There are always storylines that develop and surprises that emerge over the course of a high school basketball season. Every. Single. Year.
Unpredictability is a strength of high school basketball. Teen-aged basketball players develop their games, bodies and skills at varying rates and, along the way, impact teams in different ways.
As we turn to the offseason, it’s time to take a quick look back at the seniors who broke out this past season. Each one came into the season as an afterthought and went on to blossom over the past five months.
■ Terrence Shannon, Lincoln Park
A lot has been made of the rise of this 6-6 multi-faceted forward who broke through this season. A combination of injuries, playing football and missing time on the court perhaps prevented Shannon from an earlier rise.
But what a season Shannon put together for a team that won a regional championship and nearly upset Young in the sectional.
In addition to averaging 15 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals a game, the super athletic senior skyrocketed up the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s player rankings in the Class of 2018. Shannon screams upside and the ’ol untapped potential with his athleticism, length and versatility while remaining vastly under-appreciated as a prospect going forward.
■ Dusan Mahorcic, Niles Notre Dame
Simply put, there probably wasn’t a player who improved more in the past year –– or even in the past six months –– than this 6-9 senior. Mahorcic has made tremendous strides as a player and in his production.
As a junior, Mahorcic put up pedestrian numbers for the Dons, averaging 4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. He turned that into 16 points and 9.9 rebounds a game as a senior with nearly two blocks a game and made 14 three-pointers. He blocked 18 shots all last season as a junior; he blocked 10 shots in one game this season.
The highlight of his rapid rise was recording a whopper of a triple-double –– 34 points, 22 rebounds and 10 blocks –– in a win over Carmel.
The recruitment of Mahorcic was extremely slow but has picked up considerably. College coaches are waiting for his grades and transcripts from the Serbian school he went to before moving to the United States for his sophomore year.
■ Cam Burrell, Morgan Park
Morgan Park had its battles en route to a repeat state championship in Class 3A. Ayo Dosunmu suffered a nagging midseason injury that forced him to miss 10 games. Division I big man Tamell Pearson missed all but three games this season. And it took time for sophomore star and transfer Adam Miller to get acclimated to his new surroundings.
But the one constant all season long for coach Nick Irvin was the play and production of Burrell. The light-on-his-feet, bouncy 6-6 forward was a double-double machine all season. With continuous activity on the glass and a developing offensive game, Burrell went from an overlooked player to an all-stater as he averaged 17 points and 13 rebounds a game.
In a state semifinal win over Marian Catholic in Peoria, Burrell scored 22 points and snared 10 rebounds.
As a result, the recruitment of Burrell has heated up as he’s received numerous offers in the past two weeks. Tennessee-Martin, Chicago State, Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe have all extended offers.
■ Jared Crutcher, West Aurora
While he was never really a “role player” –– Crutcher was instrumental even as a junior when he averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game –– the progress the 6-5 senior made during his senior year was remarkable.
The run Crutcher went on in the second half of the season lifted the Blackhawks to another level and propelled them to 17 consecutive wins and a sectional championship.
In a 15-game stretch from Jan. 12 through the sectional title game win over Bolingbrook, Crutcher averaged 17.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks a game. That was quite an uptick from the first 14 games of the season when he averaged 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.
The extremely long and active Crutcher just recently committed to Division II Lewis University.