American Conference. Muji McBride "will have a major impact on the league," Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said of his 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward and the approaching Cape-Atlantic basketball season.
"We will rely on him to score, rebound and defend."
The defending American Division 1 champion Vikings (20-7) get bigger from there. Senior Jamil Stewart, a 6-6 center, also returns to the starting lineup. And Allen will send in 6-71/2 Jaleen Montegue from time to time. A freshman, Montegue has the potential to develop into an impact player because he is a great athlete, according to Allen.
Atlantic City also will have a rotation that can go 11 deep, which is more than last season, when it lost to Washington Township, 56-55, in a South Jersey Group 4 semifinal.
Beyond Montegue, the bench players include five sophomores, who do not have a great deal of experience. One is Keshawn Reynolds, a 6-3 forward who is a bruiser inside.
Allen describes him as a "throwback, a strong kid who will carve out space in the low block."
Egg Harbor Township (6-18) figures to turn things around in the American this season with newcomer Anthony Taylor, an experienced 6-2 guard from Living Faith Academy, and four returning starters: senior forwards Dan Allen and Tejay Johnson, senior guard Winston Rolls, and sophomore guard Justin Williams.
Johnson, 6-3, averaged 7.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game and Allen, 6-3, averaged 4.4 points and five rebounds a game. The 6-foot Rolls averaged 7.9 points and three assists a game, while the 6-2 Williams pumped in 5.4 points a game.
Isiah Morton and Charlie Monaghan, St. Augustine's best players from last season, return to the starting lineup of the defending American Division 2 champs.
Middle Township coach Tom Feraco calls the two juniors the best inside-outside combo in the division.
Monaghan is a 6-6 forward who is capable of scoring 15 to 18 points and snatching 11 or more rebounds per game, according to St. Augustine coach Paul Rodio.
Morton is a 5-8 guard who has 950 career points and is looking to assist more this season.
Rodio, who has 686 career wins, has added his son, Steven, a junior, to the starting lineup at point guard. Either 6-5 freshman Ry'n Bland or 6-3 sophomore Austin Johnson will round out the starting lineup.
Senior guard Steve Dombrowski, a strong defensive player, will be the sixth man.
Oakcrest, which didn't win a game in the American 2 last season and went 8-17 overall, returns with reason to be optimistic. Seniors Robert Gouldy and Erik Nelson, both three-year starters at guard and forward, respectively, return to a lineup that includes a couple of trees.
Letter-winners Terrance Witcher and Chris Ward, both 6-foot-5, will be at center and forward, respectively.
Senior guard Ed Parker, Absegami's leading scorer last season with 14 points per game, recently had a cast removed from his shooting hand. He and David White, a 6-3 center, who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds a game, are the two returning players who led the Braves (11-12) to second place in the American 1.
National Conference. Jate Cheshul, a 6-4 junior forward, is the only returning starter on Holy Spirit's South Jersey Non-Public A runner-up team, winner of the National Division 1 title.
Cheshul, a two-year starter, will be joined by Asmar Williams, a 6-2 guard who lettered last season and could become one of the top players in the National Conference.
Holy Spirit (27-3) should remain as one of the top teams in the National Conference.
Seniors Aaron Freeman and Luis Sotomayor form the best backcourt in the National Division, according to their coach, Cape May Tech's Bob Ridgeway.
Freeman, a 6-1, two-year starter, averaged 19 points per game and 6-3 Sotomayor averaged 16 points per game last season.
Steve Carrillo, a 6-2 forward, is the other returning starter.
Tech (15-10), which won the National 2 last season, has size but has to work on quickness.
Middle Township (20-6) has two returning starters, but one is questionable for the early part of the season in the National 2. Shai Henry, a 6-4 junior forward who averaged 13 points and nine rebounds per game, was nursing a sore back and toe near the start of the season.
That leaves 5-11 senior guard John Jefferson as the one who the younger players will look to for leadership. One of the supporting players is 6-3 junior guard Marcus Harmon, nephew of McDonald's all-American Ricky Harmon.
Senior Tom McKeefery, a 6-6 forward/center, is one of the best shot blockers in the Cape-Atlantic. In fact, his coach, Lower Cape May's Pat Holden, said McKeefery is the best he has seen in the last 14 years in the league.
McKeefery last season blocked three shots, scored about 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds a game.
One of the best shooters in the league, 6-2 junior guard Brandon Pascucci, will join the big man on the hardwood. A solid three-point shooter, Pascucci averaged 13 points per game last season.
After a losing season (4-21) and a fourth-place finish in the National 2 last season, Sacred Heart is a team on the rebound with five seniors in its starting lineup.
Mark Ronchetti, Ryan Hutchins, Tyler Day, and Vince Gavigan are returning starters. Forward Zach Klaudi was a letter-winner.
A three-year starter, 6-5 center Day averaged four rebounds last season.
Wildwood Catholic (4-22) finished in the basement of the National 2 last season and has just two seniors in the lineup. One of them, David McCallion, starts. McCallion is a 6-3, 210-pound center/forward.
St. Joseph (7-19) finished third in the National 2 last season, and hopes to move up with six seniors in the rotation. Guard Dylan DeSorte is the lone starter from last season.
Tyler Hillgrube, Rashan Brock and Kandy Panico form the nucleus for Buena (8-18), which placed last in the National 1.
Bridgeton (18-8), which placed third in the tough National 2, has all of its starters back from a team that went 13-0 at home. They are seniors Jamal Brown, Jermaine Dunkins, Malcolm Fentress and Tommy Harris, and junior Frank Nock.
- Bill Iezzi