(FOX 17) — Yes, this is probably crazy to do but why not? I'm projecting the OK Conference final standings featuring 30 players to watch in the conference as well. As always, you can tweet to me: @FOX17Zach or email me ( email@example.com ) with comments/questions, just be nice and let's have some fun with it!
Hudsonville - 11-1
East Kentwood 9-3
Grand Haven 7-5
West Ottawa 7-5
Hudsonville is arguably the deepest team in all of West Michigan. Four-year varsity player Max Perez leads the Eagles back-court with a front-court that is now playing incredibly confident. Senior Justin DeGraaf is playing confident as is forward Jack Joldersma. The Eagles also have a deep bench led by Ryan Chandler.
As for the Eagles in the OK Red, I wouldn't be surprised to see them run the table. However, East Kentwood is still one of the most talented teams in our area but yet to put it together. Once the Falcons get more games under their belt, the chemistry should increase and senior guard Jamoni Jones can lead East Kentwood to a victory against anybody.
Last season, Hudsonville's lone regular season OK Red loss came to Grandville who upset the Eagles at the start of the conference season. The Bulldogs are young this season and battle with Caledonia near the bottom of the conference. The Fighting Scots, meanwhile, bring back a lot of experience led by seniors Aaron Henry and Luke Thelen. Junior guard Kobe VanderWoude runs the point for head coach Phil Visser and the Scots are looking to notch their first conference victory since February 17, 2017.
Grand Haven and West Ottawa should be near the top of the conference once again. Tanner Wiegerink leads Scott Windemuller's Panthers this season and has played extremely well to get the team off to an unbeaten start. The Bucs, meanwhile, are really good again this season and also undefeated thus far. Greg Immink's Bucs will battle with the top of the conference including Hudsonville and East Kentwood.
Rockford is a team underperforming thus far this season but that's within reason due to the Rams injuries. Rockford plays really well on the defensive side of the ball but is yet to find a major scoring threat outside of Sam Krist thus far. The Rams could split with West Ottawa, Caledonia and Grandville this season.
Unity Christian 12-0
Holland Christian 9-3
Zeeland West 7-5
Zeeland East 7-5
Byron Center 3-9
Unity Christian ran the table once again last season in conference play on the way to a state championship. In fact, the Crusaders haven't lost an OK Green game since January 26, 2016. I don't think that changes this season as Scott Soodsma's group is reloaded with talent led by senior Evan Nieuwenhuis and sophomore studs Drew and Cam Chandler. The defense is the most impressive part of Unity Christian's early season success after losing four starters from last season's team.
Holland Christian is a team to watch for as well as David Kool's group is led by Ethan Alderink, who has impressed so far this season including in the comeback victory over South Christian. The Maroons can play with anybody and should be the front-runner to knock off Unity Christian and snap the Crusaders' win streak in conference play.
The Zeeland teams should be fairly even this season. Zeeland West might be underperforming so far this season led by senior Eli Steffen who has still played very well. However, across the street, Jeff Carlson has switched sides and taken over the Chix who are led by a talented junior class. Trip Riemersma and twins Nate and Brandon Claerbaut will be a tough trio to beat this season in OK Green.
Joe Rodriguez takes over Byron Center and the Bulldogs shouldn't be slept on in conference play. While the Bulldogs are likely going to be in the bottom half of the conference, they're a team that can surprise some teams and play hard as well.
Kenowa Hills 5-7
Mona Shores 2-10
Muskegon had its conference winning streak snapped to Reeths-Puffer last season at home in an overtime loss. This season, the Big Reds are loaded once again with Vernon Nash and Jarvis Walker making up one of, if not the best, backcourt in West Michigan. Keith Guy's team has already suffered a loss to Chicago Curie, one of the top teams in the entire Midwest which could help rally the team going forward.
Grand Rapids Union is a team to watch not only in conference play this season but in the postseason as well. This year's team is the best Brandoen Guyton has had led by Ray'Shawn Anderson, Jeremiah Pittman and Danyel Bibbs.
Reeths-Puffer, Kenowa Hills and Jenison will battle to be in the top tier of the conference, Lance Johnson's Rockets have suffered some tough losses so far this season but have played a tough non-conference schedule to prepare them for OK Black play. The same can be said for Kenowa Hills who loaded the schedule with Northview, Hudsonville and Coldwater.
Forest Hills Northern 11-1
Forest Hills Central 9-3
Cedar Springs 5-7
Ottawa Hills 4-8
This is a conference that will be decided by standout duos: can Forest Hills Northern juniors Ethan Erickson and Trinidad Chambliss outshine seniors Jimmy Scholler and Mitchell Wilkinson of Forest Hills Central? No pressure. In all seriousness, the surrounding casts have been impressive around the duos as Joe Soules' group continues to get great minutes from the front-court, including Cole Rynbrandt, Ethan Morello and Dan Gutierrez. The Rangers, meanwhile, suffered a tough overtime loss to Forest Hills Eastern to begin the season but turned around and dominated the Hawks in the Cornerstone Holiday Tournament, 66-34 behind Scholler's 34 point performance.
Northview sophomore Kyler Vanderjagt will lead the Wildcats. David Chana takes over the program and in his first season, the team is going to take some time to come together. Northview has an outstanding starting five behind Vanderjagt, point guard Avarie Simpson, Aidan Walker and Kaden Boucher.
Cedar Springs has shown a lot of improvement at times this season including in the Holiday Tournament win against Potter's House in which Bryce Marvel proved why he's one of the best teams in the conference. I see the Red Hawks potentially getting to .500 in conference play this season.
