Here is a look at the league’s teams.
1. Sullivan South
3. Unicoi County
4. Sullivan East
5. Happy Valley
6. Sullivan Central
7. Johnson County
Ben Diamond looks to shine for the Rebels, who finished 21-13 and lost in the region semifinal last season. The 5-10 senior guard is a big scorer as is his backcourt mate Cole Layne (5-10, Sr.)
Cooper Johnson (5-10, So.), should start alongside Gannon Chase (6-3, Sr.) and Camden Necessary (6-4, Sr.). Coach Michael McMeans looks for Necessary’s leadership, while Nick Ellege (6-0, Jr.) will be counted on to bring energy off the bench.
Other reserves include: Caleb Lay (6-2, Sr.), Parker Wilmoth (6-1, Sr.), Aaron Holmes (6-2, Jr.), Colton Mullins (6-2, Jr.) and Ethan Bergeron (6-2, So.).
Three freshmen — Drew Hoover, Creed Musick and Will Harris — also are on the varsity team.
The defending District 1-AA champion Cyclones look to be South’s stiffest competition, especially once they get all of the football players back on the court.
Coach Lucas Honeycutt believes Nico Ashley (6-4, Sr.) could be a conference player of the year candidate. Elizabethton returns plenty of other talent off a team that finished 23-7 last season.
Bryson Rollins (6-0, So.), Parker Hughes (6-2, Jr.), Jake Roberts (5-11, So.) and Corbin Montgomery (6-5, Sr.) are other projected starters.
Brayden Phillips (5-11, Jr.) should also battle for a starting position. Dalton Mitchell (5-11, Fr.), Nate Stephens (5-10, Fr.), Nicholas Wilson (6-5, So.), Jordan Haynes (5-11, Sr.) and Donta Earnest (6-1, So.) should all get minutes.
Seth Carter (5-9, So.) is another who will compete, as will William Willocks (6-2, Jr.) who is recovering from an ankle injury.
High-scoring Brock Thompson (6-2, Jr.) leads the Blue Devils, who look to improve on last season’s 9-24 record with new coach John Good.
Brett Lingerfelt (5-8, Sr.), Robbie O’Dell (6-1, Jr.), Caleb Adkins (6-2, Sr.) and Lucas Slagle (6-4, Fr.) are other starters in Good’s aggressive system. Slagle fits the mold perfectly, described by Good as getting any rebound he wants.
Zachary Hopson (5-9, Jr.), Bryson Peterson (6-0, So.), Nicholas Hensley (6-2, Sr.) and Grant Hensley (5-11, Fr.) are key reserves. Jordan Bridges (5-10, Jr.), Mason Barcel (5-9, Jr.), Nick Lynch (6-5, Sr.) and Boone Reed (5-11, Sr.) should all get playing time.
Dylan Bartley (6-2, So.), an all-around player who can shoot, score, pass and rebound, is expected to pace the Patriots, who finished 18-13 last season.
Eric Hare (5-11, Sr.) is the point guard described as having a great motor, while Ethan Bradford (5-11, Jr.) will be at the No. 2 spot. Mason Montgomery (6-2, Jr.) is at the other wing, and Bartley and Clayton Ivester (6-2, Jr.) often play down low.
Isaac Grubbs (5-9, Jr.), Johnathan Walden (6-1, Jr.), Logan Murray (6-0, So.) and Austin Davis (6-7, Jr.) fill out the 10-man roster. Veteran coach John Dyer likes how the group competes and the team chemistry.
The Warriors are hoping Blake Young (6-4, Jr.), who suffered a neck injury in football, will be ready to play around January. If so, he will be a leading player for a team that finished 7-20 last season.
Noah Stevens (6-1, Sr.) averaged 12 points per game last season and hit 35% from 3-point range. He will be joined in the starting lineup by Dylan Willis (5-9, Sr.), Will Tittle (5-9, Sr.), Luke Roberts (6-0, Sr.) and James Harmon (6-4, Sr.).
Tittle is a team leader, while Roberts led the team in scoring and Harmon has good versatility. Landon Babb (6-3, So.) and Alex Lunceford (6-4, Jr.) give Happy Valley more depth in the post.
Other reserves include Andrew Clawson (5-8, Jr.), Matthew Bahn (5-10, Jr.) and James Murray (6-1, Fr.).
Coming off a 9-19 season, the Cougars are lacking experience but feature plenty of athleticism. Point guard Ty Barb (6-1, So.) is an experienced player and the most athletic, one who can do anything from a 3-point shot to a windmill dunk.
Bryson Crabtree (5-10, Sr.) can get to the rim at will, while other starters include Joltin Harrison (5-11, Fr.), Preston Sams (6-2, So.) and Jacob Fields (6-5, Sr.)
Other seniors are Justin Robinette (5-10), Jordan Trivette (5-10, Ethan Moody (6-4) and Austin Bibee (6-4). Sophomores Desmon Clark (5-10) and Noah Beverly (6-0) and 6-7 freshman Dawson Arnold round out the lineup.
Following a historic season when the Longhorns went 27-7 and lost in the sectional round, Johnson County is picked last in the league.
Much of that is based on the graduation of Blake Atwood, the Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times News All-Northeast Tennessee player of the year, and other key players like Zach Eller and Gavin Reece.
Guard Lucas Phillips (6-0, Sr.) will be looked on to lead the Longhorns, along with Michael Oxentine (6-3, Sr.) in the post. Other starters are Ethan Bower (5-8, Jr.), Clayton Cross (5-11, Jr.) and Darren Cunningham (6-3, Sr.)
Reserves are Gavin Ward (5-11, So.), Peyton Pavusek (5-11, Fr.), Preston Greer (5-11, So.), Zack Parsons (6-0, So.) and Trevor Gentry (6-1, Jr.)