Replacing a one-and-done NBA talent like Shabazz Muhammad isn't supposed to look this easy.
Clearly, rebuilding isn't part of the plan at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
A year after losing Muhammad and a celebrated senior class, the Gaels actually improved their win-loss record by a game en route to the program's 15th all-time state title.
"I was probably more proud of my team last year than I have been in my 13 seasons here," Bishop Gorman head coach Grant Rice said. "It was a total group effort."
With most of the key contributors from last year's state championship team back in the fold, Gorman will once again be a team with a target on its back nationally.
"I think they will handle it okay," Rice said. "We've been through this before with all the preseason stuff and high expectations. I think we will be ready to go by the time December hits."
Leading the way are junior twin towers
— a 7-footer and first team All-State pick as a sophomore — and 6-10 Chase Jeter
. Both are Top 20 prospects according to 247Sports
"They have played a lot together," Rice said of his potentially dominating duo. "They have played some AAU together and have just been in the gym working together and getting better a lot. They are good friends and hang out together off the court."
Senior guard Noah Robotham
, a lethal shooter and capable ball-handler, should bring a steady veteran presence to the backcourt.
"It seems like he has been with our program for eight years," Rice said of Robotham's longevity on the Gaels varsity squad. "He has been an underappreciated guy at times but he does things the right way and will bring a lot of leadership to the team."
The schedule will be as challenging as any program in the country will face. Depending on the way tournaments sandwiched around Christmas shake out, the Gaels could face at least a half-dozen teams ranked in the preseason Xcellent 25
"Obviously we would like to win every game but our goal has never been to go undefeated," Rice said. "We aren't going to shy away from taking on top programs. The main thing for us is to be playing in the final game of the season and doing well in Nevada."View gallery of Bishop Gorman preseason photo shoot
Bishop Gorman last five years:
2012-13 (Grant Rice) – 29-3, Division I state champions, No. 11 final Xcellent 25 national ranking
2011-12 (Grant Rice) – 28-4, Class 4A state champions, No. 7 final Xcellent 25 national ranking
2010-11 (Grant Rice) – 25-6
2009-10 (Grant Rice) – 30-2, Class 4A state champions, No. 16 final Xcellent 25 national ranking
2008-09 (Grant Rice) – 28-5, Class 4A state champions