2018-19 St. Paul City Preview

This is the 6th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Week 2 begins with a look at the city schools.  That means a look at the St. Paul City Conference here with the Minneapolis City Conference tomorrow.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Central Minutemen (2017-18 season 16-10, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
The Minutemen return everybody and look for a big season after a disappointing 2nd place finish last year.  I expect that memory to run deep.  Forwards Daveonte Davis and Dion Ford combined for almost 43 PPG last year.  The big and athletic duo is a handful to matchup with.  The backcourt is also rock solid with defensive pest Ronelle Porter (12 PPG) at the point and shooter Luke McElroy.  Soph Jaelen Thomas gives them another option in the post.

Como Park Cougars (2017-18 season 6-21, 3-9 Conference, Tie 5th)
Leading scorer Donn Ward (16.5 PPG) returns to lead the Cougars.  But most of the remaining rotation has graduated.  Only other notable returner is Donzello Barros.  The rest of the rotation will be last year's JV squad with players like Nikita Benson and Isaiah Long stepping into bigger roles.

Harding Knights (2017-18 season 13-12, 7-5 Conference, 3rd)
Senior PG Jovan Christian (18.6 PPG) once again leads the way. Junior Simeon Sharp also averaged double figures at 12.6 PPG.  2 other starters also return to the lineup for the Knights.  Devonte Bolton and 12.8 PPG will be missed.  No other depth returns to the lineup.

Highland Park Scots (2017-18 season 10-17, 5-7 Conference, 4th)
Leading scorer Evan Brodtman returns as a shooter with 17 PPG.  Abdalla Mohammed and Mustafa Aden also return to add length to the front line.  Benny Hughes also returns to a guard spot.  Expect depth to come from a talented sophomore class that won the Twin Cites Freshman game last season.

Humboldt Hawks (2017-18 season 9-17, 3-9 Conference, Tie 5th)
The Hawks lose 3 of their 4 double figure scorers.  That takes 41 PPG out of the lineup.  But are still pieces to work with thanks to 2 starters and 4 reserves coming back.  Darnell King leads the way with 14 PPG.  Soph Brian Williams averaged 8.8 PPG last season.  Freshman Alonzo Dodd returns to run the point.

Johnson Governors (2017-18 season 21-6, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
The Govs reclaimed the league throne after a 13 year streak of titles was broken.  Now coach Vern Simmons has to replace 2 top guards and his top post player.  They combined for over 41 PPG last season.  Jordan Mobley returns at a guard spot with 10.4 PPG.  Terrel Turner, Lamont White, Sean Hubbard and 8th grader DeWayne Givens also return to the rotation.  They won't have any notable size but expect the usual pressing and trapping style to again be successful.

Washington Eagles (2017-18 season 6-22, 2-10 Conference, 7th)
Assistant Mark Bauch takes over the program after a disaster season and a recruiting fiasco.  That means some of the players may also be gone with North St. Paul being the rumored location.  Last year's lineup was young with 3 of the top 4 scorers being sophomores.  That included G Zaveon Smith (18.4 PPG) and Drewjuan White (14 PPG).  Da'Quan Grimes is a big body in the middle.  Freshman Emmanual Ajayi saw plenty of varsity minutes last season.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Central 
  2. Johnson
  3. Harding
  4. Highland Park
  5. Humboldt 
  6. Washington
  7. Como Park
Conference Overview:
Central is the runaway favorite with the entire rotation coming back.  Johnson is the best of the rest.  Harding gets the nod for 3rd with that same finish last year and plenty coming back.  Highland Park can make a run there too.  Humboldt is a sleeper here to jump up.  Washington is a wild card not knowing exactly what they'll have.  Como Park will struggle again.

Conference MVP: Daveonte Davis - Central

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Jaelen Thomas - Central
  • Isaiah Long - Como Park
  • Carter Owens - Highland Park
  • DeWayne Givens - Johnson
  • Emmanuel Ajayi - Washington
Conference Games to Watch
  • Central at Johnson - Feb 1st
  • Johnson at Central - Feb 26th
  • Twin Cities Game - Mar 2nd (at Minneapolis champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Central vs Hopkins - Jan 12th (Super Showcase at Columbia Heights)
  • Minnehaha at Central - Jan 31st

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