Young is a worthy preseason No. 1, but the Dolphins lack the raw star power of most recent top-ranked teams.
DJ Steward, a transfer from Fenwick, acknowledges that Young isn’t perceived as an unbeatable super team. But he says that expectations are high internally.
“We just always have to have a chip on our shoulder,” Steward said. “Our goal is to stay number one all season and dominate every team that steps in front of us.”
As usual, Young will play games all over the country. The rugged schedule generally leads to a significant loss total, but it prepares the Dolphins extremely well for success in the state playoffs.
Young is rather small this season, but it is fast and skilled. That formula has worked well for coach Tyrone Slaughter the past few seasons.
“This team will run even more than any team we’ve had before,” Slaughter said. “We aren’t enormously tall but we are tall and athletic enough. We want to get the rebound and get out in transition.”
Here’s a look at the preseason Super 25…
1. Young: Steward’s arrival from Fenwick put the Dolphins over the top. He’s already a star, expect junior Tyler Beard to become one this season. Seniors Myles Baker, Justin Warren and Keenan Jones are winners and big things are expected from junior Sangolay Njie and sophomore Grant Newell.
2. Evanston: Experience and ability returns from last season’s team that finished third in Class 4A. SIU recruit Lance Jones, underrated Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost provide skill and senior leadership. The sophomore class is crazy loaded with Blake Peters, Jaylin Gibson, Isaiah Holden and 6-5 Louis Lesmond.
3. Morgan Park: The Mustangs may have the state’s best backcourt with highly-regarded junior Adam Miller, junior Marcus Watson and senior Chris Roberts, a transfer from Lincoln Park. There is size, but it is raw and untested in 6-4 junior Isaiah Burrell and 6-9 Karl Jones. Not as deep as some recent Nick Irvin teams, but the ceiling is high.
4. Bogan: This is the season coach Arthur Goodwin has been building towards. Senior guards Jordan Booker and Jeremiah Washington lead the show and 6-7 senior Rashaun Agee is a difference-maker. Julian transfer Antoine Bloxton earned rave reviews over the summer. Juniors Tremear Fraley and Kyndall Davis are both tall and strong.
5. Bloom: Huge upside. The core of four juniors, 6-6 Martice Mitchell, Keshawn Williams, Dante Maddox Jr. and Donovan Newby, will all play college ball. They have two years of varsity experience under their belts and it is time to start winning. The Blazing Trojans may be the best south suburban team in several years.
6. Bolingbrook: The senior backcourt of Joseph Yesufu (Drake) and Tyler Cochran (NIU) is seasoned and strong. Cam Leonard and Tyrique McMurrin are solid bigs. Keep an eye on Anthony Thompson, a transfer from Montini, and sophomore guard Kyonte Thomas.
7. Simeon: So young, but so talented. Seniors Kejuan Clements and Antonio Reeves provide a solid base. Sophomore Ahamad Bynum is expected to become one of the state’s breakout stars this season and freshmen AJ Casey and Jaylen Drane could be sensations. They each received USA Basketball invites this summer. Expect the Wolverines to be drastically better in March than in December.
8. Curie: Very talented but also a lot of unknowns. Kansas State recruit DaJuan Gordon, a 6-4 senior, came into his own late last season. Junior Ramean Hinton is talented and has a great motor. Fenwick transfer Damari Nixon joins the mix in a deep backcourt.
9. St. Viator: Another Division I backcourt. Jeremiah Hernandez (Kent State) and Trey Calvin (Wright State) will give the Lions an advantage in nearly every game. Junior Connor Kochera and Michael Huene had nice summers. Lack of depth could be an issue.
10. Oak Park: No superstar, but the Huskies are deep and experienced. Four seniors lead the way: Dashon Enoch, Charlie Hoehne, Anthony Roberts and Chase Robinson. Isaiah Barnes, a 6-6 sophomore, is an exciting talent. Keep an eye on sophomore Josh Smith.
