To kick off the start of the MIAA basketball season, ESPNBoston.com is spending this first week of practices counting down and previewing the top 25 teams in the state.
The Wednesday preview includes Melrose -- one of the best Division 2 teams in the state -- two Division 1 North powers in Andover and Everett, a Newton North team who is built for a deep tournament run, as well as young and talented St. Peter-Marian.
For a refresher on how the final 2012-13 poll ended up, CLICK HERE.
Be sure to check back each day this week for the latest in the boys basketball top 25 countdown.
Coach: Mike Kasprzak
2012-13 results: 22-1, reached Division 2 North semifinals
Key players: Frantzdy Pierrot, Sherron Harris
Analysis: Frantzdy Pierrot proved to be one of the state’s most athletic guards last year while leading Melrose to 22 consecutive victories before losing deep in the Division 2 North tourney. This year he’ll be able to rely more on sophomore guard Sherron Harris, who played big minutes last year as a freshman and is one of the best on-ball defenders in Division 2.
Coach: John DiBiaso
2012-13 results: 15-8, reached Division 1 North semifinals
Key players: Gary Clark, Ernie Chatman, Marquis Holman
Analysis: This Crimson Tide team plays fast and uptempo, so the offseason addition of sophomore guard Ernie Chatman could end up proving to be crucial for an Everett team that has the talent to make a deep run in the Division 1 North tournament. Everett also returns junior guard Gary Clark, who should be on everybody’s list as a potential all-state candidate.
13. ST. PETER-MARIAN
Coach: Marcus Watson
2012-13 results: 16-7, reached Division 1 Central quarterfinals
Key players: Makai Ashton, Greg Kuakumensah, Connor Brown, Sean Sweeney
Analysis: SPM lost several seniors from last year’s team, but in terms of talent this is a squad that can hang with anybody in the state. Senior guard Connor Brown is one of the most lethal three-point threats in the MIAA, while Sean Sweeney and Greg Kuakumensah give the Guardians an athletic duo in the post. Keep a close eye on sophomore point guard Makai Ashton, who picked up a scholarship offer this summer from the University of Rhode Island.
12. NEWTON NORTH
Coach: Paul Connolly
2012-13 results: 20-4, reached Division 1 South semifinals
Key players: Tommy Mobley, Jack Boucher, Liam Bruno
Analysis: With a reputation for tough defense and efficient offense, Paul Connolly's squad is a no-brainer at this spot given the talent they have back this year. They'll get plenty of contributions from Jack Boucher and forward Liam Bruno, but look for the offense to run through junior guard Tommy Mobley, who has asserted himself as one of the top two or three shooters in the MIAA.
Coach: Dave Fazio
2012-13 results: 17-7, reached Division 1 North semifinals
Key players: David Giribaldi, Connor Merinder, EJ Perry
Analysis: This Andover team was a bit young last year, but they got some big wins in a loaded Merrimack Valley Conference and should be ready to compete with Central as a league favorite. David Giribaldi and Connor Merinder, both juniors, give the Golden Warriors a great inside-out punch. Look for freshman EJ Perry to get some big minutes at guard.