09-10 St. Paul City Preview

Johnson coach
Vern Simmons

This is the 10th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the St. Paul City Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

Humboldt was in the bottom 15 in AA last year. Highland Park, Harding and Como Park were in the bottom 15 in AAA last year. Now Arlington loses everybody. Best thing for those teams is that they have 8 games against each other to try and get some wins on the record. That drags down a Johnson team that will be able to play with most anybody.

Arlington Phoenix (2008 season 16-11, 9-3 Conference)
Arlington loses 7 seniors that basically were their whole rotation. JVs were 4-8 with no size returning. Assistant John Gray (former head coach at Breck) takes over and will instill toughness but he's got very little to work with.

Central Minutemen
(2008 season 19-7, 9-3 Conference)
Jordan Larson was a beast inside and he's gone but Central returns plenty. LeDarian Horton is a bull as a combo forward. Nathaniel Kado, Cameron Smith and Taylor Smaller are small but quick and experienced guards. Smaller is the top shooter of that trio. Eric Grice is a defensive minded forward. Junior Martin Smith provides interior size. Guard William McDonough is a scorer off the bench.

Como Park Cougars (2008 season 6-20, 4-8 Conference)
Majorly dysfunctional team last season that was far too talented to win only 6 games, especially in this league. Jordan Jackson leaves for Sibley but there's still enough talent to win games. Joe Conley should have a breakout year from the 2 guard slot. Adrian Wackett returns to run the point. The Cougars were dead last in 3A with 73.8 points allowed per game last season. They could exceed that this season.

Johnson Governors (2008 season 26-5, 12-0 Conference)
All discussion in St. Paul has to start with Johnson. They play a ton of bodies and just wear you out defensively. Which they need to as they can be offensively challenged at times. 2 year starter Estan Tyler returns as the point as a junior. Max Rosenbloom is one of the toughest rebounders and hardest workers around. Jordan Pluff and Demitri Conwell return as athletic wings. Donte Warlick saw time last year on the wing. Chris Smith-Bond, Anthony Lee and Roosevelt Scott are juniors who will make contributions. No true big guy, but they'll make up for it by being more athletic than most of their opponents.

Harding Knights (2008 season 3-22, 2-10 Conference)
Top 2 scorers Andre Creighton and Ernest Mang are gone. Vern Keller will lead the way with DeAndre Keller and Jeremy Hollowanger. Size will be an issue for them. Hard to see them as better than last year.

Highland Park Scots (2008 season 7-18, 6-6 Conference)
The Scots rebounded from a 1-12 start to finish 6-6, some of that against the soft underbelly of the league. Seniors Jimmy Sauser, Miles Davison and Eric Pressley return along with junior Cordaro Washington. All were members of last year's rotation.

Humboldt Hawks (2008 season 2-23, 0-12 Conference)
Top scorers Josh Titus and Dominic Campillo are gone. Juniors Julian Luster and Dallas Jackson return for a another team with a very small lineup. Another long season on the south side.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Johnson
  2. Central
  3. Highland Park
  4. Como Park
  5. Harding
  6. Arlington
  7. Humboldt
Conference MVP: Estan Tyler - Johnson

Breakout/Surprise Player: Joe Conley - Como Park

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • Johnson at Central - January 8th
  • Central at Johnson - February 5th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Stillwater at Johnson - December 15th
  • Johnson in Augsburg tourney - Dec 28-30th
  • Maple Northwestern (WI) at Johnson - January 22nd (East Metro Showcase)
I had a chance to ask Johnson coach Vern Simmons some questions about the Governors and the St. Paul City Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Vern Simmons picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

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