BIG EIGHT CONFERENCE
Team: Conf., All
Madison East: 17-1, 22-2
Madison La Follette: 14-4, 20-6
Madison Memorial: 13-5, 17-7
Sun Prairie: 12-6, 21-7
Middleton: 10-8, 13-10
Madison West: 7-11, 9-14
Janesville Craig: 7-11, 11-13
Verona: 6-12, 7-16
Janesville Parker: 2-16, 4-19
Beloit Memorial: 2-16, 3-20
Top WIAA tournament performances: Sun Prairie was the D1 runner-up, losing 69-52 to Brookfield Central; Madison La Follette lost to Sun Prairie, 66-53, in D1 sectional final.
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
First team: Anthony Washington, sr., Madison East.
Second team: Ben Probst, sr., Madison La Follette.
Honorable mention: Keonte Jones, sr., Madison East; Dayne Armwald, sr., Madison West.
1, Madison East; 2, Madison La Follette; 3, Sun Prairie.
Beloit Memorial Purple Knights
Coach: Dondre Bell, second year (3-19).
Returning starters (2): Jaden Bell, 6-3, sr., G (9.1 ppg); Cam Boyd, 6-3, sr., G (3.9 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (4): Azeez Ganiyu, 6-4, sr., C (5.5 ppg); Kobe Chandler, 6-0, sr., G (3.4 ppg); Cordell France, 5-8 sr., G (2.6 ppg); Elontae Phiffer, 5-7, jr., G (1.0 ppg).
Key fact: The Purple Knights add Shelvin Garrett — a first-team All-Big Eight football player and a state qualifier in the triple jump — to a group bursting with length and athleticism.
The lowdown: Senior Jaden Bell will lean on his two years of varsity experience to lead a team that managed just two conference wins a year ago. The Purple Knights will return four players with significant varsity experience to pair with some electric athletes who were unable to play last season. The lanky Azeez Ganiyu is expected to create problems on the block with his size and play at the rim.
Quotable: “I expect our team to be right in the middle of the Big Eight this year,” Bell said.
Janesville Craig Cougars
Coach: Ben McCormick, third year (22-25).
Returning starters: None.
Other returning letterwinners (2): Angelo Rizzo, 6-2, jr., G (7.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Caleb Scoville, 6-3, sr., G (2.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg).
Key fact: The Cougars lost nine varsity players to graduation, including their top three scorers. The Cougars will have to grow quickly if they want to stay out of the bottom half of the Big Eight.
The lowdown: Junior Angelo Rizzo is the only player with serious experience, averaging 7 ppg as a sophomore. Rizzo will have to step into a leadership role for the Cougars to show improvement this season. Sophomore Marshaun Harriel could be a contributor following a successful junior varsity season a year ago.
Janesville Parker Vikings
Coach: Matt Bredesen, second year (4-19).
Returning starters (4): Matthew Hartwig, 6-3, jr., F (8.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg); Robert Delong, 6-0, jr., G (7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Brady Biba, 6-5, sr., C (5.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg); Brendan Weis, 6-5, jr., G (5.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
Other returning letterwinners (2): Ethan Thompson, 5-10, jr., G (3.4 ppg); Nick Galvan, 6-1, jr., G (1.4 ppg).
Key fact: The Vikings’ only graduation loss from the starting lineup was Tremar Curry, a third-team All-Big Eight pick who led Parker in points, rebounds and assists.
The lowdown: Janesville Parker is a young team with tremendous experience for its age. Their six core players have considerable varsity exposure, even though there is only one senior on the roster. The Vikings have plenty of size and hope to jump-start a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2001-2002. Outside of the six letterwinners, Parker will give chances to a variety of juniors — and freshman Sam Bess who Bredesen thinks could make an immediate varsity impact.
Quotable: “We played five sophomores and a junior a ton last season, and I expect that experience to be valuable,” Bredesen said.
Madison East Purgolders
Coach: Matt Miota, ninth year (125-96).
Returning starters (4): Anthony Washington, 6-3, sr., G (16.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg); Keonte Jones, 6-3, sr., G (10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Marcus Justice, 6-5, sr., F (6.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Jevan Boyton, 6-4, jr., F (7.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
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Other returning letterwinners (5): David McKinley, 6-1, sr., G (3.8 ppg); Michael McIntosh, 6-1, jr., G (3.3 ppg); Max Baumann 5-10, sr., G (2.3 ppg); Moses Fadele, 6-0, sr., G (1.1 ppg); Jack Tupta, 5-11, sr., G (0.9 ppg).
Key fact: The Purgolders ended the regular season last year ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press, but were left with a bitter taste by their regional final loss to Racine Horlick.
The lowdown: The Purgolders enter this season, despite losing Big Eight Player of the Year Damontae Thompson to graduation. The rest of the core is back, and the backcourt defense will be a considerable strength with the return of Washington and Jones.
Quotable: “Team expectations are to win conference and state,” Miota said.
Madison La Follette Lancers
Coach: Curtrel Robinson, sixth year (61-61).
Returning starters (4): Isaiah Stewart, 6-0, sr., G (10 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Ben Probst, 6-2, sr., G (15 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Derek Gray, 6-2, sr., PG (7.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg); David Gray, 6-2 sr., G (5 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
Other returning letterwinners (2): Dakovin Prather, 6-3, sr., F (3 ppg, 2rpg); Charlie Kunkel, 6-3, sr., F/G (3 ppg, 2 rpg).
Key fact: Ben Probst will return as the Lancers’ leading scorer.
The lowdown: Four starters from the 2018-2019 season return for the Lancers, who finished second in the league race and went 20-6 overall last year. Probst, who quarterbacked the Lancers’ football team to a successful year, is ready to step into the role of team leader and go-to scorer.
