As the 2012-13 basketball season gets ready to tip off in earnest this weekend, it’s time for me to select my preseason all-state teams.
I posted the girls teams earlier. You can find those teams by clicking here.
Last season – the first I selected these teams – this was a pretty popular post, so I’m doing the same thing this year, only I came in a little more prepared. I talked to players, coaches, and other media members across the state to compile these lists, but these are mostly just my opinions.
These lists don’t mean anything, but it’s a fun exercise to point out some players who might have solid seasons for their respective teams.
Last year, it was Danny Robison. The year before that, Tanner Roderick. And before that, Josh Huestis. So there’s been a pretty good run of top high school basketball players in Class AA, and plenty of good options highlight this year’s preseason all-state team.
Andrew Campbell, Billings West - Campbell played in the shadows of Robison and Brady Gustafson last season, but he’s a multi-talented wing player for the Bears. The long, athletic senior can attack off the dribble and is an excellent finisher at the rim.
Ryan Edwards, Kalispell Glacier - By now, people are familiar with Edwards, the seven-footer from Glacier. His size, solid footwork, and soft touch earned him a commitment to Gonzaga this summer.
Evan Epperly, Kalispell Glacier - The Wolfpack have a dangerous one-two punch with Edwards and Epperly. Epperly is a gritty point guard, probably the best in the class.
Daine Muller, Billings Skyview - Muller is a lot like Campbell, but is probably a better shooter. He’s going to get his shot opportunities for Skyview this season, and there’s a good chance he leads the AA in scoring.
Dylan Tatarka, Great Falls - Tatarka is another talented wing player. He can spot up and hit the open 3, or he can create off the dribble. On the drive, he has a solid pull-up jumper or can get a teammate an easy look.
Riley Bradshaw of Corvallis headlined this list last season. While there probably isn’t anybody on his level this year, there are some really good players in Class A, especially in the Southwestern and Eastern conferences.
Ben Folsom, Dillon - Folsom might seem undersized for a forward/center, but he can create mismatches out of the high post, especially when Dillon goes small. He made the State A all-tournament team last season for the defending state champions.
Zach Gavlak, Stevensville - The Yellowjackets have a surplus of talent this year with three returning players who were named to postseason honors teams. Gavlak is a big (6-foot-4), athletic forward who could lead the team in scoring.
Daniel Meyer, Billings Central - Meyer had that monster game at the State A tournament where he corralled 26 rebounds in a Saturday morning loser-out contest. At 6-foot-8, he’s going to consistently put up big numbers in the Eastern A.
Jesse Sims, Stevensville - If Gavlak doesn’t lead Stevensville in scoring, it will probably be Sims. Sims is a big, strong 6-foot-4 post presence, who can score and rebound. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he averaged a double-double this season.
Brett Thompson, Laurel - Thompson was a first-team all-conference player last year and will likely shoulder more of the load this year as a senior. He can flat out shoot and will put up some big scoring totals this year.
Class B should be competitive across the state again, which made selecting this team the hardest of all. There were some really tough omissions. That speaks to the strength of the class, though, as a talented group of players returns to the hardwood for the 2012-13 season.
Kendall Denham, Malta - Denham was the most valuable player at the State B tournament last season and is the leader of another talented Malta team. He sets the tone with his defense, but can really push the tempo offensively.
Quinn McQueary, Manhattan - McQueary has a unique combination of size and speed, and he uses that to give opposing defenses headaches. Simply put, he’s a playmaker, whether it’s with his ball-handling, scoring, or passing.
Luke Schwagler, Forsyth - Schwagler isn’t very big, but he’s strong and a good athlete. Like Epperly, he’s a gritty point guard that can create off the dribble for himself or his teammates.
Aaron Ward, Florence - Florence took third place at the state tournament last year and returns every starter. Ward, who made the State B all-tournament team, is the best of the bunch.
Mechiah Zilkoski, Wolf Point - Wolf Point should be a competitive team in District 2B again, and Zilkoski is a big reason why. He’s a tough matchup for opponents, with his size (6-foot-3), athleticism, and 3-point shooting.
As is often the case in Class C, there aren’t many dominant post players, so this list is guard-heavy. But what a talented crop of guards it is.
Sam Davison, Highwood - Davison will be one of only two seniors on a still young Highwood team. He brings stability and leadership, but he’s also a great defender and good scorer.
Chad Kananen, Roy-Winifred - Kananen is one of the most exciting players in Montana, regardless of class. He can go pretty much wherever he wants on the court, either getting himself a good look (with seemingly limitless range) or setting up a teammate for an easy bucket.
Brady Olson, Westby-Grenora - Olson is a scoring point guard, who averaged nearly 20 points per game last year to go along with five rebounds and four assists per. He’s a great athlete and can seriously fill it up, as evidenced by his 39-point outburst against Richey-Lambert last season.
Brock Schriver, Fairview - Schriver will get his stats in the box score, but some things don’t show up there. He sets the tone for Fairview with his defense, hustle, rebounding, and leadership.
Kyle Wilson, Melstone - As far as pure scorers go in Class C, Wilson is among the best. He has great speed, which he uses to get open shot attempts either moving off the ball or creating off the dribble.