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South Jersey boys' basketball preseason Top 25

Defending South Jersey champions Shawnee and Camden lead the way along with perennial powers Atlantic City and St. Augustine Prep.

Senior forward Dylan Deveney and veteran coach Joe Kessler lead Shawnee boys’ basketball team.
Senior forward Dylan Deveney and veteran coach Joe Kessler lead Shawnee boys’ basketball team.Read moreMichael Bryant / Staff Photographer

1. Shawnee (29-3 last season): The Renegades return all five starters from a South Jersey Group 4 championship team that pushed North Jersey power Linden to the brink in the state final at Rutgers. Leading the way will be seniors such as 6-foot-6 forward Dylan Deveney, 6-4 forward Daevon Robinson, 6-5 wing Sean Heine and 6-1 guard Dean Noll along with 6-3 junior Pat Kernan. They all are skilled, polished players with great feel for the game and each other. Kane Feudtner, a 6-4 senior, and 6-3 junior guard Connor Deveney are top reserves who would start for almost every other team in South Jersey.

2. Camden (24-7): The Panthers' pursuit of that elusive 12th state title will be led by 6-6 senior Myles Thompson and 6-0 senior Corey Greer, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. Ethan Tarte, a 6-2 junior guard, is a third returning starter. Senior twins Nasir and Nasim Hinson, a pair of 5-6 athletes, will supply energy off the bench. This team will get a huge lift when 6-8 sophomore Lance Ware, a transfer from Life Center, becomes eligible after 30 days.

3. Atlantic City (21-7): The Vikings have a top all-around player in 6-5 senior Ray Bethea, a Howard recruit. Other returning starters include 6-4 senior Nah'Sir Morgan, 6-2 senior Nazim Derry and 6-2 senior David Aikens. The Vikings' inside game will get a boost after 30 days when 6-8 junior Zion Teague, a transfer from Vineland, becomes eligible.

4. St. Augustine (26-3): South Jersey's most accomplished program in recent years is rebuilding a bit this season. The Hermits will be led by 6-6 senior Marlon Hargis, a three-year starter, as well as 6-2 senior Travis Stoll, another returning starter. Junior lead guard Jordan Kendricks and 6-5 junior forward Charles Solomon are players to watch as well.

5. Cherokee (21-7): The Chiefs will be led by 6-6 senior Tymere Bennett, a Bloomfield recruit, and 6-3 junior Anthony DiCaro, a top outside shooter and playmaker. This is a deep team that also features 5-10 senior Tyler Ludwikowski and should get a lift from 6-0 junior Olare Oladipo, a transfer from Union.

6. Camden Catholic (20-7): The Irish have a top combination in 6-4 senior swingman Dominic Dunn and 6-5 junior forward Baba Ajike. Dajuan Feliciano, a 6-1 senior guard, is another player to watch, and the Irish could get a big lift from 6-7 junior Oche Okafor, an inside force who missed most of last season with an injury.

7. Haddonfield (24-6): The Bulldawgs will be led by 6-0 junior guard Mike DePersia as well as 6-2 senior guard Will Bond, a pair of top outside shooters. Other veterans include 6-4 junior Aiden Blake, 6-3 junior Dylan Heine and 5-10 junior Louis Evans. Dan Fleming, a 6-7 junior, is another player to watch.

8. Eastern (14-13): The Vikings returned an experienced group led by 6-0 senior Jesse Barbera and 6-2 senior Troy Edwards, both of whom averaged double figures last season. Onye Okoro, a 6-7 senior, is an inside presence while 6-0 junior Andrew Heck, a transfer from Pemberton, is a top outsider shooter. The Vikings will get a big lift in January with the eligibility of 6-5 senior Matt Cotton, a Yale recruit who will sit out 30 days as a transfer from St. Benedict's.

9. Rancocas Valley (16-12): The Red Devils return four starters, including 6-1 senior Kadian Dawkins, a top playmaker, as well as 5-10 senior Curtis Bright, 6-1 senior Naair Campbell and 6-2 senior Darnell St. Clair. The Red Devils could get a boost from a pair of skilled sophomores in 6-3 Damilola Mosaku, a transfer from Japan, and 6-0 Javontae Jones, a transfer from Patrick School.

10. Bishop Eustace (22-7): The Crusaders are a battled-tested group led by 6-4 senior Peyton Vostenak and 6-0 senior Pat Fish, a three-year starter. David Cross, a 5-10 sophomore, and 6-3 junior Matt Kempter could be impact players as well. The Crusaders also will feature 6-6 junior Mattia Morini, a transfer from Italy who could develop into a Division I-caliber player.

