Flintridge Prep is coming off its finest season ever after beating Muir to win the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA title, but also comes back without the most dominant player in program lore, center Kenyatta Smith, who is now at Harvard University.
Still, a good number of the key players in last year's run are back, including three starters in guards Robert Cartwright, a sophomore, and senior Kory Hamane, as well as junior swingman Jedrick Eugenio.
"We're definitely going to miss Kenyatta because of everything he did," Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said of Smith, whose myriad senior honors included CIF Division V Player of the Year and All-Area Player of the Year. "But those three solid guards are back and stronger, bigger and with another year under their belts, so they're ready to go and we expect great leadership from them."
Replacing the other graduated starter, Jared Norsworthy, at power forward will be junior Chad Cosse and junior Kareem Ismail will assume duties in the middle.
"He's ready to step up as a junior and take an active role at the center position," Ohara said of the 6-foot-5 Ismail. "He's a little different player [than Smith]. He's got more of an outside, kind of a Euro big-man [game] where he can go inside, but can also shoot a decent outside shot."
Before the Rebels mount a defense of their CIF title, they will attempt to defend the Prep League crown, which they shared with Poly last year. The Panthers don't figure to be as formidable, however, having lost four starters, including Daniel Wohl and Hunter Merryman. Ohara predicts Chadwick to be tougher this season, as well as Rio Hondo Prep, which returns four starters.
"Anything can happen in [the Prep] League, but I think, on paper, we would still probably be the favorite," Ohara said.