BLOG: Y-A League teams, players earning statewide recognition
With high school basketball getting underway all across Pennsylvania on Friday night, the last week or so hasn't been light on statewide preseason rankings, both for players and teams.
For several York-Adams League schools and one player, they were among the notable lists of teams and players to make preseason rankings.
Prep and college basketball site CityOfBasketballLove released preseason top-10 rankings for each of the six PIAA classes over the past week, while PennLive.com listed its "Fab 5" players to watch this year.
Here's a look at each of the Y-A League teams and one player that earned a spot on those lists and others that fell under the "Ones to Watch" category:
York Country Day: The Greyhounds come in at No. 3 in Michael Bullock's CoBL's 1-A preseason rankings.
Coming off a season in which it went 23-1 overall, YCD brings back nearly its entire roster from the team that won the program's first ever District 3 title and made it to the second round of the state tournament. Led by seniors Jordan Ray and DeAireus Brown — Brown earned an all-state nod as junior last season — and junior D.J. Hamilton, the Greyhounds are a heavy favorite to repeat as 1-A champions in District 3, while also better preparing themselves for the grind of the state tournament with a tougher schedule. York Country Day begins its season on Friday night with a game against Columbia in the Hanover Tip-Off Tournament.
York Catholic: The Fighting Irish sit at No. 7 in Bullock's CoBL's 3-A preseason rankings.
For as much success that York Catholic had in the regular season a year ago, it didn't translate into postseason success. The Fighting Irish were unbeaten in Y-A League Division III play, but were eliminated in the first rounds of the league and District 3 2-A tournaments, finishing 17-6 overall. However, the disappointment of ending the year on a two-game slide can be avenged by a nearly identical roster from last season's club. The entire starting five of the Fighting Irish returns, as well as a number of bench players. Add in York Suburban transfer Torrey Thomas and this is a team that can easily be nine or 10 deep on any given night. York Catholic will still look to senior Melik Martin and junior D'Andre Davis — its two leading scorers from 2015-16 — to pace the offense, but as a whole, this team doesn't seem to have any glaring holes. The Fighting Irish will be tested right out of the gates with a road game on Saturday night against fellow Catholic-school foe Trinity, which also cracks this list at No. 3.
Northeastern: The Bobcats were ranked sixth in Bullock's CoBL's 5-A preseason rankings.
Northeastern lost three starters from last year's Division II-championship team that finished 21-3 overall. However, replacing them could be one of the best backcourt duos in the Y-A League this season in juniors Fred Mulbah and Antonio Rizzuto. The tandem combined to average more than 17 points per games as sophomores last year, so they know how to score. The challenge will be much tougher for the Bobcats this season with them moving up to Division I. That means two guaranteed meetings against the likes of Central York, Spring Grove, York High and an upstart Dallastown team. The Bearcats were the only team to knock off Northeastern during the regular season in 2015-16. The Bobcats will also look to have a better postseason run after bowing out in the opening round of the District 3 4-A tournament as the No. 3 seed last year. They open their season on Friday night against Delone Catholic in the Northeastern Tip-Off Tournament.
Others to watch: Several Y-A League teams were listed by Bullock as "teams to watch" during the upcoming season, but missed out on earning a preseason top-10 ranking on CoBL.
Eastern York, which went 22-7 last year was listed as a "team to watch" in Class 4-A, while York High, coming off a 12-11 campaign in 2015-16 fell under that category in Class 5-A. Spring Grove also fell into this group in 5-A after winning the Y-A League championship a season ago, going 25-4 overall. In the 6-A classification, both Central York and Dallastown earned the "teams to watch" mention. The Panthers are the reigning Y-A League Division I champs after a 23-4 season last year, while the Wildcats went just 11-11 a season ago, but return a more mature and talented team that could make some noise at Division I this year.
Player to Watch — Eli Brooks, Spring Grove: Brooks was rated as one of the five player's in central Pennsylvania to watch this season by PennLive.com.
That doesn't come as much of a surprise to those who have seen the Spring Grove star develop in his first three years with the Rockets, ultimately becoming a highly-touted Division I recruit and signing to play college basketball for the University of Michigan next season.
Brooks led the Y-A League in scoring as a junior, putting up 24.7 points per game, helping Spring Grove win the league title, advance to the District 3 4-A semifinals and qualify for the program's first ever state tournament appearance.
Rated as the No. 8 player in Pennsylvania for the Class of 2017 by 247Sports and a three-star recruit, Brooks is the biggest boys' basketball recruit in York County history and enters the 2016-17 season 151 points away from becoming the all-time scoring leader in Rockets program history.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org