Football is definitely king in Louisiana. No one questions that.
But there’s nothing quite like the royal treatment Baton Rouge’s high school basketball teams garner seemingly every year.
The battle for basketball supremacy starts Monday. That’s the first day when teams in Class 5A to 1A can suit up and play their first regular-season games.
Too soon for hoops hype you say? Consider this, two of the state’s top senior boys square off Tuesday night when Madison Prep travels to St. Michael the Archangel.
MPA’s 6-foot-4 Brandon Sampson is considered to be the state’s top senior. St. Michael’s 6-5 Jacob Evans, who is set to sign with Cincinnati on Wednesday, also is part of Louisiana’s basketball elite.
Everyone knows about University High’s top-ranked and top-seeded football team. The Cubs play their first playoff game in select Division II this week. This also is tip-off week for UHS’ defending 3A state champion boys and girls basketball teams.
Joe Spencer’s boys squad returns its top players. Everyone knows about point guard Skylar Mays and forward Wayde Sims. Senior Maxwell Starwood, who played a key role at last year’s Louisiana High School Athletic Association Top 28 tourney, could be one of the area’s breakout players.
The U-High girls team broke through and won its first state title last spring in Lake Charles. There were some graduation losses for coach Bonita Johnson’s Cubs, but a solid nucleus of players returns, including 6-3 Marygrace Constantin, who signed with Alabama-based Jacksonville State last week.
Don’t forget about Scotlandville. The Hornets were the 5A runner-up last year after winning a couple of state titles. Lemarcus Lee steps into the lineup this year after being a top reserve.
Sampson’s Madison Prep squad was the 1A boys runner to Metairie Park Country Day. The Chargers figure to be stronger with the addition of Dutchtown transfer Christion Thompson and several up-and-coming freshmen.
A list of movers and shakers for 2014-15 includes more than just players intent on taking their games and their teams to the next level.
Kenny Almond is one of the most successful boys basketball coaches ever in the Baton Rouge area. It’s not just about Almond’s 876 career wins. He’s been successful and at a number of stops and adds a new one — Zachary High — after spending a decade at East Ascension.
Southern Lab pulled off quite a coup in hiring former Kitten star Devan Clark away from Lafayette’s Northside High. Clark established himself as one of Louisiana’s top young coaches while at Northside and is determined to make the Kittens a 1A power again.
The most intriguing girls basketball hire also has a Southern Lab connection. Former SLHS star and Baylor player Terri Morris-Jones takes over a Central program that hasn’t garnered many wins in recent years.
There are other scenarios that I haven’t even mentioned.
Not hooked on hoops just yet? Well you should be.