Coaches and/or athletic directors, please send info on your team to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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:
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
Addison Trail: Looking to bounce back from an 11-win season. JT Daniels and Adem Mehmeti will lead the way. Junior AJ Carlson and senior Sheldon Allgood will have an impact on the perimeter. There will be plenty of opportunities for newcomers to contribute.
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.
Alcott: Cortez Hale has a young team hoping to improve each game and stay competitive in the White-North. 6-3 soph Cordarius Drake played varsity last season and has taken a big step forward. JR Fernando Siena-May, a transfer, is expected to be the top player.
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.
Argo: A year older but still young. Starters Quincy Cobb, Mustafa Oweisi, Cincere Colbert return. Coach Pat Maietta says 6-4 Shallah Davis is “ the best freshman in my 14 years at Argo.” So that’s exciting. The South Suburban Red appears to be pretty interesting this season.
Baker: Romel Bryant Sr. returnes as coach. Katom Naylor, a 5-9 senior point guard, is the leader. High hopes for 6-4 soph Don Williams. Seeking first conference title.
Barrington: Lost a lot from last season’s sectional finalist. Coach Bryan Tucker is frank about it, “We will be young, inexperienced and undersized.” Senior guard Mark Johnson has interest from several colleges.
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.
Bishop McNamara: Joins Metro Suburban. Only won 8 last year, should be improved. CJ Link, Payton Gerberding, Wilson Netherton return. Brohgan O’Connor back from injury. Newcomers Tyler Hill, Owen Jackson are three-sport athletes.
Bloomington Central Catholic: Should compete for Illini Prairie title. Hopes of returning to Peoria. Luke Yoder, Tommy Nelson and Cole Davis all return. Talented sophs Sam Tallon and JT Welch are expected to contribute.
Bolingbrook: Super 25 team. Incredibly experienced, tough D1 backcourt with Tyler Cochran, Joseph Yesufu. Tons of depth at guard as well. Nice size with Cam Leonard and Tyrique McMurrin. Rugged schedule, but don’t be surprised if Raiders are in Peoria in March.
Bradley-Bourbonnais: Looking to improve throughout the season and compete in every game. JR Gabe Renchen made 54 three-pointers last season. 6-3 JR Jason Hartsfield also returns. 6-4 soph Mikal Clark and JR’s Linell Jefferson, Jackson Elliot are newcomers that will contribute.
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.
Buffalo Grove: Inexperienced. Will try to play with pace. 6-3 SR Tom Trieb will be ready to go after an injury ended his football season. SR guard Michael Nowakowski and JR forward Nate Cole also return. 6-3 freshman Kamren Craft should open some eyes.
Bulls Prep: Four seniors back from team that played in Noble title game last season. Quan Pugh, Keonte Estes, Edward Coleman, Jaylen Nelson. Newcomer Laryion Toliver will contribute.
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.
Cary-Grove: Another interesting Fox Valley team. 6-8 JR Frank Jakubickek has a DePaul offer and JR Beau Frericks had a nice summer. Six seniors return with experience including Addison West, Dave Aulert and Ryan Rice. Trojans haven’t won much before, but will be worth watching.
Chicago Academy: Looking for a third consecutive year of improvement behind three senior guards, David Porter Jr., Nathan Vale and Andres Vazquez. Coach Eric Miller says he has two outstanding freshmen, Anthony Zepeda and Noah Salman.
Chicago Christian: First season in Metro Suburban Blue. Young and inexperienced but there is talent on the roster. Brian Anderson, Matt Stuursma, 6-6 Clark Fremouw, Donovan Anderson are back. Watch sophs Johnny Dick and Tom Schaaf.
Clemente: Sophomore guard Trey Spires showed plenty of potential last season. He’s improved his shooting and finishing at the rim over the summer. Soph Terrell Taylor is expected to score. Shot blocker Giovanni Giles and SR Robert Dunum are excellent defenders.
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.
Crane: The Cougars have returned to the Red after finishing 17-10 last season and 9-0 in the White. Very intriguing team. Three starters, 6-6 Jimarius Sneed, 6-4 Robert Hobbs, 5-10 Jalen Stanford, return. Ken Sallee, a 6-4 JR, has transferred in from Simeon.
Crystal Lake Central: Should be an interesting season in one of the area’s most underrated gyms. 7 of top 8 players return from a 17-win team, led by 6-8 SR Alex Timmerman, CJ Lerum, Deonta Dungey, Will Welder and Evan Cassell.
