(Rankings as selected by the coaches)
TOP 10 TEAMS
(Last year’s record in parentheses)
1. Taylor County (28-5)
— Cardinals are seeking their first back-to-back appearances in Sweet Sixteen.
2. Bowling Green (31-6)
— Is potential third time the charm for Purples, who have fallen in state semifinals and finals the past two years?
3. Paul Laurence Dunbar (14-15) — Coach Scott Chalk thinks his Bulldogs are playing the toughest schedule in Kentucky this season.
4. Covington Catholic (31-6) — Colonels looking for third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
5. Mercer County (23-9) — Sheldon Clark transfer Dylan James brings 22.6 points to an already offensively potent Titans squad.
6. Hopkinsville (26-7)
— Hoptown has cruised to Sweet Sixteen four straight seasons but remains title-less since 1985.
7. Waggener (17-12) — Wildcats expected to do something they’ve never done before: win the 7th Region.
8. Ballard (32-3) — Bruins hoping to keep 7th Region trophy in hands of a traditional power.
9. Bullitt East (21-10) — Mustangs return top three leading scorers, including Tyler Sharpe’s 16.9 points a game.
10. Trinity (24-6) — Shamrocks and Ballard have taken turns going to Sweet Sixteen the past four years. Pattern says its Trinity’s turn.
TOP 10 PLAYERS
(Year, height, last year’s PPG in parentheses)
1. Quentin Goodin (Sr., 6-4, 21.3) — Taylor County star committed to Xavier is coaches’ preseason pick for Mr. Basketball by a mile.
2. Carson Williams (Sr., 6-6, 23.5) — If not for Goodin, Owen County product headed for NKU would be the favorite.
3. Darius Williams (Sr., 6-4, 22.4) — Scoring machine from Paul Laurence Dunbar looks to take Bulldogs from losing record to Sweet Sixteen.
4. Cole VonHandorf (Jr., 6-1, 18.2) — CovCath star has tasted glory; he averaged 10.9 points for title team two seasons ago.
5. Jaylen Sebree (Jr., 6-6, 16.8) — Will put Christian County in 2nd Region contention after transferring from University Heights.
6. Ben Weyer (Sr., 6-6, 15.3) — Bellarmine commitment will try to guide Newport Central Catholic to first 9th Region title since 2000.
7. Mason Faulkner (Sr., 6-2, 30.3) — Can NKUbound Caverna star put the Colonels in contention with Taylor County in the 5th Region?
8. Tony Jackson (Jr., 6-4, 17.5) — North Hardin standout makes it another team nipping at Taylor County’s heels.
9. Matt Wilson (Sr., 6-9, 14.6) — Army commitment has Campbell County shooting for its third straight trip to Rupp Arena.
10. Terry Taylor (Jr., 6-5, 12.0) — Bowling Green’s run of success should only serve him well as Purples eye 4th Region three-peat.
SWEET SIXTEEN PICKS
1st: Paducah Tilghman
3rd: Meade County
4th: Bowling Green
5th: Taylor County
6th: Bullitt East
8th: Oldham County
9th: Covington Catholic
10th: Campbell County
11th: Paul Laurence Dunbar
12th: Mercer County
13th: South Laurel
14th: Perry County Central
15th: Lawrence County
16th: Elliott County
Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps