A lack of veterans around the league has many thinking the MVC is as up for grabs as it has been in many years.
Fans of Merrimack Valley League basketball have said to us all offseason, “It’s bizarre how wide open this league could be this year.”
Why is everyone saying this? Well, first off, teams graduated a lot of talent. And the league lost some talent when players like George Smith transferred out of Central Catholic.
Stars certainly emerged in the North Andover Fall Ball League (see below) with Haverhill emerging as a team to beat with Lawrence and Andover not far behind.
Here are the responses we got back from coaches with our preseason survey.
Head Coach: Dave Fazio (31st season, 462-220)
Assistant Coaches: Mike Trovato, Carol Martini, Patrick Murnane, Kyle Rillahan
2018-19 Season Record: 14-9 (State Semis)
Returning starters: Kyle Rocker (Sr., Guard), Michael Slayton (Sr., Forward)
Returning Lettermen: Charlie McCarthy (Sr., Guard), Jack Cloutier (Jr., Guard), Shamus Florio (Sr., Forward), Jared Moses (Jr., Guard), Ryan Grecco (Jr., Forward), Aidan Cammann (Soph., Center), Richie Shahtanian (Soph., Guard)
Promising newcomers: Ryan MacLellan (Fr., Guard), Chris Capachietti (Jr., Guard), Ryan Pacy (Soph., Guard), Zayn Aruri (Jr., Guard), Logan Satlow (Soph., Center)
Returning leading scorers: Rocker (17.6 ppg, 56 3-pointers)
Returning honorees: Rocker (First Team All-Conference)
Fast facts: Fazio said he has never had a team this big in 31 years of coaching. “We better learn to play inside and I better learn to coach it … Cammann was named Honorable Mention All-North in the Andover Fall Ball League while Pacy and Shahtanian made their All-Sophomore team
Captains: Rocker, Slayton, McCarthy
Head Coach: John Walsh (third year at Central, 37-9; ninth season overall, 160-33)
Assistant Coaches: Mark Garitty, Mark Dunham, Steve Martinez, Andrew Ruffin, Brian Dunn
2018-19 Season Record: 22-4
Returning starters: Xavier Mackenzie (Soph., Point Guard)
Returning Lettermen: Anthony Traficante (6-5, Sr., Center), Jonathan Peguero (5-8, Sr., Guard), Nate Godin (5-10, Jr., Guard) Adrian Rodriguez (5-9. Sr., Guard)
Promising newcomers: Marcus Rivera (6-1, Fr., Guard/Forward), Jeff Goguen (6-0, Soph., Guard)
Returning leading scorers: Mackenzie (6.9 PPG), Traficante (4.5 PPG)
Fast facts: One of the team’s leaders last year, George Smith (15.9 ppg), transferred to Brooks.
Returning honorees: Mackenzie (MVC All-Star)
Captains: Traficante, Peguero, Godin, Rodriguez
Head Coach: Jesus Moore (second year, 15-7)
Assistant Coaches: Sucre Medina, Justin Nieves, Leonny Burgos, Jorge Escoto, Tommy West, Sam Hunter, Cristian Kinsley, Jimmy Cuyler
2018-19 Season Record: 15-7, D1 North quarters
Returning starters (3): Brandon Goris (6-0, Sr., Guard), Jeremiah Melendez (6-3, Sr., Forward), Gabriel Zorrilla (6-3, Jr., Forward)
Returning lettermen: Noah Tejada (6-0, Sr., Guard), Angel Herrera (6-2, Sr., Forward), Christian Moscat (5-8, Sr., Guard), Abraham Estrada (5-7, Soph., Guard)
Promising newcomers: Carlos Pabon (6-3, Sr., Forward), Anthawn Castro (6-0, Jr., Guard, transferred from Lowell), Nathan Diaz (6-2, Jr., Forward), Nathan Guzman (5-10, Jr., Forward), Joshua Diaz (6-0, Jr., Guard), Gregory Duran (5-11, Jr., Forward), Sergio Mendez (6-1, Soph., Forward), Elvin Cruz (5-10, Soph., Guard), Julio Santana (6-3, Soph., Forward), Nasiha Perez (6-2, Fr., Forward)
Returning scoring leaders: Goris 8.4 ppg, Zorrilla 5.9 ppg, Melendez 4.1 ppg
Returning honorees: MVC All-Stars Goris and Zorrilla
Fast facts: Junior transfer Anthawn Castro was a reserve at Lowell High. … former standout Cristian Kinsley (LHS ‘18) and Jimmy Cuyler join the coaching staff … Angel Herrera and Jeremiah Melendez are a tough rebounding duo … Goris is early contender for league MVP after being named NAFB co-MVP … The Lancers are playing Acton-Boxboro Jan. 25 at the Garden. … Tribune MVP Luis Reynoso left the team mid-season in ’18-19 … Lawrence beat Lowell for the NAFB title and lost to Lowell in the Hoops for Hope summer league semis. … Zorrilla made the NAFB honorable mention MVP list and Estrada made the All-Sophomore team.