Crystal Lake South: Under .500 last season but gained experience. Matt Reall, Ben Geske, Tyler Miller, Ryan Lawson all return. 6-6 soph Casey Haskin had a good offseason and will contribute right away.
Curie: Super 25. DeJuan Gordon and Ramean Hinton are talents. Trevon Hamilton, Lorenz Harmon, Armond Williams and Elijah Pickens are also major contributors. Damari Nixon transferred in from Fenwick. Small and quick, tough on defense.
Deerfield: This team is huge. Should be competitive in the CSL North. 6-8 Jackson Kenyon, 6-10 Brandon Lieb, 6-6 Dimitri Boussis are all back. Inexperienced backcourt. Keep any eye on 6-7 soph Walter Mattingly.
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.
De La Salle: The Meteors could be pretty good this season. 3 returning starters, Alex Raiford, 6-5 Clyde Benton and Abnar Muhammad. JR Josh Holmes, a D1 prospect, transferred in from Jones. Very talented freshman class including Jalen Brown, 6-7 Marcell Cohen, 6-6 Jameel Wilson.
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.
Downers Grove North: Possible Super 25. Just 13-13 last season but played a tough schedule and showed a lot of potential. Everyone is back, including Sema’j Henderson, Eddie Boston, Connor Ilyavi, 6-6 Scott Jakobsze, 6-9 Noah May. Colin Reed transferred in from Plainfield East.
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
DRW Prep: Senior guard Kejuan Kirkwood is a three-year starter, averaged 11.5 pts, 3 assists last season. Poised sophomore guards Kameron Williams and Davion Morgan will help lead the charge to a Noble League title.
Dyett: Finished 8-1 in conference in first varsity season after reopening. Coach Jamaal Gill doesn’t have any seniors yet but sophs Mikco Burns, Damariae James and JR’s Nikko Clifton, Tyre Dawson are back. Good size with 6-6 soph Abdoulaye Ba, 6-9 frosh Tavarious Vinson.
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.
Elgin: David Hess, a longtime assistant at Stevenson, takes over. 6-4 Trey Yarber and Xavier Bonds return. Yarber has potential, still growing into his body. Sophs are talented, led by Darien Jackson, Jeffrey Lomax, Giovanni Griffin.
Elk Grove: Nick Oraham takes over (former Dixon coach), says there will be an adjustment period until Christmas. Goal is not to finish in the cellar again. SR’s Ryley Rathman, Michael Achanzar return. Soph Brandon Burns is a good scorer, plays hard.
Elmwood Park: Hoping to surprise some opponents this season. Starters Jordan Diaz, Kris Amon, Michael Stranski are back and Jack Gavin and Elton Shemitraku gained a lot of experience last season. Watch soph Julian Davila. Size is an issue, but athleticism will be improved.
Farragut: Possible Super 25. Peoria the goal. Aaron Strong is still underrated, still a problem. Daniro Bolden, Malik Williams, Donavan and Jonathan Jones, Demetrius Schaffer all back. 6-4 soph Derrick Clark can play. Mikwon and Mikell Jones are two of the city’s best freshmen.
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.
Fenwick: Rick Malnati, DJ Steward, Damari Nixon are all gone. That’s staggering, but new coach Staunton Peck has talent to work with. 6-5 soph Bryce Hopkins had a monster summer, and SR Solomon Oraegbu is an intriguing player.
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
Fremd: There are two good players named Bryce Hopkins this season. The other is at Fenwick. Will get confusing. This Hopkins, a 6-5 senior, led the team in just about everything. Fellow seniors Dean Ganas, John Smyros return. Keep an eye on Hopkins’ brother Kayman, a 6-5 junior.
Galesburg: Deep, guard-oriented team with high expectations to build on last season’s 21 wins. Led by soph Eric Price, 6-6 JR Jaylin McCants, Nick Fields, Quinn Anderson. Newcomers Justin Endthoff, Keith Cunningham will contribute.
Geneva: Nate Santos transferred to a prep school, but plenty remains. Sharpshooter Mitch Mascari, point guard Jack McDonald are talented, dependable three-year starters. 6-5 Kross Garth provides toughness inside and 6-4 JR Josh Preston could have a breakout season.
