Now that the 2001-2002 basketball season is here, who are the top players to watch out for?
Everybody has his or her own opinion on the subject. The following is a list of what I consider the top 12 players heading into the season. Here is Southeast Missouri's "Dandy Dozen."
Usually picking the area's top player heading into the season is a tough call. This year it was a no-brainer. Tipler is head and shoulders above the rest, and is already considered one of the top point guards in Southeast Missouri history. He put up 18.7 points per game as a junior.
Charleston's expectations are sky-high this season, and Dean is a big reason why. The 6-foot-4 southpaw is big enough to bang with the wide bodies in the post, and can also light it up from the outside. He's the total package.
Dexter will look to Carr down low to carry the load. The 6-foot-7 senior showed his potential as a junior, putting up 10 points and seven rebounds per game for a team loaded with stars. Expect this to be his breakthrough year.
Freeman has started since he was a sophomore for the Bulldogs, and seems to be on the brink of a huge season. He put up 12 points with six rebounds per game as a junior, and will be the top outside shooter on the team. He's also an excellent shot blocker.
Twin Rivers is loaded with size this year, most notably 6-foot-7 forward Steve Deken. With Jason Jenkins out of the picture, expect him to carry the torch for the Royals. He averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds as a junior.
The Mules have a solid trio of guards this year, and Webb is the best of the bunch. He put up 10 points with 4 rebounds as a sophomore, and will be Poplar Bluff's top player.
Forget about his junior year. Ranson is back in shape, looking to pick up where he left off as a sophomore. The 6-foot-4 postman has an uncanny knack of being in the right spot at the right time. He led the Eagles in scoring and rebounding two years ago, and might do it again.
Sikeston's success this season may hinge on the type of season McClinton puts together. The strong, athletic junior has the skills to take the Bulldogs to the next level. As a sophomore, he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds.
Cole led the Rebels from cellar to stellar in local 1A last year, putting up 22.8 points, 4 assists and 7 rebounds a game for Richland's quarterfinal team. He's super quick and he is an outstanding offensive player.
Henry lived up to the hype as a sophomore, scoring 19 points with 9 rebounds, making the Cubs a respectable team again. This year his numbers may slide a little due to a few talented Bell City transfers, but he will still be their best player.
Kellas is a big, strong guard that handles the ball well and has a nice outside shot. As a sophomore he averaged 12 points per game and ranked as one of the top 3-point shooters in the area. The Dons will look for more offense out of him now that Adam Crader is gone.
Expect Little's success on the gridiron to carry over into the basketball season. The quick and athletic guard put up 10 points per game as a junior and was one of Bluff's top defenders.
OTHER PLAYERS that just missed the cut include Caruthersville's Chris Springer, Kennett's Dustin Pritchett, Oran's Ryne Wood, Kelly's Michael Romas, Bernie's Marcus Johnson, Advance's Andrew Jenkins, Charleston's Jordy Mixon, Jemorrio Betts, Puxico's Derek Benford, Portageville's J.T. Williams, NMCC's Derrell Minner, Jackson's Seth McDowell, Sikeston's Lavar Morgan and Notre Dame's Doug Schaefer.