It's the week of the state semifinals for football, but high school basketball in Pennsylvania gets underway next Friday, so let's talk a little high school hoops:
T.J. McConnell is in the NBA. His brother, Matty, plays for Robert Morris. Their father, Tim, is the highly-successful Chartiers Valley boys coach.
Now comes another McConnell on the WPIAL scene.
Megan McConnell is the younger sister of T.J. and Matty and the youngest of Tim and Shelly McConnell's three children. Megan is only a freshman, but she is slated to start for the Chartiers Valley girls team.
Megan McConnell is a 5-foot-5 ninth grader who will play shooting guard. Chartiers Valley has one of the top teams in WPIAL 5A. In fact, the Colts are ranked No. 1 by the Post-Gazette heading into the season. They have some talented, experienced players, including Mackenzie Wagner. It will be interesting to see how Megan McConnell develops. I've never seen her play, but I'm going to take a wild guess and say she's probably pretty fair.
We will have a basketball preview as part of our Varsity Xtra section in Friday's paper. But here's an early line on the top WPIAL teams in each class. These may be different than our Post-Gazette rankings that come out Friday.
6A - 1. Pine-Richland. 2. Penn Hills. 3. Latrobe.
5A - 1. Highlands. 2. Hampton. 3. Chartiers Valley
4A - 1. Beaver Falls. 2. New Castle. 3. Quaker Valley
3A - 1. Lincoln Park. 2. Steel Valley. 3. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic
2A - 1. Bishop Canevin. 2. Sewickley Academy. 3. OLSH
1A - 1. Monessen. 2. Clairton. 3. Vincentian
City League - 1. Obama. 2. Westinghouse. 3. Allderdice.
Here is a preseason Dandy Dozen for the WPIAL and City League (listed alphabetically). It was pretty easy getting the top seven or eight. But for the last four or five spots, there are maybe 7-8 players you could also pick.
AUSTIN BUTLER, LATROBE, 6-4, SR., GUARD
Is there anyone in Western Pa., with deeper shooting range? I think not. He can make 3's well past the volleyball line in games. Second-leading scorer in WPIAL last season at 25.8 a game. Has signed with Holy Cross.
ROBBY CARMODY, MARS, 6-4, JR., GUARD
One of the most heavily recruited players who has come through the WPIAL in the past decade. Only a junior, Carmody (pictured) already has scholarship offers from numerous major colleges, including Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Ohio State and Michigan, among others. Extremely athletic and can play point guard or shooting guard. Averaged 19 points a game last season as a sophomore.
JOSH CREACH, BEAVER FALLS, 6-7, SR., FORWARD
Made Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 last year after averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks for WPIAL AAA champion. After high school, might go the junior-college route. Has 1,241 career points.
NELLY CUMMINGS, LINCOLN PARK, 5-11, SR., GUARD
Cummings signed with Bowling Green, turning down some other Division I offers. He is an excellent shooter, but also athletic. He has a chance to reach 2,000 career points this season. He has 1,521. Cummings (pictured) is the main reason many feel Lincoln Park is the team to beat in 3A this season. Cummings made the Post-Gazette Fab 5 a year ago.
ANTONIO IONADI, HAMPTON, 6-2, SR., GUARD
The kid with a sweet stroke. One of the best shooters around, Ionadi (pictured) averaged 22.3 points a game last season. Made a truckload of 3-pointers. One of the reasons some are picking Hampton as the No. 1 5A team entering the season.
JOHN PAUL KROMKA, GATEWAY, 6-8, JR., C
Kromka is one of the top juniors in the WPIAL. He averaged a double-double last year. He could use a little more muscle, but with him in the lineup, Gateway has a presence on the inside.
ANDREW PETCASH, PINE-RICHLAND, 6-4, SR., GUARD
Helped team win WPIAL 4A title last season. Petcash (pictured) averaged 20.6 points a game. A good shooter, but also scores off the dribble. Has few Division I offers. His younger brother, Dan, a sophomore, also might join Andrew in starting lineup this year for P-R.
SHERRON SCHIFINO, PENN HILLS, 6-2, SR., GUARD
Penn Hills turned things around last season, making it to the WPIAL semifinals. Schifino played a pivotal role in the success, averaging 13 points. A good shooter.
JARROD SIMMONS, MOON, 6-8, SR., FORWARD
Lives in Moon, but attended Cushing Academy in Massachusetts the past three years before deciding to go to Moon for his final year. Versatile player who was once offered scholarship to Pitt when Jamie Dixon was coach. This fall, he said his final list of colleges included Boston College, Temple, Princeton, Yale, Pennsylvania and Brown.
NICK SMITH, NORTH HILLS, 6-1, SR., GUARD
Made Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 last year. Helped North Hills make the WPIAL title game for the first time in school history. Averaged 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals a game. A player who scores in various ways, Smith (pictured) has 1,100 career points. A few Division I colleges have expressed interest. He and Luke Chutko are three-year starters in the backcourt for North Hills.
BRANDON STONE, SOUTHMORELAND, 6-10, JR., FORWARD
Southmoreland has what is most likely its first future Division I college player. Stone already has a few scholarship offers, including one from Duquesne. Others are showing interest. Stone is thin and needs more muscle. But he has size and also skills that allow him to play some on the perimeter. He averaged 21.3 points a game last season.
ROSS WILKERSON, CHARTIERS VALLEY, 6-0, JR., GUARD
Wilkerson will be the leader of the Colts this year as they are again pegged as one of the top teams in their classification (5A). Wilkerson is a nice, all-around player who can shoot it but also score some off the dribble. Averaged 16.2 points a game last season.