LUMBERTON — There’s talent abound in Robeson County with several teams that made the state playoffs last season and several talented players returning to their rosters this season.
With basketball season starting to heat up after Thanksgiving weekend, teams have to be thankful to have players like the following 15 boys and 15 girls that The Robesonian’s sports reporter Jonathan Bym picked as the top players in the county.
1. Derrick Arnette, Sr., G, Fairmont
The reigning county defensive player of the year brings back his defensive prowess and his 3-point shooting touch for a Fairmont team that is more well-rounded this season. Expect another year of Arnette’s entertaining 94-foot defense against some of the best scorers he goes up against.
2. Jordan McNeill, So., G, Lumberton
Looking to follow up his rookie year with a bigger and better sophomore year, McNeill has more weight on his shoulders with the departure of Lumberton’s senior guards from last year. McNeill’s toughness is what sets him apart from other guards he faces off with.
3. Stephon Lloyd, Sr., G, Lumberton
Now entering his third year as the floor general for the Pirates, Lloyd has came back for his senior year with a more aggressive attitude on offense following a successful summer playing on the Powerade circuit.
4. Corey Addison, Sr., G, Fairmont
Addison will compliment Arnette well in the backcourt for Fairmont this year as they take their turn as leaders of the team. He showed signs late last year that he can be a force on both sides of the ball.
5. Kyler Page, Jr., G/F, Purnell Swett
One of Robeson County’s most dynamic, if not the most, dynamic players, Page enters his junior year as the most experienced player for the Rams with his ability to play almost every position on the floor.
6. Monte’ Wilkerson, Sr., G, Red Springs
Wilkerson is one of the most experienced players in the county starting his fourth year on varsity, and a season of football should help him finishing with contact this year as the point guard with several weapons around him.
7. Kwashek Breeden, Jr., F, Lumberton
Breeden burst onto the scene in the post last year as a sophomore, and now he takes over as one of the main presence for the Pirates in the post. He also is capable of stretching the floor with his jump shot.
8. Xavier Jones, So., G/F, Purnell Swett
Despite Jones being a bit undersized to play in the paint, the 6-foot-2 sophomore makes up for it with his drive and nose for the ball. Along with Page, Jones will be a key factor for the Rams this year.
9. Aaron Revels, Sr., G, St. Pauls
Having spent time behind talented, hard working guard last year, Revels takes over as the most experienced and skilled guard for the Bulldogs this season with a knack of getting to the bucket.
10. Caleel Mitchell, Sr., G, Red Springs
Mitchell has been a knock-down shooter for 3 years, and with two other backcourt running mates that are capable of spacing the floor and providing him the ball, he can expect a big senior season.
11. Jaleel Lesane, Sr., G, South Robeson
Lesane was a big part of the offense last year for the Mustangs and his leadership and scoring will be important to how the team will go with a new coaching staff in a tough conference.
12. Kaheem Pittman, Jr., F, Fairmont
Late in the season during Fairmont’s run through the conference tournament and three rounds deep into the playoffs, Pittman emerged as a solid post player off the bench and now will see more time with his length and experience.
13. Nichorie West, Sr., G, Red Springs
West provides a defensive and 3-point shooting lift for the Red Devils that will likely start five seniors with several returning seniors that have playing experience seeing time on the floor.
14. Romeo Jordan, Sr., F, St. Pauls
An athletic big man that has the ability to stretch the floor, Jordan, like Revels, steps up to be one of the leaders for the Bulldogs that will need his scoring presence on a consistent basis.
15. Jaurius Davis, Sr., G, South Robeson
Davis might be one of the smallest players on the floor in any given game, but his ability to finish in the paint with the trees is something that many guards don’t have.
1. London Thompson, Sr., G/F, Lumberton
Thompson returns as the county’s Player of the Year last season and will have to carry a young backcourt this season. In her first three years, her defensive ability has been a trademark of her game that fuels her offense, and more of the same will come from her this year.
2. Taya Jones, Sr., G, Red Springs
Jones has improved her scoring, points, rebounds, steals and assists every year for the Lady Red Devils and takes over as the primary guard for the team. The North Carolina A&T signee has her eyes on a big season to close out her prep career.
3. Taylynn Atkinson, Jr., G/F, Red Springs
The improvement of Atkinson from last season to this year will be the most significant of any player in the county with her length and skill set to handle the ball on the perimeter.
4. Kiara Page, Sr., F, Fairmont
A double-double machine, Page returns to a Fairmont team that has improved every season for the last four years and now is ready to be a conference title contender that will depend mightily on her play.
5. Madison Canady, Jr., F, Lumberton
For the last two years, Canady has provided a lift to the frontcourt for the Lady Pirates and now will look to build off a sophomore year where she averaged a double-double.
6. Krishay Moore, Sr., G, Fairmont
A big part of the four-year turnaround for the Fairmont program, Moore has shown growth during that time and now will be the senior floor general and defensive menace.
7. Destiny Hardin, Sr., F, Lumberton
Alongside Canady last season, Hardin played well to create a solid force in the frontcourt to average nearly a double-double last year. She brings the most experience to the Lumberton frontcourt as a senior.
8. Nakyra Mitchell, Sr., G, Purnell Swett
Mitchell has led the Lady Rams for the last three seasons and will be asked to do it once more in her final campaign. She is not afraid to drive to the bucket and take on opposing bigs.
9. Destiny McMillian, Sr., F, Farimont
McMillian, alongside Page, helped make a solid duo in the post last season. The senior forward will be looked to step up even more on the boards this year with her size.
10. Nytia Lewis, Jr., F, South Robeson
A lengthy lefty, Lewis is one of three players with in game experience returning for the Lady Mustangs and will lead a young team in the post with her rebounding ability.
11. Katelyn Culbreth, So., F, Red Springs
With Jones and Atkinson on the perimeter, Culbreth is the final piece in the post for Red Springs as it looks to repeat as the Three Rivers Conference tournament champions.
12. Maya Bellamy, Sr., G, Fairmont
Working beside Moore in the backcourt, Bellamy is a big part in spacing the floor for the Fairmont offense and providing another rebounding threat with a relatively tall roster.
13. T.J. Eichelberger, Fr., G, St. Pauls
Eichelberger has taken the reigns of the offense as a freshman guard for St. Pauls with a new coaching staff and will be a big part of its pressure defense.
14. Rachel O’Neil, Jr., G, Lumberton
To go alongside Thompson in the backcourt, O’Neil will look to stretch the floor with her sharp-shooting from deep, and also keep defenders honest by putting the ball on the floor on ball fakes.
15. Judiah “Diamond” Simms-Moore, Jr., F, St. Pauls
Simms-Moore carries the most experience of anyone to this year’s team and will play a big role in the post with the departures of several key players from a year ago.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.