No. 2 WILSON RAMS
Coach: David Alwert
Record: 9-0; 3-0 in 3A Narrrows
Highlight wins: Defeated Canyon Springs (Nev.) (10-3) 95-91 in OT (Tournament of Champions Holiday Classic at Franklin Championship). Defeated Franklin (8-1) 64-56. Wilson’s won other seven games by an average of 36.0 points.
Strength: No go-to scorer. For some teams, this would be a detriment. When you're as deep as Wilson, it's a positive. Everyone gets involved.
Weakness: Shooting. Around the rim - excellent. Beyond that? A work in progress.
PG 5-9 Ivy Smith Jr. (Jr.)
Smith isn’t a senior, but he might as well be in Alwert's eyes. He plays like one, too, orchestrating Wilson’s offense with great ball-handling and few turnovers. But Smith is far from just a floor general as he knows how to create his own shot (even if he doesn’t necessarily always take shots Alwert approves of).
G 6-1 David Jenkins (So.)
If there’s one thing that concerns Alwert about his roster, it’s who will carry the Rams in the fourth quarter when the game is close. Jenkins has shown he might be the guy, scoring key baskets down the stretch in Wilson’s lone close games -- Franklin and Canyon Springs.
G 6-1 Montre Brown-Lofton (So.)
His toughness and athleticism make him a solid rebounder, defender and finisher at the basket, but to become complete player he’ll need to continue to work on his jumpshot. Then again, how many players are complete when they’re sophomores in high school?
G 6-4 Jamal Welch (Sr.)
Loves getting above the rim in transition and has solid stroke from 3-point range -- one of the few Wilson players who does right now. Fits perfectly in Rams starting lineup because he adds facets it needs: Senior presence and 3-point accuracy.
P 6-6 Alphonso Anderson (So.)
He said his plan throughout middle school was to attend Lincoln. Instead, he chose Wilson, where he’s emerged as a force in the paint. Has the makings of an excellent rebounder, especially on the offensive end. Finishes well around the rim and has developing outside game.
Key subs: P 6-3 Robert Knox (Sr.); W 6-3 Keun Thompson (Jr.)
Coach Alwert isn’t shy about proclaiming this as the deepest team he’s ever coached, and it’s not just because of the Rams’ balanced starting lineup. Wilson has received huge contributions off its bench, led by senior post Robert Knox. The bench might have played better than Wilson’s starters in a win against Timberline on Dec. 18 and Knox scored a huge 16 points in an overtime win against Canyon Springs on Dec. 28.
No. 4 LINCOLN ABES
Coach: Aubrey Shelton
Record: 8-0, 2-0 in 3A Narrows
Highlight wins: Defeated SPSL South favorite Beamer, 61-55, at home in first game of season. Defeated reigning 3A finalist Lakeside of Seattle, 61-48. Defeated GSL playoff contender Gonzaga Prep, 50-49, in opening round of Bellarmine Prep Christmas Classic. Defeated host Bellarmine Prep, 62-48, to win holiday tournament. Defeated Foss, 61-40, on road last week.
Strength: Will defend you from sun-up to sundown – all 32 minutes with no apologies.
Weakness: In all but one game, Abes have been scoring in 60-point range. Is that enough scoring to beat the best teams in the state?
PG 6-1 Londrell Hamilton (Fr.)
Don’t let the age fool you – he acts like a season war general. If defenders allow him to get into the lane, it is pretty much over. Either he will finish it off with a crafty basket or a did-you-see-that pass.
SG 6-2 Josiah Barsh (Jr.)
If the Abes have a go-to scorer, he is the guy. The youngest of a bazillion brothers, he has the sweetest shooting strokes of all coming from the left-hand side. Underrated getting to the hoop, too.
G/F 6-0 Dionte Simon (So.)
Started every game last season as a ninth grader, even playing point guard. He’s now been moved to wing where he has the freedom to do what he’s best at – defending an opponent’s best perimeter scorer.
G/F 6-4 Cameron Collins (Jr.)
The Abes’ junior varsity MVP last season has the look of a premier big shooting guard. Is strong enough to get into the lane for tough shots and has the skill to knock down mid-range shots … and beyond.
C 6-6 Justice Martion (Sr.)
Truly the team’s only pure inside threat opponents have to prepare for. Very active with nice post-up moves, all he has to do is finish shots. And he has the hops to block 10 shots a game. That is no joke.
Key subs: G 6-0 Trevion Brown (So.); F 6-2 Jusstis Warren (Jr.); G 5-10 Shon Peterson (So.); F/C 6-5 Isaiah Smalls (Sr.)
An all-underclassmen cast of key reserves are also huge contributors. If Lincoln needs offense, it plugs in Brown, who arguably is the team’s second-best scorer behind Barsh. He’s a very reliable shooter. If the Abes need hustle, Peterson is the guy to get in any guard’s face. And if they need interior toughness, they just call upon Smalls and Warren, who has recently returned from a knee injury.
Cotterill’s TNT pick: Wilson, 63-56.
Milles’ TNT pick: Wilson, 70-64.