1. Clarkston (27-1) Should be the first school to repeat as Class A champ since Kalamazoo Central in 2010 and ’11. Point guard Foster Loyer (Michigan State) is a flat-out winner and terrific leader who doesn’t have to score to be effective. Taylor Currie (Wisconsin), 6-feet-9, reclassified to make himself a senior, is stronger and playing facing the basket more than before. Under the radar has been guard CJ Robinson, who can play either guard spot and has long arms make him an outstanding defender. Nick Wells is shooting better and should have an increased role. Sophomore Scott Nicholson, 6-10, adds size and rebounding to the front line. Freshman Garrett Dellinger, 6-7, will become a factor as the season progresses.
Tournament road: The Wolves should not be tested through districts and regionals. A quarterfinal game at Grand Blanc could bring a matchup with Saginaw Arthur Hill or Saginaw High and then it is on to the Breslin Center.
2. Detroit Cass Tech (20-5) The Technicians should be the class of the always-tough Detroit Public School League, and that alone makes them a Class A contender. Point guard Tyson Acuff, 6-3, is one of the top players in the sophomore class. Randy Gilbert, 6-6, is a punishing physical presence inside and he can pop out and hit shots. Jalen Tobias, 6-5, is the team’s best rebounder and he adds a degree of toughness. Matthew Richmond is a combo guard who is a good shooter. Christopher Murry can score from the perimeter, from mid-range and on the block. Junior Kahlil Whitehead, 6-5, is a catch-and-shoot specialist and junior Tyland Tate, 6-6, grew four inches over the last year and is a true perimeter player.
Tournament road: With teams like East English Village, King and host Western, it won’t be easy to advance out of the district to regional. The winner of the Renaissance district — U-D Jesuit or Renaissance — will be the biggest challenge in regional before a likely quarterfinal date with Warren De La Salle.
3. East Lansing (24-1) This is the year the Trojans have been waiting for to make a run at the Class A title. Brandon Johns (Michigan), 6-9, is a tremendously talented player, has improved his ball-handling and passing abilities, and is an excellent weak-side shot blocker. Point guard Malik Jones (Aquinas) can speed up the game and has the knack of getting the ball to the right people at the right time. Justin McAbee, 6-5, is the team’s best rebounder and defender and brings energy to the court. The top perimeter shooter is Noah Schon. Freshman Marcus Wourman has a remarkably high basketball IQ for someone his age and he will add depth to the point guard spot.
Tournament road: With host DeWitt, Grand Ledge and Lansing Waverly in the group, getting out of the district won’t be automatic. In the past, the Trojans have had difficulty getting out of the regional that features the best teams on the southwest side of the state. Should the Trojans survive that, someone like Muskegon could be waiting in the quarterfinal at Lansing Eastern.
4. Belleville (20-3) If Clarkston doesn’t win the Class A title, the Tigers just might. Gabe Brown (Michigan State), 6-7, is recovered from a partially torn ACL that sidelined him this summer. He has improved his skill level and is playing better defense. Davion Williams (MSU football) is terrific in transition and attacking the basket. Kaevon Merriweather, a transfer from Romulus, is a pass-first point guard who can score. Devin Alverson, recovering nicely from a detached tendon, can hurt you as a catch-and-shoot guy. Cameron Smiley, 5-8, is small, but don’t get in his way as he moves to the basket. Sophomore Connor Bush, 6-4, a transfer from Plymouth, will add reinforcements when he becomes eligible in the second semester.
Tournament road: Ypsilanti will be the biggest foe in the Ypsilanti district and then a showdown with highly regarded Wayne should come in the Dearborn regional. A Calihan Hall quarterfinal opponent could be Ann Arbor Skyline, which has some outstanding shooters, but will have difficulty matching Belleville’s size.
5. Detroit Edison (14-12) It was a young Edison team that lost to state champ Flint Beecher in the Class C semifinals last March. This team will be good because point guard Pierre Mitchell Jr. (Central Michigan) is as selfless a player as you will find, always looking for a better shot. Gary Solomon (LIU-Brooklyn), 6-5, is a stat stuffer who lives at the free-throw line because he attacks the basket so well. Deante Johnson (Cleveland State), 6-8, will protect the paint and add inside points. Junior Brian Taylor, 6-6, scores in transition as well as in catch-and-shoot situations. Dominik Thomas and Tim Stewart Jr. will each get starter minutes even if they find themselves coming off the bench.