Glenbard East: Should contend for Upstate Eight title with 10 players back from last year. Starters Alijah Nelson, DaRon Hall, Jeremy Johnson return. 6-6 Antonio Davis and 6-2 Anthony Shockey are solid post players. JR’s Ladaylin Dew and Deon Cook will contribute.
Grayslake North: The team I keep saying I’m going to see and then don’t. This has to be the year I get there. JR Ryan Connolly averaged 19 pts last season, already has 847 in his career. He’s one of the most explosive players in Lake County. Jamon Thomas, Jason Donohue also back.
Guerin Prep: New coach Josh Izzo says .500 record is the goal. Gerald Crawford, Brandon Washington, Joe Szczygiel return. Proviso West transfer Arychaun Nickels can play after Thanksgiving, has the highest athletic ceiling. Watch soph Jimmy Dohoney.
Hales: The Spartans are back. Chris Lawson takes over for Gary London. Young group, led by Malik Johnson, Travon Moore, DeAndre Nobles, Javontae Brooks.
Hampshire: Coach Ben Whitehouse expects the Whips to make large strides this season. 6-5 junior Collin Woods is a great athlete Core group of battle-tested seniors includes 6-3 Justin Anderson, Kyle Johnson, Bryce Anderson. High hopes for 6-6 junior Nick Erickson.
Harlan: Coach Walt Woghiren says this is the most talent he’s had at the school and expects a different player to step up every night. Reached the regional finals last season and expects more this year. Tough schedule in the Red-South/Central.
Hersey: First-year coach Austin Scott has an experienced, well-balanced and close knit group. It’s the program’s 50th anniversary. The Huskies advanced to the Elite Eight in 1974, 1985 and 1995.
Highland Park: Paul Harris begins his 20th year as coach. The Giants return 6-2 guard Cole Beermann and 6-1 guard Andrew Natinsky. Should compete in the tough CSL North.
Hillcrest: Very deep. Don Houston thinks they could improve on last season’s 21-6. Dylan West, a 6-7 SR, Jeremiah Staten, Kenton Wright, Anthony Harris return. MarKeise Irving has arrived from Morgan Park, 6-7 Trevon Walker in from Perspectives. Watch 6-6 soph Julius Rollins.
Hinsdale South: Young but intriguing. 6-7 junior Aaron Tims is one to watch and junior guard Billy Durkin can score. Seniors Lukas Rainys, Patrick Savage, Nate Dahms will need to step up. Hornets could be dangerous in the second half of the season.
Homewood-Flossmoor: Likely Super 25. Could be a huge year. Tons of length, skill and athleticism. Issac Stanback, Maurion Scott, RJ Ogom, Damen Trice return. JR guard Josiah Palmer will add a lot and 6-7 soph Chad Readey is loaded with potential (also No. 1 in his class).
Hope Academy: Peoria is the goal. Seven players back from 2A sectional champs including Jamari McClendon and 6-6 Prince Ako. Will Schultz, a 6-7 transfer from Milwaukee, will add a lot. More size with 6-6 Patrick Ross. Watch out for soph guard Demarcus Forbes.
Huntley: Small, but nice mix of experience and youth. Goal is a top three finish in the conference. 6-4 JR Ryan Sroka, 6-2 JR Uchenna Egekeze, Patrick Ropppolo, Davis Pasco, Nathan Draper, Ryan Crosby return. Watch newcomers Nikolas Mendoza, Hunter French, 6-5 Luke DiFrancesca.
IC Catholic: Slow start again due to football success. Graduated 9 seniors but talent remains. 6-4 JR Ryan Wojtalewicz is a workhorse. Football star Khali Saunders is a great athlete. Big things are expected of sophomore guard Chauncey Lee. Knights are 114-60 the past 7 seasons
Illinois Valley Central: Coach Joe Mintus has a very, very young squad that should improve on last season’s 10-19 record. 6-2 Holt Geltmaker and 6-3 Kamden Wollard both played significant minutes as freshmen.
Indian Creek: JR Cooper Larson and SR Connor Todd return as starters for a program that has won 47 games the past two seasons. Tim McNally, a three-year varsity starter, has transferred in from Paw Paw. Sophomores are talented and will contribute.
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.
Johnsburg: Zach Toussaint is a player you should see this year. He’s about 500 points from the McHenry County scoring record. Plenty returns from a team that made sectionals including Jonny Preston, Gibson Groves, Alec Smith. Good size. High hopes for soph Josh Notriano.
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.