Madison Memorial Spartans
Coach: Steve Collins, 22nd year (414-106).
Returning starters (1): Kyle Yu, 6-4, jr., G (8.8 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (8): Justin Jackson, 6-3, sr., F (5.0 ppg); Kwan Lewis, 6-2, sr., G (4.5 ppg); Drew Collins 6-2, sr., G (3.9 ppg); Yacouba Traore Jr., 6-6, sr., F (3.2 ppg); Logan Younk, 6-5, sr., F (2.4 ppg); Kole Kerkhoff, 6-2, sr., G (1.3 ppg); LaQuandis Cannon 6-3, sr., F (1.0 ppg).
Key fact: Multi-sport athlete Yu returns as the only starter from last year for the Spartans. Yu has impressed area scouts with his basketball and baseball skills.
The lowdown: Despite losing four of five starters, the Spartans return a lot of experienced players who came off the bench a year ago. The team has seven seniors to pair with Yu. A few of those seniors will be expected to make major strides for the Spartans to compete in a Big Eight Conference filled with talent and athleticism.
Madison West Regents
Coach: Keith Stewart, 11th year (83-154).
Returning starters (2): Dayne Armwald, 6-5 sr., F (17.2 ppg); Elliot Berry, 6-1 jr., G (8.0 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (3): Demond Thompson, 6-5, jr., C (2.7 ppg); James Richmond, 6-3, sr., F (1.7 ppg); Jerome Jacobs, 6-3, so., F (5.0 ppg).
Key fact: The Regents return Dayne Armwald, the leading scorer in the Big Eight last season.
The lowdown: West won’t blow most opponents away with an explosive offense, but they will lean on Armwald to provide offensive production after a successful junior season. The graduation of second-team All-Big Eight selection Cliff McCray will hurt the Regents, but they still expect smart play from their returning core.
Quotable: “We are expecting a very exciting year,” Stewart said. “We have great guard depth and multiple players who can play both sides of the floor with intelligence.”
Coach: Kevin Bavery, 14th year (187-120).
Returning starters (1): Henry Patterson, 6-3, sr., F (3.7 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (7): Parker Van Buren, 6-9, sr., F/C (6.5 ppg, 2 rpg); Billy Johnson, 6-4, sr., F/C; Logan Schultz, 6-4, sr., W; Cole Deptula, 6-3, sr., G (4.9 ppg) Tyler Huff, 6-1, sr., W; Emmett Smith, 5-10, sr., G; Cain Carlson, 6-2, sr., F (2 ppg).
Key fact: Bavery stands eight victories away from reaching 400 for his overall career.
The lowdown: Parker Van Buren has gone from a 5-11 freshman to a 6-9 Division 1 volleyball recruit for Loyola University in Chicago. Also filling things up on the inside will be senior Billy Johnson, a 6-4 Air Force football recruit who will play center. While the Cardinals don’t return much varsity experience, the players that do return bring a lot of athletic ability. The inside size has the coaching staff changing the offensive approach “with a commitment to get the ball inside,” Bavery said. “We feel we have kids coming from the under level teams to continue that down the line.”
Quotable: “We don't return a lot of varsity experience, but our senior class has some late bloomers,” Bavery said. “We should have a really good mix of inside and outside scoring.”
Sun Prairie Cardinals
Coach: Jeff Boos, 25th year (294-247).
Returning starters (2): Colin Schaefer, 6-0, sr., PG (11.3 ppg, 3 rpg); Delaware Hale, 6-6, sr., F ( 12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Other returning letterwinners (7): Dawson Hughes, 5-11, sr., G (7.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg); Carter Amundson, 5-10, sr., G; Cole Amnudson, 5-10, sr., G; Zay Lyles, 6-0, sr., G; Caden Fritz, 6-4, sr., F; Sylvester Ware, 6-5, sr., F; Deante Luster, 6-4, sr., G.
Key fact: Last year’s leading scorer, Brock Voigt, is playing at UW-Eau Claire. … Six wins this year will give Boos 300 at Sun Prairie.
The lowdown: Despite taking fourth in the Big Eight during the regular season, Boos’ Cardinals got hot during the postseason and advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state championship game, where they lost to Brookfield Central. It was the Cardinals’ second consecutive trip to the state tournament. With Voigt gone this year, the leadership roles will transfer to Schaefer, Hale and Hughes, giving Sun Prairie a go-to player at every spot on the floor. Hale has shown remarkable growth and added maturity after a solid junior season, and Schaefer and Hughes are ready for their time in the spotlight.
Coach: Eddie Singleton II, first year.
Returning starters (2): Malik Odetunde, 6-2, sr., G (9.1 ppg); Haakon Anderson, 6-2, sr., G (7.9 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (3): Adam Bekx, 6-3, sr., G (5.1 ppg); Cam McCorkle, 5-10, jr., G (2.2 ppg); James Rae, 6-4, jr., F (2.0 ppg).
Key fact: Singleton, a first-year head coach, previously served as an assistant at Madison La Follette for four years, which could mean a couple of interesting matchups against his former players during the Big Eight season.
The lowdown: The Wildcats hope to compete in a conference packed with talent, despite the return of only two starters. Beyond the projected starting five, there are no players with varsity experience. Adam Bekx and Haakon Anderson were part of the offensive attack that led Verona football to a second-place finish in the Big Eight. Big man Trevin Lieck, a 6-7 senior, gives the Wildcats an option inside. He is back after deciding not to play last season.
Quotable: “We just have to show up and work hard every day, control the things we can control and punch the clock ready to work hard,” Singleton said.