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Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
The 2019-2020 UIL boys basketball postseason begins tonight and there are interesting Austin area storylines going into it. Check out five things to know.
No. 1: Healthy Greg Brown Leads Vandegrift To New Heights
While everyone waits for national recruit Greg Brown to commit to a college basketball program for the 2020-2021 season, he's bounced back from an injury-filled 2018-2019 season. As a senior in the 2019-2020 campaign, he brings 27.3 point and 13.4 rebound averages to the postseason. Austin Vandegrift, the team he plays for, has definitely benefitted from his additional action in his final high school hurrah. Without him, the Vipers wouldn't have recorded their program-best 31-2 regular season record or topped a varsity district for the first time in winning UIL 13-6A. Most of their playoff path will be against tough UIL 6A Region II competition, but everyone in the state knows that Brown's presence allows them to strike at any time.
No. 2: UIL 18-5A Sends Two Powers To Postseason
Let's start with "Orange Crush" Hutto because it set a program standard for years to come. The Hippos went from five straight losing seasons (2011-2012 to 2015-2016) to a winning non-playoff year (15-14 in 2016-2017) and finally three consecutive UIL 5A postseason trips (2018, 2019 and 2020). That includes the 2019-2020 campaign, which included a 31-3 regular season and an undefeated 18-5A district title. Look for Hutto to continue its best season in years by leaning on scoring machine Jean-Pierre Sanders. The runner-up in this year's district standings was a Manor program that advanced to the 2019 state semifinal. The Mustangs still feature Houston 2020 commit Jamal Shead and junior Augustine Arroyo on their roster, so another deep run can occur over the next three weeks.
No. 3: Westlake Remains A State Power
Westlake has been one of the state's most successful boys basketball programs since 2015 and continued that trend during the 2019-2020 campaign. The Chaparrals won 128 games from the start of the 2015-2016 season until the end of the 2018-2019 campaign, and are ready for the 2020 UIL 6A postseason after a 32-win regular season. They also have great experience from their three regional final appearances and one state final four trip during that time, and plan to lean on top recruit KJ Adams in another deep playoff push.
No. 4: Fredericksburg Keeps Adding To Basketball Resume
When you trek from Austin to the Hill Country, don't be surprised when you find a strong boys basketball program in Fredericksburg. In the nine seasons prior to the current campaign, the Battlin' Billies recorded nine straight 20-win seasons and advanced to eight regional quarterfinals. They followed that with a 32-1 regular season during the 2019-2020 campaign and a state ranking before the 2020 UIL 4A postseason, so there are multiple reasons to keep an eye on the boys from the hills.
No. 5: Thorndale Is Primed For Another Deep Playoff Run
Thorndale knows how to thrive this time of year, so everyone expects it to produce another lengthy run in the 2020 UIL 2A postseason. The Bulldogs' boys basketball program advanced to the regional quarterfinal in 2014, regional final in 2015, state semifinal in 2016 and 2017, state championship game in 2018 and regional semifinal in 2019, and start their latest playoff march as a state-ranked team.
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Recruiting for Class of 2020 football players is winding down, so it's time to look at future groups of top tier athletes. Check out VYPE Austin's top area recruits for the Classes of 2021 and 2022.
No. 1 Latrell McCutchin: The 2021 Alabama defensive back commit from Austin LBJ Early College High School tops the area with 22 college football offers, and will be fired up for his senior season because an injury cost him most of the 2019 campaign.
No. 2 Caleb Burton: The 2022 Del Valle wide receiver prospect has received 17 offers through his sophomore season, including power programs LSU, Oklahoma, Texas and USC.
No. 3 Landyn Watson: The former 2021 LSU commit and current Hutto defensive end has received 16 FBS offers, including Michigan State and Notre Dame.
No. 4 Lake McRee: Lake Travis missed the injured 2021 Texas tight end commit during its 2019 run to the UIL 6A Division I state semifinal, so it's excited for the recruit's return in 2020.
No. 5 Tavierre Dunlap: The 2021 running back recruit from Del Valle has 15 offers, including storied programs Nebraska and USC.
Photo by VYPE Media's Bradley Collier.
No. 6 Cam'Ron Valdez: The running back may play for UIL 3A Division I program Rockdale, but that hasn't prevented 2021 offers from all the Power Five Conferences.
No. 7 Andrew Mukuba: Three of the Austin LBJ Early College 2021 recruit's six FBS offers are from Power Five schools.
No. 8 Charles Wright: The Austin High 2021 quarterback recruit currently has offers from Iowa State and UTSA, but more explosive play in his program's high-powered offense could result in more options down the line.
No. 9 Nate Yarnell: The 2021 quarterback recruit received offers from Houston and Tulsa before he played significant time at Lake Travis, and his substitute starts for injured 2020 Texas commit Hudson Card during the 2019 season showed that he deserves more.
No. 10 Ace Whitehead: College football programs that need a leader under center, let's have a quick chat about the versatile 2021 Lampasas dual-threat quarterback prospect. He definitely deserves offers after recording 4,982 yards and 75 touchdowns en route to his program's 2019 UIL 4A Division I state semifinal appearance, and has also received interest from Sam Houston State baseball.
Others to watch: Kyle Brown (2021 Cedar Park Vista Ridge QB), RJ Martinez (2021 Round Rock Westwood QB), Ryder Hernandez (2021 Cedar Park QB), Jake Chambers (2022 Round Rock Stony Point LB) and Zane Minors (Westlake 2021 RB)