State

Boys Basketball Preview: 10 questions that need answers

1. How will Modesto Christian forward Reeves Nelson, The Bee's Player of the Year as a junior, respond after returning from the knee injury he suffered during football?

2. How will the recent move of Manteca sophomore guard Kiwi Gardner -- he began the year at Central Valley -- affect the Valley Oak League?

3. How will guard Liautaud Prophete, one of the region's best as a junior at Golden Valley, fit into Modesto Christian's fast tempo and its "look-to-Reeves-first" mentality?

4. How will Downey, after losing its top five from a team that reached the Division I quarterfinals, rebuild under coach Doug Streeter?

5. How will 6-foot-7-inch Ripon Christian junior Tyler Goslinga react to the rough play he'll face in the Trans-Valley League?

6. How will Sierra's Scott Thomason, The Bee's reigning coach of the year, exploit the talents of 6-1 guard Christian Williams and make another run at the VOL crown?

7. How will the absence of Modesto's Nate Jackson -- one of the best underclass guards last season, but not on this year's roster -- shift the balance of power in the Modesto Metro Conference?

8. Who will win the District scoring title? Reeves Nelson and Merced guard Allen Huddleton were 1-2 a year ago, with 26 and 25 per game, respectively.

9. Who is the District's top center? The candidates include Beyer's 6-6 Bryan Garbez, Enoch's 6-9 Marcus Bell, Goslinga, Livingston's 6-5 Harnarinder Johal and Mariposa's 6-6 Cody Wichmann.

10. Who will capture a large-school title? Merced is the lone Division I enrollment school in the District to win a section crown (four in all, the last in 1997), Golden Valley is the most recent D-II champ (1997) and Riverbank (2001) was the last to capture D-III.

-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA

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