Dandy dozen: Early look at top teams for next season

Homewood-Flossmoor's Trace Williams (5) tries to cut off the lane from Bloom's Dante Maddox Jr. (12) (12), Tuesday 03-05-19. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times
Homewood-Flossmoor's Trace Williams (5) tries to cut off the lane from Bloom's Dante Maddox Jr. (12) (12), Tuesday 03-05-19. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times

With the 2018-2019 season in the books, it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are a dozen teams (listed alphabetically) who will surely be heard from next season.

BLOOM

2018-2019: 26-4, lost in 4A sectional semifinal.

Key losses: Losing the inside senior tandem of Emani Burgess and Kevin Vance will be felt.

What’s back: The heralded Class of 2020 in Chicago Heights, which includes 6-9 Martice Mitchell and guards Keshawn Williams, Donovan Newby and Dante Maddox, will finally be seniors. It’s the season they’ve been waiting for, and the Blazing Trojans will be in contention to be preseason No. 1.

BOGAN

2018-2019: 30-4, lost in 3A state championship.

Key losses: The 1-2 punch of guard Jordan Booker and all-state big man Rashaun Agee departs.

What’s back: Antoine Bloxton exploded on the scene late in the year and returns. Kyndal Davis, Darrion Jones, 6-8 Tremear Fraley and 6-8 Kennedy Brown are all back and will have bigger roles.

CURIE

2018-2019: 35-2, lost in 4A state semifinal.

Key losses: There is a lot of production to replace. Sun-Times Player of the Year DaJuan Gordon is off to Kansas State and the trio of Damari Nixon, Trevon Hamilton and Justin Harmon had big senior years.

What’s back: Ramean Hinton, a 6-4 high-energy wing, put together an outstanding junior season. The sophomore team reached the the city championship game this past season.

EVANSTON

2018-2019: 32-5, lost in 4A state championship.

Key losses: Veteran guard and leading scorer Lance Jones graduates, along with under-appreciated guards Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost.

What’s back: The sophomore class will be a year older and better, led by sharpshooter Blake Peters, promising 6-5 Louis Lesmond, 6-3 Jaylin Gibson and guard Isaiah Holden.

HILLCREST

2018-2019: 21-10, lost in 3A sectional semifinal.

Key losses: Dylan West had a productive senior season and his size and presence inside will need to be replaced.

What’s back: There is firepower with sophomores Mar’Keise Irving, Kenton Wright and 6-5 Julius Rollins all back after gaining a ton of varsity experience.

MARIAN CATHOLIC

2018-2019: 27-5, lost in 4A sectional semifinal

Key losses: The Spartans will lose some size and length in senior Chris White and a defensive presence in senior Breion Hill.

What’s back: A talented junior class features all-stater Ahron Ulis in the backcourt. The trio of guard Joe Green, who had a breakout season, 6-5 Elijah Jones and Yemi Elitulo are all back.

MORGAN PARK

2018-2019: 29-5, lost in sectional championship.

Key losses: Rim protector Karl Jones and 6-4 wing DeShawndre Washington will have to be replaced.

What’s back: The top-ranked junior prospect in the state is back in high-scoring guard Adam Miller, a top 25 prospect in the country. His running mate in the backcourt, jet-quick junior Marcus Watson, also returns. In addition to “what’s back” is what’s coming as it’s expected that transfers Brandon Weston, a 6-4 wing, who attended Lake Forest Academy, and 6-8 Seryee Lewis from Kenwood — a pair of Division I prospects — will be eligible at Morgan Park next season.

NOTRE DAME

2018-2019: 19-12, lost in regional championship.

Key losses: Personnel losses were minimal for coach Kevin Clancy.

What’s back: Anthony Sayles, an athletic guard, and versatile 6-6 Troy D’Amico, a standout face-up shooter with size, are two of the top sophomores in the state. Also returning are 6-3 shooter Jason Bergstrom and guard Jimmy Murphy.

SIMEON

2018-2019: 20-15, lost in 4A super-sectional

Key losses: Leading scorer Antonio Reeves and point guard Kejuan Clements move on.

What’s back: Arguably the most star-studded young group of players in the state is back, including super sophomore guard Ahamad Bynum and a pair of big-time freshmen –– 6-9 AJ Casey and point guard Jaylen Drane.

STEVENSON

2018-2019: 27-6, lost in 4A super-sectional.

Key losses: Steady point guard Luke Chieng graduates.

