It has been over eight months since the final dribble was heard, and the last bucket was scored in the 2019-20 WIAA boys basketball state tournament.
With the upcoming season delayed until at least February, SBLive Washington is releasing its preseason rankings of the Top 50 boys basketball teams in the state, regardless of classification. Compiling these rankings was a unique exercise, considering if a season occurs in 2021, it will end in regional championships — not the storied dome destination state tournaments.
The majority of this list is made up of programs at the Class 4A and 3A levels. But there is a representation of 2A, 1A and 2B programs.
PRESEASON BOYS BASKETBALL TOP 50
1. O’Dea (3A)
Last season: 25-6, 15-1 Metro League; reached 3A state finals.
When you return a consensus Top-3 player in the country in Duke commit Paolo Banchero, Creighton-bound sharpshooter John Christofilis, steady point guard Jaylon Ellis — and you’re led by Metro League-tested coach Jason Kerr — you’re the team to beat.
2. Garfield (3A)
Last season: 25-4, 15-1 Metro League; won 3A state title.
Underclassmen Koren Johnson and Jaylin Stewart proved they are ready for the big stage, each playing big roles in the Bulldogs’ 2020 3A state title run. The defending 3A champs add Lakes swingman Kenzel Massey to a strong core. Do they have another flashy transfer in them?
3. Eastside Catholic (3A)
Last season: 25-4, 15-1 Metro League; 3A third place finisher.
No more Nolan Hickman — the Kentucky-bound point guard who transferred to Wasatch Academy — means increased duties for four-star Arizona commit Shane Nowell. He’ll be called upon to step up as a scorer, and the solid pieces around him — No. 1 football prospect in the nation J.T. Tuimoloau and athletic D-II prospect Isaac Ticeson — fill in a strong core returning from a 2019-20 team that won a first-time Metro League title.
4. Seattle Prep (3A)
Last season: 23-7, 12-4 Metro League; reached 3A quarterfinals.
There is palpable excitement brewing at Seattle Prep over the group it brings back. Bouyed by multi-sport standout Braeden Smith and 6-6 Tyler Mrus, the Panthers are probably good enough to win several big-school leagues across the state. Battle-tested in the Metro League, they sent home a hot Mt. Spokane team in the first round in 2020 and will legitimately challenge the traditional Metro powers.
5. Mt. Spokane (3A)
Last season: 19-6, 10-2 3A Greater Spokane League; first round of 3A playoffs.
Tyson Degenhart is a legit state POY candidate — again. And he has much of his same core back, headlined by Jojo Anderson and Co., who have the Wildcats equipped for another 2019-esque run. Mt. Spokane is once again 3A’s team to beat east of the mountains.
6. Central Valley (4A)
Last season: 24-3, 13-1 4A Greater Spokane League; 4A state runners up.
The Bears were a mark of consistency and discipline in their run to the 4A state title game in 2020. On any given night, a handful of players could carry the offensive load. Expect a similar style played by a team anchored by 6-10 interior presence Gavin Gilstrap, head-turning junior guard Dylan Darling, who is poised for a breakout season, as well as lockdown defender and knockdown shooter Teagan Hoard (pictured above).
7. Auburn (3A)
Last season: 23-7, 13-1 4A North Puget Sound League; reached 4A state first round.
Had Auburn remained in 4A, it would have made a strong case for the preseason favorite. Their young, talent-laden core gains another year of experience while losing just one senior. D-I prospects Malik Arington and Tre Blassingame both have filled out and several impact transfers enter the picture in Semaj Brown (O’Dea), 6-6 sophomore Diontae Jeffries (Kentridge) and Tyrelle Nichols (Muckleshoot Tribal). And it helps when their best player (Arington) is their hardest worker.
8. Mount Si (4A)
Last season: 26-4, 13-0 4A KingCo; 4A state champions.
