Venture inside Harrison Gymnasium and you'll see why there's optimism at Glen Mills.
Familiar faces are on the Bulls' basketball team.
Aaric Murray, a McDonald's all-American nominee, and senior forward Darnell Plummer are the returning starters from a 16-10 campaign.
Murray, a 6-foot-11 senior center, averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots last season. The 6-3 Plummer averaged 11 points.
Senior point guard Reggie Miles, senior forward Tyrik Gass and junior forward Anthony Hall (6-6) also are back.
"Just the fact that we have multiple returners always excites us and gives us a lot of optimism for the long-term success," coach Craig Mellinger said.
Glen Mills is a residential school in Delaware County for court-adjudicated young men. Players often arrive at the school with no or very little organized basketball experience. That leaves the Bulls' coaching staff with the task of teaching Basketball 101.
"The real successful seasons are set up when the core of the guys from the previous return," Mellinger said.
Academy Park also welcomes back two starters.
Senior shooting guard Devon Cain is the only returning full-time starter. Senior center Devin Hunter (6-6) was a part-time starter.
Senior forward Kenny Green will join the two in the starting lineup. As of last week, two starting positions still were being contested.
Sophomore Jordan Tucker and junior Taylor Boulware were battling the point-guard spot. Junior Brandon Jackson and Jordan McClendon were battling for the last starting guard position. Once the starting lineup is set, Academy Park will look to improve on last season's 13-12.
The Penn Wood Patriots are expected to contend for the Class AAAA state title.
Penn Wood, ranked No. 2 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer in the preseason, has returning four starters from last season's state quarterfinalist squad.
The four are junior point guard Tyree Johnson, senior shooting guard Duane Johnson (6-5), sophomore power forward Sean Oakman (6-8), and senior forward/center Thomas White (6-8).
Sophomore forward Aaron Brown, a Roman Catholic transfer, will join them in the starting lineup.
Senior guard Chris White, senior guard David Squire, junior guard Dequan Pelzer, senior Will Brown and senior center Mark Kieh (6-7) will all see action in Penn Wood's 10-man rotation.
Senior swingman Rahlir Jefferson (6-6), a Temple signee, is the only returning starter for Chester. Point guard Laquan Robinson is only other player with valuable experience.
But don't let that fool you.
Sharpshooting guard Maurice Nelson transferred from Valley Forge Military Academy. The junior is the younger brother of Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who starred at Chester and St. Joseph's University.
Jefferson's younger brother, Rahmir Green, is also a talent. The freshman guard can flat-out score.
Robinson's backup at point guard will be his younger brother, freshman Kareem Robinson. Senior forwards Keyon Staples and Learon Pray also will be in the mix.
Looking to improve.
For Chichester, standout senior forward Dan Clapp (6-6) returns from a team that finished 13-12 last season.
Interboro will look to improve on last season's 6-17 campaign.
- Keith Pompey