Right about the time we published our preseason Xcellent 25 National Basketball Rankings last week, the news began to circulate that
Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)
sophomore sensation Mickey Mitchell
was out for the season with a torn ACL.
It was tough news for one of the nation's top two-sport prospects. The 6-foot-7 point-forward is also an emerging star at quarterback, where he accounted for nearly 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air and on the ground before sustaining the injury.
There's no way around saying it: Mitchell's absence also brings into question the candidacy of Prestonwood Christian for high school basketball's mythical national title. The Lions were already a little thin and will now call on three freshmen to step up and play major roles.
"We've talked about it a lot," Prestonwood Christian head coach Chris Mayberry said. "He's an irreplaceable player that can play multiple positions and really impact games."
But Mayberry is choosing to stay positive, which is made a little easier by the presence of Julius Randle
, a Top 5 national prospect who brought more than 21 points and 12 rebounds per game to the table as a junior. Randle is an athletic, imposing force at 6-8 and nearly 240 pounds with Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas involved in his recruitment.
"We are going to ask some young guys to step in and I think this is probably one of the better shooting teams that I've had," Mayberry said. "When you have a guy like Julius getting double- and triple-teams, it should create some wide open shots for those guys."
Speedy point guard Marquan Botley
(5-9), getting a push from Miami-Ohio as of late, along with the freshman trio of Evan Peters
(6-3, younger brother of former PCA standout Zach Paters), Buddy Kennedy
(6-2) and D.J. McGee
(5-10) will all be asked to raise their game.
So far, so good. The Lions had a good showing in exhibition play against nationally ranked Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) last weekend at the Elite 14.
"It's going to be a challenge," Mayberry said. "The schedule is off-the-charts tough but I like my older kids. I think we'll be okay."Prestonwood Christian's last five seasons:
2011-12 – 27-4 (Chris Mayberry), TAPPS 5A state champions
2010-11 – 26-11 (Brad Freeman), TAPPS 5A runner-up
2009-10 – 35-3 (Brad Freeman), TAPPS 5A state champions
2008-09 – 30-9 (Brad Freeman), TAPPS 5A runner-up
2007-08 – 21-14 (Brad Freeman)