Last year’s 4A state player of the year Jabe Mullins is already making waves at Saint Mary’s. But the Wildcats return an exciting group. Junior Bennett O’Connor is playoff-proven and will step into a bigger role — both on and off the ball — as will swingman Quin Patterson, the younger brother of now-Montana State forward Tyler Patterson, who showed up in big moments in the Wildcats’ run to the 4A title. Add in a now-eligible 6-foot-4 Skyline transfer guard Cam Holliway and a young, talented core, headlined by 6-8 sophomore building block Miles Heide? Wildcats remain a top 4A program with a bright next few years.
9. Union (4A)
Last season: 27-1, 8-0 4A Greater St. Helens League; 4A state third place finisher.
Can someone say small-ball? Union won’t have a true big-man, but it should make up for it with its scoring in Blake Conley’s up-tempo offense, led by a trio of guards: sharpshooter Kaden Horn, 1A all-state caliber transfer point guard Bryson Metz and athletic senior guard Ariya Briscoe, who is poised for a breakout year.
10. Wilson (3A)
Last season: 23-4, 14-0 3A Pierce County League; reached state 3A quarterfinals, finished 4th.
Cayden McDaniels was one of the state’s top freshman last year, and steps into a bigger role as a program building block next to 6-7 swingman Jackson Dorsey, who is set to have a breakout senior season after missing significant time rehabbing a knee injury. If Dorsey stretches out beyond the arc reliably, look out.
11. Glacier Peak (4A)
Last season: 25-2, 14-0 4A Wesco; reached 4A state semifinals.
Tucker Molina had an all-state-caliber breakout junior season. He returns as a 4A MVP candidate and alongside lefty shooter Bobby Siebers to form a strong core that will look to follow up a deep playoff run.
12. Chiawana (4A)
Last season: 22-3, 15-1 4A MCC; lost in district semifinals.
A fully healthy Kobe Young could light up the MCC — and more, the state. And he’ll have plenty of shooters like Connor Mendez and Jaden Martinez around him to lead the reigning MCC champs. Young expects to fill a point-forward-type facilitating role in the mold of now-graduated Cooper Dewitt.
13. Marysville-Getchell (3A)
Last season: 17-9, 9-5 3A Wesco; reached 3A state first round.
There’s a reason Chargers coach Corby Schuh has been looking forward to this season for four years, since this year’s talented core of seniors opted to attend Getchell over other local options. All-state guard Malakhi Knight, a projected high-round MLB draft pick in 2021, returns (26 points, 9.5 boards, 3.3 assists, 3.3 steals a game), as does steady point guard Jackson Koellmer and the rest of the Chargers top six rotation players.
14. King’s (1A)
Last season: 19-10, 7-0 1A North Sound; 1A state champions.
Anytime. Anywhere. That’s the mentality King’s has when it front-loads its schedule with juggernaut opponents across all classifications. After winning the 1A state title as an RPI-tainted 14-seed, the Knights return state player of the year Tyler Linhardt, Jordan Hansen, point guard Shane McGaughey-Fick and wing Will Pohland to reunite most of a core that could reasonably compete for state titles in bigger-school classifications, in addition to being the 1A favorite.
15. Puyallup (4A)
Last season: 16-7, 13-3 4A South Puget Sound League; lost in district tournament.
Expect the Vikings to score — a lot. Puyallup returns next-level scorer Cobi Campbell to headline a core of strong returning shooters, which include 6-5 wing Luke Holcolmb and newcomer Cooper Campbell. A team that fell just short of the 4A state tournament after winning the 4A SPSL regular season title last year will be able to flat out fill it up — and compete with anybody.
16. Gonzaga Prep (4A)
Last season: 18-8, 12-2 4A Greater Spokane League; lost in first round of 4A state playoffs.
The Bullpups won’t have the outright next level star power it wielded rolling out Anton Watson and Liam Lloyd over the last several seasons. But they return a strong group, anchored by steady point guard Hodges Flemming and Jayden Stevens, who battled injury last season and is poised to step up as one of the GSL’s top players.
17. Walla Walla (3A)
Last season: 17-6, 12-4 3A MCC; lost in district semifinals.
The Blue Devils nipped at the heels of eventual runner-up Central Valley and while they didn’t make it out of a tough 4A District 8 tournament, Wa-Hi, which moved down to 3A, returns first team all 4A MCC post Michael Cornia, who averaged more than 20 points per game last year, as well as two more double-digit scorers in Diego Jacques (11.5 points per game) and Jacob Coram (11.2).
