Liberty Division. Haddonfield is coming off a rare sub-.500 season, but the Bulldogs appear intent on improving and contending in the deep Colonial Conference Liberty Division.
Not only do the Bulldogs return four starters, but senior twins Chris and Kevin Davis, who were key varsity performers as sophomores and didn't play last season, have again joined the team.
Leading the way is senior swingman Wyatt Polk, who averaged 22.1 points and six rebounds. Also back are senior guard Anthony Parenti (8.5 ppg.), sophomore forward Chris Biddle (6 ppg., 5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks), and junior forward Mike Lacatena (5 ppg., 5 rpg.).
"I think we will be improved but our conference is really competitive," said Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedemann, who has a 252-64 record.
Chris Davis suffered a shoulder injury in football and Wiedemann isn't sure on his availability early in the season, but both brothers give the Bulldogs an element of toughness and competitiveness.
It also makes Haddonfield a much deeper team, competing in a conference where depth will be a key element.
Collingswood has just one starter back from a team that won the Liberty Division and the South Jersey Group 2 title, but should remain a serious division contender.
Senior forward B.J. Jones, who averaged 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds, is the lone returning starter.
However, coach Joe McLoughlin went deep to his bench last season, so a number of players received experience.
Letter winners include 6-7 senior center Julian Welsh-White, senior guard Jermaine Feaster, senior forward-center Kris Williams, senior forward Ebed Destin, junior guard Chris Michael, and sophomore guard Shaquille Maynard.
Top newcomers are two senior guards, Derek Wormley, up from the JV and Karon Waller, a transfer from Camden.
Haddon Heights is expected to contend in the Liberty, with three starters returning from a 24-5 team that advanced to the South Jersey Group 2 final before losing to Collingswood.
Senior guard Michael Pitts, a second-team all-Colonial Liberty choice, joins senior forward Darious Jones and junior forward Nick Lundholm as returning starters. Junior guard Davon Jones, who provided instant offense off the bench and senior forward Shaquan Hall, are key letter-winners.
Two key newcomers are 6-5 senior Marcus Spearman and sophomore point guard Brandon Joyner.
Sterling could make the division a four-team race with three returning starters from a 12-13 team. Will Stallworth, a 6-2 senior swingman, averaged 12 points and eight rebounds in earning second-team all-conference honors. Donte Smith, a 6-2 senior, is versatile enough to play all five positions, according to coach Rob Atene.
Tyler Clark, a 6-0 junior, started every game last year.
A trio of 6-3 frontcourt players who are returning letter-winners are seniors Vince Rivera and Brett Holiday, and junior Christian Walsh.
Three players up from the junior varsity include sophomore guards Marcus Taylor and Jerry Crismond, and junior forward-center Tavon Graves.
West Deptford has one of the youngest teams in the Colonial, with just two seniors, 6-1 Jordan Haines and 6-4 Pat McShane.
The junior class is strong, led by 6-3 Tom Jakubowski, the leading returning scorer (11.7 ppg.). Junior forward Tim Fair and junior guards Tim Krott and Kyle Redrow supply depth.
An impressive performer this preseason has been Justin Hansen, a 5-9 freshman point guard, who figures to see extensive time.
Overbrook returns two starters from a 6-18 team. Danny Wilson, a 6-1 senior, is closing in on 1,000 points and will be the offensive leader. The other returning starter is 5-8 junior James Bullock.
Ray Cross, a 5-11 junior who was a junior varsity player last season, will be a welcome addition to the varsity.
Patriot Division. Paulsboro first-year coach Sean Collins, formerly a standout player and coach at Schalick, welcomes back three starters led by Xavier Lundy, a 6-5 sophomore who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds.
"Xavier Lundy is a special player who can dominate on both ends of the court," Collins said.
The other starters back are 6-7 sophomore Julian Davenport and senior guard Aaron Tilden, a football standout.
Adding depth are three returning letter winners, junior guards Juwan Alfrod and Calvin Johnson, and senior guard Cori Johnson.
Just one starter - football sack artist Aamir Petrose, a 6-4 senior - returns for Woodbury, which won the Patriot Division and a second straight South Jersey Group 1 title, but the Thundering Herd should again contend for both championships.
Terrence Tolbert, a 5-10 senior, is a key returning letter winner. Two others looking to contribute are 6-0 senior Paul Hughes and 6-1 sophomore Anthony Averett, the football quarterback.
Kenny Moore, a 5-11 senior transfer from Deptford, could see point-guard duty along with Tolbert.
Audubon also returns just one starter from a 16-11 team, but that player, senior guard T.J. Tassi, is a returning all-Patriot Division selection after averaging 17.4 points.
Other returning letter winners include senior guard Pete Coulter and senior forwards Charles Slack and Matt Knoll.
Two key additions from the junior varsity are junior swingman Trevor Tassi and sophomore guard Adin Borden.
Junior Jason Hutzler, a 6-3 forward, who led Lindenwold in assists and rebounds, is the only starter returning. With no returning letter winners, the Lions will bank on two transfers, 6-3 forward Xavier Nobles, who was at Camden, and 6-4 sophomore Cruize Rainey, who attended Hamilton. Nobles will be an inside presence, while Rainey provides a major perimeter threat.
Haddon Township was hit hard by injuries during a 5-18 season and should improve if the Hawks are healthy this season. The two top returning scorers are 6-1 senior Ryan Rust and 6-6 junior Logan Murray. Both were double-figure scorers. Murray, however, suffered an ankle injury, so his status for early in the season is uncertain.
Pat Burns, a 6-2 sophomore forward, was a starter by the end of last season. Two key letter winners are 5-10 senior Kyle Hart, also a soccer standout, and 6-2 senior forward Colin Duffy.
Gateway first-year coach Jim Gooding faces a major rebuilding job with the graduation of eight players. There are no returning starters. The cornerstones of the team will be 6-1 junior Joe Palmer, 5-11 junior point guard Tim Greene and 5-11 junior Dajon Lester. Two other players, 5-10 junior Ryan Gavin and 5-9 senior Sean O'Brien figure to be rotation players.
- Marc Narducci