Varsity Xtra’s preseason boys basketball rankings:
1. Mesa — Jahii Carson elevated himself to one of the top players in the nation this summer, and now wants a state title before moving on to ASU.
2. Mountain View — Camyn Boone and Jaren Sweeney highlight the list of returners, but it is coach Gary Ernst that makes this a perennial top-5 team.
3. Corona del Sol — Junior combo guard Calaen Robinson is quickly becoming a possible high-major Division I recruit.
4. St. Mary’s — Chris Mason and Bryan Rhymes lead the Knights, who are always athletic and always tough.
5. Mountain Pointe — Good balance and depth for the Pride.
1. Central — Robert Selmon and Dalan Stafford will be running teams ragged.
2. Chaparral — Just missed the title last year, and Zeke Chapman is back to lead the Firebirds.
3. Horizon — Collin Woods will get more attention without Kyle Tresnak in the post, but he can handle it.
4. Tolleson — Stacy Davis should build off of solid sophomore year.
5. Perry — Dillon Smock, Chase Richardson and Desmond Howard all back for Pumas.
1. McClintock — Tribune Player of the Year Cameron Forte returns, but does he have enough of a supporting cast?
2. Kellis — Kenny Martin and Demetrius Balark will make Kellis a 4A-I contender for the next two seasons.
3. Saguaro — It has been a down cycle for a traditionally strong program, but Jack Connors and Co. could change that.
4. Peoria — Dewayne Russell (20 ppg last year) leads the way.
5. Dysart — Pierre Jones could be primed for a big year.
1. Amphitheater — Tim Derksen, rest of Panthers want a title.
2. Arcadia — Larry Lewis, Brandon Dixon and Andrew Nader all return.
3. Thunderbird — Top three players are back from 17-9 team from a year ago
4. Desert Edge — Anthony Jacobs is one of three returning starters.
5. Tempe — Struggled last year, but a completely different team with a healthy Jordan Baker.
1. Winslow — Three of top four scorers return, including Kraig Shirley.
2. Round Valley — Four starters are back from a team that made the title game last season.
3. Fountain Hills — Jeffrey Bonner and Tyler Bode lead a solid front line.
4. Safford — Brandon McEuen helped team to semifinal berth last year and now wants more.
5. Florence — Kyle Washington leads the way for the Gophers, who were upset last year in the first round.
1. Westwind Prep — One of the best teams in the state, led by one of the best players in DeMarquise Johnson.
2. Valley Christian — Top three scorers are back for Trojans, who were upset early in last year’s state tournament.
3. Scottsdale Christian — The defending champs lost a lot, but always reload.
4. Northwest Christian — Last year’s semifinalists have bigger goals, and will go as far as Dakota Anderson takes it.
5. Willcox — Shane Hicks and the rest of the team aiming to prove last year’s run to the quarterfinals wasn’t a fluke.
1. Gilbert Christian — Will the defending champs (32-0) get any competition this year?
2. Valley Lutheran — The team with the best chance at knocking off Gilbert Christian.
3. St. Michael — The Cardinals have a lot of talent returning, and could also be a factor.
4. St. Gregory — Upset in the quarters last year; don’t want that to happen again.
5. Joseph City — Zach Miller and Tracy Poudrier lead the way.