Cincinnati, Ohio - The Eastern Cincinnati Conference (ECC) is often recognized as one of the premier boys basketball leagues in the city of Cincinnati. Following relative domination by both Walnut Hills and Turpin over the past four seasons, the league is expected to be wide open this winter.
Walnut Hills captured the league title last winter with a 15-1 conference record, taking the crown for the second consecutive season. The Eagles were 23-3 overall, falling to Fairfield in a tense district final contest at Fifth Third Arena. However, Walnut Hills lost both the reigning Player of the Year and Coach of the Year following the season. 3-time ECC Coach of the Year Ricardo Hill, the winningest coach in school history, left for Division II Indian Hill, while Player of the Year and consensus 4-star prospect Tyler McKinely transferred out to Link Academy in Branson, Missouri. The 6-10 junior forward had averaged double-figures in both of his first two seasons in the league.
West Clermont also lost their leading scorer, as sophomore guard Luke Sanders, who was third in the league in scoring averaging 16.1 a night, left for CHCA. The Wolves also hired Wally Vickers, former Lakota East head coach, to lead the program forward.
While both Walnut Hills and West Clermont lost talented players to the transfer market, Anderson reeled in arguably the best transfer available in Covington Catholic senior forward Chandler Starks. The 6-6 Starks led a talented CovCath squad in scoring the prior two seasons and will add depth to an already stacked Anderson frontcourt that has 6-6 Charlie Thon and 6-7 Caden Piening. The Raptors boast by far the league’s tallest starting lineup as they aim to capture their first league championship since entering the league back in 2012. The Raptors and the Loveland Tigers are the only two founding members of the ECC to have never won a league championship.
Following a 16-8 campaign that saw the program win its first OHSAA tournament game in six years, Loveland returns four starters on a squad that also has championship aspirations. 8th-year head coach Rob Reis thinks his Loveland team can compete for the school’s first title since 2009, saying, “I believe the ECC is as balanced and as competitive as I've seen in my eight seasons as a coach in the league. I believe there are several teams that feel like they have a shot at winning the league this year, and I believe that our guys would put themselves in that category. Our players understand that you have to show up and compete every time you take the floor or there is a good chance you will get beat. I think that especially holds true this year. We are definitely looking forward to the challenge!”
Milford, Kings, and Lebanon all look to be much improved from last year, while Winton Woods added Walnut Hills transfer Javion Bostic to pair with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Jermaine Matthews. Turpin returns standout senior guard Brady Hardewig as Josh Slonim’s group guns for a second league title in three years.
The season begins on Saturday, November 26th, when Anderson hosts GCL-South foe Elder, while ECC conference action opens up the following Friday, with a slate of five games.
1. Anderson Raptors
2. Turpin Spartans
3. Loveland Tigers
4. Winton Woods Warriors
5. Milford Eagles
6. Kings Knights
7. Lebanon Warriors
8. Walnut Hills Eagles
9. West Clermont Wolves
10. Little Miami Panthers
Preseason Player of the Year
Brady Hardewig, Turpin, Sr., G
Preseason All-Conference First Team
G - Jack Sauer, Loveland, Jr.
G - Erich Morgan, Milford, Sr.
G - Jermaine Matthews, Winton Woods, Sr.
F - Chandler Starks, Anderson, Sr.
F - Brayden Frietch, Loveland, Sr.
Preseason All-Conference Second Team
G - Javion Bostic, Winton Woods, Sr.
G - Kyle Koch, Lebanon, Jr.
G - Brayden Bischoff, Little Miami, Sr.
F - Caden Piening, Anderson, So.
F - Charlie Thon, Anderson, Sr.