Coach: Greg Dirst, second season.
Last season: 7-18.
Key returners: F Jeremiah Jones, sr.
Key newcomers: SF Eli Brown, soph.; SG Cale Jackson, soph.; F Josiah Laws, soph.; PG Braden Ragsdale, soph.; C Jon Richards, soph.
Outlook: Second-year coach Greg Dirst has his work cut out for him with this young team. That’s not to say the Bulldogs don’t have talent. A trio of sophomores will get a chance to make an immediate impact. Eli Brown will see time at small forward, Braden Ragsdale will handle the point guard duties and Josiah Laws can play all three forward positions. Then there’s 6-foot-9 sophomore center Jon Richards whose development could be crucial. The only significant returner for the Bulldogs is senior forward Jeremiah Jones, the school’s talented wide receiver who averaged seven points and three rebounds last season. With so much young talent, Dirst said his team is still trying to find the right chemistry on the court.
Coach: Scott Bracco, second season.
Last season: 17-11, lost in Class AAAAAA first round.
Key returners: G Joe Bates, sr.; G Dylan Biumi, sr.; SF Logan Bush, sr.; G Tanner Hall, soph.; PG Jake Morris, jr.; F Trevor Shipes, sr.
Key newcomers: G Mason Daniels, soph.; SF Grant Lancaster, jr.; F Ross Morkem, soph.; G Patrick Noble, jr.
Outlook: The Longhorns are coming off the most wins in school history and a state tournament appearance, albeit one that ended quickly against eventual state champion Norcross. It’s up to seniors Logan Bush and Trevor Shipes to lead a deep roster of young players that second-year coach Scott Bracco hopes will develop over the course of a challenging schedule. The Longhorns will make appearances in the On the Radar Showcase at St. Francis, Big Orange Classic in Hoover, Ala., and the MLK Classic at Centennial.
Coach: Brian Moon, third season.
Last season: 12-14.
Key returners: F Rome Bailey, sr.; G Brooks Blevins, sr.; G Chad Bureau, soph.; G Nick Cunningham, soph.; G Branson Marks, sr.; F Joseph Seawright, sr.
Key newcomers: F Cody Gottberg, sr.; G Harris Roberts, sr.
Outlook: North knows its shortcomings. The Raiders lost 85 percent of its scoring to graduation and will be one of the smallest teams in Region 6-AAAAAA. Branson Marks is the only returning starter and Chad Bureau got some experience as a starter last season, so there’s another challenge – inexperience. North coach Brian Moon hopes the Raiders overcome it all with an emphasis on playing superior defense and avoiding turnovers. The return of Cody Gottberg and Harris Roberts could be a big boost. Gottberg missed all of last season due to a football injury. Roberts will return in January after he’s fully recovered from a broken collar bone suffered in football season.
Coach: Jay Lynch, second season.
Last season: 12-15.
Key returners: F Nick Barwick, sr.; F Michael Bruckner, sr.; F Adam Guard, jr.; PG Nick Palmer, jr.
Key newcomers: G Sean Flanigan, fr.; G Matt Howell, soph.; F Ryan McCarthy, fr.; G Greg Metz, jr.; F Adam Rocko, soph.; F Zayne Rice, soph.; G Santi Villar, soph.; F Matt Walters, soph.
Outlook: Pinecrest was just seven points away last season – a 48-41 loss to Athens Christian in the Region 8-A championship – from reaching its first state tournament since joining the GHSA three years ago. That leaves this group’s goal clearly defined. The Paladins return three starters from that team in Michael Bruckner, Adam Guard and Nick Palmer. Nick Barwick’s return from injuries the past two seasons could give Pinecrest a big boost in scoring, rebounding and defense. Pinecrest is also counting on an inexperienced group, led by junior guard Greg Metz and sophomore forward Zayne Rice, to give the team depth.
Coach: Manson Hill, second season.
Last season: 5-16.
Key returners: F Logan Cole, jr.; G Chandler Cotter, jr.; C Greer Landry, sr.; G Matt McCorkle, jr.; F Thomas McLellan, jr.; G Aaron Schmitz, jr.; G/F Zach Sewing, jr.; C Alex Sivak, sr.; F Will Springer, soph.; G Kevin Sullivan, sr.
Key newcomers: G Evan Cole, fr.; G Brett Graczyk, fr.; F Cameron Kline, soph.; F Chason Smith, jr.; G Gabe Shook, soph.
Outlook: The War Eagles return just two starters in center Greer Landry and guard Kevin Sullivan but have a host of players with varsity experience coming back. It’s a group that looks to rely on its defense, rebounding and team chemistry to improve on last season’s 5-16 record. Second-year coach Manson Hill wants South to limit its turnovers, get better quality looks at the basket and give a strong group of newcomers more game experience. For a program looking for its first winning season since 2007-08, it will get a big measuring stick immediately – the War Eagles host perennial Class 6-AAAAAA power Milton in its season-opener.
Coach: Jim Cook, second season.
Last season: 4-16.
Key returners: G Grant Anderskow, jr.; C John Conway, sr.; F Jimmy Staiti, jr.; F Nick Staiti, sr.
Key newcomers: G Logan Miller, sr.; G/F Derek Morris, jr.
Outlook: The Wolverines are eager to see what a veteran core of John Conway and Jimmy and Nick Staiti can accomplish after another offseason together. The three combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds a game last season and will be the backbone of this season’s team. Grant Anderskow returns after leading the team with four assists per game, while West is counting on Logan Miller and Derek Morris to step in and make an impact. Without much size, Wolverines’ second-year coach Jim Cook wants the team to rely on its defense to keep it in games but expects to see marked improvement from last season.