What’s back: There are a lot of pieces returning, led by 6-3 junior Matthew Ambrose on the perimeter. Robert Holmes provides size a 6-5 and put together a nice junior season, while guard John Ittuounas and wing Matt Kaznikov are returning starters. Sophomore point guard Evan Ambrose gained varsity experience.

ST. LAURENCE

2018-2019: 27-6, lost in 3A sectional semifinal.

Key losses: Lance Jackson and Billy Rappold were productive, under-appreciated seniors for the Vikings the past season.

What’s back: Do-it-all Jeremiah Williams will be the focal point after an all-state junior season. Finn Walsh and Trey Davis are a pair of junior guard with scoring capability.

YOUNG

2018-2019: 25-8, lost in Class 4A sectional championship

Key losses: Myles Baker, a jack-of-all-trades guard, and unheralded 6-6 Keenon Jones graduate.

What’s back: DJ Steward, a high-major college prospect and top 100 talent nationally, is an elite player. Steward will combine with Tyler Beard to form one of the best tandems in the state.

15 comments

  • Marian Alum

    Hello group! Marian Catholic doesn’t recruit and Mike Taylor has won year after year because he can coach. They lost their leading scorer from the previous season and won 26&27 games respectively.

  • Will Bradford

    These comment sections have gone to the toilet. It is really sad that the knowledgable people have flown the coop.

  • Keeping it thorough

    CPS schools take the bulk of the heat but Catholic and Suburban schools recruit also. If anyone ever wonders why schools that were once good all of a sudden become bad it’s because the guy that actively recruited was replaced by a guy that didn’t.

    There is no magical formula to it. It essentially comes down to that individual coach’s willingness to go after players.

    Those that do not actively recruit players more often than not run losing programs.

    That is the case whether they are coaching in CPS, CCL, or one of the Suburban conf. Doesn’t much matter. Results will be the same.

  • B-Ball Fan

    Its’ Funny myself included talk about the recruiting of players in CPS but I found out a little known fact. Bellville west had 3 transfers this year from Christian Brothers a St. Louis Catholic school. E St. Louis 3A champions had players that transferred from Cahokia one, in particular, Mr. Hargrove who played out of his mind against Bogan. The IHSA has to now approve transfers, not just the school districts. If anyone gets a chance go look at how the MHSAA Michigan High school association views transfers it will make some of you want to kill the IHSA for its weak rules. THOMAS KITHIER for Michigan State the 6-8 freshmen will play in the final four this weekend but last season at Clarkston H.S in Michigan was ruled ineligible to play his senior year of H.S because the MHSAA determined he transferred from Macomb Dakota H.S to Clarkston just for basketball to play with two AAU buddies. Clarkston won state but he didnt play one minute. When the IHSA starts doing stuff like his you will see a big change.

  • reason

    I had a discussion with a guy at the state tourney he said that he was an expert on CPS hoops so I asked him if all the hoop players in the city went to their local HS and not were recruited to pass several HS in the morning then which HS school would be the strongest and not to my surprise he could not answer because nobody knows and it is WAY to early to predict who will be the best because as many have said the recruiting process with the AAU recruiting BANDITS has just begun.

  • catie murphy

    Mr. Henricksen. I know you are busy.
    But the guard you should of mentioned who was a junior starter this year at Notre Dame College Prep, was my brother Jimmy Murphy. Not Joey Tanien. Jimmy led the team in assists and steals. He also played great defense all year. I am just looking out for my little brother. He loves to play. If he knew I was bugging you, he would be mad.

  • West sub fan

    The AAU season is where all the back room recruiting deals are done
    More access to the kids from the suburbs too
    Please challenge that one Simeon and Young

  • Gerry

    Have the CPS schools completed their recruiting for next year?

    • Gems

      Have people stop crying about transfers every week?

      • SSH

        Why would they stop? It’s a joke so it should be talked about. Not embraced like mike and joe do…but discussed.

    • TSmith

      I guess the non CPS school coaches just roam the halls looking for potential players. Non-CPS Coach : “Hey kid, if you’re not doing anything tomorrow, why don’t you just stop by the gym after classes for tryouts?” Lmfao. Everyone recruits these same kids. Problem is that the youth now see the significance of having culturally competent caring, responsible adults during their adolescent stage of life. The parents have also realized that some of these CPS schools have the same academic rigor as others and the ice is just as cold. lmfao.

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