Joliet West: Kind of a strange team. Very young and inexperienced but also really talented. Junior guard Jamere Hill, senior guard Jamonte Benton, soph forward Trent Howland are the top players. Keen an eye on 6-5 Steve Aragones and soph Jaiden Lee.
Julian: New coach Brandon Parker is rebuilding after several key players transferred. JR Daylen Fox is a solid point guard. 6-4 JR Jerwuan Wilkerson should have a big impact, JR Willie Williams can shoot. Parker says freshman Da’Qwon Hargrove is “the future of Julian basketball”
Kankakee: Possible Super 25. The Kays were much better than most realized last season. This should be a breakout year behind Jacquan Binion and 6-9 TJ Wicks, who has the ability to dominate when he’s focused. Deylon Johnson, Lavell McIntosh among talented JR’s ready to step up.
Kenwood: Likely Super 25 with talented guard Artese Stapleton and big man Seyree Lewis. Transfer Lamond Johnson adds toughness and leadership. Keep an eye on senior Nuri Knighton and junior Rowland McCoy.
King: Second in the White-Central last season, 20-8 overall. Big plans with 7 key players coming back including 6-4 Eric January, soph Davion Brown, Javonte McKinney. Davarion Reynolds and Raheem Brown are two of the best players in the White.
Lakes: Young team that hopes to be competitive in the Northern Lake County. Senior Brad Cherry and junior Leighsean Triplett are the only two players that saw significant minutes last year. Newcomers Brad Bies, Matt Ott will have to contribute.
Lake Park: Coach Billy Pitcher arrives after eight years at Lake Zurich. 6-6 Max Ellenbecker and 6-2 Tomy Zakic return to combine with strong junior class led by Luke Sgarbosa, Trevor Montiel and lightning quick guard Montreal Perry. Plenty of two-sport athletes.
Lake Zurich: New coach Terry Coughlin has a nice returning backcourt in JR Cison and Will Tucker. The rest of the group is inexperienced. High hopes for soph Bryan Sanborn, Dante Lococo, Joey Lococo and 6-7 JR Adam Hagen.
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.
Larkin: “Lost all our size, scoring and playmaking” Deryn Carter says. That sounds like a problem. Cupboard isn’t empty though. Pierre Black is one of state’s best shooters and Damari Wheeler Thomas is the best freshman guard Carter has had. Jashon Johnson-Neals is a JR to watch.
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.
Lemont: Playing a very tough schedule this season. Drake recruit Nate Ferguson, a 6-7 senior, and 6-2 Jaxson Dian will lead they way. High hopes for 6-4 JR Kyle Lillewitz. Junior class development will be key.
Leo: Fred Cleveland made believers out of a lot of doubters this summer. Plenty of foolish colleges are still missing the boat. He’s a POY contender. Don’t be surprised if Cleveland, Dachaun Anderson, Kendale Anderson and Myles Thomas lead the Lions to the Class 2A state title.
Leyden: Sounds like it is time to go see Ocean Johnson. Coach Bill Heisler says he is “super athletic and can score.” Kyler Britten, David Duwal, Daquan Harris also back. 6-5 JR Jaquet Hardimon and Justin Timmerhaus will play big roles as well.
Libertyville: Drew Peterson is gone but Josh Steinhaus, Travis Clark and Brian Wilterdink all experienced success last season and that generally carries over. JR’s Jackson Watson, Will Moore and soph Blake Ellingson are the top new additions. Plenty of shooters, good defensively.
Lincoln-Way Central: Sophomore Sean Curran started as a freshman. Nick Tingley, 6-3 Ryan Kraft, 6-5 James Ogrodnik are other sophs in the mix. Senior Nathan Purcell is a defensive stopper. 6-4 Joan Buch, an exchange student from Spain, has shown major promise.
Lindblom: Anything less than White-Central title and promotion to Red will be a disappointment. 7 of top 8 players return, including Shamar Pumphrey, Marshun Williams, Myles Twyman, Isaiah Bowie.
Lockport: Will be much improved, could be the best Porters squad in several years. Guards Jacob Karli, Quinn Gardner return. 6-7 SR Tommy Halatek is a “throwback big man” receiving D3 interest. SR guard Matt Hatzopoulos shot 49% from three and is also receiving college interest.
Longwood: May have a chance in the White. Led by long, athletic SR guard Nurell Lacey and scrappy JR Damari Fonza. SR Patrick Ben could have a big year.
