The NWBA embarks on its 70th season and after a great offseason, it’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet. Several new teams have been established by grassroots organizations. Reigning champions have moved up to conquer new divisions. A number of talented players have taken their talents to new rosters, and a new batch of young stars prepare to rise at the dawn of the season.
We’ll cover all that news, division-by-division, in the next week in our 2018-2019 NWBA Season Previews. Our second breakdown focuses of the Varsity level of play in the Junior Division:
The new season begins the same way the last one ended, with everyone chasing the TIRR Memorial Hermann Junior Hotwheels for the Varsity title. There’s a lot of turnover on a number of rosters, leaving the field wide open for Varsity teams.
New teams on the scene
- SASS Junior Wildcats (Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports; Tucson, Arizona)
- Ability360 Phoenix Wheelchair Suns (Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center; Phoenix, Arizona)
- Kansas City Kings (Midwest Adaptive Sports; Kansas City, Kansas)
- Turnstone Flyers (Turnstone Plassman Athletic Center; Fort Wayne, Indiana)
It’s refreshing to see the SASS Junior Wildcats and Ability360 Phoenix Wheelchair Suns join the ranks of Varsity this year. Both squads will capitalize on an oasis of talent in Arizona, as competition begins to heat up in the desert.
Winning teams lose impact players
With many graduating seniors leaving Varsity rosters, there’s lots of room for new teams to jump into the top 16. How will the BlazeSports Junior Hawks rebound after losing many senior players? Samuel Armas, 2018 1st Team All-Tournament member, was the fulcrum for that team’s offense, and there are points on the table for a new player to set up.
The Junior Hotwheels return with a very similar roster to the 2017-18 season, losing only one contributing player to graduation. The defending champion Hotwheels are the Varsity favorites for 2018-19 season and they will attempt to defend their title. The Hotwheels bolster a “Golden State Warriors like roster” with stars such as twin brothers Aaron and Peter Berry, and Marendes Carrington, a recent UT-Arlington Movin’ Mavs commit.
The RHI Pacers finished fourth place at the 2018 NWBT, but they lost four players moving to top-tier college programs (two to Auburn and two to UT-Arlington). They still have talent on the roster, but there’s room for skepticism if they’ll repeat or exceed last year’s finish.
New top dogs
The WASA Jr. Bucks had a quality offseason and with the internal growth of their own players, they might be one of the best-kept secrets in the division. They finished third last year in Varsity and sit as the likely top contenders to upset Houston.
The Nebraska Red Dawgs have improved their finish in each of the last three seasons in Varsity at the NWBT, most recently finishing 5th place in 2018. Head coach Patrick Christiansen aims to continue the Red Dawgs’ upward projection, and with the continuity on the roster, they could push for a top-three finish.
The dark horse picks
There’s a lot of turnover in the division, and there are many teams to keep an eye on as the season unfolds. The Fresno Wheelers could emerge from the west coast as they build on their inaugural season in the NWBA. Denver Jr. Rolling Nuggets looks to return to the top of the mountain, as they retool their roster and nest as they also return a Prep team to their program this season. In the Midwest, the SportAbility Rolling Panthers look forward to their first season in Varsity after fielding just a Prep team last season. The East coast always seems to have a competitive balance among the teams, who will raise to the top? Fairfax Falcons? New York Rolling Fury? Sportable Spokes? Time will tell how the story unfolds for Varsity teams this season, and we're only page one of the adventure.
Make sure to check back Monday as we will provide a preview to Women’s division. Good luck and have fun to all of the Varsity athletes and teams this season!