This is the time of year that all Texas High School hoops fans are waiting for. The bottom feeders are gone, the pretenders will be one and done, and the contenders will duke it out for the right to go to Austin, TX and play for a State Championship in front of 14,000 fans at the Erwin Center, home of the University of Texas Longhorns.
I don't know that anybody sees as many high school games per season than I do. From early season tournament play, and on to the regular season catching games on a nightly basis. In fact, I may not love Littleton Gym or Paul Taylor Fieldhouse from the point of view that it takes the home advantage away but I love the fact that I can catch double and sometimes tripleheaders in one evening.
My situation is unique as in addition to following the high school season as described above, my relationship/evaluation of many of these players goes much deeper as many have attended my All American Prodigy Camps or have been part of the Texas D1 Ambassadors club team during the March-July period.
Coach Max directing traffic at the All American prodigy Camp
Having said all that, my best "educated" guess can go out the window in a heartbeat because these are 16-18 year old young men who from game to game can give you all kinds of variance in their performances. Last year I closed my eyes and picked 82% of the winners. I didn't get much credit for the correct picks, I got an earful on the ones I missed and lots of dirty looks from those I picked against. (lol...not really, but it did lead to some interesting debates).
I will give a complete rundown on every pick for the Texas 4A & 5A Playoffs on Sunday/Monday morning. For now, I'm going to focus on those teams that I think have a legitimate shot of going at least 3 rounds deep. Keep in mind that depending on upsets and who gets hot, I reserve the right to change my mind :-)
Texas 4A: Region 1
Killen Runnin' Roos
The only team form our area in this Region which is heavy with El Paso, West Texas & Fort Worth area teams is Killeen High. The Runnin' Roos went undefeated in District 8-4A and have one of the area's most talented players in 6'7" Ta'Shawn Thomas who is a double-double machine. He has signed with the Houston Cougars and will be a good one. Under Coach Jason Fossett, they are a powerhouse year in and year out and are capable of beating anyone.
Thomas would like to add a State Championship to the walls of Killeen High
Texas 4A: Region 2
Region 2 consists of almost exclusively Dallas, North Texas & East Texas teams. The exception to this is District 16-4A. My favorite to come out of the Region from our schools has to be Pflugerville Hendrickson. They'll go as far as 6'5" combo guard Jalen Washington will take them. Washington decided to decommit from Mount St. Mary's (MD) and it looks like the gamble will pay off big time. He's scored over 40 several different times, consistently leads the team in rebounds..and he's being recruited as a POINT GUARD!
Jalen Washington has really matured and is taking Pflugerville Hndrickson on his shoulders
The Bastrop Bears don't have much size, but they've got a backcourt as good as any. Jordan Roach (South Alabama) & Josiah Monroe (Texas-San Antonio football) are both capable of putting up 20 plus per game. And is there a better lock down defender than Monroe who will get in your grill.
Hardnosed Josiah Monroe is the heart and soul of the Bastrop Bears
Texas 4A: Region 3
There are no area schools in this Region
Texas 4A: Region 4
Don't be shocked if the Region rep comes out of 27-4A. As of today, Alamo Heights & New Braunfels Canyon have split their season series and will play a rubber match to decide first place in the district tomorrow night. Could there be a 4th matchup on the horizon as each squad goes deep in the playoffs?
San Antonio Alamo Heights
Juniors Jeremy Rodewold at 6'5" and Shleby Lane at 6'7" give the Mules the ability to kick anyone. I especially like Rodewold. He's an active player on the boards can score it and is very aggressive.
New Braunfels Canyon
Not too many 4A teams boast the height that Canyon has as 6'8" Senior Reinier Strobos (M.I.T.) and 6'10" Junior Andrew Poulter patrol the paint. A nice mix of shooting and ballhandling from 2012 Sean Tolliver make the Cougars a tough out.
Strobos has fought injury problems all season, but don't get into an intellectual discussion with the M.I.T. bound athletically gifted forward.
They may not be your daddy's LBJ of old, as they shared the district title with Austin McCallum but they've got enough athletes and firepower to put a scare into folks. Senior G Robert "June Bug" Lee is likely the most explosive athlete in the area and can put 30 on you in a hurry.
Lee plays off emotion and athleticism. Do not let him get in his groove!
Cedar Park Timber Wolves
Lack of scoring punch will probably get them sooner or later, but Coach Blake Brown cooks up a good scheme and a methodical Cedar Park squad could surprise. Army commit Dylan Cox is a superior player who can score the ball, shoot it, get to the rack and rebounds it too.
If Cedar park is the dark horse, then Dylan Cox (Army) will have to be the jockey