Boys CISAA Outlook: Chargers rule, challengers emerging

The CISAA is a star-studded league that will bring intriguing matchups with (from left) Country Day’s DeAngelo Epps, Charlotte Christian’s JC Tharrington, Providence Day’s Trey Wertz, Charlotte Christian’s Blake Preston and Country Day’s Rylan McLaurin. Andrew Stark/MMHW photo

The CISAA is a star-studded league that will bring intriguing matchups with (from left) Country Day’s DeAngelo Epps, Charlotte Christian’s JC Tharrington, Providence Day’s Trey Wertz, Charlotte Christian’s Blake Preston and Country Day’s Rylan McLaurin. Andrew Stark/MMHW photo

This league is filled with stars as Providence Day (Trey Wertz and Devon Dotson), Cannon (Qon Murphy and Jarius Hamilton), Charlotte Christian (Blake Preston and JC Tharrington) and Country Day (DeAngelo Epps and Rylan McLaurin) have bonafide stars who will be worth the price of admission. The Chargers boast one of, if not the top, backcourt in the state and have won five straight league titles. That should continue this year, but the gap between them and the rest of the conference is getting tighter. Cannon is incredibly talented and will make a run at the league title after handing Providence Day its first conference loss in four years. Charlotte Christian is another talented team who has size and shooting. They are dangerous and very capable of winning the league. Charlotte Latin is always in the mix and will be again this year. Country Day is a team on the rise and the Bucs can be very dangerous this year.  Covenant Day didn’t win a league game last year and will find it to be tough sledding in the conference again this year, although the Lions should be better.

Charlotte Christian

Coach: Shonn Brown (371-157)

2016-17 Record: 22-8, 6-4 in CISAA

Returning Starters: 4

The Knights started 17-2 last year, but still managed to win 22 games and make it to the NCISAA quarterfinals with some very impressive wins along the way.

This year, they should once again be very good and, along with Cannon and Providence Day, challenge for the CISAA title.

Point guard JC Tharrington has multiple Division I offers and averaged 10 points, a Mecklenburg County high 7.4 assists and nearly four rebounds per game. He is a great long-range shooter.

Blake Preston, a 6-9 post, is a Liberty University commit and a big interior presence. Preston averaged over nine points and 10 rebounds per game, and can take over inside at times.

Senior guard Terrelle Brown is a coach’s son and a gritty on-ball defender. He is terrific in transition and is back after averaging four points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and over two steals per game.

Seth Bennett, a 6-3 junior guard, will once again give the Knights another 3-point shooter. Bennett averaged over six points to go with 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds as a sophomore.

Six-five junior Garrett Shrader is a major college recruit at quarterback, but is a fine basketball player as well. Shrader averaged three rebounds and two points per game, and will see increases in both this season.

Efosa E-Udosomwan, a junior guard, is back as another good defender and scoring option.

The Knights are also excited about Paul Hudson, a 6-6 South Meck transfer, who will help immediately. He averaged eight points and seven rebounds with the Sabres, but teamed with Preston will give the Knights an impressive one-two punch inside.

Country Day

Coach: Dwayne Cherry, eighth season (80-114)

2016-17 Record: 11-16, 3-7 in CISAA

Returning Starters: 4

The Bucs are a team on the rise in the CISAA and look to improve on last year’s record with the return of their top four scorers – all of whom are juniors – and the return of DeAngelo Epps, one of the conference’s top players.

Epps, a 6-5 junior guard, is being recruited by Wofford, UNC Greensboro, Appalachian State and East Carolina, but will get more interest going forward.

Epps is a smooth wing who can shoot it from the outside or get to the basket and finish with ease. He averaged 12 points, five rebounds and nearly three steals per game and is only getting better.

Point guard Rylan McLaurin runs the Bucs offense and is a great ball handler with good vision. Last year, he was voted the team MVP after contributing 11 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.

Myles Browner is a 6-foot guard who averaged nine points per game. He’s a steady player who should see an uptick in scoring.

Six-foot guard Alex Tabor has plenty of range and recruiting interest from Holy Cross. He averaged nine points a game last year, but could be in line for a breakout season.