Tournament road: There should be no competition in the district, but that changes in a hurry in the regional when a loaded Pershing team should be the opponent. Things get worse in the quarterfinals at West Bloomfield where defending champ Flint Beecher should be waiting.
6. New Haven (27-1) It is surprising how young the defending Class B champion is heading into the season. Junior Romeo Weems, 6-7, is one of the top players in his class nationally. He averaged 18.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.4 steals and 2.2 blocks as a sophomore, and his ball-handling has improved. Junior Ashton Sherrell, 6-7, averaged 12 points and 8.1 rebounds. Tavares Oliver will keep defenses honest with his 3-point shooting. Junior Ronald Jeffrey is coming off a good summer and should blossom into a complete guard. Ascaun Johnson, 6-5, junior Jamie Farrior and junior Malcom Lewis, 6-5, are all capable of landing the fifth starting spot. Junior Jasaan Gantt, 6-8, will provide depth in the paint.
Tournament road:There is no one in the district that can beat New Haven when it matters, and then the Rockets host the regional. Frankenmuth appears to be the best bet to face New Haven in the quarterfinals, but the Rockets would have several matchup advantages.
7. Detroit Pershing (10-11) With six seniors returning, the Doughboys will be good, especially for a Class C team. D'Juan Seal, 6-4, averaged 22 points last season and is a high-motor guy who scores on slashing moves to the bucket. The team will revolve around the standout play of Ron Hill, who is a fourth-year starter at the point. Johnny Davis, 6-8, loves playing on the perimeter and has a fine 3-point shot, but he will need to grab rebounds if Pershing is going to be successful. Charles Brown, 6-6, is a highly skilled player who can play every position but the post. The premier shooter on the squad is junior Pierre Hill, who is money from three-point land.
Tournament road: The district should not be a problem for the Doughboys, but a regional first-round game against Detroit Edison will be a classic. Things get worse from there because a trip to the West Bloomfield quarterfinal will likely bring a game against defending state champ Flint Beecher.
8. Wayne (18-4) Rashad Williams (Cleveland State) averaged 24 points, seven assists and four rebounds in leading Wayne to the KLAA title last season and is one of the most dynamic guards in the state. The Zebras don’t have much size, but they are not trying to win a half-court game. Terence Williams, who can be a lockdown defender, and junior Isiaah Lewis will try to make this a track meet — the more possessions the better. The Zebras will try to wear you out with their speed and overall depth. If Wayne hopes to get to East Lansing, it will need good inside play from Cartier Muse-Suber, 6-5, Kobe Price, 6-4 and Va'shawn Ward.
Tournament road: The Zebras don’t have to worry about Romulus in their district anymore. But a game against rival Westland Glenn is looming. That should be the toughest game until a regional final against highly-regarded Belleville.
9. Detroit King (16-7) Four starters return to the PSL runner-up, and when you add Cass Tech transfer Marcus Gibbs, you’ve got the makings of a contending team. Gibbs’ shooting ability will help King stretch the floor. The Crusaders will rebound like crazy and play excellent team defense. Antonio Marshall, 6-4, is a wing who can play the point and play solid inside defense. Jordan Whitford is a junior point guard who can neutralize the opposing point guard. Junior John Massey Jr., 6-6, plays dynamite inside defense and is a rebounder deluxe.
Tournament road: The Crusaders begin in the toughest district in the state - at Detroit Western, where they will have to get past Cass Tech and East English Village. The regional will be against either Renaissance or U-D Jesuit just to get a chance at a quarterfinal game.
10. Novi (18-7) Don’t sleep on these Wildcats. Traveon Maddox Jr. (Oakland) is a superb athlete who averaged 20.4 points and six rebounds, and can score from the perimeter and at the rim. Junior Giovanni Miles is the team’s most consistent 3-point shooter and is a solid rebounder. Point guard Trendon Hankerson will do a good job running the point when he returns after Christmas from a foot injury. Blake King, 6-4, is the garbage guy who will pick up points and rebounds on sheer hustle. The missing piece could be 6-9 Tariq Hardy, a transfer from Plymouth, who will clean up on the boards and knock down an occasional perimeter shot.