Grand Rapids Christian 11-1
South Christian 7-5
Forest Hills Eastern 7-5
East Grand Rapids 6-6
Middleville TK 0-12
I'll be honest, I have no idea what's going to happen in the OK Gold other than Grand Rapids Christian likely being at the top. Kobe Bufkin is arguably the top player in our area and despite just a 12 point performance against Rockford, his teammates picked him up to cruise to victory. Eric Taylor's Eagles, at least on paper, will be atop the OK Gold at season's end. However, Wyoming is off to an unbelievable start.
Wyoming's Menalito McGee is quickly emerging as one of the quietest superstars in West Michigan. The Wolves are unbeaten at this point this season and every victory has come by at least 19 points. Right now, I have the Wolves suffering three conference losses but that could end up as a bad prediction very easily.
South Christian is interesting. After returning just one player with a key role this season, the Sailors have reloaded with shooters. Junior Connor Dykema is off to a solid start to the season and could lead South Christian to another 9-3 record in conference play, though I have them at 7-5 due to their youth.
Forest Hills Eastern and East Grand Rapids are wildcats in the Gold this season. Eastern is led by Gage Krueger and Solomon White who are an impressive duo who helped lead the Hawks to an overtime win over Forest Hills Central to start the season. Jason Yelding's group should be better than last season's 6-6 conference mark. Meanwhile, the Pioneers are led by an outstanding defense. East Grand Rapids took a talented East Kentwood team to overtime, beat a really good Forest Hills Northern team by 14 points and held Rockford to just 25 points in a victory. The Pioneers will be interesting to watch for sure.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central 12-0
Comstock Park 6-6
West Catholic 5-7
Spring Lake 1-11
Grand Rapids Catholic Central hasn't lost a conference game since February 17, 2017 when the Cougars fell to Allendale. TJ Meerman's group won't lose in OK Blue this season and along with Hudsonville, the Cougars are the most talented team from top to bottom in West Michigan. The Cougars feature shooters like Devon Boyd and Jace Williams with the front-court presence and size of Jack Karasinski and Mykel Bingham.
Speaking of size, Allendale boasts 6'10" center Ryan Corner who has the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive a bit for a big man. The Falcons also have shooters of their own, including senior Bryce Nyboer who has had a solid start to the season. Joe Modderman's group might only fall twice in conference play (both to Grand Rapids Catholic Central), though I have them at 9-3.
The rest of the conference is up for grabs but Sparta has caught the eye of many early on in the season. The Spartans were just 2-10 in conference play a season ago but are 5-0 to start this winter off. Lance Roark's squad will likely battle with Comstock Park and West Catholic for third place in the Blue this season.
Calvin Christian 10-2
Godwin Heights 10-2
NorthPointe Christian 8-4
Wyoming Lee 1-11
I really don't see one team pulling away in the OK Silver the way Godwin Heights has done for the past decade or so. The Wolverines are led by two outstanding freshman in Jakhary Towns and Domarie Thompson who can play with any upperclassman in the conference. However, Calvin Christian has point guard Brock Stevens who has been impressive for the past few years and will be once again this winter. The Squires have played really well defensively so far this season with their length and discipline while playing a tough non-conference schedule. Calvin Christian will almost certainly improve on last season's 5-6 conference mark and 11-12 overall record.
Hopkins has become a team to look out for in the conference as well. Seniors Drew Weber and Ty Zomerlei help lead a Viking frontcourt that is off to a really impressive start despite a tough non-conference schedule. Junior Colin Weber is one of the top players in the conference and can get to the rim against any defense. However, bench scoring will be interesting to watch for the Vikings and Jake Jewett's group and will be a key if Hopkins wants to have a chance to win the conference.
NorthPointe Christian senior guard Sam Vasiu is another player to watch and can do it all, including a tough shot from beyond the arc but also the ability to drive. The Mustangs will hope to get in on the four-team race and will hope to benefit from a tough early season schedule that featured Grand Rapids Christian, Forest Hills Eastern, Ionia and Allendale.
As a whole, I don't see one team running away with it. I think the OK Silver will beat up on one another all season long and it'll likely come down to the final week of the regular season to see which team, or teams are crowned champion(s).
30 PLAYERS TO WATCH (no order):
Max Perez, Hudsonville
Justin DeGraaf, Hudsonville
Jamoni Jones, East Kentwood
Owen Ross, Grand Haven
Tanner Wiegerink, West Ottawa
Kobe Bufkin, Grand Rapids Christian
Mykel Bingham, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Jack Karasinski, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Devon Boyd, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Jarvis Walker, Muskegon
Vernon Nash, Muskegon
Jeremiah Pittman, Grand Rapids Union
Ethan Erickson, Forest Hills Northern
Trinidad Chambliss, Forest Hills Northern
Jimmy Scholler, Forest Hills Central
Mitchell Wilkinson, Forest Hills Central
Kyler Vanderjagt, Northview
Bryce Marvel, Cedar Springs
Menalito McGee, Wyoming
Connor Dykema, South Christian
Eli Steffen, Zeeland West
Trip Riemersma, Zeeland East
Evan Nieuwenhuis, Unity Christian
Cam Chandler, Unity Christian
Ethan Alderink, Holland Christian
Ryan Corner, Allendale
Jakhary Towns, Godwin Heights
Colin Weber, Hopkins
Brock Stevens, Calvin Christian
Sam Vasiu, NorthPointe Christian