By Chris Short | Photo by Matthew Putney
The two best teams in the state of Iowa might actually be from the same city. Even with the split of Waukee High School to the new Northwest High, the top two spots in our preseason rankings both hail from Des Moines’ western suburb.
1) Waukee High (14-11)
Five-star Omaha Biliew makes the Warriors’ rebuild a quick one. The 6-foot-8 future Iowa State Cyclone might be Iowa’s most heralded recruit since Harrison Barnes. Vance Peiffer and Cooper Randall will also be a force.
2) Waukee Northwest (20-5)
Future Hawkeye 4-star Pryce Sandfort, the 6-6 younger brother of Iowa’s Peyton Sandfort, who won a state title at Waukee High before Northwest opened – leads a talented group of Wolves. Cade Kelderman will also be a key contributor.
3) Cedar Rapids Kennedy (21-4)
The Cougars return all-state backcourt Kenzie Reed and Colby Dolphin off last season’s Class 4A semifinalist 21-4 squad.
4) West Des Moines Valley (20-4)
The Tigers are young and talented with junior guard Trevian Carson and super sophs Keke Deng and Curtis Stinson Jr., who’s dad was a former star at Iowa State and D-League MVP for the Iowa Energy. Valley could be the best team in the state come March.
5) Cedar Falls (20-3)
Trey Campbell is now at UNI, but the Tigers bring back three returning starters, including 6-foot-8 senior Dallas Bear and his 14 points per game.
6) Indianola (17-5)
Drew Kingery, who is committed to play for coach Jeff Horner at Truman State, leads the Indians.
7) Johnston (19-5)
The Dragons return a good nucleus from their state runner-up, including Jacob Simpson, Taylen Proctor, Samuel Tornabane, Jayden Kephart and Nathan Ruish.
8) Ames (23-3)
The defending 4A champions lost their top three players off a 23-3 squad. 6-7 Lucas Lueth and Jack Wynter will hope to spark the Little Cyclones.
9) Pleasant Valley (22-1)
Connor Borbeck returns for the Spartans, who went 22-1 last season.
10) Cedar Rapids Washington (13-10)
Cedar Rapids Washington returns four starters to a team which lost to Kennedy in a substate final, including leading scorer Traijan Sain.
11) Iowa City West (12-9)
Sophomore Jack McCaffery – son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey and brothers of Connor and Patrick -- should have a big sophomore season in hopes of leading Iowa City West off a disappointing 12-9 season. 6-4 Sophomore Kareem Earl, who is ranked in the top 100 by some recruiting services, is the son of former Hawkeye and Boston Celtic/Toronto Raptor Acie Earl.
12) Des Moines Hoover (16-9)
Montana recruit Chase Henderson leads the Huskies, who are always strong on the defensive end. Markese Harvey-Bell, Elijah and Abraham Voss will also be key contributors.
13) Sioux City East (16-6)
The Black Raiders are led by leading scorer Preston Dobbs and Cole Ritchie, who both averaged 12 points.
14) Burlington (17-8)
The Greyhounds return 6-4 junior guard Merquiche Lewis Jr., who averaged 13 points and is a fierce defender.
15) North Linn (27-1)
The defending state Class 1A champions, who only have five losses in six seasons, returns three starters, including Tate Haughenbury and his 15.5 points and 6 rebounds per game.
16) Grand View Christian (26-1)
7-footer Daniel Tobiloba returns for his senior year for the Class 1A runners-up.
17) New London (21-3)
Truman State commit Blaise Porter averaged 17 points, hitting 45% from behind the arc, and Cade Benjamin will lead New London, which is coming off a state baseball championship in 1A.
18) Humboldt (21-4)
The Wildcats return three starters off a Class 3A state semifinalist team, including Roy Orness.
19) Ankeny (19-5)
Juniors Lio Aguirre and Carson Johnson return as key pieces for the Hawks.
20) Marion (19-6)
Marion qualified for the state tournament in Class 3A and has three starters back, including leading scorer Brayson Laube (20 ppg).
21) Williamsburg (22-3)
The Raiders return three starters and seven regulars, including junior forward Derek Weisskopf.
22) Des Moines Lincoln (13-10)
The Railsplitters return their top three scorers -- Trovary Cavil, Jay Bell and Jamal West.
23) Roland-Story (22-3)
The Norsemen return four starters off a 22-3 squad that made the 2A state tournament, including Isaiah Naylor.
24) Monticello (22-4)
The Panthers have been a state tournament qualifier three years in a row and bring back three starters, including senior point guard Tate Petersen and Preston Ries who combined for 37 points per game.
25) Central Lyon (24-3)
Zach Lutmer and Andrew Austin are back for the Class 2A runner-up.