Loyola: Possible Super 25. Looking for third consecutive regional title/20-win season and more. 6-4 SR Connor Barrett and SR point guard Quinn Pemberton lead the way. 6-8 twins Bennet/Jordan Kwiecinski are very improved. Watch newcomer Matty Enghauser.
Maine South: Essam Hamwi is a player I’ll be keeping close tabs on, he can score. Fil Bulatovic and Dan Crane also return. Some size with 6-5 John Gardiner, 6-5 Jon Ryser. Also keep an eye on Tylor Houck and Kavin Wattanayuth. Defense and rebounding will be the key to success.
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.
Marshall: If you’ve never seen this gym, try to make a visit. It’s a truly great place to see a game. Coach Henry Cotton has a tough group of guards, led by senior Johnsal Harris and junior Deshun Glover. 6-4 senior Brian Brooks and junior Xavier Johnson are the top newcomers.
Mather: New coach Byron Burt has one player returning with experience, JR Javaris Stfort. SR Tyrese Guerrier, a transfer from Niles North, is fast and could be a big scorer. Rickover transfer Timi Odueyungbo will anchor the post. Rich South transfer Jaylen Johnson is the PG.
McHenry: Lost eight seniors from last season’s gritty 19-win team. Three-year starter Brian March has high upside, will take on the role of main scorer. 6-5 Jacob Evans also returns. High hopes for newcomers Brett Loeding and Carter Foat. Goal is Fox Valley title.
Metamora: 5 of the top 7 players return from 22-11, supersectional qualifiers. Point guard Payton Havens is jet quick. 6-6 Collin Dietz, 6-8 Air Force commit Thomas Hall and 6-6 Joe Nelan provide major size. Caleb Kizer, a 6-6 JR, transferred in from Limestone.
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).
Montini: Won 18 games last season. Kai Evans, Luke Morrill, Julian Gatewood all had strong summers. Four football players will provide a boost, including talented QB Deontay Bell.
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.
Morris: No football complications this season, so plan is to get off to a good start and double last season’s win total. Seniors Chatten Dryfhout, Jacob Overbeck, Logan Edwards, 6-5 Ryan Lain return. High hopes for soph Colin Cummings, Jack Walker, Gabe Huffman.
Mundelein: The Mustangs plan to take the train down to the Carbondale Holiday Tournament in December. Young, interesting team with promising sophs Conor Enright, Jack Bikus, 6-8 Scottie Ebube and senior Andrew Gonzalez. Watch Brandon Paluch, a 6-6 senior.
Naperville North: Gene Nolan takes over as coach. Loyola recruit Tom Welch is back, but the rest of the core graduated. Seniors Netzah Aldana, Braxton Mills will step into important roles. Juniors Mike Imhoff, Matt Maschmeier, Myles Barry will contribute.
Neuqua Valley: Very young and will miss football players early in the season. 6-4 soph John Poulakidas has earned rave reviews this summer and fall. He’s a terrific shooter with D1 offers. SR Sentwali Nalls has transferred in from Young. Also keep an eye on 6-4 soph Connor Davis.
New Trier: Possible Super 25. Bigs Ciaran Brayboy and Spencer Boehm are back. Seniors Noah Osher and Andrew Kost can shoot it. Sam Silverstein is the player to watch, 6-4 point guard with a high ceiling. The Trevians have left Proviso West, will play at Pontiac this December.
Niles North: Hit hard by graduation but program is averaging 22 wins the past eight years. Aquan Smart and 6-5 soph Jalen Buter return. SR’s Dailen Sudduth, Omar Police, Myles Davis will be counted on for leadership. Watch soph Elijah Bull, freshman Yogi Oliff.
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.
North Lawndale: Losing Lewis Thorpe was a huge blow to the Phoenix and the basketball community. Carlos Toliver takes over. Demetrius Douglas, Jalen Thorpe, Daquan Tucker provide a great nucleus. 6-4 JR Javante Brackens has college interest. 6-8 Zion Washington is a factor.
Northridge: Undefeated in conference and 22-6 last season. Veteran group with Brendan Conroy, Ryan Menocal, Sean Holohan, Dan Kane. Newcomers Temi Creppy, Patrick Nwankpa should add a lot. Underrated Class 2A program, 44-12 the past two seasons.
