The dust has settled on the 2016-2017 high school basketball season with the Chicago Public League dominating March. Young, Morgan Park and Orr won 4A, 3A and 2A championships, respectively, while Simeon finished second in 4A.
What can we expect next season? When it comes to forecasting the 2017-2018 season, expect more of the same.
Here is a look at what’s expected to be 10 of the top teams next season (listed alphabetically), including several familiar names.
The roster was always in flux this past season but there is burgeoning talent and a lot of depth back for the Bengals. Look for guard Jeremiah Washington and 6-7 Rashaun Agee to take a big step forward next season.
Nebraska-bound Nana Akenten and valuable 6-5 Malik Binns will graduate, which is no easy task to replace. However, the vaunted perimeter attack of Joseph Yesufu, one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 10 prospects in the Class of 2019, jet-quick Kaleb Thornton and undervalued Tyler Cochran return from a 30-win team that reached Peoria and finished third in Class 4A.
■ DePaul Prep
The Rams won a regional title and 21 games –– and that was with a team actually built for next year. Star sophomore Perry Cowan and impact freshman Elliott Sieger, already two of the better players in the state, are the headliners, but 6-6 sophomore Pavle Pantovic and up-and-coming freshman Lance Mosley are back.
Despite the graduation of indispensable seniors Jamal Nixon and Jacob Keller, freshman D.J. Steward returns. Steward, one of the elite talents in the state, A.J. Nixon, Damari Nixon, Billy Bruce, Sam Daniels and Mike O’Laughlin all return from a Class 3A state runner-up finish.
■ Morgan Park
The defending Class 3A state champs will be favored again next March. Coach Nick Irvin, who will be in search of his fourth state title in five years, welcomes back the frontrunner for Player of the Year, point guard Ayo Dosunmu, rising freshman Nimari Burnett and sophomore Lamond Johnson.
■ Niles North
While the exit from state tournament play was quick, the 21-win Vikings were very young and return the bulk of its team, including star Demaria Franklin, Jamal Stephenson and Dravon Clayborn. Niles North will be favored in the Central Suburban League South.
The Spartans won a Class 2A championship last month and will be even better next season. Coach Lou Adams returns 6-5 athlete Raekwon Drake (15.5 ppg), shooter Brian Hernandez (63 three-pointers) and a pair of talented and versatile wings in 6-5 Tyron Mosley and 6-5 Dannie Smith (11 ppg).
An abundance of talent and experience returns. The trio of Talen Horton-Tucker, Messiah Jones and Kezo Brown complement one another well and will be three of the best seniors in the state next season. Sophomore Kejuan Clements is another player back with a ton of experience under his belt.
Replacing seniors Carson Newsome and Deshaun Davidson won’t be easy. But the Bulldogs reached a sectional final as a No. 6 seed this past season with three sophomores playing key roles, including rising star Bryant Brown, Jordan Brown and Ja’Dyn Brown.
The loss of Lucas Williamson to graduation will be significantly felt, but coach Tyrone Slaughter has enough back to challenge for another state championship. Point guard Xavier Castaneda and electric Javon Freeman will be quite a 1-2 punch, while junior Justin Boyd, sophomore Myles Baker and freshman Tyler Beard are all Division I prospects.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report @joehoopsreport