18. Sumner (4A)
Last season: 21-8, 11-5 4A South Puget Sound League; reached 4A state quarterfinals, finished 6th.
Not many teenagers aspire to play defense. But Sumner’s vaunted zone, and its disciplined execution under coach Jake Jackson is a program cornerstone and a big reason why the Spartans won their first playoff game in 49 years in March. With guards Josh Lear and Lamar Campbell graduated, Sumner will turn to 6-7 forward Champ Spencer and his smooth face-up game, among others.
19. Olympia (4A)
Last season: 23-7, 12-4 4A South Puget Sound League; reached 4A quarterfinals, finished 4th.
The Bears graduated talented guards in Kai Johnson and Ethan Gahm, but bring back four-star Washington commit Jackson Grant, who can score in a variety of ways. He’s a game-changer at the high school level, and Olympia will look for even more ways to get him involved.
20. West Seattle (3A)
Last season: 13-2, 10-6 Metro League; lost in 3A SeaKing district semifinals.
West Seattle has the talent to nip at the Metro Leauge’s upper echelon under former Seattle U head women’s coach Dan Kriley. That starts with Isaiah Watts, the 6-4 junior son of former UW standout Donald Watts, who can shoot the lights out, and is poised for a jump in both his role and contribution.
21. Nathan Hale (3A)
Last season: 12-11, 8-8 Metro League; lost in 3A SeaKing district first round.
Hale returns one of the state’s most talented point guards in Julian Agosto, and will throw some size around him with 6-8 Calvin Harley, who missed last season due to injury, and 6-6 Rainier Beach trainer L.J. Armstrong. The Raiders will have nice pieces to compete in an always deep Metro League.
22. Stanwood (3A)
Last season: 16-7, 11-3 3A Wesco; lost in 3A district tournament.
The splash brothers are back. Hot-shooting guard duo Cort Roberson and Jake Cleary lit up the 3A Wesco last year, and they return league title contenders alongside 6-7 swingman Kaeden McGlothlin, who is steadily fulfilling his sky-high potential.
23. Kamiakin (4A)
Last season: 21-5, 13-3 3A MCC; lost in 3A state first round.
Now-graduated all-state candidate Kyson Rose’s contributions were invaluable last season. Kamiakin returns mostly everybody from a team that reached 3A state quarterfinals (with a 6th place finish) and boasts size — starting with 6-6 senior forward Messiah Jones, 6-6 junior Trey Arland, 6-4 junior Tyler Bilodeau and Nate Gray Jr.
24. Rainier Beach (3A)
Last season: 19-11, 11-5 Metro League; reached 3A semifinals.
Maybe the most improved team in the state from start to finish last season will again center around a young core. After going from perennial power to 3A tournament darling, John Hart graduated and KeJohn Atkins moved to Texas, but Beach returns sophomore Nahmier Robinson and senior Winston Cole — both big contributors in the team’s undermanned semifinal run in 2020.
25. Seattle Academy (1A)
Last season: 25-2, 12-0 1A Emerald City; lost in 1A state semifinals, finished 3rd.
Leo Debruhl may be the best point guard in Seattle. And he returns for his senior season, alongside 6-4 guard/forward Joe Cookson and the bulk of the Cardinals core that made a run to the 1A state semifinals last year. Like King’s, Seattle Academy is a tough matchup, no matter the classification.
26. Battle Ground (4A)
Last season: 15-11, 5-3 4A Greater St. Helens League; reached 4A state first round.
With 4-star Gonzaga signee Kaden Perry, the ceiling is high. Perry, who continues to slowly fulfill what some call NBA potential, has a chance to break the program’s all-time scoring record set by John McKnight. The question becomes, without all-league guards, who will step up and fill out the rotation around him?
27. North Kitsap (2A)
Last season: 24-4, 11-1 2A Olympic League; 2A state champion.
