the way for a tiny lineup. Dreem Kelly-Jabbar and soph Josh Aune try to give them some semblance of height. No player averaged in double figures. Guard Mike Cornelius and Khari Dennis also return.
Humboldt Hawks (2014-15 season 8-17, 2-10 Conference, Tie 6th) Guard Demond Dawson departs after leading the league in scoring (conference games) the last 2 seasons. The other double scorer Marion Moore (13.7 PPG) also needs to be replaced. Jacob Andrew is top returning player. Junior LaVonta Bryant joins him in the starting lineup. Soph Michael King and juniors Guadalupe Tovalin and Patrico Webster also saw time last year. This is another lineup that is super small.
Johnson Governors (2014-15 season 27-4, 12-0 Conference, 1st) Johnson has to replace 4 of 5 starters. That includes star point guard Jalen Mobley (18.2 PPG, 5.6 APG), forward Eric Elliot and center Justus Murphy. Guard Andre Smith averaged 10.7 PPG and is the top returning player. They also have rotation pieces returning in Carlin Clarke, Savion Benton and Saivon Parker also return to the rotation.
Washington Eagles (2014-15 season 12-12, 4-8 Conference, 5th) Washington loses 2 of their 3 double figures scorers. But leading scorer Curtis Bell (13.8 PPG) and 2 other starters do return. Keenan Williams mans the center spot after just missing out on double figures. Xavier Walden returns to back him up. Guard Courtney Walker should take care of the ball handling duties.
Predicted Order of Finish
- Highland Park
- Como Park
Johnson loses a lot but they are the favorite until beaten. Central is definitely the best of the rest. But once again the league is in a serious down turn. The rest of the league will beat up on themselves and struggle outside of the league. Washington and Highland Park battle for 3rd. Como Park, Humboldt and Harding are in for long seasons.
Conference MVP: Andre Smith - Johnson
Underclassmen to watch:
- Josh Aune - Highland Park
- Michael King - Humboldt
Conference Games to Watch
- Johnson at Central - Jan 26th
- Central at Johnson - Feb 18th
- Twin Cities Game - Feb 20th (St. Paul Champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
- Johnson at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 5th
- Central at Minnehaha - Jan 7th
- Minneapolis North at Central - Feb 4th