Chatham County Boys Basketball Preview

A sneak peek of each team’s expectations before the season.


Basketball season is quickly approaching in Chatham County, and for the first time, all four Chatham County Schools programs will compete in the same conference.

Northwood hosted a basketball media day Saturday with itself, Seaforth, Jordan-Matthews and Chatham Central. Head coaches and two player representatives from each team shared a sneak peek of what to expect ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Last year, the Chargers finished as the 3A state runner-up while Chatham Central and Seaforth exited in the second round of their respective playoffs. Jordan-Matthews did not make the postseason.

In the Central Tar Heel 1A conference, Chatham Charter is also coming off of a deep playoff run. Woods Charter missed the playoffs last year after going 3-17 in the regular season.

With teams looking to turn things around, build on last season’s successes or finish the job, here’s a preview of each Chatham basketball team before the season gets rolling.


It’s no secret that this Northwood team will be very good. With Drake Powell, a UNC commit, and the rest of the Chargers’ deep and experienced roster, Northwood wants to finish the job — something it hasn’t done in its last two state championship game appearances.

To get there, head coach Matt Brown said the team will learn from last year’s shortcomings and apply those lessons this go around, but the main focus is just getting better every day. In practice, that’s ramping up competition, focusing on shooting percentages and honing in on the little things.

Seniors Fred Whitaker and Powell said the biggest areas of growth they’ve seen in the team’s early practices have been the team’s competitiveness and communication. According to Whitaker, the former comes from the team having a chip on its shoulder after last year’s state title loss.

“Our identity has always been defense,” Brown said. “We’re going to hang our hat on our defensive play. I feel like we can score even more so this year than we were able to last year. We have more options. Guys are able to shoot the three more often. Our guys really worked hard this summer to get the percentages up.”

Northwood will open its season at North Moore on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m.‌


With the loss of a Gatorade Player of the Year in Jarin Stevenson and a new head coach at the helm, it’s a new era at Seaforth.

Leo Brunelli is entering his first year as the Hawks’ head coach, taking over for Stevenson’s father, Jarod. Returning players from the program’s first two teams that both made the playoffs, the key to this season is buying into Brunelli’s ways and building on the success of the past.

Seniors Tyshawn Davenport and Kooper Jones said the team will look to limit turnovers and improve defensively this year with a focus on turning defense into offense. Jones feels that the team is more tight-knit than last year, coming together to prove to doubters that Seaforth can win without Stevenson on the roster.

“I’ve never been around a group of young men with the chemistry, the unselfishness to make the extra pass and do the right thing,” Brunelli said. “That’s hard to teach sometimes…We go back to accountability and standards. With everyone completely bought in, or forced to buy in, they understand exactly what our mission is.”

Seaforth will open its season against East Chapel Hill on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Chatham Central

Chatham Central won’t be the tallest team this upcoming season, but they’ll try to be one of the fastest.

Senior Devonte Johnson and junior Reid Albright said the biggest focus of the offseason has been conditioning. The Bears are looking to run a fast-paced offense reliant on constant motion to find open looks at the basket.

They’ll also look to push the ball in transition often.

Johnson and Albright said the biggest need for improvement this season is defense and rebounding. With a smaller team, the Bears will focus on keeping things in front, especially when playing man-to-man defense.

Chatham Central will look to junior Aiden Johnson and senior Jacob Gilliland for major contributions on the boards.

“As soon as we get that rebound, we’ll push up the floor, set off-ball screens, find the open man and shoot when you’re open,” Albright said about the Bears’ basketball identity ahead of the season.

Chatham Central will open its season against Cedar Ridge on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.


After winning just one game last season, Jordan-Matthews is trying to up its competitiveness this year.

Last year, many of the Jets’ problems were due to a lack of upperclassmen and experience. Many of those same players are coming back with last season’s lessons, and according to head coach Rodney Wiley, it shows in practice.

Wiley said the leadership from the older guys, like seniors Neil Wiley and Kelton Fuquay, has been “really good,” and the Jets have helped their coach out by holding themselves accountable this offseason.

“(We’re) just really having each other’s back and being there for each other,” Fuquay said. “Just going as hard as you can at all times because that’s the only way you’ll make each other better.”

After shooting 38 percent from the floor and 15 percent from three last year, the Jets emphasized shooting this offseason. Defensively, they’ll focus on limiting opponents in man-to-man.

Jordan-Matthews will begin its season against River Mill on Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Chatham Charter

After its deep run in the 1A playoffs last season, Chatham Charter will have a lot of new faces on its roster this season.

The Knights are only returning four players from last year’s team. Despite the unfamiliar names, head coach Jason Messier expects his style of play to remain the same.

“The expectations of these young men remain the same and they are fully capable of rising to the occasion and having another successful season,” Messier said.

Messier highlighted senior guard Aidan Allred, junior forward Brennan LaVelle and senior forward Jonah Ridgill as his expected key contributors this season.

Chatham Charter began its season Monday at Bethany.‌

Woods Charter

Woods Charter didn’t have a very successful 2022-23 season, but the Wolves are returning seven players from last year’s roster.

Out of those seven, four of them are seniors, which is a good sign for Woods Charter as it will have some veterans that can lead with the lessons learned the year prior.

One of those veterans is senior Caden Watson who averaged 9.9 points for the Wolves last season.

Woods Charter opened its season Monday against Franklin Academy.

Preseason Power Rankings

  1. Northwood
  2. Chatham Charter
  3. Seaforth
  4. Chatham Central
  5. Jordan Matthews
  6. Woods Charter