The boys basketball season began on Monday, and with several East Valley teams playing in tournaments across in the state, fans will begin to notice the next crop of star players gracing the hardwood. The Tribune’s Player of the Year, Cameron Forte, returns to lead defending 4A Division I-champion McClintock, and Arizona State-signee Jahii Carson is thinking state title at Mesa. Here is an early look at ten East Valley players to watch this year:
10. Maurice Kirby, forward, Poston Butte: The 6-foot-9 sophomore is still filling out his frame, but the potential is there. He was offered a scholarship to Arizona State in the offseason and committed to the Sun Devils.
9. T.J. Burke, forward, Marcos de Niza: Andy Jones is gone, so Burke will be counted on heavily. He is a good scorer and rebounder down low.
8. Torren Jones, forward, Basha: Still raw, but he runs the floor well and already is a good defender. Without Judd Welfringer, who transferred out of state over the summer, the 6-foot-7 sophomore will need to carry more of the load.
7. Camyn Boone, forward, Mountain View: The burly forward has a nice touch around the basket. He will miss the beginning of the year with a skull fracture, but will be a big part in the Toros’ postseason fortunes.
6. Collin Woods, guard, Horizon: Scoring point guard can get points in bunches. Kyle Tresnak won’t be around to suck in defenses down low, so Woods will be relied on more to kickstart the offense.
5. Larry Lewis, guard, Arcadia: Great athleticism and can really get hot from the outside. The Titans are 4A-II contenders, largely because of Lewis.
4. Calean Robinson, guard, Corona del Sol: The athletic lefty can get into the paint with ease and has an improving jump shot. Corona del Sol could be a 5A-I contender if Robinson continues to improve.
3. Jordan Baker, guard, Tempe: He missed much of last season after breaking his hand, but will carry the Buffaloes this year. Baker is an elite scorer, so don’t be surprised to see him go for more than 30 points on multiple occasions.
2. Cameron Forte, forward, McClintock: The smooth point forward can sometimes get lackadaisical, but when he’s motivated, he’s very tough to stop. The crafty left-hander knows how to score in the paint, and uses his length to get plenty of rebounds.
1. Jahii Carson, guard, Mesa: No one in the state can stop him from getting in the lane, and he has a good outside shot when needed. Carson signed with Arizona State before the season began, but he’s looking to finish his prep career with a 5A-I championship.