Tournament road: Canton will be a formidable district foe and then it will be off to the regional in which Milford will be good. Another good opponent will come from the Skyline district, either Skyline, Pioneer or Romulus. That could lead to a quarterfinal game against an excellent Belleville team.
11. Wyoming Godwin Heights (22-2) Markeese Hastings (Butler), 6-7, averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds last season, and has a knack of getting himself in the right place at the right time. Lamar Norman Jr. (Texas-El Paso), a hero of the 2015 championship game, is a natural scorer who is rebounding and playing defense at a higher level. David Kellah’s growth spurt to 6-3 has made him an even more effective ball-handler. Aleal Jimenez, 6-4, is a shooter who can also score in the post. Susu Davenport is the guy who will lead the team in loose balls gathered up and turned into baskets.
Tournament road: The 2015 Class B champs could wind up in the Breslin Center again. Host Kelloggsville, with a strong returning cast, and Grand Rapids South Christian will be formidable foes in the district. A showdown with Grand Rapids Catholic Central will follow in the regional final.
12. Flint Beecher (23-5) Sophomore point guard Jalen Terry is a terrific player. He averaged 10.5 points last season, but he nearly doubled that in must-win situations. He does a little bit of everything and does it all well. Another sophomore, 6-3 Earnest Sanders, excels at rebounding and defense and has improved his shooting. Freshman Kion Minnifield is quick and has a high basketball IQ. Theatrice King, 6-2, a transfer from closed Flint Northwestern, is a solid shooter and will add stability to the lineup. Dominique Williams, 6-4, will be a force inside and Chris Long, 6-5, is sneaky athletic and will help in the paint.
Tournament road: The bid for a fourth straight Class C state title, and sixth in seven years, begins with a district showdown against a good Flint Hamady team. The regional should not be difficult , but a West Bloomfield quarterfinal against Beecher or Detroit Edison or Detroit Pershing awaits.
13. Williamston (21-5) The Hornets have enough talent to be legitimate Class B contenders. Point guard Cole Kleiver (16 points, four assists) does a good job running the team and picking his spots to score. Junior Sean Cobb (13 points, seven rebounds), 6-7, is coming off a solid season and can play either forward spot and in the post. Frankie Toomey is a glue guy who can help with rebounding despite being only 5-11. Sophomore Mitchell Cook became a starter in the state tournament last season and responded with some big games. Caleb Smith, 6-5, is an inside pounder. Help in the paint will come from 6-7 juniors Casey Conley and Joseph Hahnenberg.
Tournament road: The Lansing Eastern district will offer some stiff competition for the Hornets. But if Williamston can get past Lansing Catholic and Haslett, it should be smooth sailing until a quarterfinal game against Benton Harbor.
14. Benton Harbor (22-4) Any team with 6-6 sophomore Carlos Johnson (16 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) is going to be pretty good. Johnson continues to improve his jump shot. Elijah Baker (11 points, seven assists) is an outstanding point man. Shawn Hopkins, 6-4, helps inside, and Dennie Brown is a strong guard who can be a lockdown defender. The Tigers added Devan Nichols and T.J. Jones from Berrien Springs and 6-7 junior Chris Conway and 6-6 junior Justin Brown from Stevensville Lakeshore for some incredible depth. Nichols, Conway and Justin Brown will become eligible on Jan. 18.
Tournament road: The Class B semifinalists' season could come down to a quarterfinal game against Williamston.
15. Detroit East English Village (18-5)
Guard David DeJulius (Michigan) averaged 27 points in the rugged PSL. He is a jet up and down the court and scores from everywhere except the post. Junior Tariq Shepherd is another quality guard who is a good shooter and brings toughness to the court. Zavon Godwin, 6-6, is the most athletic player on the team and he will be an inside-out contributor. Junior Sudi McElroy, 6-6, will also play on the wing, but he will have to be one of the main rebounders. Sophomore Jayshawn Moore is the team’s top perimeter defender and freshman Simon Wheeler will add depth to the backcourt.
Tournament road: There are a number of roadblocks between the east side and East Lansing. It begins at Detroit Western, which includes Cass Tech, King and Western. From there you head to a regional that could include Renaissance, U-D Jesuit and Southfield.