Captains: Goris, Herrera, Tejada, Zorrilla
Head Coach: Paul Tanglis 7th Year (77-56)
Assistant Coaches: Matt Mederios, Bill Hart, Scotty Wilson
2018-19 Season Record: 16-8
Returning starters: Kyle Moore Sr Guard
Returning Lettermen: Kellan Murphy (6-0, Jr, Guard), Jake Wolinski (5-11, Jr., Guard), Matt Kutz (6-1, Jr., Guard), Jack Morin (5-11, Sr., Guard)
Promising newcomers: Aidan Heim (6-3, Sr., Center), Andy Lauzon (5-11, Jr., Guard), Jake Landry (6-2, Jr., Forward), Chris Pensavalli (5-11, Jr., Guard), Jack Castellanos (5-8, Jr., Guard), Jack O’Connell (5-11, Soph., Guard), Nate Williams (6-5, Soph., Center), Drew Connolly (6-0, Soph. Guard), D’Adre King (5-10, Soph., Guard)
Returning leading scorers: Moore 9.2 ppg, 56 3’s
Returning honorees: Moore MVC All Star
Fast facts: Moore is a four-year varsity player … Morin is coming off a Super 8 baseball title and will play at Roger Williams next year … Connolly’s father was an all-star QB for the Knights … D’Adre King is cousins with former hoops and football star Darren Watson.
Captains: Kyle Moore and Jack Morin
Head Coach: Charlie Micol (27th year)
Assistant Coaches: Jim DeBenedictis, Bryan Duggan
2018-19 Season Record: 5-15
Returning starters: Suubi Ngukwa, Sr.
Returning Lettermen: Tarmo Tari (Jr.), Levi Cass (Sr.), Tyler Nolan (Sr.)
Promising newcomers: Joe Sturzo (Jr.), Nick Tedesco (Jr.), Kimonte Donkor (Jr.), Cam Petullo (Jr.), Noah Luke (Jr.), Ben Gomez (Jr.), Matt McCarthy (Soph.), Manny Gayyean (Fr.)
Returning leading scorers: Ngukwa
Returning honorees: Nkugwa (MVC all-star)
Fast facts: With only four returning kids the preseason is very important for us. We have a little bit of everything, but need to develop some chemistry with each other on the floor. Suubi is our only returning starter and only player with much varsity experience, so will will lean on him a little bit in the early going. He will have a little bit different role for us this year with the makeup of our team.
