The Class 4A state tournament field come March has a chance to be the deepest in quite a while. The top-10 preseason rankings by Minnesota Basketball News contain teams from seven of the eight sections. Sections 1, 2 and 6 each have two teams in the ratings. They are No. 8 Lakeville North and No. 9 Rochester John Marshall in Section 1, No. 4 Eden Prairie and No. 10 Shakopee in Section 2, and No. 2 Hopkins and No. 5 Wayzata in Section 6.
This season will mark the 20th year of the four-class system adopted by the Minnesota State High School League in 1996-97. Who was the initial Class 4A state champion? Minneapolis North.
Minneapolis North's Jabbar Washington, right, blocks a shot by Rochester Mayo's Martin Coon during a Class 4A quarterfinal game at the Mayo Civic Center in 1997 (Rochester Post Bulletin photo)
What’s the significance? The Polars are now the top-ranked squad in Class 1A and the favorite to win that crown.
And of course in Class 3A, DeLaSalle is looking to be the first team ever to win five straight titles.
DeLaSalle players walked their championship trophy off the court after defeating St. Paul Johnson last March (Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune photo)
So who are the top teams? Three solid Division I prospects in three grades — 7-0 senior center Brock Bertram, 6-6 junior shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. and 6-2 sophomore point guard Tre Jones -- give Apple Valley top billing in Class 4A with the chance at a third title in four years.
Tre Jones, right, and Gary Trent Jr., center, made it to state and won last year. They are among the state's top players (Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune photo)
Hopkins is No. 2 on the above list, led by Gophers-bound Amir Coffey. The 6-7 guard is an impact player on both sides of the court, and coming off a knee injury that certainly will be something to watch.
Amir Coffey made his decision to play for the Gophers official in September (Jerry Holt, Star Tribune photo)
Coffey leads our season-opening dream team. See who else joins him here.
But those players are not alone. We came up with a list of 10 other metro-area players to watch this season. The list includes Minneapolis North's 6-2 guard Tyler Johnson, who is headed to the Gophers for football but is a catalyst on the court as well.
Tyler Johnson might be known for football but he's a top basketball player at Minneapolis North as well (Chris Kelleher, special to the Star Tribune)