Henricksen: Conference power rankings

Bogan's Jeremiah Washington (3) splits two Morgan Park players in the first half. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

With a couple of weeks in the books and conference play starting to heat up, the City/Suburban Hoops Report ranks the top dozen conferences in the Chicago area.

There was no mathematical formula or objective analytics used. The criteria of these rankings came down to how many heavyweights each conference has at the top, along with the quality depth it boasts.

The two Chicago Public League super conferences stand alone at the top. Then the debate begins.

1. Red-South Central

When you boast a foursome of Simeon, Morgan Park, Curie and Bogan, you’re not going to find a league that’s any stronger. There are multiple state title contenders in that group. The individual talent and state title contenders is plenty, but there is also a little depth with a strong Kenwood team.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 5

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 5

All-Conference Team: Ayo Dosunmu and Adam Miller, Morgan Park; Talen Horton-Tucker and Messiah Jones, Simeon; Maurice Commander, Curie.

 

2. Red-North West

The league starts with two defending state championship teams in Young and Orr, both of which are among the state’s best teams again this year. That’s a powerful tandem at the top of any league. Then you add the depth. Uplift is another top 25 team and features star Markese Jacobs, while North Lawndale, Farragut and Lincoln Park are dangerous.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 3

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 4

All-Conference Team: Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda, Young; Markese Jacobs, Uplift; Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake, Orr

 

3. Catholic Blue

The depth in this revamped league is impressive as eight of the nine programs were among the Hoops Report’s preseason top 80. And all eight sport winning records through two weeks of action. Favorite Fenwick’s queasy start has others like DePaul Prep, Loyola, St. Rita, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius and Brother Rice thinking big.

The question, however, is this: Does the Catholic League have a legit state title contender or Peoria hopeful right now?

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 3

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 8

All-Conference Team: D.J. Steward, Fenwick; Perry Cowan, DePaul Prep; Marquise Kennedy, Brother Rice; Kevin Cunningham, Loyola; Jordan Matthews, St. Rita

 

4. Central Suburban League South

The six-team league has four teams, Niles North, Maine South, Evanston and New Trier, that are really going to make it tough on each other –– and prepare one another well for March.

Niles North was a preseason top 10 team and is a real contender to reach Peoria, while New Trier cracked the Hoops Report preseason top 25.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 2

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 4

All-Conference Team: Lance Jones, Evanston; Damaria Franklin and Jamal Stephenson, Niles North; Alex Kirkpatrick, New Trier; Grant Miller, Maine South

 

5. Upstate Eight River

This winter promises to be a wild ride in the Upstate Eight River with so much depth and balance.

Larkin boasts the most pure talent, but the next four teams all have legitimate reasons why it can win a league title and advance in March. St. Charles East, St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva make this one of the deepest conferences in the state.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 3

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 5

All-Conference Team: Justin Hardy, St. Charles East; Eric Peterson, Batavia; Jack McDonald, Geneva; Anthony Lynch and Jalen Shaw, Larkin.

 

6. East Suburban Catholic Conference

This was a tough year to place the ESCC as it lacks a giant at the top. There wasn’t a team ranked in the preseason top 25, though it appears they’re coming. And there is no dominant team(s) as there has been in the past.

But there’s a heavy dose of balance and potential, and the geography of the league always provides viable candidates to make deep March runs.

Currently, the top six teams have a combined record of 29-4. Marist, Marian Catholic, Benet and St. Viator could all find their way into the rankings at some point this season, while Carmel and St. Patrick have surprised.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 0

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 5

All-Conference Team: Morgan Taylor, Marist; Jeremiah Hernandez, St. Viator; Johnny Roeser, Carmel; Malik Tidwell, Marian Catholic; Colin Crothers, Benet

 

7. Southwest Suburban Blue

The league is top heavy but both Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way East appear as if they will be fixtures in the top 25. H-F may have lost a bundle of talent, but the Vikings are still very formidable and added Hillcrest transfer Isaac Stanback. And Sandburg has jumped out to a surprising 5-1 start.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 2

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 3

All-Conference Team: Joseph Yesufu, Tyler Cochran and Kaleb Thornton, Bolingbrook; Sam Shafer, Lincoln-Way East; Maurion Scott, Homewood-Flossmoor

 

8. West Suburban Silver

Through the first two weeks, Oak Park (and Niles North) is arguably the best suburban team in the Chicago area. The Huskies have been very impressive to start the season with speed, depth and multiple scoring options.

With its style, defense and perimeter-oriented attack, this year’s York team has a similar look to last year’s Wheaton-Warrenville South team. Wheaton South Lite, maybe? Downers Grove North is off to a terrific 6-0 start, and Glenbard West features the dangerous Evan Taylor.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 1

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 4

All-Conference Team: Evan Taylor, Glenbard West; Isaiah Fuller and Dashon Enoch, Oak Park; Semaj Henderson, Downers Grove North; Nick Kosich, York

 

9. North Suburban Conference

The league is down in comparison to where it’s been in past years, but it still boasts a talented Waukegan team and some competitive balance behind the Bulldogs.

This is the best Lake Zurich team in years with top 25 potential, while Warren, Lake Forest, Zion-Benton, Stevenson and a Drew Peterson-led Libertyville are competitive.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 2

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 5

All-Conference Team: Bryant Brown and Ja’Dyn Brown, Waukegan; Ryan Kutsor, Lake Zurich; Drew Peterson, Libertyville; Branden Ellis, Warren

 

10. DuPage Valley Conference

While quality depth is lacking in the DVC –– the bottom of the league is down –– the top two teams are back at it again with Naperville North and Wheaton South a combined 9-0. Naperville North was ranked among the top 25 when the season began and has lived up to that ranking thus far. A vastly improved Naperville Central is a sleeper in the area.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 1

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 4

All-Conference Team: Tom Welch and Chris Johnson, Naperville North; Ben Wolf, Naperville Central; Ethan Helwig, Metea Valley; Chase Stebbins, Wheaton South

 

11. Southwest Prairie Conference

There is some dead weight in this league which prevents it from being any higher. But Romeoville is a bonafide top 25 team and Joliet Central and Joliet West are better than people realize. Meanwhile, Minooka and Oswego East are both dangerous.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 1

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 4

All-Conference Team: DeAndre Heckard and Eddie Creal, Romeoville; Cameron Blackmon, Joliet Central; Kyle Graebner, Minooka; Michael Smith, Joliet West

 

12. West Suburban Gold

Willowbrook was a preseason top 25 after returning everyone from a team that tied for a league title and won 24 games a year ago. Perennial power Proviso East may not be the powerhouse it was in coach Donnie Boyce’s first couple of years, but the Pirates may be better than people anticipated. The team that has the potential to elevate the league’s status is Hinsdale South, led by Iowa State recruit Zion Griffin.

Preseason Hoops Report top 25 teams: 1

Preseason Hoops Report top 80 teams: 3

All-Conference Team: Zion Griffin, Hinsdale South; Ethan Schuemer and Matas Masys, Willowbrook; Quinlan Bennett and Jordan Morris, Proviso East.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

4 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Modal