Jake Lavitt and Ryan Middlemiss contributed last season, but the Bucs won’t have a ton of height and will have to find some more depth. They should continue to rise as a program.

Covenant Day

Coach: Marty Parrish, first season

2016-17 Record: 3-19, 0-10 in CISAA

Returning Starters: 0

The Lions are in a transition after a tough 2016-17 that saw them go winless in the conference. They lost seven seniors and a pair of transfers – including each of their top five starters, but coach Marty Parrish will get to put his stamp on the program he inherits this season.

The Lions will be thin in spots and not particularly big or experienced, but they have some pieces to work with.

Malik Beatty is the Lions lone senior on the roster and will provide leadership and toughness. He averaged just over two points per game, but can play either forward spot and has flashed some good ability this offseason. He could be Covenant Day’s best player this year.

Sophomore guard Drew Patterson averaged two points and an assist in a backup role as a freshman, but he’ll be the team’s floor leader and relied on heavily to get the Lions in their sets offensively.

Sophomore Jacob Dahlberg was a reserve last year, but showed lots of promise. He’ll inherit one of the wing spots and is a high IQ guy who could have a big year.

The Lions will also heavily lean on transfers Landon King (East Meck) and Caleb Ross (Ardrey Kell). Neither played last season, but they will add depth to the wing and have looked good so far.

Aside from those five, the Lions are extremely young and inexperienced. They’ll need some depth up front, but should be more competitive this season.

Providence Day

Coach: Brian Field, 12th season (203-128)

2016-17 Record: 23-11, 9-1 in CISAA

Returning Starters: 5

The Chargers made it to the NCISAA Final 4 last year after winning it all the season before and are again among the private school elites.

They have one of, if not the, best backcourts in the state with point guard Devon Dotson and shooting guard Trey Wertz.

Dotson, a five-star point guard and Kansas commit, is the 24th-ranked player in the nation, according to Dotson averaged 23.5 points, seven rebounds and six assists as a junior.

The sharp-shooting Wertz is a top 20 recruit in the state and a Santa Clara recruit. He averaged 19 points and six rebounds and shot over 60 percent from the floor last year.

All-conference guard Isaac Suffren settled into his role nicely last season and is a capable scorer and plus defender.

Senior guard Kyle Wood is a good shooter, knows how to run a team and rarely makes mistakes on the court.

John MIralia gives the Chargers size inside with his 6-foot-6 frame and played well as a freshman last year.

The Chargers hope Jacolbe Cowan will be back healthy this season as the 6-6 forward provides a nice scoring touch and rebounding.

While Providence Day isn’t particularly deep, they have an elite backcourt that will carry them all season.

Charlotte Latin

Coach: Chris Berger, ninth season (125-86)

2016-17 Record: 10-16, 4-6 in CISAA

Returning Starters: 3

The Hawks struggled a bit last year, but expect to be much better. Four freshmen who saw time have had a year to improve and Charlotte Latin is a good shooting team that connected on 44 percent of their 3-point tries with much of that firepower coming back.

Although they lack a true post and overall team size, they are hoping their shooting can keep them in most games.

Junior guard John Beecy averaged nearly 10 points and four rebounds per game and will be asked to score more this season.

Sophomore forward Bennett Smith averaged eight points and five rebounds per game as a freshman, and at 6-5, he is one of the Hawks biggest inside threats.

Senior guard JP Smith averaged seven points and four rebounds per game and will take one of the guard spots.

The Hawks are happy to welcome back 6-4 senior Jack Felkner, who was injured for much of last season. He’s back healthy and expected to have a big year.

Senior guard Charlie Herrmann is from a long line of former Hawk sharp-shooting brothers and can extend the defense. Sophomore guard RJ Johnson will see some time, along with Herrmann, in the backcourt.

The Hawks have to find a way to replace Davidson commit Bates Jones, who led them in most statistical categories last year, but should be much better. However, the CISAA is a stacked league with Providence Day, Cannon and Charlotte Christian all very strong, so they’ll need a big year to make waves.

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