2018 Basketball Preview: The Twitter Previews

Taken Horton-Tucker celebrates after getting a dunk against Curie. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Taken Horton-Tucker celebrates after getting a dunk against Curie. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Coaches and/or athletic directors, please send info on your team to mobrien@suntimes.com. I’ll tweet out a preview on every team that sends in the information. You can follow along on Twitter @michaelsobrien or read the previews here. All Illinois schools are eligible, not just schools in the Sun-Times coverage area. Please include the following:

School:
Coach:
Cell Phone:
Outlook for this season:
Top Returning Players (Position, Height, Year in school):
Top Newcomers (Position, Height, Year in school):
Top teams in your conference:
Players on your team and in the conference to consider for the list of the area’s best:
Interesting story idea about your team:

The 2018-19 Twitter Previews

Ag. Science: Coach Shawn Finnin has peaked my interest. “Kyle Rowan is the real deal. Come on out and watch this young man put a show on.” Count me in. Rowan is a senior guard. Tony Stafford also returns. Hoping to win the White South.

Antioch: SR point guard Daniel Filippone averaged 20 pts, 5 assists last season and is getting some D1 interest. Decent size with 6-4 Jack Gillespie, 6-3 Ben Nauman back. Watch JR Tre Watson. Several football players on the team, could make the start of the season challenging.

Belvidere North: Not a history of success here, so coach Todd Brannan is trying to raise expectations and change perceptions. 6-5 JR John Carlson and 6-2 JR Holden Paddock are three-year starters. High hopes for JR’s Anthony Espensen and Matt Bucher.

Brother Rice: Not a stretch to say that Marquise Kennedy (Loyola recruit) is a POY candidate. 6-4 JR Deandre Hagan could have a breakout year, lefty that can shoot it. There isn’t much experience returning other than Kennedy and coach Bobby Frasor has defensive concerns.

Carmel: Could be a big year. Majority of scoring returns from 19-12 team. Johnny Roeser is a four-year starter and leader. Soph PG Kimahri Wilson may be a future star. 6-4 soph Damone Williams-Gray, SR’s Jalen Snell, Lukas Galdoni can play. Good depth too.

Collins: Always competitive, will be a factor in the White. Jacquan Embrey is a talented lead guard. Demarcus Williams also returns.

Conant: Big man Ryan Davis is gone so the Cougars have completely changed their style. Won’t get much hype, but should be competitive and could be a dangerous team. SR Raj Mittal impressed last season, he’s a gamer. Anthony Wachal, Dom Benigi return. Watch 6-3 soph Devon Ellis.

DeKalb: Looking for a fifth consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII championship, will join DuPage Valley next season. Monster schedule on tap, but lots of experience back with Isaiah Youngquist, Blake Williams, Michael Newman. Watch 6-6 JR Joe Owens, he has huge upside.

DePaul Prep: Likely preseason Super 25. This is the season they have been building towards. Perry Cowan is a POY contender. Skill and experience return with Raheem Anthony, Pavle Pantovic, Lance Mosley. Two sophs, 6-9 Brian Matthews and guard Tyler Johnson, will add a spark.

Dunbar: The Mightymen have been out of the spotlight for awhile, but they are worth keeping an eye on this season. Four starters return. Experienced backcourt with 6-4 Gavin Alston, Jaquan Jones, Laron Owens, Ishmael Martin. 6-6 SR Tyrese Scurlock, 6-5 JR Amari Brown provide size

Eisenhower: Arrow pointing up, hoping to compete in the South Suburban Red. Last season’s three top players, Dayton Wilson, Shamar Fuller, Eddie Moore, all return. JR Jemel Jones and 6-4 soph Deontae Sutton are the top newcomers.

Fenger: Won Class 1A regional last season. Young and hungry. 6-5 JR Donovan Taylor, soph Kejuan Currie are back. High hopes for JR Alex Ousley.

Foreman: Finished second in the White-North last season and now looking towards promotion to the Red. Ashaad Stephans and Bobby Hughes return and 6-5 Damari Hendrix is a year healthier and ready for a breakout. The entire basketball community is supporting the Hornets this season

Jacobs: Kings of the Fox Valley. 4 cons. conference titles, 26 cons. wins, 51-1 in conference the past 4 seasons. All 5 starters are gone, but high expectations remain. Guards Jaden Henderson, Matt McCoy return. 6-8 SR Joey Price was injured in football and will miss the season.

Joliet Central: No returning starters, but don’t underestimate the Steelmen. Larry Thompson has made them perennial contenders. 6-4 Kendrick Williams, Dakota Joachim and Deejay Hill-Holmes are the top returning players.

Lane: Welcome to the super conference. The Indians are in the Red-North/West (should have been last season). Michael Molloy, Johnny Colombo, 6-6 Vuk Djuric are four-year varsity players that form the core of a gritty, underrated team. Watch newcomers Louis Perona, Eric Stemper.

Legal Prep: Will be a factor in the White-West. 11 players return, schedule is very challenging to prepare for a run in the 2A playoffs. Raymond Dampier, Darrell Williams, 6-7 Johnathan Oden lead the way. Deundra Gardner, a 6-7 JR, transferred in from North Chicago.

Marist: Former Providence coach Tim Trendel takes over what is essentially a new team. Will be small, play fast and score. Dorian Pendleton, Trey Affolter, Nile Hill all played last season. Alex Knight, Josh Williams, Jabari Hill are the top new faces.