Northside: Went 20-7, undefeated in the Blue last season so up in the White-North. Also won their Thanksgiving tournament for the first time. Danny O’Connor, Jack Vasilopoulos, Campbell O’Conor top returners. Jacob Trick, Liam O’Connor (Danny’s brother), are newcomers to watch.
Notre Dame: Super 25 team, interesting mix of youth and experience. Sophs Anthony Sayles and Troy D’Amico and junior Jason Bergstrom started last season. Seniors Tim Mundt, Cory Henderson, Aidan Heraty will provide leadership. Ceiling is high.
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.
Ogden: Won 16 games last season, wound up just one game shy of promotion to the White. Returning players are hungry. Guard Davea Davis has a great motor. Martareus Waters, 6-4 junior Michael Nelson will make an impact on both sides of the ball.
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.
Oswego: All five starters back, 13 players total from last season. Had a fantastic summer and high expectations for this season. Very tall with 6-5 Dylan Engler, 6-9 JR Connor McCance, 6-5 Marco Wilson. JR Jack Kahoun, SR Jacob Wayne, JR Cal Hezja will also be major contributors.
Oswego East: Possible Super 25. RayJ Dennis (Boise State) has received a lot of attention this summer, but he is far from the only threat. 6-6 JR Sam Schultz is an excellent player. 6-5 Kamron Battle is dangerous and point guard Demari Grant has transferred in from Bolingbrook.
Ottawa: Could make noise in Class 3A. Five key players return in Wyatt Hill, Myles Tucker, Tyler Carson, Noah Gould and Alex Stevenson. 6-5 Dakota Deverteuil and Keegan Landers are the key newcomers. I’ve been wanting to get to Kingman gym for a long time. This might be the year.
Pana: Furthest south team to submit a preview so far. 20 wins is the goal. Just one player lost to graduation, will play fast and hard. Double-figure scorers Jonah Lauff, Jack Armstrong are back. Top newcomers are JR Drake Spracklen, sophs Drew Ambrose and Lane Funneman.
Perspectives-MSA: Goal is to win 20 games, White-West and advance to Red for the first time in school history. Will be a challenge with 23 road games due to no home gym. Deep at guard with ultra-quick JR Jarvin Graham and SR Elijah Harris, SR Lafeyette Johnson.
Phoenix: Lorenzo Donegan always seems to have a talented scorer. Khalid Herron, a 6-5 SR, stepped in for Greg Boyle last season, averaging 25 points and 12 rebounds. Eddie Fox, VinQuan Randle, Kenny Wilkerson also return. Could make run in Class 2A.
Plainfield Central: Second-year coach Gregg Bayer has there starters back in Maurice McCullum, Tavari Johnson and Brandon Shoemaker. 6-3 Mason Magemeneas and 6-4 Andrew Wyckoff provide some size. The Wildcats finished .500 this summer, facing some tough competition.
Plainfield East: Eight players return from 17-win team. Will play fast and can shoot. Southwest Prairie title is the goal. SR’s Yamani Shareef, Noah Woulard and JR Christian Shumate are the top returners.
Plainfield North: Will be much improved from last season. 6-5 Carter Thurman and Matt O’Boye are three-year starters. Loads of size with 6-8 Billy Connors, 6-6 Kaleb Fenelus-Williams. Colin O’Rourke, a 6-6 junior, could have a breakout season. Conference title is goal.
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.
Prospect: Lost a ton to graduation but 6-4 wing Jon Kreidler can score and rebound. Sam Murray, a reserve last season, will be a key player. TJ Johannesen will start at PG. Ben Zellmer is a strong, dynamic player.
Prosser: Three starters gone from 15-10 team that finished fifth in Red-North/West last year but high-scoring soph Norvell Meadows is poised for a breakout. Juniors Demaree Waters and Semaj Williams will help. Transfers Khaleb Rouse and Benny Franklin add depth.
Providence: Kyle Murphy, an assistant the past eight years, takes over a team with a lot of potential and experience. SR’s Matt DiNardi, Adam Taylor, Jake Mazrimas are capable and unselfish. Watch newcomers Joe Alfirevich, Luke Pell, Noah Vassal.
Providence-St. Mel: Likely Super 25. Huge expectations, Class 1A title or bust. Lost in supersectional last season. Size and experience all over the court with Deion Jackson, Tyriel Nelson, TJ Ervin, 6-10 UIC recruit Taeyon Neal, 6-5 Jason Mason, Eric Jordan and Sam Herenton.
