Programs steeped in tradition headline The Bee’s preseason Top 20 girls and boys basketball rankings.
McClatchy is No. 1 in the girls poll, having won the CIF State Division I title in 2015 and winning the D-I Northern California championship last season in going 30-5. Eleven players return, but Bee Player of the Year Courtesy Clark is now playing on scholarship at San Jose State. Key returners include guards Kamryn Hall, Nia Lowery and Richelle Turney for coach Jeff Ota, a star guard for Lions in the 1970s.
The Folsom boys went 22-9 last season and return Harvard-bound center Mason Forbes and guards Martis Johnson and Jayce McCain. Coach Mike Wall has the makings of another Sac-Joaquin Section championship team, having led the Bulldogs to section titles in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015, and to the finals in 2016.
For the girls, No. 2 Folsom has a five-star recruit headed to Cal in 6-foot guard McKenzie Forbes, sister of Mason Forbes, and the Bulldogs return forward Hannah Beckman and welcome 6-5 Oak Ridge transfer Shayley Harris. Folsom plays at McClatchy on Dec. 20 in a nonleague game.
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No. 3 Sacramento expects to battle rival McClatchy for Metropolitan Conference honors again with a young team that includes versatile returners Andriana Avent, Rebekah Brown, Serina McMillan and team leader RyAnne Walters.
No. 4 Oak Ridge has great size and tenacity to repeat as Sierra Foothill League champions in what figures to be a good battle with rival Oak Ridge, which returns frontcourt players Kassidy DeLapp (Oklahoma State) and Marie Olson (SMU).
No. 5 West Campus won the CIF State D-IV championship last spring and returns dynamic UCLA-bound guard Kiara Jefferson and Nia Johnson (Cal State Bakersfield).
No. 6 Elk Grove lost all-time program great Mira Schulman to graduation and UC Santa Barbara, but coach Larry Price returns Ikeysha Smith and welcomes Inderkum transfer Maile Williams, a guard who can score, pass and defend.
No. 7 Foothill features one of the section’s top players in point guard Makaila Sanders, a UC Davis commit who averaged 23.1 points and 10.8 rebounds last season.
No. 8 Christian Brothers welcomes new coach Shandyn Foster, an alum of the school, and versatile wing Brianna Juniel, who scored 12.6 points a game last season for the defending section D-III champions.
Sheldon is No. 2 in the boys rankings despite losing a lot of talent from a 30-4 team that lost to Woodcreek in the section and NorCal Division I finals in the closing seconds. But coach Joey Rollings has speed and skill in guards Xavion Brown, Dale Curry and Justin Nguyen and toughness in forwards Ronald Agesbar and Chris Wriedt.
If Sheldon isn’t the favorite to defend its Delta League championship, then Jesuit would be the leading contender.
The No. 3 Marauders were already formidable with guards Isaiah Rutherford and Jake Virga and forward Chris Simpson, but the addition of forward Elias King via transfer from Christian Brothers significantly ups the talent level for coach Jon Rotz. King, a 6-foot-9 wing, averaged 22.5 points and 11.3 rebounds for the Falcons last season.
No. 4 Capital Christian expected to be highly ranked in the preseason with one of the state’s most formidable front lines, but 7-footer Tolu Jacobs left for a prep school in Las Vegas and highly touted 6-9 sophomore Kendall Munson had knee surgery in August. Still, first-year coach McCall Wollman has one of the section’s top backcourts with Rick Barros, Zach Chappell and Trey Jones.
No. 5 Burbank expects to defend its Metropolitan Conference title with key returners Levelle Bailey and Chris Gray, though No. 6 Sacramento will be a factor as well under beloved coach Earl Allen.
The overwhelming preseason No. 1 would have been Woodcreek, but national recruit and Bee Player of the Year Jordan Brown left for Prolific Prep of Napa, a loss that reverberated across Northern California.
Woodcreek returns enough talent to give Folsom and No. 7 Oak Ridge a run in the SFL, as coach Paul Hayes likes his team’s cohesion and effort.
Folsom and Capital Christian tip off the Gridley Tournament on Dec. 7 at 3 p.m., followed by Sheldon against Woodcreek in an event that features Bay Area powers Salesian of Richmond, Mitty of San Jose and Dublin. Woodcreek is also in the event.
Report your results – Coaches/scorekeepers are encouraged to phone in results by 10 p.m. to The Bee at 916-441-4100.
The Bee’s preseason basketball rankings
(With last season’s record)
1. Folsom (22-9)
2. Sheldon (30-4)
3. Jesuit (15-13)
4. Capital Christian (23-8)
5. Burbank (27-5)
6. Sacramento (18-10)
7. Oak Ridge (12-15)
8. Grant (20-10)
9. Liberty Ranch (22-9)
10. Woodcreek (32-3)
11. Cosumnes Oaks (19-9)
12. Antelope (15-12)
13. Del Oro (18-15)
14. Granite Bay (17-13)
15. Whitney (27-5)
16. Cordova (15-12)
17. Vista del Lago (25-9)
18. Placer (26-5)
19. Christian Brothers (16-12)
20. Rio Linda (24-6)
1. McClatchy (31-5)
2. Folsom (27-5)
3. Sacramento (23-10)
4. Oak Ridge (23-11)
5. West Campus (30-4)
6. Elk Grove (25-7)
7. Foothill (27-6)
8. Christian Brothers (15-18)
9. St. Francis (22-9)
10. Antelope (20-10)
11. Davis (20-9)
12. Whitney (20-10)
13. Del Oro (18-9)
14. Roseville (22-9)
15. River City (17-9)
16. Rio Linda (23-7)
17. Vista del Lago (23-6)
18. Franklin (16-12)
19. Kennedy (16-12)
20. Woodcreek (14-13)