MONROE — After a longer wait than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the boys basketball season is set to start next week across Union County. Weddington High projects to have perhaps the best boys team in the County, and four Warriors have been honored among The Enquirer-Journal’s Preseason All-County team — including Preseason Player of the Year Chase Lowe.

Lowe, a 6-foot-5 junior point guard, is the reigning county player of the year after leading the Warriors in points (16.3), rebounding (9.0), assists (4.5) and steals (2.4) per game as a sophomore in 2019-20. Lowe and fellow junior Kyle Frazier (11.5 points, 6.3 rebounds in 2019-20) made preseason all-county first team. The Warriors are seeking a second straight Southern Carolina Conference title after a 22-8 campaign last season.

Joining Lowe and Frazier on the first team are Forest Hills sophomore guard Tyveon Buch, Monroe junior forward Shaleak Knotts and Porter Ridge junior forward Isaiah Williams. Knotts is the county’s leading returning rebounder (9.8 per game in 2019-20) and will likely have to take on an even bigger role this season after averaging 15.6 points per game last year. The same can be said for Williams, who will have to make up for the loss of Marcus Willis — the Pirates’ leading scorer from last season (20.4 points per game) who transferred to a different school this offseason.

The all-county second team features two more Forest Hills players — senior guard Mashad Hester and sophomore forward Zach Barbour. Hester is the Yellow Jackets’ only returning starter from last year’s 29-1 team, while Barbour played starter’s minutes last year and figures to Yellow Jackets’ primary option in the post this upcoming season.

Hester is one of six seniors selected across the E-J’s second and third teams. Central Academy senior Drew Huffman and Weddington senior Brock Bowen were named to the second team after averaging 9.6 and 7.6 points, respectively, last season. On the third team, Cuthbertson senior Will Heyward, Weddington senior Caleb Wetherbee and Marvin Ridge senior Sully McDermott are all looking to make major contributions for their teams in their final season of high school basketball.

This will be a season like no other across North Carolina, as all NCHSAA teams will have to play with masks on as a COVID-19 precaution. With so many players having transferred out of the county this offseason, there should be plenty of opportunities for lesser-known players to make an impact.