Royal Division. Kingsway returns just one starter from last season's surprising South Jersey Group 3 champion. But the Dragons should be back in the hunt for another sectional crown, as well the division title.
Rondell Gilmore, a 6-foot junior, averaged 10.2 points for Kingsway last season, and played one of his strongest games with 18 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to Neptune in the Group 3 state semifinals. He'll get lots of help this season from an impact transfer as well as an influx of talent from Kingsway's undefeated junior varsity.
Kingsway got a boost with the arrival of 6-4 senior Elijah Bonsignore, who averaged 21.3 points and 12.6 rebounds last season for Campus Community School in Dover, Del.
"He fell out of the sky," Kingsway coach George Passante said. "He can really go to the rim."
Kingsway also will feature four juniors who were standouts on a 20-0 junior varsity: 5-11 Kyler Grigsby, 6-5 Ben Merritt, 6-3 Jordan Fagan and 6-2 Troy Jenkins.
"We lack experience," said Passante, who has been at Kingsway for six seasons. "But this is the most talented group I've had."
Williamstown is the defending division champion, and will contend again behind 6-0 senior Marcus Hampton, a four-year starter, as well as 6-1 junior Curtis Hopkins.
The Braves will be quick with 5-10 junior Deshawn Haines, 5-10 junior Mike Dobleman, 5-9 senior Chris Bell and 6-0 senior Billy McCarty in the mix.
"We might not be cohesive early in the year," Williamstown coach Bill Hunt said. "But I think we'll get better as the year goes along."
Highland will seek to move up from the middle of the pack behind 6-2 veteran forward Sean Daniels, as well as senior guard Zach Sanchez and sophomore guard Tyree Brown.
Deptford will rebuild with a pair of quick senior guards in 5-8 Dan Brodie, who averaged 10.9 points and 3.3 steals, and 5-5 Dexter Fowler.
Clearview is counting on the post-holidays return of junior Brian Burke, a top defender who is recovering from a leg injury. The Pioneers have experience in the backcourt in junior Aquil Simmons and sophomore Trevor Norton.
Diamond Division. Penns Grove returns four starters who averaged around 10 points per game, according to coach Kemp Carr.
The Red Devils will be led by 6-5 senior Stephen Bell and 6-3 senior Trevonn Taylor, along with 6-0 junior Malcolm Chase and 5-11 sophomore Ky Brown. One key for Penns Grove will be the return of 5-10 senior Steve Ransome, another veteran who missed much of last season with a foot injury.
"If this team stays together, they can do some nice things," Carr said.
Gloucester Catholic should contend for the title. The Rams return 13 lettermen from a team that went 6-4 in the division.
Leading the way will be 5-11 senior Sal Capone, who averaged 10 points, and 6-5 senior Colin Kelly. Other veterans include 6-1 senior Tim Segich, 5-10 senior Ryan Turner and 6-0 junior Cody Brown, along with 5-10 sophomore Mike Okafor.
"We're hoping valuable experiences gained from a difficult '08-09 will go a long way," Gloucester Catholic coach Todd Powers said.
All five Glassboro starters graduated from last season's undefeated division champions. The Bulldogs will rebuild behind 5-11 senior Brandon Stephens and 5-11 senior Joey Zuchowicz.
Woodstown will be in the mix with 6-1 senior Andrew Nichols leading the way along with 6-4 senior Jake Orr and 6-0 junior Evan Hathaway.
Classic Division. Pitman should be the team to beat for the next two seasons, as the Panthers have two of the division's best players in 5-8 junior Luke Dickson and 6-5 junior Dylan Colgate.
Dickson, who already has scored more than 1,000 points, averaged 18 points last season, while Colgate averaged 17 points.
The Panthers have an experienced guard in 5-10 senior Steve Pollock and should get a lift from 6-5 junior Alec Matchett and 6-0 junior Eric Todd.
Wildwood will be in the mix with a pair of 5-7 senior twins in Rick Palmer and Nick Palmer, both returning starters from a team that went 7-3 in the division. The Warriors also have 6-2 senior Joe Stefankiewicz.
Schalick could make a move this season behind 5-10 junior guard Kyle Philo, an emerging star, as well as 5-10 junior guard Donte Johnson and 6-2 senior forward Shamere Williams.
Salem is rebuilding with a pair of veterans in 6-2 junior Woodrow Furbush and 5-9 senior Shaquille Brooks along with new coach Ibn Muhammad.
"We're in transition, hoping to move up instead of down," Muhammad said.
Clayton has four returning starters in 6-2 senior Devon Lane, 6-1 senior Hamir Owens, 5-10 senior Reggie Haye and 6-2 junior Dan Reed.
Gloucester is hoping for a quick return of 5-10 junior Steve Lindsay, a starter last season who injured his shoulder in an early practice. The Lions have another veteran in senior forward Dan Viveiros and promising young players in sophomore forward Tajee Almon and freshman forward Stephano Okoro.
- Phil Anastasia