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Previewing another "barn burner" OK White boys basketball season

Loaded division gets set to tip off on Dec. 7th
OK White season preview
Posted at 8:03 PM, Nov 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-28 23:17:13-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Now that high school football season is officially over, it's time to turn the page to high school basketball.

On Sunday at Ottawa Hills high school, it was the first ever media event that featured several coaches and players from all across West Michigan to talk about their upcoming season.

"We were able to put the word out to a number of coaches and it's the first time doing this, so I'm excited that it was finally able to come to fruition," said Ottawa Hills boys basketball coach and organizer, Derrick King Sr., "I think it's good to put a spotlight on West Michigan because we're producing a ton of talent."

A number of teams on hand were from the OK White, where there's another big focus on a loaded boys basketball conference this winter.

"In the OK White, it's going to be very, very competitive," said Forest Hills Northern head coach, Joe Soules.

East Grand Rapids head coach, Derrick Owens Sr. is in agreement.

"It's competitive and there are no off nights, every game will be a barn burner."

Last season, Forest Hills Northern won the OK White outright and the Huskies have now clinched at least a share over each of the past three seasons.

This winter will feature a lot of new faces for Joe Soules' Huskies after the graduation of the team's top four leading scorers.

"Northview, Forest Hills Central, East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian, it's loaded," Soules smiled, "you look at Byron Center they're up and coming and Lowell with the new coach and Greenville with the sophomore shooter, they have pieces, too."

East Grand Rapids, meanwhile, returns three junior starters this season after that same core led the Pioneers to its first district title since 2011 back in March. It's a team filled with confidence.

"They know what it's about, last year we got to Regionals, I told them to take a snapshot because this is where we want to get back to," Owens Sr. mentioned, "this is the standard that I want to get back to."

Junior forward Simon Neuhaus has emerged as one of the top players in West Michigan and a leader for the Pioneers.

"Obviously you have teams like Northview, they have a lot of players and teams like Central and Northern, these Forest Hills teams, we have to be prepared for every game but our team looks good, we're young, we're active, we're big, we're ready."

Then there's Grand Rapids Christian, a team that finished 9-3 last season but graduates Michigan basketball signee Kobe Bufkin along with starters Sam Versteeg and Donovan Brown-Boyd.

"I'm excited because what it does is prepare us down the road for our postseason run," added Grand Rapids Christian head coach, Eric Taylor. "There are a lot of different looks, you have Northview that plays a certain style, East Grand Rapids as well, so you get various looks from a defensive and offensive standpoint."

One of the seniors expected to step up this winter is Nick Cassidy.

"Obviously the OK White has always been really tough," Cassidy said, "last year, a lot of good teams but it's fun, it's fun, every game in the conference is a tough battle so I think we just have to take it one game at a time and get it done."

Forest Hills Central and Northview are two other teams to watch in the conference that were not in attendance during Sunday's media day.

The boy's basketball season tips off the week of December 6.