Jonas La Tour averaged 18 points per game as a sophomore last year. The bouncy 6-5 guard is more than equipped to shoulder a bigger load for the defending 2A state champs, bolstered by Johnny Olmstead’s steady play at point guard.
28. West Valley (Yakima) (4A)
Last season: 19-4, 12-0 Columbia Basin Big 9; reached 4A state first round.
Reigning Big 9 Co-MVP Logan Kinloch, a 6-5 guard, returns to lead a revamped group that ran the table in league and made the 4A state playoffs.
29. Mariner (4A)
Last season: 16-6, 11-3 4A Wesco; lost in 4A Wes-King districts.
The Mauraders return a strong core centered around big man Henry Avra from a team that finished 4A Wesco runner-up and took Glacier Peak to a double-overtime thriller in February.
30. Lynden (2A)
Last season: 24-3, 12-1 Northwest Conference; lost in 2A state semifinals, finished 3rd.
Last year, the Lions graduated their entire starting lineup, clearing the way for a massive junior season from 6-11 post Liam Hanenburg (17 points, 11 rebounds per game). And Lynden reloaded around him, maintaining the top spot in 2A throughout most of the regular season. Expect one-time WIBCA coach of the year Brian Roper’s group to not skip a beat.
31. Mt. Tahoma (3A)
Last season: 18-7, 9-5 3A Pierce County League; reached 3A regional round.
Asjon Anderson proved himself as a scorer as a sophomore, leading the T-Birds in scoring with 17.8 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He’ll be the key to Mt. Tahoma challenging Wilson for the 3A PCL crown.
32. Life Christian Academy (1A)
Last season: 23-4, 17-1 Pacific 2B; 2B state runners up.
After a dominant run in 2B last season that ended with a state runners-up finish, the Eagles move up to 1A and bring back nearly everybody — one of the state’s top point guards in Omari Maulana, Bradley Swillie, big man Chae Haynes and more.
33. Roosevelt (3A)
Last season: 11-11, 8-8 Metro League; lost in district qualifier.
The Rough Riders bring back all but one player from a scrappy, disciplined team led by point guard Alex Pape. Anticipate Roosevelt to surprise some teams in the Metro League.
34. Emerald Ridge (4A)
Last season: 10-11, 7-9 4A South Puget Sound League; reached district tournament.
Emerald Ridge returns second team all 4A SPSL guard Jerry Hayes and despite losing all-league honorable mention guard Eddie Brown to transfer, the Jaguars could pack a punch in a three-team race atop the league standings.
35. Evergreen (Vancouver)
Last season: 20-5, 10-0 3A Greater St. Helens League; reached 3A state first round.
The Plainsmen rode a wave of momentum into the 3A state playoffs last season. The defending 3A Greater St. Helens League champs return with a playmaking all-league point guard in Jaden Stanley, a lefty three-year starter who missed the team’s state run last year with a broken hand. He’ll lead the show, and returns with something to prove.
36. Gig Harbor (3A)
Last season: 17-5, 12-2 3A South Sound Conference; lost in 3A district tournament.
Four all-league players are back for the Tides, headlined by uber-athletic Zach Toglia, a Utah baseball commit and the younger brother of Michael Toglia, a first round MLB Draft pick out of UCLA (also a Gig Harbor product).
37. Mountlake Terrace (3A)
Last season: 18-8, 10-4 2A/3A Wesco; reached 2A state first round.
The Hawks should plug in as a competitor in the top half of 3A Wesco after making the jump from 2A. They’ll have Trazz Pepper at guard and 6-7 Jace Breakfield down low — both have a big impact on the defensive end.
38. Selah (2A)
Last season: 16-8, 14-4 CWAC; reached 2A state first round.
Selah returns stat-stuffing senior Noah Pepper who can go out and win them a game on any given night. Throw in seniors John Zambito and Teegan Garza, and Selah is on pace to be one of the toughest teams in 2A.
39. Skyline (4A)
Last season: 17-8, 10-3 4A KingCo; reached 4A Wes-King district semifinals.
The Spartans return a pair of steady all-4A KingCo guards in Kauner Przybylski and Tyler Halter to a group that finished second in league behind 4A state champion Mount Si a year ago. Skyline should be even better than it was last year.
