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CHSAA Preview

Contenders
    I'll start this preview off with the defending state champion and two time defending CHSAA champ, the St. Raymond Ravens. St. Ray's loses McDonald's All-American Julius Hodge and Chris McRae. Besides that they didn't lose much returning 5 of their 7 best players from last year's team. Headlining the returning players is All-American candidate 6'1 SG Allan Ray. Ray gives St. Ray's an outside threat but also player who takes it to the basket as hard as anybody in the city. The undersized Ravens team who has nobody taller then 6'4 will need a big contribution on the boards from Ray. Point guard Daon Merritt is the other player in the NYC's best backcourt. Merritt is in my opinion the best finisher in the city so he will get his points. But I feel for St. Ray's to be successful he will have to play tough on D and get his teammates involved. Forwards Louie McCroskey and Tariq Atkins have come up big in separate games this year, they will have to be more consistent for St. Ray's to have a chance to 3-peat.
    St. Ray's archrival is Rice. Rice is in a familiar position they are the favorite to win the title, but unlike past years they have no clear best player, instead they have plenty of players who can get it done. The player who I feel will become the go to guy by the end of the year is 5'9 PG/SG Keydren "Kiki" Clark. Clark is the best shooter in the  CHSAA if not the city. But he also has an underrated handle and can get to the basket. Unlike last year Rice has shown they can beat quality teams without a major contribution from 7'3 C Shagari Alleyne. Already this season Rice has beaten 2 of the better teams in the country without much from Alleyne (Lincoln and Midwest City (OK)). But Alleyne has gotten much better and makes Rice that much tougher to beat. Rice has a number of players I could talk about but I'll just talk about 3 of the guards, 6'2 SG Russell Robinson, 6'0 SG Steve Burtt and 6'1 PG Jason Wingate. Robinson and Burtt are scorers and they will have their big games this year, both have the ability to put up 30 on any given night. I once said Wingate had the ability to become the best guard ever to play at Rice, that hasn't exactly panned out but he is still very good. Wingate may not do anything spectacular but he gets the job done and is one of the best PG's in NY.
    Last year Molloy went to double overtime before losing in the city championship. They have lost 4 of their 5 starters from that game, big man Wendell Gibson, guards John Sikiric, Thomas Harrison and John Maser. But this year's team may be just  as good, with 6'0 PG Marlon Smith, 6'1 SG Sundiata Gaines, 6'2 SG Kevin Hamilton, 6'4 PF Kevin Diffley and 6'3 SF Jamaal Wagner. Smith gives the Stanners a player who can get his teammates involved but can take a game over when it is needed. Gaines and Hamilton are scorers, they both can get to the basket and hit the outside jumper. Wagner is a very dangerous outside shooter. Diffley can hit the outside shot but his major contribution to this team will be on the boards and inside scoring. If he can do that Molloy may be back at Fordham University in March.
    Last year the team that many thought was going to win the championship going into the playoffs was All Hallows. They basically lose nobody from their rotation, and add 6'1 PG Ronald Ramon. I felt Ramon should've been a starter on varsity last year. This year he has shown he will be a factor come playoff time. But the star of All Hallows is 6'3 SG Ricky Soliver. I thought Soliver was going to have a big summer, but it never happened but he is putting up big numbers so far this year including his 48 point performance against Duke bound Shavilik Randolph and company in the City of Palms tournament where they came in second. They have an advantage over most teams with 6'8 C Kiril Waschman in the paint. Waschman will have to play his size by grabbing boards and blocking shots, and scoring when the opportunity is there if All Hallows is to win this year's CHSAA title. 5'10 PG Marvin McCullough will need to continue is solid play at the point at the offensive end and excellent defense. The Gaels will need more then what they have been getting early on from 6'1 SG Bobby Santiago. He will have to produce like he did last year if All Hallows is to make a run at the city title.
    A team that is used to winning but hasn't even been to the title game since Omar Cook was a Junior is Christ the King. They have a great shot at winning the championship this year, but their championship hopes took a major blow when 6'3 SF Kelvin "Petey" Nelson was dismissed from the team. Even without Nelson they still have a talented team. They are led by guards 5'10 Japhet McNeil and 5'10 Mitchell Beauford. McNeil has been scoring a lot more then expected but he is still getting his teammates involved, but his one setback so far this season has been turnovers. Beauford has been doing what he is supposed to, and that is score. They will need him to continue to score if they are going to win games in their half of the CHSAA. The key to Christ the King being title contenders are the big men, 6'5 PF Brian Williams and 6'6 C Justin Marshall. Williams will have to play strong download doing both scoring and rebounding. Marshall is not a big scorer but he is one of the 3 best shot blockers New York. His defense and rebounding will be necessary for CK to make a run at the title.

CHSAA Team Rankings

1.

Rice

2. All Hallows
3. Molloy
4. St. Raymond
5. Christ the King
6. Bishop Loughlin
7. Xaverian

  Championship Prediction
  
There will be no 3-peat this year, instead Rice will win their 3rd title in 5 years. Rice is just too deep and too talented this year for anybody to beat them. All Hallows will be the team to play against Rice. But if Kelvin Nelson is allowed to play they will be in the championship and not All Hallows.

Player of the Year and CHSAA First Team
  
This year there is no clear favorite to win the CHSAA player of the year. With the injury to Allan Ray I think it is between two people, 6'6 SF Curtis Sumpter at Loughlin and 6'3 SG Ricky Soliver. The difference here is one team has title hopes and the other doesn't, because of that I am going to pick Ricky Soliver as Player of the Year.

G Ricky Soliver All Hallows
G Keydren Clark Rice
G Daon Merritt St. Raymond
F Curtis Sumpter Bishop Loughlin
C Chris Taft Xaverian