American Conference. St. Augustine is one of the hottest hoops teams in the Cape-Atlantic League, and there are two reasons why: Isaiah Morton and Charlie Monaghan.

Marist-bound Morton is a sensational guard who could eclipse 2,000 career points this season. He averaged 24.3 points per game last season. Meanwhile, Monaghan, a 6-foot-6 forward who committed to St. Michael's College in Vermont, a Division II program, scored 15.9 points and corralled his share of rebounds. He is 300 points from 1,000.

Rounding out the starting five are guards Steven Rodio and Michael Greenman, and 6-4 junior forward Austin Johnson. The Hermits bench is experienced and deep.

Lower Cape May, the defending National Conference champion and Cape-Atlantic League runner-up, has moved into the American Conference. The Tigers have four starters returning, but also have a problem in the depth department.

Brandon Pascucci leads the Tigers and is one of the most talked-about guards in the league. The 6-2 senior last season averaged 12.6 points per game, had 49 assists, grabbed 67 rebounds and stole the ball 38 times despite injuries that often sidelined him.

Pascucci is joined by fellow starters Ernie Harper, a 6-0 senior guard, Marvin Evans, a 5-9 senior point guard, and Vance Matthews, a 6-4 junior swingman. George Moore, a 6-4 senior center, rounds out the starting five. Guard Bobby O'Donnell is the sixth man.

Ocean City won it all last season, but welcomes back just two starters and has to hope that a supporting cast can develop into a playoff team.

Senior Tom Ballezzi and junior Matt Bosch are the returnees. Ballezzi, a 5-11 guard, averaged five points, and Bosch, a 6-2 forward-center, averaged 13 points and four rebounds a game. Their production should increase this season.

Atlantic City has a pair of returning starters, letter-winners and newcomers with height, but are inexperienced.

Keyshawn Reynolds, a 6-3 forward, averaged 9.8 points, and Martel Johnson, a 5-8 guard, averaged six points last season.

Three of the following five likely will fill out the starting roster: Jaleem Montague, a 6-7 forward; Tai Malik, a 6-5 center; Ishmail Naji, a 6-4 forward; Elijah Langford, a 6-2 forward; and Steph Gilbert, a 6-0 guard.

Millville has one of the best guards in the league in Jaymere Hadden, a senior who last season pumped in 19.7 points and grabbed 6.1 rebounds per game.

Absegami has a new head coach in Mike Bult and a team that aims to be a contender. The core of the Braves consists of four returning seniors, including three-year starter Javonte Dickerson, an accomplished point guard.

Oakcrest has three returning starters, two other players who will contribute, and little depth. Senior Justin Knight is one of the best guards in the league. He is joined by 6-2 senior forward Jeff Skinner. Letter-winners Isaiah Price, a 6-6 sophomore forward, and Avery Walker, a 6-2 forward, also will see time.

The letter-winners are senior Kevin Marquez and junior Justin Williams. Newcomers include former junior varsity players Luke Peterson and Rahim Bunch, and Richard Dukes.

Vineland has height in three returning starters and a couple letter-winners who likely will propel the Fighting Clan. The returnees are 6-3 senior forward Dalton Sterling, 6-5 forward Josh Ashley, and 6-5 junior Kenny Armstead. The letter-winners are 6-6 forwards Sean Chini and Trey Parker.

National Conference. Middle Township has five seniors, one of whom is hurt and another is a transfer.

Shy Henry is a 6-4 forward with great potential. However, he does not appear to have recovered fully from knee surgery. He is joined by two other returning starters, 6-4 swingman Marcus Harmon and 6-0 guard Wayne Lennon.

Gary Woodlin, a 6-1 forward, and Garrett Kerr, a 6-2 guard who transferred from Moorestown, complete the starting five. They are backed up by five juniors and sophomores with talent.

Holy Spirit has its top seven players returning from a team that had a mediocre record last season but could win the division, conference, league, sectional, and state titles this season. That's because the Spartans have height, talent, experience and depth.

Seniors Asmar Williams and Jate Cheshul are two of the top players in the league. Williams is a 6-2 guard who made first-team all-league last season. Cheshul is a 6-5 forward who made second team.

Larry Jones, a 6-5 junior, Paul Moore, a 6-1 sophomore, and Tyler Miller, a 5-11 senior, round out the starting five. Seniors Josh Popper, a 6-5 forward, and Dylan Price, a 6-3 forward, are the sixth and seventh members of a talented bench that includes three-point shooter John Sommers, a 6-1 junior guard, and Junior Saintel, a 6-4 freshman with great promise.

Bridgeton has one returning starter and one letter-winner in the starting lineup.

Frank Nock, a guard-forward, is 134 points from 1,000 for his career. He is joined by letter-winner Dontae Stubbs, a 5-10 junior guard. Jeffrey Stevenson, a 6-2 junior forward-center, Samuel Bell, a 6-3 junior center, and newcomer Tyren Johnson, a 5-11 junior forward, round out the starters. The bench lacks depth.

Buena has a pair of guards as the only starters returning. They are seniors Landy Panico and Rashan Austin. Panico averaged 8.1 points a game last season. Austin averaged 4.1 points.

At Cape May Tech, the Hawks have some size, rebounding skills, and go nine deep. However, just three players are returning starters. They are Khali Wilson, a 5-10 junior point guard, Brandon Carrillo, a 6-3 junior forward, and Jake Hemingway, a 6-6 sophomore center.

Pleasantville, the two-time and defending National Division 2 champs, has the size and talent to repeat. Two starters, Armin Cane, a 6-foot senior guard who scored 15 points per game, and Sheldon Spiller, a 6-4 senior center who scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds a game, return.

Newcomers Neil Peters, a 6-3 sophomore forward, Dwayne Morgan, a 6-1 junior forward, and Dashaun Benson, a 6-4 senior forward, also also likely make a contribution.

St. Joseph will be hindered by lack of size, experience, and depth. However, the Wildcats return with two starters, four letter-winners, and a bench that has five players with promise.

Senior Drew Terry, a 6-1 guard, averaged 8.7 points and junior Andrew Ordille, a 5-10 guard, averaged 7.5 points a game last season.

Wildwood Catholic has three speedy and experienced senior guards in Daquill Gibbs and T. John Casiello, both good three-point shooters and ballhandlers, and Zach DeWeese, a four-year starter.

Sacred Heart is a young and inexperienced team that will be led by two of last season's starters: Mike DePalma and Nick Gladfelter. DePalma is a 6-0 senior guard who averaged 10 points. Gladfelter is a 6-6 forward who averaged nine points and four rebounds.

   - Bill Iezzi