Much of what made the Division I district boys basketball tournament special last year should find its way back to the Fairgrounds Coliseum over the coming weeks.

Much of what made the Division I district boys basketball tournament special last year should find its way back to the Fairgrounds Coliseum over the coming weeks.

There might not be a dominating presence like 2010 Northland High School graduate Jared Sullinger, and Gahanna doesn't have a high-profile senior duo as it did a year ago with 2010 graduates Rob Brandenburg and Anthony Jackson.

But those two teams - as well as possibly a half-dozen others from central Ohio - possess the ability to advance to the state tournament.

Second-seeded Northland has perhaps the area's best player in senior guard and Michigan-signee Trey Burke. Although he doesn't have Sullinger or 2010 graduate J.D. Weatherspoon to pass the ball to, Burke has elevated his offensive game while 6-foot-8 junior post players Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson have continued to develop.

Fourth-seeded Gahanna is led by a large group of seniors, including guard and Ohio University-signee Stevie Taylor, hungry to prove that last year's state-tournament run was no fluke.

And we haven't even discussed the No. 1 seed yet.

Westerville South followed a perfect regular season last year by losing in a district semifinal, but this year's version is even better. Senior guard and Wisconsin-signee Traevon Jackson leads an attack that stifles opponents defensively.

What makes this year's district tournament intriguing is that that trio of teams doesn't have a big advantage over the other teams seeded among the top seven.

Upper Arlington received the third seed and has one of the area's best shooting guards in Miami University-signee Brian Sullivan.

The Golden Bears jumped into the same bracket as Northland even though an entire bracket remained open, setting up a potentially thrilling district final March 11 at the Fairgrounds.

South may get another shot at Marion-Franklin in a district semifinal after the Red Devils upended the Wildcats 66-57 at the same level last season. It wouldn't be wise to bet against South coach Ed Calo if the rematch occurs.

The problem for the Wildcats is that fifth-seeded Pickerington North also could be looming in a district final.

The Panthers may be the ultimate workman-like team, with no standout but several players who can shoot well from 3-point range and a group of tall forwards who know how to play defense.

And all of that is not to discount eighth-seeded New Albany, which used a similar formula as North to win the OCC-Capital Division. The Eagles potentially would face the Panthers in a district semifinal.

Gahanna's bracket, meanwhile, is characterized by depth. Joining the Lions in that bracket are sixth-seeded Walnut Ridge, seventh-seeded Dublin Coffman and ninth-seeded Westerville North.

Walnut Ridge is a bit of an upstart, considering it advanced to the City League championship game for the first time this season. The Scots have a pair of players who are at least 6-8, and 6-4 senior Austin Traylor has emerged as one of the area's best forwards.

Coffman and Westerville North are back among the area elite after making long tournament runs last year.

The Shamrocks edged UA 50-48 in a district semifinal last year and went on to win their first district title since 2004. Among their seven seniors are guard Christian Heine, who has been a regular since his freshman year, and guard Zack Riddle, a Watterson transfer who has become their leading scorer.

Westerville North no longer has 2010 graduate Ralph Hill after being a district finalist last year, but the Warriors might have the area's best sophomore in point guard Jack Gibbs and they've shown explosiveness throughout the season.

The district tournament is a place where players like Gibbs shine on a bigger stage for the first time, squads that play team basketball like Pickerington North step forward, and seniors such as Burke, Jackson, Sullivan and Taylor lead their teams to new heights.

What could make this one memorable is that it's hard to predict which circumstances will come to the forefront.