Knox Co. boys basketball’s best

By Steve Williams

One player on The Knoxville Focus / Coaches’ All-Knox County team has received offers from four major college programs and another has drawn interest from Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl, who previously was the head coach at Tennessee.

Fifteen of 21 local high school coaches nominated players from their teams for All-Knox County honors, with their selections based on regular season play.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch on each member of the 11-player first team (in alphabetical order):


Dallas Carbaugh, Farragut: The 6-5 senior forward helped the Admirals take second place in the District 4-4A regular season race and post an 18-11 record. Carbaugh was a force inside as he averaged 12 points and eight rebounds in earning All-District honors. “He is holding a few offers, including Maryville College, but has not signed,” said first-year Farragut head coach J.P. Burris.

Luke Carter, CAK: The 6-foot guard entered his senior season as a 2022 All-State honoree and picked up where he left off, averaging 18 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.2 steals for the Warriors, who placed second in their Division II-A district and had an overall record of 20-11. Luke ended his prep career with over 1,600 points.

Shane Cherry, Austin-East: The 5-10 sophomore point guard was the Knox County scoring champion in 2022-23, averaging 28.1 points. That was plenty enough to attract interest from Bruce Pearl, former UT head coach who now is at Auburn. Georgia Tech and Tennessee State also have shown interest in Shane’s exciting style of play, which includes a lot of 3-point shooting. In addition to his scoring, Cherry averaged 4 rebounds, 3.1 steals, 4.4 assists and 1.2 blocks as the Roadrunners took a big step forward under new coach Denard Bertram.

Jadarian “JJ” Faulkner, Karns: The 5-11 point guard’s four-year prep career as a starter ended with the Beavers (21-7) placing second in the District 3-4A regular season race and continuing with a strong run to the sectional round and one win away from a state tourney berth under veteran coach Lee Henson. JJ was voted the District Player of the Year and was a stat stuffer as he averaged 22.1 points, 7.2 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 steals. He earned the reputations of being a dynamic guard, a tenacious on-ball defender and a very high IQ player. Tusculum University has shown interest, but Faulkner is undecided.

Denaj Kimber, Fulton: The 6-3 junior point guard shared the District 5-3A Player of the Year award with teammate Tyler Lee as the Falcons captured the district title and were 23-5. Denaj shot 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range in the regular season to average 15 points in addition to handing out 5 assists and collecting 5 rebounds per game. Coach Jody Wright also noted “the twins (Denaj and Taj)” had received an offer from Tusculum March 27.

Tyler Lee, Fulton: Lee and the Falcons recently returned home with the gold basketball from the Class 3A state tournament. Tyler also was named the MVP in Murfreesboro. During the regular season, the 6-5 junior power forward averaged 14 points and eight boards. The big guy also made 38 percent of his 3-point attempts and shot 51 percent overall from the field.

Deondrea Lindsey, Catholic: The 6-8 sophomore forward already has received offers from Georgetown, Ole Miss, SMU and Georgia Tech, said first-year Catholic coach Luke Smith. Lindsey helped lead the Irishmen to an 18-7 record and third place in their Division II-AA region. He averaged 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds and shot 59 percent from the field.

Dalton McNew, Carter: The 6-2 senior shooting guard was the Player of the Year in District 3-3A and led Coach Tyler Cate’s Hornets (20-9) to the district championship. Dalton averaged 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals in the regular season.

Jaquarius “Zeus” Sanders, Austin-East: The 6-2 senior shooting forward averaged 21.3 points and was part of the Roadrunners’ 1-2 punch. Sanders also averaged 7 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 2.4 assists and 3 blocks in helping A-E place second in District 5-3A with a 20-7 record. “He has attracted interest from Cleveland State and Roane State,” said Coach Denard Bertram.

Caleb Shaffer, Halls: Despite being targeted by the opposition’s defense, the senior shooting guard shot 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range during the regular season to average 15.2 points. He was selected the District 4-3A Player of the Year as he led the Red Devils to first place and a 16-11 record. “Every defense we played was designed to keep him from getting the ball,” said Halls Coach Clint Sharp. “He will sign with Tusculum.”

Lukas Walls, Webb School: The all-round senior standout had a dream season as far as individual awards. He was selected the Knox County Player of the Year and later was chosen the TSSAA’s Mr. Basketball in Division II-AA. Both honors were based on regular season play. Luke led the Spartans to a 21-7 record and a berth in the Final Four of Division II-AA. The Samford signee averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and three assists per game. He shot a sizzling 45 percent from 3-point range and also was an 81 percent free throw shooter.


