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New York City boys’ preseason basketball rankings

The boys’ high-school basketball season starts the same way last one ended: with everyone looking up at Lincoln, the three-time city and two-time state champions. Right behind them is No. 2 Bishop Loughlin, dominant inside with a bevy of young guards ready to fill the void left by James Johnson and Doron Lamb.

Christ the King has a new coach, Joe Arbitello filling in on an interim basis for Bob Oliva, but is a threat as always, led by dynamic shooting guard Sean Johnson and the Middle Village school’s usual array of weapons. Rice will be there at the end, but may struggle as it waits for Shane Southwell to get eligible and Durand Scott’s ankle to heal.

Two PSAL teams to watch after Lincoln are Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy, ranked fifth and sixth, respectively – traditional powers that are versatile and dangerous. Then there is Bishop Ford and Mount St. Michael, CHSAA Class A programs that could arguably play with any “AA” school. Mount, for example, blasted All Hallows, 72-56, last week.

Here is how our New York City boys’ preseason basketball rankings break down:

1. Lincoln (2-0)

Here’s a scary thought: The Railsplitters, ranked third nationally by USA Today, can be even better than a year ago when they cruised to city and state titles. Although the Coney Island school graduated several important pieces, it returns Lance Stephenson, James Padgett and Darwin (Buddha) Ellis and a number of impact players, including 6-foot-6 power forward Davon Walls and St. Patrick’s (N.J.) transfer Shaquille Stokes, a sophomore point guard. Coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton is thrilled with his depth; Lincoln, he said, can go 10 deep. Look out for Xaverian transfer Allen West, an athletic 6-foot-7 reserve know for his shot-blocking prowess.

Next: Dec. 9 @ Transit Tech

2. Bishop Loughlin (3-0)

There isn’t a team in the city that can match Jayvaughn Pinkston and Trevon Hamlet in the paint. The two are as athletic as they are strong. Losing in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional playoffs just made this group hungrier. Interim coach Rudy King replaces Khalid Green, but the transition isn’t drastic; almost all the Lions played for the former JV coach and varsity assistant at one time. Plus, junior shooting guard Branden Frazier looks like a keeper. He has scored in double figures in each of Loughlin’s three wins.

Next: Dec. 12 @ St. Dominic’s

3. Christ the King (2-0)

Besides Arbitello patrolling the sidelines for the ill Oliva, not much has changed for Christ the King. Ryan Pearson (George Mason) and Erving Walker (Florida), the Royals’ dynamic duo, moved on. But this edition is more balanced, led by Johnson, who has developed into as lethal shooter as anyone, and the emergence of juniors Maurice Barrow and Dominykas Milka. He’s only a sophomore, but some have dubbed point guard Corey Edwards as Malik Boothe with a jumpshot.

Next: Dec. 13 vs. No. 10 Boys & Girls

4. Rice (0-0)

The Raiders will be fine, no matter how long Scott’s ankle keeps him out and when Southwell returns. Mo Hicks has too much talent not to thrive. But when those two come back, in tandem with junior center Kadeem Jack and senior James Stukes, Rice will be as tough to beat as ever. The Harlem school is in the mix for the city crown with Christ the King and Bishop Loughlin.

Next: Dec. 12 vs. All Hallows

5. Thomas Jefferson (2-0)

We’ll find out a lot about the Orange Wave this week, when they host No. 10 Boys & Girls on Tuesday and meet No. 2 Bishop Loughlin on Sunday in Big Apple Basketball’s PSAL vs. CHSAA Challenge. The Kangaroos will be angry after losing to No. 6 John F. Kennedy in the PSAL Tip-Off Classic, so Jefferson will certainly get their best shot and the Lions will challenge them every way imaginable.

Next: Dec. 9 vs. No. 10 Boys & Girls

6. John F. Kennedy (5-0)

The Knights were unhappy by their low ranking in so many citywide polls, but we got their back here. This is the typical tough JFK club, led by speedy guards Jeffrey Arzu and Naquan Pierce, one of our favorite players in the city, 3-point shooting dynamo Ross Vizcaino and veteran center Shea Spence in addition to a deep and multi-dimensional bench.

Next: Dec. 9 @ Gompers

7. St. Raymond’s (1-0)

Already senior point guard Tyreak Johnson has a sore ankle. That isn’t good news for the Ravens, who need leadership and poise out of Johnson with such a young supporting cast surrounding him. By March, St. Ray’s should be tough to beat, particularly if freshman Nkereuwem Okoro and sophomore Joey De La Rosa are half as good as we hear. The time to get Oliver Antigua’s club is now.

Next: Dec. 10 @ Monsignor Farrell

8. Bishop Ford (1-0)

Chaz Williams didn’t wait long to get going, pouring in 39 points in the Falcons’ season-opening win over LaSalle on Friday. The five borough’s elite point guard will obviously need help for Ford to win its second consecutive CHSAA Class A crown, and coach John Infortunio believes sophomore center Kamari Murphy will be that second option in the paint.

Next: Dec. 9 @ Nazareth

9. Mount St. Michael (2-0)

Bishop Ford may be the favorite after last year’s thrilling run to Glens Falls and the mere presence of Williams, the Hofstra-bound guard, but the Mount isn’t far behind. That’s because senior Willie Williams doesn’t have to do everything anymore. He has a fine complementary scorer in sophomore Pete Aguilar. Together, the two will create problems for every ‘A’ school in the city. And that includes Ford.

Next: Dec. 9 @ St. John’s Prep

10. Boys & Girls (3-1)

The Kangaroos may have lost to No. 6 Kennedy on Saturday, but we took two things from that setback: sophomore Mike Taylor is as lethal as anyone once his feet are set, and Boys plays as hard as anyone. Are they as talented as Ruth Lovelace’s past two groups that went to Madison Square Garden? Probably not. But Lamount Samuell Jr. and Taylor are tough to handle. If senior Anton Dickerson, who struggled on Saturday, can be that consistent third scorer, The High can play with No. 1 Lincoln and No. 5 Jefferson. Boys never lacks in defense and intensity.

Next: Dec. 9 @ No. 5 Thomas Jefferson

 

New: None

Dropped out: None

On the bubble: Wadleigh (5-1), Wings Academy (3-1), Benjamin Cardozo (1-0), Holy Cross (1-0) and St. Peter’s (2-0)

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