Loyola, Long Beach Poly and La Verne Lutheran are ranked in the preseason POWERADE ESPNHS Fab 50 national rankings, and they lead the way in our opening edition of the south Los Angeles County boys' basketball top 10:
1. Loyola (4-0)
Key players: PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright, SG Justin Childress, SG Jacob Hazzard, SF Julian Harrell (Penn)
Last season: The Cubs went 25-6 and won the CIF-Southern Section Div. I-A championship before losing by two to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Jackson-Cartwright, only a sophomore, is already considered the top point guard in the state. Mix in the shooting of Childress and Hazzard -- as well as the versatility of Harrell -- and the Cubs have a lineup that few can match.
2. Long Beach Poly (3-1)
Key players: SF Roschon Prince, PF Jordan Bell, PG Chris Croom, SG Reuben Strickland
Last season: The Jackrabbits posted a 30-2 record and captured the Division 1AA title in Anaheim before losing to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer lost his top two to graduation -- state player of the year Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and Alexis Moore (USC) -- but there's more than enough talent left. Prince and Bell might be the best one-two combination in the county.
3. La Verne Lutheran (4-0)
Key players: PF Grant Jerrett (Arizona), SG Eric Cooper Jr. (Arizona), SF McKay Anderson, SG Cameron Osorno
Last season: The Trojans overcame off-the-court adversity, finishing with a 25-5 mark and a second consecutive state championship.
Why they're here: Jerrett, a long and lean power forward, is arguably the top prospect on the West Coast. Coach Eric Cooper Sr. returns nine letter-winners from last year's team, including son Eric Cooper Jr., a sharp-shooting junior who makes teams pay for double-teaming Jerrett down low.
4. St. John Bosco (4-0)
Key players: SG Isaac Hamilton, PF Anthony January (UTEP), SF Darryl Matthews, SG Daniel Hamilton
Last season: The Braves finished 21-9 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4AA playoffs.
Why they're here: New coach Derrick Taylor, who built Woodland Hills Taft into a City Section power, has the Braves thinking about the Trinity League crown. Getting past defending state champion Mater Dei won't be easy, but Bosco has Isaac Hamilton, a transfer from Crenshaw who is one of the nation's top juniors.
5. Price (3-1)
Key players: PF Skylar Spencer (San Diego State), PG Chance Murray, SG Chris Sandifer
Last season: The high-flying Knights went 24-8 and fell just short against La Cañada in the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship game.
Why they're here: Yes, Price lost guard Askia Booker (Colorado) and ultra athletic forward Norvel Pelle to graduation but don't dismiss coach Michael Lynch's bunch. Spencer is another high-soaring scorer who's lethal in fast break opportunities, and Murray, a junior, already has a scholarship offer from UCLA.
6. Compton (3-1)
Key players: SF Victor Robbins, SG Isaiah Bailey, PF Pruitt Roman, PG Lorenzo Murphy, PF Chris Lewis
Last season: The Tarbabes, by all accounts, underachieved. They finished 21-15 and were bounced in the first round of the state playoffs.
Why they're here: The Tarbabes could make a run at the Moore League title. Robbins, a slasher who makes good decisions with the ball, might be the best player on the floor on any given night and Bailey, only a sophomore, is an up-and-coming guard prospect who could be the X-factor. Roman, meanwhile, is tough around the basket.
7. Gardena Serra (0-0)
Key players: PF Daddy Ugbede, SF Dakarai Tucker, SG Kejon Mack, C Emmanuel Ndumanya
Last season: The Cavaliers went 14-11 after forfeiting 13 wins for using an ineligible player. They were left out of the playoffs.
Why they're here: The defending Del Rey League champions are deep and as athletic as any team out there. Ugbede and Ndumanya are works in progress but have shown tremendous upside (Ndumanya shattered a glass backboard with a dunk in the fall). Tucker, Mack and junior guard Marc Rodgers are the three returning starters.
8. Windward (1-1)
Key players: SF Nick Stover (Loyola Marymount), PG Jordan Wilson, PF Matthew Walker, PF Mason Shepard, SG Luke Silverman-Lloyd
Last season: The Wildcats won a state championship for the second time in three years and finished with a 27-8 record.
Why they're here: Stover, the younger brother of UCLA reserve Anthony Stover, is a crafty wing player who thrives when attacking the basket. Coach Miguel Villegas must find ways to make up for the loss of standout Wesley Saunders (Harvard).
9. Fairfax (4-1)
Key players: SF Taj Adams (Loyola Marymount), SF Brendyn Taylor, PG Landon Drew, SG Amir McCormick
Last season: The Lions did not meet lofty preseason expectations, going 17-10 and losing to eventual runner-up Westchester in the second round of the City Section playoffs.
Why they're here: Fairfax is a legitimate contender in Division I of the City Section. Coach Harvey Kitani has the depth and experience to make noise. Drew, the son of Atlanta Hawks coach head coach Larry Drew, was an All-City first-team selection last year.
10. Damien (1-0)
Key players: PF Chris Reyes (St. Mary's), SG Jeremy Hemsley, PG Clayton White, SG Jared Dizon
Last season: The Spartans went 26-4 and reached the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals, where they fell to eventual champion Harvard-Westlake by three.
Why they're here: Reyes, a 6-foot-7 forward, might be the best senior prospect you've never heard of. Coach Matt Dunn has the luxury of using him down low, but Reyes can also consistently knock down the mid-range jumper. Hemsley is one of the area's better freshmen.
Ten more, in alphabetic order: Bishop Montgomery, Gahr, Glendora, Mayfair, Palisades, Pasadena, St. Bernard, Santa Monica, Washington, Westchester
Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Following him on Twitter.