This list was chosen from schools within the coverage area of The Press-Enterprise.
CAJON — The Cowboys won’t be at full strength until football season ends and top scorer and rebounder Jeremiah Martin hits the floor. Until then, Jarred Hyder, DeShawn Washington and Cameron Browne will be sharing the offensive load. Cajon won the Citrus Belt League title and advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2AA semifinals last season.
CARNEGIE —The Wolverines once again will be the Inland area’s biggest mystery. Carnegie won the Division 6 championship last season and held its own against large public school teams throughout the season. This year’s roster has a new cast of international players, but the team will be competing in Division 4A this season.
CENTENNIAL — Huskies coach Josh Giles will field one of the younger teams in his 15-year tenure at the school (only one senior). That does not mean there is a lack of experience, however. Jaylen Clark and D.J. Davis, two of the Inland area’s top freshmen last season, look to lead Centennial back to the top of the Big VIII League.
GREAT OAK — The Wolfpack return several players from a team that finished third in the competitive Southwestern League. C.J. Stevenson and Zach Hickey are a solid backcourt duo, and Tej Johnson is a skilled wing player. Freshman Christian Bento (6-foot-10) gives the Wolfpack size up front.
HILLCREST — The Trojans finished second in the River Valley League last season but will be the favorites to win the title this time around. Hillcrest has several players who are capable of putting up double-digit point on any given night, including 6-7 senior center Victor Ohia Obioha.
MURRIETA MESA — Are the Rams capable of making a worst-to-first turnaround in the Southwestern League? Some area coaches think so. Giovanni Sanders leads a veteran backcourt, and the roster gets size up front with the additions of Lamar and Shamar Wright, the twin sons of late NBA standout Lorenzen Wright.
NORTH — The Huskies have several key players returning from a team that finished second in the Inland Valley League. Melvin Walker Jr. and Mason Westlake are a top guard tandem, and Edwyn Collins is a wing player who plays much bigger than his listed height of 6-1.
NOTRE DAME — The Titans advanced to the CIF State Division V championship game last season and remain among the area’s top teams. Anthony Holland and Dondre Bausley combined to average 31.2 points as sophomores last season. The Titans also have one of the top transfers in the area: Anton Mozga (18.7 PPG at West Valley).
RANCHO CHRISTIAN — Are the Eagles the best team in Riverside County? It’s not a stretch to argue their case when players like Isaiah Mobley, Evan Mobley and Solomon Davis are on the roster. Rancho Christian opened as the No. 12-ranked team in the state by CalHiSports,com, one spot ahead of perennial powerhouse Centennial.
RANCHO VERDE — The Mustangs open the season without All-CIF guard Jaxen Turner, who has helped lead the school’s football team to the section final. Rancho Verde captured the CIF Southern Section’s Division 1AA title last season, and the Mustangs also return key players like Tory San Antonio and Anthony Thomas.
REDLANDS EAST VALLEY — The Wildcats were the only team to hand Cajon a loss in Citrus Belt League play last season and could give the Cowboys a run for their money this season. It will be hard to replace Kim Aiken (25.1 PPG, 11.5 RPG), but look for 6-7 senior center Mykale Williams to make a leap forward.
RIVERSIDE POLY — The Bears got off to a solid start last season before injuries and the midseason transfer of D.J. Davis to Centennial caused major roster shakeups. Poly should be one of the area’s top defensive teams, while sophomore Lamont Butler looks to lead the way for the Bears on offense.
ROOSEVELT — The Mustangs come off a magical season that saw the program capture the Big VIII League and the CIF State’s Division I championships. How will Roosevelt fare without HSGameTime Player of the Year Matt Mitchell and Jemarl Baker no longer in the mix? David Agba is one of the role players who should increase their production.
SUMMIT — The SkyHawks have shared the Sunkist League championship with crosstown rival Kaiser each of the past two seasons. Myles Arnold leads the list of returning players for Summit, which hopes to stand alone atop the league standings this season.
TEMESCAL CANYON — The Titans return all 12 players from last season’s team that won the Sunbelt League championship and advanced to the Division 3A quarterfinals. That chemistry could mean the program is in for even bigger things this season. Brandon Sapp and Cole Rathgaber are among the top players for the Titans.