Momence: Last season was one of the best in school history and we followed along with Momence Watch. They plan to pick up where they left off behind Lamarius Lillard, Kobey Mazur and Jalen Williams. Lillard is 470 points from breaking his brother Lamar’s record (set last year).

Morgan Park: Back to back Class 3A champs are loaded. Adam Miller is a POY candidate, Marcus Watson is one of the state’s top guards. Speedy scorer Chris Roberts transferred in from Lincoln Park. Plenty of size with 6-7 Deshawnde Washington, 6-9 Karl Jones, 6-5 Isaiah Burrell.

Niles West: Uphill battle to compete in the loaded CSL South. Coach Mike Wasielewski has his top guards back in Kevin Guillaume (11.3 pts), Rich Noparstak (8 pts). Solid JR group with 5-10 Andrew Pabst, 6-7 Adnan Seferovic, Haris Mackic.

Oak Lawn: Under the radar last season despite 19-8 record. Three key players return. JR guard Sami Osmani is vastly underrated. Good scorer, excellent defender. JR point guard Trey Ward poised for a breakout. 6-7 SR Bryan Beattie is fully healthy now, tough rim protector.

Oak Park: Likely preseason Super 25. The sky is limit. Huskies won 24 games and were undefeated in conference last season. Dashon Enoch, Chase Robinson, Charlie Hoehne, Anthony Roberts return. Isaiah Barnes, a 6-6 soph with DI offers, has transferred in from Romeoville.

Orr: Tujautae Williams, a 6-6 SR, is one of the state’s most intriguing players. He had some brilliant moments last season. Now it is his team. 6-6 JR Demarius Splunge is working his way back from an injury. 6-4 Bogan transfer Greg Outlaw adds a lot. Question will be guard play.

Pontiac: Not just excellent tournament hosts anymore. The Indians won 17 games and a regional last season. 10 players return, including leading scorer/rebounder Ryan Weir. PG Carter Dawson shoots it well and 6-6 Joey Murphy has transferred in from Bloomington Central Catholic.

Riverside-Brookfield: Starters Zach Vaia, Andrew Veon, Patrick Hanley return. Vaia is one of area’s best shooters. Was 42% from 3 and great in the clutch with two buzzer-beaters to win games. Could improve on last season’s 19-11 record. Good size with three regulars 6-4 or taller

Rolling Meadows: Soph Max Christie lived up to and maybe surpassed expectations this summer. He could be the area’s next major star. Javonte Jones Warrener and Matt Schoessling also return. Football team making a deep playoff run could lead to a challenging start.

St. Charles East: Moved from Upstate Eight to DuKane. Starters Nate Ortiz, Cody Mitchell return. Mitchell has grown 3 inches, is now 6-7. Senior Mark Musial shot 51% from three last season. Expect the same style of play as always. Coach Patrick Woods is “cautiously optimistic”

St. Ignatius: Young and inexperienced, but the talent level in the program overall is on the upswing. Freshman and sophs will compete for playing time. SR Christian Davis and JR Daniel Florey return. Not a lot of size, strong on the perimeter.

St. Thomas More: Fate will rest on the play of seniors Riley Morris, Bryson Lee and Dominic Magrini. Sophomore Averi Hughes and freshman Adonai Bumba will play significant roles on varsity. Potentially a top three team in the Illini Prairie.

Schurz: Very underrated the last few years. Heartbreaker last season. Blew a 20-pt lead against Lane, so still in the White. 6-5 Elijah Clay, Nakyel Shelton return. Big hopes for additions Blake Taylor, Kaevon Anderson. Will battle Payton, Foreman for promotion to the Red.

Springfield Southeast: Last season’s Class 3A runners up have plenty back. Goal is to repeat as Central State Eight champs and make a state title run. Terrion Murdix, Anthony Fairlee and James Dent return. 6-6 SR Herb McMath transferred in from Lanphier.

Taft: New coach Jason Tucker (formerly Sullivan) always sends his info so early I lose it in my inbox. So expect a well-prepared team. JR Matt Lesch could be special and SR Isaiah Milanovic is back from an injury. JR Jared Bandi shoots it well. Talented sophs signal bright future

Timothy Christian: The new gym is gorgeous. Goal is to repeat as Metro Suburban-Red champs and win a regional. Good athleticism, exciting style of play with top returners Justin Baez, Danardo Jones, Matthew Owens. Watch soph Joshua Harris.

Vernon Hills: Coach Matt McCarty has almost an entirely new team after graduating 12 seniors. Joey Levitan and John Dosemegan return. High hopes for JR’s Ryan Jacobson and Michael Moore.

Waubonsie Valley: Hopes are high. This should be the school’s best team in several years. Eric Cannon, Marcus Skeete, Derrien Porter, Caymen Woods, Nikhil Khanna all return. Will be a contender in strange (only five teams), wide-open new DuPage Valley conference.

West Chicago: Three three-year varsity players are back in Sam Ricci, Isaac Nelson, Jordan Wilkins. Strong, deep junior class is led by Daniel Rodan and Raed Haroon. Looking to challenge in new-look Upstate Eight.

Yorkville: Two starters, Mason Klaas and Jake Polowy, return from 19-win team. Andy Reichart and Jimmy Eberhart are the top new faces. Strong sophomore and junior group make them major contenders in the Northern Illinois Big XII. Joining Southwest Prairie in 2019.

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1 comment;

  • Matt Robinson

    Belvidere North has some decent pieces. They have a 6’5″ freshman, who has the makings to be special. Donavyn Sayles is the name.

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