By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The 2018 edition of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions lived up to the hype (see video of the top plays above for proof), but it’s never too early to take a look at what the 2019 field may hold. Here are just a few of the teams that could be participants in the 2019 TOC, both national and local.
Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
We’re familiar with Montverde, as the Eagles have already made three appearances in the TOC, winning it all in 2014 and posting a 7-2 record overall. Yes, they lose top prospect R.J. Barrett but this is hardly a one-man show. Montverde Academy has four of the top 100 players in the nation in the 2019 class alone and it’s safe to assume they’ll likely reload with another strong recruiting class.
University High (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Now, this team has jumped onto the national scene behind two of the best players in the nation in 2019 No. 1 recruit Vernon Carey Jr. (6-foot-10, 245lbs) and 2020 No.2 overall prospect Scottie Barnes (6-foot-7, 180lbs). Carey is a member of the USA Junior National Team and was the MVP of the Americas Championship in 2017. He’s also the son of former NFL lineman Vernon Carey and it shows in his frame. He’s a rare breed.
Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.)
They’ve been in the tournament twice, going 2-1 each time. Most recently was 2017 where Alex Lomax hit one of the most clutch shots in tournament history to lift East over Montverde. They’ve been nationally ranked all season and that won’t change next year with three 2019 players in Rivals 150, led by No. 2 James Wiseman and No. 48 Chandler Lawson. Wiseman dunks everything and would be a human-highlight with his 6-foot-10 frame.
Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kan.)
It’s a program we hear quite a bit about in the Midwest, but they probably feel undervalued nationally. They’ve never been to the TOC and 2019 would be the perfect year. Sunrise has four Rivals 150 players in the 2019 – led by Malik Hall (No. 50) – and 6-foot-10 center N’Faly Dante is the No. 10 player in 2020. This team is used to seeing elite competition and a national schedule.
Christ School (Arden, N.C.)
Two words, Jalen Lecque. He’s a Malik Monk clone. Super athletic, super bouncy and an explosive scorer, Lecque would be a must-see every time he played. He’s No. 13 in 2019 and while his team wouldn’t be one of the nation’s elite, he’s good enough to keep them competitive.
Ranney School (Tinton Falls, N.J.)
Two of the top 2019s in the nation that are both dynamic wings in Bryan Antoine (No. 7) and Scottie Lewis (No. 9). Both are EXTREMELY athletic and put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses with their ability to attack the rim. Oh, they’d also be favorites in the dunk contest.
Vashon (St. Louis)
They haven’t been in the tournament since 2007, but few teams have attended more than the Wolverines. Much like Webster Groves this season, next year Vashon will be loaded with talent. Mario McKinney (No. 74) will be the early favorite for Mr. Show-Me Basketball honors. Cam’Ron Fletcher (No. 43 in 2020) is 6-foot-5 athletic wing. Vashon will also have former Kickapoo standout Donyae McCaskill, who would be another dunk contest favorite.
Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.)
The Bruins have three of the highest rated players in Missouri, led by 6-foot-5 wing Isiaih Mosley who already holds an offer from Mizzou and is ranked in the Rivals 150. Classmate Dajuan Harris is another D-1 prospect as a 6-foot-2 two-way point guard and 6-foot-4 wing Jamonta Black gives Rock Bridge a third, elite scorer. This will be the No. 1 team in Missouri next season.
NEW: Top 2019 Isiaih Mosley SNAPS for 60 at UA Camp! Kid is COLD – Holds Mizzou + Tulsa Offers
— HoopFocus (@TheHoopFocus) September 12, 2017
Garfield (Seattle, Wash.)
This team comes down to a pair of elite 6-foot-5 wings in PJ Fuller and Marjon Beauchamp. As a sophomore Fuller played alongside Michael and Jontay Porter at Nathanial Hale. He’s a pure scorer. Beauchamp is the No. 16 player in 2020 and legit 5-star recruit. This would be another exciting team and give the tournament a rare West Coast squad.
The two locals for next year isn’t quite as clear cut as it may seem. Parkview should be a lock. They return one of the best 2019 wings in 6-foot-5 high-flyer Tyem Freeman (24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds) and one of the best 2020 point guards in Missouri in Dontae Taylor (13.6 points, 3.5 assists). Maybe the piece that makes them most intriguing is 6-foot-8 big Tre Morrison, who has D-1 size and athleticism. The question is what team will join the Vikings? The best guess would be Nixa. The Eagles return Braeden Combs and Kaleb Wofford, but I don’t think legendary head coach Jay Osborne would accept an invitation based on his last few trips. Nixa is probably looking at 2021 before they’ve ready to take another TOC bid… Kickapoo would have Anton Brookshire and Tanner Oetting back, as well as big man David Senn. But, Mitch McHenry may not want a TOC bid in Year Two and typically one of the two spots will go to a team that’s not in the city… That leaves other 2018-19 COC Large favorites Republic and Willard. With Trevyor Fisher stepping down to take over the A.D. gig, it seems unlikely that they’ll throw a new head coach to the wolves. But, he will return Broc Smith, who will be the early favorite for COC Player of the Year honors, as well as super-efficient guard Trent Rackley… Daniel Cutbirth returns Daniel Abreu, who is having a monster sophomore season for the Tigers. Sophomore Maurice Grayer is one of the most explosive guards in the class and junior Isaac Davis is uber athletic… And then there’s Joplin. Jeff Hafer and company will be in Year One in the COC Large, but the Eagles will return four of their top six players from a team that has surprised many to start the season. Sophomore Evan Guillory is one of the best 2020 prospects in Missouri, classmates Zach Westmoreland and Isaiah Davis are two elite football prospects in the class. Joplin will be athletic enough to compete with anyone in the area for the foreseeable future… A pair of sleepers in all of this could be soon-to-be Big 8 programs Rogersville and Springfield Catholic… John Schaefer is no stranger to the tournament and he has a pair of players in big man Luke Vandersnick and guard Cade Blevins that see a high level of basketball throughout the summer. This will likely be the best Class 4 team in the Ozarks next season… Catholic will have some holes to plug, but the backcourt of Jake Branham and Charlie O’Reilly will be one of the best in the area. Mike Manzardo seems poised for a breakout season and football players Wallace Squibb and Tyson Riley bring size and athleticism. This group also adds a loaded eighth grade class.