Of the four central Ohio high school boys basketball teams that won Division I district championships a year ago, three have returned experienced casts headlined by players who made either first- or second-team all-district.

Of the four central Ohio high school boys basketball teams that won Division I district championships a year ago, three have returned experienced casts headlined by players who made either first- or second-team all-district.

On ThisWeekSPORTS.com's Hoop it Up page, we've posted our preseason Super 7 rankings and Super 12 teams to provide a projection of who might shine in boys and girls basketball this season.

The word "projection" is key here.

As the Pickerington Central boys team proved last season, projections don't mean anything by the time March rolls around.

A year ago at this time, many throughout the area pegged the Tigers as a team that could roll through the district because of the return of two key players and the addition of move-in Ibi Watson.

Things never jelled, however, as Central went 13-11 and had its season end in a district semifinal.

Maybe the Tigers will go further this season. They again feature a player in Watson who has signed with Michigan, but can their roster, which is stacked with about half a dozen other players who might play collegiately, come together?

If so, this season will be even more interesting than a year ago when Westerville South was the state runner-up, Seth Towns earned district co-Player of the Year honors and led Northland to a regional final and Dublin Jerome won its first district title.

That's because any discussion of Division I boys basketball in central Ohio doesn't end with Pickerington Central, Jerome, Northland and Westerville South. Those four teams are just the beginning in terms of the area's depth.

Gahanna returns Michigan State signee Nick Ward from a district runner-up team.

Walnut Ridge has moved up a division after making a Division II state semifinal and returns several key players, including seniors Malik Harrison and James Manns.

Hilliard Bradley has a young corps of talented players after winning 20 games last year.

Not to be forgotten are two of the area's perennially strong teams, Newark and Dublin Coffman. Wildcats coach Jeff Quackenbush and Shamrocks coach Jamey Collins are among central Ohio's best, and the Wildcats won a district title last season.

In girls basketball, there might be more uncertainty but there should be just as much intrigue.

Last year's top team during the regular season, Olentangy Liberty, got the nod at No. 1 in the Hoop it Up preseason Super 7, but even the Patriots have a question mark with senior guard Alexa Fisher trying to get back on track after offseason knee surgery.

While the OCC-Cardinal, OCC-Ohio and City League-South might boast the deepest leagues in boys basketball, the OCC-Central should battle the OCC-Ohio for the right to call itself the area's best girls basketball league.

Coffman and Upper Arlington join Liberty as strong candidates from the OCC-Central to battle for league and district titles, while Gahanna, Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg all have the potential to be contenders from the OCC-Ohio.

Like the word projection, though, potential doesn't equal wins or championships.

Not many could have expected the Liberty girls to earn the district's No. 1 seed when last season began after it had gone just 12-9 the year before.

What the Patriots did last year is an example of what keeps us coming back.

Who might be ready to emerge that no one is talking about?

Who is going to underachieve?

What great players will be discovered?

With the boys and girls seasons about to be in full swing, it's time to find out.