2016-17 Metro West Conference Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  This 3rd week and final week of conference previews will cover mostly class AAAA schools.  Then we'll move on to the 2nd half of the preview series by looking at the metro area sections.  In this preview, a look at the Metro West Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Benilde St. Margaret's Red Knights (2015-16 season 17-10, 9-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
Double figure scorers Sam Baker and Eli Cave need to be replaced.  Wing Derek Drees and PG Will Whitmore return to the lineup.  Joe Dunn will see time up front.  Shooter Michael Wexler will also see an expanded role.  Soph Jamison Battle is a big wing who has a chance to break out with this group

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2015-16 season 17-9, 11-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Jags return their top 3 players from last year.  Versatile forwards Tyler Riemersma and Jack Tillotson return with PG Joe Hird.  That trio all averaged double figures and a combined 36+ PPG.  The only other returnee is forward Peter Gathje.  Depth will come from a solid group of juniors including Mike Evens and Gavin Lyons.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2015-16 season 0-27, 0-14 Conference, 8th)
Kennedy has lost 31 straight and 37 of their last 39 games.  Raheem Simmons takes over for Willie Braziel who returned to Columbia Heights.  PG Markel Aune returns to run the show after averaging 18.5 PPG.   Josh Bryant returns with 10.5 PPG.  There's a group of juniors led by Dimarco Johnson that figure to make up most of the rest of the rotation.

Chanhassen Storm (2015-16 season 6-20, 4-10 Conference, 6th)
Leading scorer Trey Prince returns with 12.1 PPG.  Plenty of other experience returns despite losing 3 top scorers.  Jordan Bonk is another top returnee.  Keagan Williams is an option on the wing.  Chris Wandling gives the Storm a ballhandler.

Chaska Hawks (2015-16 season 21-6, 12-2 Conference, 1st)
The Hawks have won both Metro West Conference titles and are the favorites again this year.  Columbia commit Myles Hanson (24.1 PPG) returns on the wing.  PG Andrew Kallman (12.4 PPG) is also back.  Alex Strazzanti should be back after missing last year due to injury.  Soph Cole Nicholson will see time on the front line.

Richfield Spartans (2015-16 season 11-17, 2-12 Conference, 7th)
2 of the 3 leading scorers for coach Omar McMillan have graduated.  Antonio Maddox should be a top option after putting up 11.4 PPG last year.  Malik Hunter gives the Spartans size and 8.9 PPG.  Davis Miles and Jabari Atiim also return to the rotation.

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2015-16 season 18-8, 9-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
Coach Bo Powell's squad was the pleasant surprise of the league last year.  Melvin Newbern departs after a big season.  His play inside will be sorely missed.  But brother Beijan Newbern returns on the wing with 14.6 PPG.  Plus double figure scorers Nate Hill and Damien Gordon return.  Devin Mosby and Jalen Miller also return to the rotation.  Small and quick and they'll get after it in the full court.
 
St. Louis Park Orioles (2015-16 season 18-9, 9-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
The Orioles improved from 1 win 3 years ago to 9 wins 2 years ago to 18 wins last season. Leading scorer Ray Whitlock graduated but everybody else is back.  Junior Cire Mayfield runs the show with Mykal Howard on the wing as double figure scorers.  Ryan Domres and Jack Lynch are the inside guys.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Chaska
  2. Bloomington Jefferson 
  3. St. Louis Park
  4. Robbinsdale Cooper  
  5. Benilde-St. Margaret's  
  6. Chanhassen
  7. Richfield
  8. Bloomington Kennedy
Conference Overview
You have 5 teams at the top who won 17 or more games last year.  You could make a case that all of them expect to do the same this year.  I won't bet against the defending champs.  Jefferson has their top trio back and always plugs guys in so I expect them to be right there as well.  The next section is orange and black.  St. Louis Park and Cooper should battle with BSM for the next 3 spots.  But any of that group could knock off the top 2 at any time.  Then there's a big drop off.  Chanhassen gets my vote for best of the rest with their experience coming back.  Richfield and Kennedy will struggle in league.

Conference MVP: Myles Hanson - Chaska

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jamison Battle, Dylan Drees, Maciah Harut - Benilde-St. Margaret's
  • Regan Tollefson - Chanhassen
  • Cole Nicholson - Chaska
  • Jalen Miller, Jalen Justice - Robbinsdale Cooper
  • Josh Rogers - St. Louis Park
Conference Games to Watch
  • Chaska at St. Louis Park - Jan 17th 
  • Bloomington Jefferson at Robbinsdale Cooper - Jan 17th
  • Bloomington Jefferson at Chaska - Jan 20th 
  • Chaska at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Jan 24th 
  • Bloomington Jefferson at St. Louis Park - Jan 24th
  • Chaska at Robbinsdale Cooper - Feb 7th
  • Robbinsdale Cooper at Bloomington Jefferson - Feb 10th
  • Chaska at Bloomington Jefferson - Feb 14th 
  • Bloomington Jefferson at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Feb 21st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Louis Park at Minnehaha Academy - Dec 9th
  • Chaska vs Woodbury - Dec 10th - (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Lakeville North at Chaska - Dec 13th
  • Chaska vs North St. Paul - Dec 17th (Metro East vs Metro West Challenge at St. Thomas Academy)
  • Bloomington Jefferson at Wayzata - Jan 3rd
  • Chaska at Orono  - Jan 10th

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