When the boys basketball season tips off next week, plenty of guys will try to make their mark in a league known for its strong team-oriented play.
Although any number of surprises may develop, here are the 10 players who stand to make the greatest impact on the Harford County League.
* B. J. Barnes (6-1, senior, guard), Joppatowne -- The Mariners will be without Barnes for the early part of the season, but he has the kind of game that makes him an instant impact player. Coach Mike Bauer hopes to see Barnes back in the lineup in January, but complications from a broken foot bone that didn't heal correctly could keep him out longer. As soon as Barnes hits the court, his defensive excellence will make a difference.
Always drawing the toughest assignment on defense, Barnes also contributed eight points a game last year.
* Demont Blackmon (5-7, junior, point guard), Aberdeen -- The Eagles look to Blackmon to put up some big numbers this year. One of the top outside shooters in the county, Blackmon led the league in three-point average, hitting 45 percent. Although he didn't take as many as some of the other sharpshooters, Blackmon used the three-pointer to keep his average at nearly 11 points a game. He also had nearly five assists per game.
* Damon Bomar (5-10, senior, forward), Edgewood -- Bomar plays a lot taller than his 5-10 frame. One of the league's top rebounders, Bomar averaged 11 boards against some much taller competition. Since the Rams didn't find any height over the summer, Bomar will, once again, have to be a strong inside contributor. Last year, he averaged 11 points a game and could improve on that this season.
* Maurice Boone (6-0, sophomore, point guard), Edgewood -- As a freshman, Boone made a big impact, filling the Rams' void at point guard.
An excellent ballhandler with good court sense, Boone will benefit from having a year of varsity experience under his belt. He averaged five assists a game and will have the same four teammates to dish off to this year. Under his direction, the Rams should remain in contention for a county title.
* Mike Eves (6-0, senior, guard), Bel Air -- Eves is making the transition from the two guard to the point this year. The veteran will direct some new starters inside, but he should be able to increase his nearly three assists per game average. A good three-point shooter, Eves should also improve on his nearly 10-point-per-game clip.
* Brian Grzyb (5-11, junior, guard), C. Milton Wright -- A transfer from Florida, Grzyb will provide a charge for the Mustangs both on offense and defense. Already, he has scored 21 points in a scrimmage. A good ballhandler, Grzyb can play the point, but Coach George Constantine will use him at the two guard. A sticky defender, Grzyb can also shoot the three-pointer.
* Kevin Hockaday (6-5, senior, center), Joppatowne -- The premier big man in the county this year, Hockaday is a rare four-year varsity performer for the Mariners. Making the move from forward to center may boost Hockaday's averages of 14 points and 10 rebounds per game. Even with the opposition marking him, Hockaday has the strength and the moves to put up the numbers.
* John "Scoop" Kelly (6-3, senior, forward), Fallston -- One of the top all-around players in the league, Kelly has strong inside moves combined with excellent touch for a big man. He can play above the rim and hit the three-pointer. A fundamentally solid player, Kelly should be even better this year after losing 26 pounds. Down to a lean, mean 180, Kelly has the quickness to take his game up a notch.
* Steve Lewis (6-2, senior, guard), Edgewood -- Lewis brings back the best numbers of any returning guard. Averaging 16.5 points a game, Lewis shoots the three-pointer as well as anyone. Last year, he averaged 35 percent from beyond the 20-foot mark. The tallest player in the Rams starting lineup, Lewis is also quick and strong on defense.
* Kilo Mack (6-0, senior, point guard), Joppatowne -- Mack is the set-up man for the Mariners' offense, handing out five assists a game last year.
This year, he'll be looking for Hockaday, but Mack will also contribute some points. His nine points-a-game-average could improve as the Mariners look for more outside production.
* Jason Pruitt (6-3, senior, guard), Bel Air -- Pruitt will make the move from forward to the backcourt this year, but his game shouldn't suffer. A strong outside shooter, Pruitt moves from the three spot to the two guard to make room for some taller players inside. He can hit the three-pointer and averaged 15.5 points a game last year. Pruitt can also pick up points from the free-throw line, where he averaged 72 percent a year ago.