Reavis: New coach Nick Bouhoutsos has a young team led by returning starter Kareem Hajjar. High hopes for JR Rafaat Ayyad and SR Eddie Gutierrez. Strong inside and defensively, need to work on perimeter shooting.
Rich Central: Should be competitive this year. 6-3 Chance Love, Bryonte Washington, 6-4 Dionlashon Washington all return. Newcomers Tyrice Rodgers, 6-5 Quarnell Johnson will contribute and keep an eye on sophomore guard Semaj Greer.
Rich East: Deshaun Edmond may be the best unknown point guard in the state, led the Rockets to that regional title win against Hillcrest last season. 6-5 Karl Polk Jr. and Lewis Harper also return. 6-4 soph Devonte Blevins is a freak athlete that can play any position.
Richmond-Burton: Leading scorer Jeff Jankowski and Luke Uhwat are the only returning starters. Senior Jimmy Horner back from ACL injury. It’s a junior-heavy team, small but athletic at the guard position. Should compete for the conference title.
Ridgewood: Seven players return from last season, should have a balanced attack led by senior Eric Clancy, 6-5 junior Kevin Czyzewski and 6-2 junior John Duszynski.
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
Rockford Boylan: Eight players return from team that won 22 games, played in the supersectional. Three-year starter Jake Bergstrom, a 6-3 SR, leads the way. 6-5 JR Anthony Brown provides some size and JR John Starck made 64 threes last season. Also keep an eye on JR Johnny Close.
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.
Romeoville: Four-year starter Mike Salter has a very high ceiling. Coach Marc Howard says he has a renewed focus. 6-5 junior Destin Whitaker has improved his perimeter skills. Lots of size with 6-5 Zach Gibson, 6-7 Noah Ferrell, 6-5 soph Trayton Trice.
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. Edward: Andy Zielinski takes over as coach. Just one starter returning, Danny Parks. Guard heavy, not a lot of size but athletic. Sebastian Oquendo and David Hill will play major roles.
St. Francis: Good chance to win another regional and more. Danny Blank, Michael Cascella, Nick Kosemetatos part of great returning core. Shooting guard Eric Welch leads a solid group of juniors that will contribute.
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. Laurence: JR Jeremiah Williams impacted almost every phase of the game last season, does a bit of everything. SR Lance Jackson returns. Billy Rappold is back from injury and 6-4 soph Vytas Valinicius is a good athlete, big body. Lower levels both won CCL titles last season.
St. Patrick: Mike Bailey begins his 25th year at the helm. It should be a good one. Four starters, 90% of scoring returns with Austin Freeman, Jakob Medina, Justin Walker and Dominic Galati. Junior Nic Cioffi, a Neuqua Valley transfer, is the top newcomer. Will be in Class 3A.
St. Rita: Possible Super 25. Speed, depth and experience. Everyone has been waiting for 6-8 Jeremiah Oden to breakout. This might be the year. Alec Millender and Joel Watts form a great small backcourt. 6-5 soph Reggie Ward can play and 6-9 Cam Bartmann is always a factor.
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.
St. Viator: Super 25 team. D1 backcourt of Treyvon Calvin and Jeremiah Hernandez is a load. Junior guard Connor Kochera and 6-7 junior Michael Huene picked up experience last season. Newcomers to watch are Jack Mahoney, Mike Campagna and Owen Hickey. Big season ahead.
Sandwich: New coach Jim Braddish has four starter back in Jimmy Braddish (averaged 21 pts), 6-4 Carter Tech, 6-3 Jimmy Roop and 6-3 Mike Frieders. Tough defensive group hopes to improve offense and compete for Interstate Eight title.
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.
Senn: New coach Marcus Riley wants to win the Blue-North. Three-year starter and qualifier Noah Chatman averaged 24 pts, six assists, four rebounds last season. Also watch 6-3 Fawaz Akinwande, Oluwadamilola Edghese and Kevin Tagbae.
Solorio: Assistant Justin Rhymes takes over. Small team that will be defensive-minded. Freshman Donovan Jones is a player. SR Aubrey Aaron, JR Sincere Key, soph Jordan Hill all return.
Spring Valley Hall: 8 players were on the state championship baseball team, so coach Mike Filippini is confident they know how to win. Just one starter (Jimmy DeAngelo) back from 21-win team but James Mautino, Chance Resetich, Trez Rybarczyk all played a lot of minutes last year.