Head Coach: Bryan Myers (second year at DHS, 100-65 career between Dracut and Lowell girls Varsity previous 6 seasons)
Assistant Coaches: David Parent and Adam Daniels
2018-19 Season Record: 14-11 after going 1-19 in 2018
Returning starters: Farai Zuvaradoka (Sr., Guard), Adrian Torres (Soph., Guard), JC Santiago (Jr., Guard)
Returning leading scorers: Torres (10 ppg)
Returning honorees: Coach of Year for the Lowell Sun, MVC Small, and Boston Globe
Fast facts: We won the North Div. 3 and lost by 3 at the Boston Garden in the state Semis. We have high expectations come tourney time but have to grind out the MVC and loaded non-league schedule. We will play fast with athletes that can create and make plays
Head Coach: Souleymane Wane, 4th season
Assistant Coaches: James Wilson
2018-19 Season Record: 11-12
Returning starters: Jeremiah Phillips (6-3, Jr., Forward), Zach Guertin (5-8, Jr., Guard), Brendon Donald (5-8, Sr., Forward)
Returning Lettermen: Angel Burgos (6-0, Jr., Guard), Phillip Cunningham (6-2, Jr., Forward)
Promising newcomers: Johan Farias (5-7, Sr., Guard, transferred back from Lawrence), Manny Arias (5-8, Sr., Guard), Elijah Haas (5-8, Jr., Guard), Junior Efosa (6-3, Jr., Forward), Elias Polanco (6-4, Jr., Center), Brian Wrenn (5-9, Jr., Guard), Enrique Alvarado (5-8, Jr., Guard), Jeremy Valdez (6-5, Fr., Center)
Returning leading scorers: Phillips, 11.2 ppg in ’19 (transfer Arias averaged 14.2 ppg at Whittier last season)
Returning honorees: Phillips All-MVC
Fast facts: The Hillies ended last year with a first round playoff loss to Boston Latin, their first playoff spot since 2012-13. They are returning several juniors who are looking to make a big impact this year … Hillies been earning a lot of preseason buzz after making the North Andover Fall Ball semis (lost to Lawrence, 58-55) and beat Westford to take the Westford Fall League … Phillips led the team in scoring last year; Cunningham (brother of former Hillies three-sport star D.J.) will be a major contributor, along with Donald, Guertin and Burgos. Arias, who joined the team this year, is expected to be a major contributor at the point guard position. Haas and Efosa joined the varsity team this year and will bring size and depth to the Hillies squad.
Head Coach: Anthony Faradie: (7th year, 63-64)
Assistant Coaches: Ryan Middlemiss, Doug Ryan, Frank Drejaj, Doug Gemmell
2018-19 Season Record: 5-13, didn’t make tourney
Returning starters: Mitchell Crowe (5-8, Jr., Guard), Andrew Lussier (6-2, Jr., Forward), Isaac Allen (5-8, Soph., Guard)
Returning lettermen: Wildy Santana (5-7, Sr., Guard), Kevin Garcia (6-1, Sr., Forward)
Promising newcomers: Jaleek Urena (5-8, Jr., Guard),Jordan Polanco (5-11, Jr., Guard), Wilton Ortega (6-2, Jr., Forward), Jason Perello (5-10, Jr., Guard), Julian Lopez (5-8, Jr., Guard), Zender Loivier (6-2, Jr., Forward), Lawensky Osias (5-9, Soph., Guard), Randy Vasquez (6-3, Soph., Forward), Andrew Wannaphong (6-2, Soph., Forward), Anesti Touma (6-1, Fr., Forward)
Returning scoring leaders: Crowe 11.4 ppg, 38 3’s; Lussier 6.8 ppg, Allen 4.1 ppg
Fast facts: Former Central Catholic star Doug Gemmell, who works at MHS, is a new assistant. … Polanco is a transfer from Traip Academy in Kittery, Maine. He was the No. 2 leading scorer for the 15-6 Rangers … Osias is a transfer from New London (Conn.) High, where he played varsity as a freshman. … Onyera Chibuogwu, last year’s starting sophomore point guard, transferred to the Middlesex School.
Head Coach: Tom Bradley
Assistant Coaches: Steve Boudreau, Dean Graffeo
2018-19 Season Record: 4-16
Returning starters: Shane Aylward (Sr, Guard), Kalu Olu (Jr. Forward)
Promising newcomers: Ryne Rametta (Jr. Guard), Dom Valway (Jr., Center)
Returning leading scorers: Olu 8 ppg
DID NOT RESPOND BY FIRST PUBLISH DATE: Billerica