16. Flint Carman-Ainsworth (19-2) Ja’Kavien Lewis (14 points) is a four-year starter at the point and the unquestioned leader of this outfit. Omari Duncan is a high-energy guy who can rebound, score and play outstanding defense. Junior Michael Fletcher, 6-7, is the main rim protector, andChris Ballard, a transfer from Flint Southwestern, will score a lot of points on offensive rebounds. Sophomore Dustin Fletcher, 6-4, can help a team in many ways with his knowledge of the game and his passing.
Tournament road: The Cavs host a district that includes Grand Blanc, which will be a much better team at the end of the season. Then it is off for a regional semifinal game against the winner of Saginaw and Saginaw Arthur Hill. Surviving that would mean a likely quarterfinal game against defending champ Clarkston.
17. Ann Arbor Skyline (15-6) Point guard Brandon Wade (Duquesne) is a scorer (20.2 points) who isn’t shy about giving up the ball (6.6 assists) and getting his teammates involved. Jack Ammerman (16.6 points) hit 48.2% of his 3-point shots last season. Junior Ryan Wade will defend the opponent’s best player and should be an active scorer and rebounder. Junior Christian Knox is another solid 3-point threat whose quickness can create defensive havoc. Junior DeSean Munson, 6-6, will have to control the interior and play good defense. Sophomore Kabir Bergin, 6-5, will provide perimeter shooting off the bench. Darius Hall, 6-4, will help with rebounding and help get his teammates open.
Tournament road: With Ann Arbor Pioneer and Ann Arbor Huron, the district was going to be difficult enough for host Skyline, but it recently became more difficult with the addition of Romulus, which opted up to compete in Class A. Should the Eagles advance, they will find themselves in a regional with quality teams like Canton, Novi or Milford.
18. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (19-5) CC will go as far as its dynamic inside duo of 6-10 Marcus Bingham Jr. (Michigan State) and 6-8 Jacob Polakovich can take it, although neither of them is exclusively an inside player. Bingham (16 points, 10 rebounds) is a good shooter and a fine passer. His jump hook is a work in progress and could become unstoppable at the high school level. Polakovich can also hit shots from the perimeter. CC also features a pair of talented junior guards — point guard Austin Braun and Darrell Belcher, who is outstanding in transition. Sophomore Mykel Bingham, 6-6, has grown four inches since last season and he could become a crucial contributor.
Tournament road: CC should have little difficulty advancing through the district as well as the first game of the regional.The regional championship should be a game against an outstanding Wyoming Godwin Heights.
19. Warren De La Salle (14-10) The Pilots may finally be able to unseat U-D Jesuit as Catholic League champion, although they won’t look like it early on. It may take some time for 6-6 Luke Pfromm and 6-5 Blaine Flanigan to get into basketball shape after helping the football team win the state title. This team will revolve around Pfromm, as it did last season when he averaged 15.5 points and took all of the tough shots. The size of point guard Justin Fischer, 6-4, gives him good passing angles. Kole Gjonaj, 6-5, is a three-point threat and a good defender. Jordan Winowiecki, 6-5, is also good from the deep perimeter and helps with the rebounding. Easton Sikorski and Keith Larson can also drain three-pointers and are smart with the ball. Flanigan will be needed to provide defense and rebounding in the paint.
Tournament road: Hosting its district should send the Pilots to the regional at Dakota. A first-round regional game against Chippewa Valley is likely and the regional title game against Dakota seems reasonable. Cass Tech could loom in the quarterfinals.The toughest test could come in the quarterfinals where a matchup against Cass Tech is looming.
20. River Rouge (24-4) The Class B semifinalists lost a bundle of points and rebounds from last season’s team, but there is some quality talent on the horizon. Jayvien Torrance-Jackson, the lone returning starter for the Class B semifinalists, will play everywhere but in the post and is an outstanding defender. Junior Donavan Freeman, 6-5, will have to be a bold defensive presence in the paint and have a big year on the boards. Junior Nigel Colvin will add to a talented backcourt. Freshman Legend Geeter, 6-6, has to be a force inside.
Tournament road: The Panthers should have no competition through the district, but a regional final against a team like Frederick Douglass, Old Redford Academy or Detroit Henry Ford would be a good test. The only competition in the quarterfinals may come from a team like Dearborn Divine Child or Henry Ford Academy.