As the 2017-18 high school basketball season tips off, here are a few teams and players to watch.
Boys' Team to Watch: Patterson
Despite only having one senior on its roster, it should be another strong season for Patterson. The Clippers won the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association 2A state title and Baltimore City championship last season, finishing 26-3. During the season, Patterson defeated Poly and Perry Hall, both of which also won state championships last season, as well as three state runners-up.
Patterson doing well is nothing new -- the team has been a juggernaut during head coach Harry Martin's 11-year tenure. Patterson has a 201-74 record under Martin, which includes two MPSSAA state crowns, five regional titles and two Baltimore City championships in the past seven years.
The Clippers return two starters from last year's group: junior guards Gerard Mungo and Daesean Jones. Martin said he expects Mungo, who averaged 12 points per game last season, to be the floor general. Jones averaged 10 points, including an impressive 22-point performance against MPSSAA 3A state finalist Potomac.
One significant loss will be junior guard Marvin Price, who transferred to Huntington Prep in West Virginia after a sophomore campaign that saw him average 23.2 points. Three transfers are expected to help offset Price's departure -- a pair of guards in sophomore Zaccheus Blackwell and junior TJ Thomas, as well as sophomore forward Isaac James.
Girls' Team to Watch: Catonsville
With a number of players returning, Catonsville looks primed to repeat as MPSSAA 4A state champions.
The Comets have been as consistent a program as any in the Baltimore area in recent years, reaching 20 wins in each of the past four seasons. The program had struggled to get out of the brutally tough 4A North region, though, having not won a regional title since 2003 before last season, when the Comets went 26-2 and won the program's first state championship.
The Comets had to beat the best to get there, getting past consistent state title contenders Howard, North Point and Walt Whitman. Winning the championship was a significant moment for head coach Mike Mohler, who enters his 23rd season at the helm of the program.
Jasmine Dickey, Catonsville's go-to player last season, returns. The senior forward who recently committed to Delaware is expected to build off her sensational junior season, which saw her average 23.8 points per game and 9.7 rebounds. Dickey saved her best for last, scoring 30 points against Whitman in the state final, which Catonsville won, 49-46.
Dickey isn't the only starter returning -- a pair of seniors in guard Jameila Barrett and forward Stashia Daniels are coming back, as is junior guard Gabby Douglas.
Boys' Player to Watch: Immanuel Quickley, senior point guard, John Carroll
As has been the case the past couple years, there will be a lot of eyes on Quickley this season.
Quickley, a guard/forward, has been a big name locally since his sophomore year when he averaged 17.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. He led the Patriots to the Baltimore Catholic League championship that season, hitting the winning shot as time expired to top Mount St. Joseph in the final.
The 6-foot-3 Quickley followed up his stellar sophomore campaign by averaging 23.7 points and 7.2 assists as a junior. He got picked for the Under-19 USA National Team this past summer, getting the opportunity to play at the 2017 FIBA U-19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt. At the tournament, in which the USA finished third, Quickley played in every game, averaging 6.7 points and 2.4 assists.
Quickley soon found himself toward the top of numerous national rankings for top college prospects. He's currently 12th on ESPN.com and 10th on Rivals.com. On Sept. 22, he committed to play at the University of Kentucky for head coach John Calipari, who coached him at the U-19 World Cup.
Girls' Player to Watch: Mir McLean, sophomore forward, Roland Park Country School
If McLean improves upon her first season of high school basketball, Roland Park Country School will be extremely difficult to beat this season.
McLean, a 5-foot-11 forward, was a force as a freshman, posting numbers throughout the season that most seniors would covet. She had a standout performance during her high school debut, finishing with 18 points and 18 rebounds against Ossining High School from New York, the then-No. 5 team in the country, according to USA Today's Super 25 rankings. RPCS won the game, 70-60.
Those types of performances became routine for McLean. Her best effort came against Western from Baltimore City, when she scored 21 points and posted 20 rebounds as RPCS topped the Doves, 82-71.
McLean finished the season with 20 double-doubles in 23 games. She averaged 14.5 points and 14.6 rebounds.
McLean isn't the only standout on the RPCS roster. The Reds are entering this season with high expectations after finishing third in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland “A” conference last year. A trio of guards are expected to be big contributors -- senior Aniyah Carpenter, junior Ja'Niah Henson and sophomore Rain Green.
Coach to Watch: Richard Hibbert, New Town Girls
It's not often a team wins a state championship during a coach's first year with a program. How Richard Hibbert and the New Town girls' basketball team fare after accomplishing that feat will definitely be something to watch.
Hibbert coached the boys' JV team at Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore City for four seasons prior to joining the Titans. When he first applied for the head coaching position at New Town, he didn't get selected, but a few months later Hibbert got a call from New Town athletic director Reggie Spears, who said the position was open for interviews again. This time around, Hibbert, who had never coached girls' basketball before, got the job.
A winning culture within the program had been established by former head coach Gena Young, who led New Town to the MPSSAA 1A state final game in 2014 and a regional title in 2016. For all of New Town's success, though, the team had yet to win a state title before last season, when it finished 23-5 and also won the Baltimore County championship. After last season's performance, Hibbert and the Titans appear to be a perfect match.
Issue 239: November 2017