11. Lenape (23-4): The Indians have a top returning player in 6-6 senior Andrew Sims and a top defender and all-around athlete in 6-0 senior Jake Topolski. Other players to watch include junior guard Steve Matlack and junior forward Alex Matthews.

12. Timber Creek (12-15): The Chargers have one of South Jersey's best 1-2 combinations in 6-6 senior swingman Maurice Murray, a pure scorer, and 6-4 senior forward Isaiah Sanders, a top athlete. Other returning starters include 6-0 senior Ricky Martin and 6-2 senior Dylan Elliott.

13. Wildwood Catholic (16-10): The Crusaders will be led by 6-2 senior Caleb Fields, a Bowling Green recruit. Other key players include 6-2 senior Charles Fields, Caleb's twin, and 6-7 sophomore Taj Thweatt, one of South Jersey's top young players. Jahlil White, a 6-4 sophomore, is another player to watch along with 6-0 sophomore Jacob Hopping, a transfer from Holy Spirit who will sit out the first 30 days.

14. Highland (19-7): The Tartans will be led by 6-2 senior Dante Masino and 6-5 senior Damola Dairo, a pair of three-year starters. Another three-year starter, 6-1 senior guard Zafir Brower, is projected to return in early to mid-January from a foot injury.

15. Holy Spirit (16-10): The Spartans return four starters — 5-10 senior guards Andrew Gallagher and Reece Miller and 6-2 senior swingmen Sam LaMonaca and Joe Marczyk. Joe Glenn, a 6-8 sophomore, could develop into an impact player along with 6-3 sophomore Isaiah Gerena and 6-2 junior Jake LaMonaca.

16. Paul VI (14-13): The Eagles have a strong junior class led by 6-2 swingman Tyshon Judge, 6-5 forward Hartnel Haye, 6-0 guard Tariq Johnson and 6-1 guard Nick Villa.

17. Moorestown (19-7): The Quakers return four starters led by 5-10 junior Jagger Zrada, a top playmaker. Other veterans include 6-2 junior forward Nick Cartwright-Atkins, 5-10 junior guards Vinny Caprarola and Akhil Ghiri and 6-2 junior swingman Brian McMonagle.

18. Delsea (18-10): The Crusaders have a top all-around player in 5-9 junior guard Javon Gordon, a creative playmaker and top defender. The team has seasoned seniors such as 6-1 guard Aziz Saud, 6-1 forward Will Hawkins, 6-0 guard Nate Cox and 5-9 guard Kolby Braxton. Zion Jamison, a 6-5 junior, is a player to watch.

19. Woodbury (26-4): The defending South Jersey Group 1 champions have a top junior in 6-4 guard Aaron Estrada, a rangy lefthander who could develop into one of South Jersey's top players. Other veterans of last year's run to the Group 1 state finals include juniors Jay'Shawn Harvey, Tommy Carter and Isaiah Bailey, senior Marcus McGruder and sophomore Andre Parker.

20. Williamstown (20-8): The Braves re-emerged as a top squad last season and should build on that behind 6-0 senior guard Mike Patterson, who averaged 12.4 points, and 6-7 junior Nick Kenton.

21. Burlington City (22-8): The Blue Devils, the defending Central Jersey Group 1 champions, have a top inside player in 6-5 senior D'Andre Thurmond and a sophomore to watch in 6-2 Deonte Woodbury.

22. Pleasantville (10-15): The Greyhounds have a top playmaker in 5-9 junior Divine Anderson, who averaged 18 points and eight assists last season. Other players to watch include 6-3 junior Jacob Valeus as well as 6-2 junior Sahmir Jones, a transfer from Mainland who averaged 12.5 points for the Mustangs as a sophomore.

23. Bordentown (20-9): The Scotties have a top all-around player in 6-1 senior Jacquey Mendez, who averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists. A strong sophomore class led by guards Rashone VanKline and Jordan Martin could make a big impact for the Scotties.

24. Sterling (14-12): The Silver Knights return three starters led by 6-0 senior guard Chris Roe, who averaged 17.1 points, as well as 6-2 senior Zakobe Streater and 6-7 junior Noah Syer. Other players to watch include 6-3 senior Kyle Smith and 6-0 senior Chris Jones.

25.Haddon Heights (17-11): The Garnets have a top playmaker in 5-9 senior guard Jared Latane, who averaged 17.8 points and already has 1,128 career points. Other players to watch include 6-0 senior Jake Campbell, 6-1 junior Jared Bolling, 5-10 junior Jabari Higgs and 6-1 sophomore TeSean Pressley.

Under consideration: (listed alphabetically) Cherry Hill East (17-11), Gloucester Catholic (16-11), Middle Twp. (11-15), St. Joseph (19-7), Wildwood (22-7), Winslow Twp. (18-13).