40. Timberline (3A)
Last season: 8-16, 6-8 3A South Sound Conference; lost in district tournament.
Brooklyn Hicks proved he can flat out score as a freshman. He garnered Division I interest off of his first high school season, posting around 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game. He’ll make Timberline a contender in the 3A SSC.
41. Skyview (4A)
Last season: 19-11, 4-4 4A Greater St. Helens League; reached 4A state quarterfinals.
Replacing all-state forward Kyle Gruhler (graduation) and wing Jace Chatman (moved to Utah) will be no small feat, but the Storm are in good hands with third-year point guard Squeeky Johnson, a steady all-league choice who can do a little bit of everything.
42. Bothell (4A)
Last season: 8-12, 4-9 4A KingCo League; did not reach postseason.
Damar Johnson-Dillard was quietly one of the state’s most prolific scorers as a sophomore last season with 24.2 points, 6.3 boards, five assists and 4.7 steals per game. This year, Myles Phillips, a double-digit scorer as a sophomore, is back after a year in California to form a dangerous backcourt.
43. Kentwood (4A)
Last season: 15-11, 11-3 4A North Puget Sound League; lost in 4A regional round.
Iyzik Pam is one of the best returners in the entire South Sound. He’ll shoulder a larger load for the Conqs, who lost Jaelin Green to Rainier Beach. Logan Stempniak, a 6-6 junior, is poised to take on a much larger role.
44. Wenatchee (4A)
Last season: 13-10, 7-5 Columbia Basin Big 9; lost in a district winner-to-state game.
Wenatchee will go as far as its dynamic, gym-rat point guard Garrett Long will take them. The senior is a multi-year starter, a bona-fide 4A POY candidate and is set to give defenses fits, yet again.
45. Toppenish (1A)
Last season: 23-4, 17-1 2A CWAC; reached 2A quarterfinals, finished 6th.
Will Toppenish even skip a beat? Sure, graduating three key seniors hurts, particularly all-state choice Isaac Perez. His younger brother, Joshua Perez, is set to take a large jump after averaging 10 points per game as a freshman. And a 1A landscape that is crowded at the top will need to make room for Toppenish, which moved down from 2A.
46. Black Hills (2A)
Last season: 22-7, 9-1 2A Evergreen Conference; reached 2A state quarterfinals, finished 4th.
After a program-best 22-7 record and a state 2A quarterfinal run under coach Jeff Gallagher, Black Hills returns first team all-EvCo 6-6 forward Justin Hicks and honorable mention point guard Elyas Inman.
47. Zillah (1A)
Last season: 23-3, 12-0 1A South Central; lost in 1A state first round.
Zillah graduates program pillars in Weston Ide and Sebastian Godina, and lost league MVP Mason Landdeck to transfer, but the Leopards have a penchant for reloading and have two key building blocks: shooting guard Clay Delp, who will step into a leading scorer role, and sophomore forward Luke Navarre, who showed promise as a freshman.
48. Cashmere (1A)
Last season: 22-4, 12-0 1A Caribou Trail; lost in 1A quarterfinals, finished 4th.
Cashmere returns its three leading scorers and that starts with Sam Phillips (17.5 points per game) and Nate Phillips (13.2). Carter Alberts, a 6-6 post, also returns to a team that made the state playoffs last season.
49. Brewster (2B)
Last season: 25-3, 15-1 2B CWA; 2B state champion.
Brewster’s charmed run to the 2B state title came with a big cherry on top — most of its team will return, including state player of the year Cade Gebbers and his brother, 6-6 sophomore Kelson Gebbers, who already sports an Eastern Washington offer.
50. St. George’s (2B)
Last season: 22-5, 10-0 2B Northeast; reached 2B state semifinals, finished 3rd.
The Dragons won’t slip one bit after graduating one player and returning their next 15. That starts with 6-5 guard Nick Watkins. St. George’s returns four starters — it will start three players 6-5 and above — and its entire bench from a team that went toe-to-toe with the eventual 2B champs.