Do yourself a favor and watch some Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys basketball this season. The class of 2016 is going out with a bang.
It starts with the three three-time all-conference picks.
Cary’s Cory Gensler won a close SWAC player of the year race, averaging 24.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.8 steals per contest.
Panther Creek point guard Juan Munoz (22.4 ppg) has unlimited range and deft ball-handling skills.
Then there’s Apex’s Ian Boyd (21.5 ppg), a matchup nightmare who could very well become the Cougars’ all-time leading scorer.
The race for first in the conference, however, always starts with Apex.
In addition to Boyd, the Cougars (17-9, 12-2) bring back point guard Colin Molden (8.2 ppg) who, when healthy, made Apex a different team. Devin Dunchack, Max Owens, Eric Field and Eric Fox are among the contributors returning.
For Cary (17-9, 9-5), Gensler is the “ice” to Donte Tatum’s “fire.” Tatum, a junior, averaged 19.8 points per game. The Imps didn’t graduate anybody. Kyle Gensler (10.1 ppg), Jay Hicks (6.1 ppg) and Phil King (5.3 ppg) round out the top five returning scorers.
Munoz makes Panther Creek (13-12, 9-5) go, but the Catamounts will also get a boost from Justin Smalls (7.0 ppg) and Riley Adams (5.5 ppg).
Middle Creek (13-12, 8-6) returns point guard Shammond Hicks (9.0 ppg) and post player Demetrius Bastian (8.8 ppg).
Green Hope (12-13, 8-6) graduated most of its team last year. Luke Romeo (10.9 ppg) is the top returning scorer, who only played in 17 games due to an injury.
Though Holly Springs (11-12, 8-6) missed the postseason last year, but should be one of the more fun teams to watch with shooter Ryan Blount (16.9 ppg) and high-flyer Jordan Brown (13.7 ppg). Jake Kelsey (8.2 ppg) and Kristian Williams (7.0 ppg) give the Golden Hawks their top four scorers back for this year.
Fuquay-Varina (3-20, 2-12) is hoping this year is a step forward after a number of close losses. The Bengals return Trey Terry (10.7 ppg), Amani Gill (4.7 ppg) and Taylor Layton, among others.
Athens Drive (0-24, 0-14) starts over with new coach Robbie St. John, just the third head coach in the school’s 36 years. The good news is all top five returning scorers are back: Malik Talton (8.8 ppg), Joe Sykes (8.4 ppg), Steven Judd (5.0 ppg), Ryan Schneider (4.7 ppg) and Sean Carmen (4.0 ppg).
Apex Friendship will be coached by Kevin Wills in its first year.
Last 10 conference champions
Conference tournament winner in parentheses
2015: Apex (N/A)
2014: Apex (N/A)
2013: Apex and Middle Creek (Green Hope)
2012: Apex (Apex)
2011: Middle Creek (Lee County)
2010: Apex (Apex)
2009: Panther Creek (Panther Creek)
2008: Middle Creek (Panther Creek)
2007: Apex (Middle Creek)
2006: Apex (Apex)
State championships among all SWAC teams
Cary (1939, 1954, 1995)
Green Hope (1940)