San Diego City, the defending state champions, will open the 2017-18 season as the California Community Colleges Men's Basketball Coaches Association as the preseason No. 1 ranked team in a vote of coaches throughout the state.

The Knights return four players from last year's team, but head coach Mitch Charlens welcomes two additional sophomores and eight freshmen. In all, San Diego City's roster sports 10 guards and three swingmen. Only one player is under 6-feet and six players stand 6-7.

Four of the six sophomores listed on the roster played last year, but only one — Wonder Smith started six or more games. Smith, 6-2, 180, out of Windward HS in Los Angeles, started 30 games for the Knights last season. He was one of two players on last year's team to average double figures (10.1 points per game). Two other returning players — Robert Taylor (6-3, 180, Moreno Valley HS/Moreno Valley, CA) and Robert McCoy (6-7, 185, Eisenhower HS/Chicago, IL) each played in every game last season, but made just nine starts combined. McCoy averaged 9.5 points 4.1 rebounds per contest and Taylor added 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. Each averaged over 16 minutes per game. Darius Lee also returns after averaging 2.8 points per game. In all, last year's team had six players average 7 points or more.

San Diego City picked up two San Diego Christian College transfers in Deion Davis and Luis Salgado. Davis played in 13 games last season as a freshman averaging 6 points per game. Salgado started in 17 games for the Hawks, averaging 7.4 points a contest.

It appears the Knights will rely on a deep bench in making a run at becoming just the fourth program to repeat as state champions (Long Beach City, Riverside (3 in a row), Rancho Santiago, now Santa Ana).

The Knights begin defense of their state championship against Los Angeles Harbor on November 3 in the opening round of the San Diego City Knights Invitational at 5 pm.

San Diego City will be hunted by two northern traditional powers in San Francisco, the north's top-rated team, and Fresno City, No. 3 in the preseason. In the south, after San Diego City, talk is high on San Bernardino Valley (No. 4), Saddleback (No. 5), Cerritos (No. 6), Fullerton, a state finalist last season, at No. 8, and Riverside City (No. 11). With first-year program Copper Mountain ranked No. 14 to open the season, the Orange Empire Conference has four ranked teams in the top 15.

Below are the state and regional preseason rankings. The California community college season begins November 1 and concludes with the state championship tournament at Ventura College, March 9-11.

2017-18 Preseason Poll

1. San Diego City
2. San Francisco
3. Fresno
4. San Bernardino Valley
5. Saddleback
6. Cerritos
7. Las Positas
8. Fullerton
9. Canada
10. Butte
11. Riverside City
12. Antelope Valley
13. Napa Valley
14. Copper Mountain
15. Santa Rosa
16. East Los Angeles
17. Yuba
18. Sequoias
19. Citrus
20. Diablo Valley

Northern California
1. San Francisco
2. Fresno City
3. Las Positas
4. Canada
5. Butte
6. Napa Valley
7. Santa Rosa
8. Yuba
9. Sequoias
10. Diablo Valley
11. Cabrillo
12. Foothill
13. Feather River
14. San Jose City
15. San Joaquin Delta
Others: Reedley, West Hills, Cosumnes River, Sierra

Southern California
1. San Diego City
2. San Bernardino Valley
3. Saddleback
4. Cerritos
5. Fullerton
6. Riverside City
7. Antelope Valley
8. Copper Mountain
9. East Los Angeles
10. Citrus
11. Mt. San Jacinto
12. Chaffey
13. Barstow
14. Bakersfield
15. Ventura
Others: Canyons, Southwestern, West LA, Allan Hancock, Irvine Valley, Victor Valley, Compton