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.
Stevenson: Coach Pat Ambrose says Patriots have a “chance of good things.” Junior guard Matt Ambrose, senior Luke Cheing, junior Trey Baker are the top returners. Newcomer RJ Holmes, a 6-4 junior, will contribute.
Streator: Lost 93% of the scoring from last season’s 19-win team. Mason Benning and Grant Mascal return. Core is young with a nice balance of guards and bigs. Hungry to prove themselves in Interstate Eight.
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
Thornton: The Wildcats have flown under the radar lately. They were 16-12 last season and could be improved this year. Keeshawn Chambers, Ari Brown, DJ Williams all return. Junior guard Demarco Minor has transferred in from H-F.
TF South: This will peak your interest. The Rebels are talking about conference championships and sectional titles. DeKwan Turner and 6-8 SR London Denman return. Andrew and Elijah Stewart have transferred in from Kenwood. Also watch James Drummond and 6-6 JR Elijah Watson.
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.
Tinley Park: Deep senior group, which should mean good things. Christian Hooker and Kameron Holmes are back. High hopes for three seniors new to the program, Mario Lawrence, 6-4 Collin Wilma, Adam Gaydos.
Uplift: Super 25. Three talented, experienced guards provide strong foundation. Markese Jacobs is a POY candidate and DeAndre Vortes, Detalian Brown each improved a great deal last season. JR’s Taijay Brown, Michael Allen, Greg Ruben need to step up. Watch frosh Davion McCarthy.
UP-Englewood: Possibly the most underrated team in the city the past few seasons. Lions were 17-10 and undefeated in the White last year. Up in the Red-South/Central now. Sean Faulkner, Cor’del Lott, Dillon Harris are the standouts.
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.
Vocational: Senior heavy group, may be the most experienced team in the Red-South/Central. Big-time scorer Naashar Banks Carter leads the way along with fellow seniors Malik Tiffith, Seth Williams and 6-6 Kevin Newson.
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.
Waukegan: One of the state’s most fascinating teams. The unrelated Browns are now seniors and looking for redemption after a disappointing 2017-18. Bryant Brown is a POY contender. Ja’Dyn and Jordan Brown will be joined by newcomer Andre White, a well-traveled senior point guard.
West Aurora: Marquise Walker has transferred in from Curie, will team with Traevon Brown in a very talented backcourt. SR’s Moshe Rogers, Hezekiah Salter will be heavily relied on along with 6-2 JR Kelvin Balfour. Should very competitive in realigned Upstate Eight.
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.
Westinghouse: Coach Rafie Fields plans to win the White. JR Devin Davis is a talented scorer, led sophs to the final four. Treoundous Robinson, 6-5 JR Tyrinn Kidd are back along with transfer Mark Carter.
Westlake Christian: Won 25 games last season. Three starters and six seniors return. Very athletic. Eli Senenig, a 6-4 SR, is getting college attention. Also watch SR Kaleb Hatch and point guard Josh Parkes.
Wheaton North: 6-7 SR Deng Reng really impressed me last season. He’s a bonafide All-Area contender and don’t be surprised if he gets the Falcons into the Super 25 at some point. Jacob Schauer, Matthew Brend are two talented guards. Sleeper team to watch.
Wheeling: Michael Best, a 6-2 senior guard, can play. Does a bit of everything, averaged 14 pts, 4 rebs, 3 assists. Had 26 points and 7 boards when I saw him last year. Jeremy Kim also returns and 6-3 soph Joe Jordan started as a freshman. Another MSL team to keep an eye on.
Woodstock: Coach Al Baker states it plainly, “We were the third highest scoring team in McHenry County last season but only won eight games because we couldn’t guard anybody.” So they know what to work on. SR Evan Bridges broke the school three-point record last season.
York: Might start out a bit under the radar but keep a close eye on them. I liked what I saw in late February. Four senior starters return in Nick Kosich, Erik Cohn, Sam Walsh, John Milling. JR Nate Shockey had a good summer and soph Jeff Grace was impressive last season.
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.
Yorkville Christian: In the hunt for a Class 1A sectional title. 6-4 Colton Schutt, Christian Sovern, 6-4 Mekhi Lunford and Tristen Phillips all averaged double-figures last season. 6-4 freshman Jaden Schutt averaged 33 a game in 8th grade. Junior high stats! How about that.Tags: 2018 basketball preview, On Instagram