11. Uplift: Markese Jacobs’ nickname is The Show for a reason. He has a solid supporting cast with DeAndre Vortes, Detalian Brown and Tavion Underwood. Big things are expected of freshman Davion McCarthy. Size could be an issue.
12. Leo: Huge expectations on 79th street. The Lions want the Class 2A state title. Fred Cleveland Jr. is terrific lead guard. Brothers DaChaun and Kendale Anderson are strong, tough rebounders. Junior guard Kevin Drumgoole should step up and play a major role.
13. Homewood-Flossmoor: Long and athletic with 6-4 Issac Stanback, 6-4 Maurion Scott, 6-5 RJ Ogom and Damen Trice. Big hopes for junior guard Josiah Palmer and 6-7 sophomore Chad Readey.
14. Waukegan: The Bulldogs were an enigma last season, finishing just 11-16. The talented, unrelated Browns (Bryant, Jordan, Ja’Dyn) are seniors now. Bryant Brown is a Player of the Year candidate. Andre White Jr., a talented pointed guard, transferred in from Harlem and could solve some problems. The most fascinating team in the area.
15. Oswego East: Senior guard RayJ Dennis, a Boise State recruit, is one of the state’s best scorers. The supporting cast has plenty of potential. Sam Schultz, a 6-6 junior, does a lot of things and should team well with 6-5 Kamron Battle. Guard Demari Grant transferred in from Bolingbrook and will be another scoring threat.
16. St. Rita: One of the area’s deepest and most experienced teams. Backcourt mates Joel Watts and Alec Millender are talented and experienced juniors. Jeremiah Oden, a 6-7 senior, is bursting with potential. Cameron Barman and Javon Cooley are long and battle tested. Keep an eye on 6-4 sophomore Reggie Ward.
17. Marian Catholic: Ahron Ulis became a star in March as he led the Spartans to Peoria. Senior Chris White, a 6-6 forward, is one of state’s hardest-working players. Juniors Jordan Breen and Elijah Jones will contribute.
18. Loyola: Connor Barrett is one of the state’s top shooters. Jordan and Bennett Kwiecinski, the 6-8 juniors, have continued to develop and will be Division I players. A lot could rest on point guard Quinn Pemberton’s shoulders.
19. Benet: Gene Heidkamp has serious talent this season. Senior Will Engels improved tremendously over the summer. Colin Crothers is a 6-8 force in the paint. Newcomer Kendrick Tchoua, a 6-6 senior, is an athletic Division I recruit.
20. Farragut: Junior Reggie Strong transferred to St. Joseph, which is a huge loss. But senior Aaron Strong is one of the city’s best scorers and the Admirals are finally healthy. Demetrius Schaffer, Edmund Forrest, Daniro Bolden and Derrick Clark are hard-nosed players.
21. DePaul Prep: Senior Perry Cowan is one of the state’s most productive players. He’s a scorer and leader that does it all on the court. Raheem Anthony, Lance Mosley and 6-5 Pavle Pantovic return. Watch 6-8 sophomore Brian Matthews. The ceiling is very high for the Rams.
22. Kenwood: Artese Stapleton and Lamond Johnson are extremely underrated seniors. Junior Seryee Lewis is long and athletic. Should be deep and will improve on last season.
23. Hillcrest: Morgan Park transfer Markeise Irving can score. Jeremiah Staten and Kenton Wright join him to form a nice backcourt. Senior Dylan West, a 6-5 forward is part of an underrated group of bigs.
24. Brother Rice: Loyola recruit Marquise Kennedy is a load but he will be expected to do a ton for the Crusaders. Junior Deandre Hagan could have a breakout season.
25. Notre Dame: Three young starters return in sophomores Anthony Sayles and Troy D’Amico and junior Jason Bergstrom.
Want to hear all about the Sun-Times’ preseason Super 25 basketball rankings? Michael O’Brien and Joe Henricksen go in-depth on all 25 teams in the latest episode of No Shot Clock, the Chicago high school basketball podcast. LISTEN HERE.