SECOND TEAM: Nick Ellis, Carter 6-0 senior guard; Chandler Gamble, Halls 6-6 sophomore center; Aiden Goins, Karns 6-9 senior forward; Drake Ingram, Webb 6-1 junior shooting guard; Kevin Jack, West 6-3 sophomore center; Bryce Jardret, Powell 6-0 senior shooting guard; Jaylen Roberts, Karns 6-3 senior shooting guard; Zack Turner, Gibbs 5-9 sophomore point guard; Dom Vanacker, Farragut 6-3 sophomore shooting guard; Yesan Warner, Catholic 6-1 junior point guard.

HONORABLE MENTION: Drew Brillhart, Nelson Karnowski, Tyson Pirtle, Jake Poole, Bearden; Zane Brown, Chandler Wilson, Carter; Caleb Asbaty, Catholic; Chris Bozeman, Central; Parker Lane, Farragut; Marcellus Jackson, Taj Kimber, Dexter Lewis, Fulton; Reed Farmer, Garrett Paul, GCA; Ben Brophy, Hakeem Rashid, Jack Smith, Hardin Valley; Kaleb Walker, Powell; Garrett Burns, Jordan Grimes, TSD; Jaylen Pompey, Webb; Dane Britton, Devyn Martin, West.


Knox County Boys Basketball Leaders

(Regular Season Averages Per Game)


Shane Cherry, A-E 28.1

JJ Faulkner, Karns 22.1

Lukas Walls Webb 22.0

Zack Turner, Gibbs 21.4

Zeus Sanders, A-E 21.3

Luke Carter, CAK 18.0

Bryce Jardret, Powell 17.9

Dalton McNew, Carter 16.9

Chandler Gamble, Halls 16.8

D Lindsey, Catholic 16.2

Nick Ellis, Carter 15.8

Aiden Goins, Karns 15.5

Caleb Shaffer, Halls 15.2

Denaj Kimber, Fulton 15.0

Dom Vanacker, Farragut 15.0

Jaylen Roberts, Karns 14.3

Tyler Lee, Fulton 14.0

Kaleb Walker, Powell 13.5

Garrett Burns, TSD 13.1

Taj Kimber, Fulton 13.0

Parker Lane, Farragut 13.0

Garrett Paul, GCA 13.0



Jordan Grimes, TSD 14.7

Kevin Jack, West 10.0

D Lindsey, Catholic 8.8

Aiden Goins, Karns 8.3

D Carbaugh, Farragut 8.0

Tyler Lee, Fulton 8.0

Chandler Gamble, Halls 7.7

Devyn Martin, West 7.6

N Karnowski, Bearden 7.0

Zeus Sanders, A-E 7.0

Lukas Walls, Webb 6.0

Kaleb Walker, Powell 6.0

D Vanacker, Farragut 6.0

Dalton McNew, Carter 5.9

Nick Ellis, Carter 5.8

JJ Faulkner, Karns 5.5

Tyson Pirtle, Bearden 5.5

Dane Britton, West 5.3

Denaj Kimber, Fulton 5.0



Jaylen Roberts, Karns 3.4

Zeus Sanders, A-E 3.0

Jordan Grimes, TSD 1.6

Shane Cherry, A-E 1.2

Kevin Jack, West 1.2

Dane Britton, West 1.1



JJ Faulkner, Karns 7.2

Yesan Warren, Catholic 5.9

Denaj Kimber, Fulton 5.0

Nick Ellis, Carter 4.5

Shane Cherry, A-E 4.4

Bryce Jardret, Powell 4.0

Parker Lane, Farragut 4.0

Jaylen Pompey, Webb 4.0

Luke Carter, CAK 3.8

Zack Turner, Gibbs 3.8

  1. Karnowski, Bearden 3.0

Garrett Paul, GCA 3.0

Lukas Walls, Webb 3.0



JJ Faulkner, Karns 4.1

Shane Cherry, A-E 3.1

Luke Carter, CAK 2.2

Zeus Sanders, A-E 2.2

  1. Karnowski, Bearden 2.0

Jake Poole, Bearden 2.0

Jordan Grimes, TSD 1.9

Dalton McNew, Carter 1.8

Yesan Warren, Catholic 1.8