Aarias Austin Warren
His initials are A.A., but maybe Austin should have gone by B.B. this year, for the clutch buzzer beaters he hit for Warren. Austin's under-the-wire heroics lifted the Blue Devils to victories over two of the best teams in the North Suburban Conference, Mundelein and Lake Forest. "Aarias was our team MVP," Warren coach Ryan Webber said. "What I will remember most about Aarias was his fearlessness in big games. He wanted to take the big shot. He also handled the ball under great pressure and scored at a high level for us." Austin, a senior guard, averaged 14 points per game and also dished out 5 assists per game.
Cullen Barr Carmel
Many high school players like to shoot 3-pointers, and Barr was no different. However, at 6-foot-6, Barr knew going into his senior year that he had to also use his size in order to help Carmel to the fullest. "He worked hard in the off season and came in with a determined mindset to be a tough, strong inside player who can score in a variety of ways around the basket," Carmel coach Tim Bowen said. "And he could still shoot the three, which he did many times this year." Barr averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, was efficient from 3-point range and had multiple double-doubles on the season. "He takes rebounding as seriously as any player I have ever coached," Bowen said. "He is one of the hardest working kids I have ever coached."
Justin Bergeron Lakes
Attention all young players in the Lakes district. See if you can get your hands on some game footage of Bergeron. Watching him closely could put you ahead of the curve. "Justin is a guy I would want all younger kids in the area to watch and try to play like," Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. "He is the hardest-working kid I have coached. He's always been a starter, but is always working as if he's trying to prove something. He has won our Hustle Stat Award for the last two years and is a lock to win it again this year. He truly sets the example for the type of player a program needs in order to be successful." Bergeron, a three-year starter and senior forward, averaged 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He scored double-figures in 20-plus games and hit the game-winner in the Eagles' upset win over state-ranked North Chicago. Bergeron will be playing football next season at Winona State.
Jalen Brunson Stevenson
Brunson is more of a doer than a talker on the court. And usually, the talented sophomore point guard also leaves his defenders speechless with his shifty moves to the basket and his clutch shooting. But even Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose has a hard time finding the words sometimes to describe Brunson's impact on the team, which won its first North Suburban Conference title in 21 years this season under his savvy direction. "There's not much I can say, really," Ambrose said. "He's a first-team all-stater in many people's minds. He can do it all on the court. He's got it all together." Brunson led Stevenson in scoring with 21.6 points per game. He also was tops in 3-pointers with 50 and in assists (3.8 apg) and steals (2.3 spg).
Connor Cashaw Stevenson
What could be next? Cashaw was a promising freshman last year. Now, he's a sought-after Division I recruit, and he still has two more high school seasons to go. "Connor exploded this year," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "He is calm and cool and he has sky-high potential for the next level." Cashaw, a 6-foot-3 guard who can play both on the perimeter and in the post, scored 16 points per game while connecting on nearly 50 percent of his shots. He also led the Patriots with 7 rebounds per game. "He is a versatile, tough player and can shoot and drive just as well."
Direll Clark Lakes
Although football is his first sport, Clark never neglected his game on the hardwood. In fact, early in his career, Clark worked extra hard in the offseason on his jump shot to make himself more versatile. "From his freshman year to now, Direll is a much better shooter," Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. "This has made him a much more effective player as opponents have had to honor his shot as well as his strong drives to the rim." A three-year varsity starter, Clark led the Eagles in scoring (12.5 ppg) en route to a school-record 24 wins and a regional championship. He also averaged 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals per game. Clark, a star running back, will play football next season at Winona State.
Stephen Curry Vernon Hills
Put a little Curry in your dish and you often wind up with an assist. Curry averaged a team-leading 3.5 assists per game and has finished his four-year varsity career as the all-time leader in assists for Vernon Hills. In a game against Round Lake, the senior guard tied a school record for most assists in a game with 10. "Stephen is also one of the best rebounding guards I've ever coached," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "He is at his best when he grabs a defensive rebound and distributes the ball to his teammates in the open floor." Curry also averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Chino Ebube Mundelein
With his skills and athleticism, Ebube is the kind of player who can easily influence what happens on the court during the course of a game. He also seemed to influence what happened in the stands this season. Known for his propensity for throwing down multiple dunks in a game, Ebube helped the Mustangs draw quite a following. "Chino is the most electric player I have ever coached," Mundelein coach Dick Knar said. "He got people to come to our games just to see what he would do next." In a game against Warren this season, Ebube treated fans to 11 dunks. Yes, 11. Ebube has rolled up more than 60 dunks on the season. The 6-foot-4 forward, who will be playing at Missouri S&T next year, put up other big numbers. He is averaging 19 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
AJ Fish Grayslake North
Fish was no one-trick pony. The senior guard worked to expand his game last summer and it showed this season. "He has really worked on becoming more of a complete player," Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said. "Ever since his freshman year, he has had the ability to get to the basket, but this season he has had a ton of success with his mid-range jumper and posting up. If the defense is going to take away one of his strengths, he is willing to adjust and find different ways of scoring or setting up his teammates." Fish, a three-time Fox Valley Conference selection, scored a team-leading 21.4 points per game, with a career-high 33 points against Crystal Lake South. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Brought up to the varsity for 11 games as a freshman, Fish finishes his career with 1,202 points. He will play for the Virginia lacrosse team next year.
Danny Mateling Grayslake North
A scorer for Grayslake North, Mateling was also in charge making the opposition's best player less of a scorer. "We have asked Danny to do so much for us this season," Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said. "He is as good of a leader as it gets. He always leads the way with work ethic. He is one of our top scorers, by far our best 3-point shooter and always guards the opposing team's best player. The kid just lives basketball and makes all of his teammates better as a result." Mateling, a senior guard, averaged 12.5 points per game and also hit 42 percent of his 3-pointers. He finished with 53 long-range bombs on the season.
Sean O'Brien Mundelein
A point guard early in his career, O'Brien's adept outside shooting and swift ball-handling skills have come through loud and clear even as his frame grew to its current size of 6-foot-7. "Sean has transformed his game over his career," Mundelein coach Dick Knar said. "He is so multi-faceted and he does it on both ends of the floor. He can shoot, he has guard skills and he can go inside and rebound. On defense, he can guard bigs and guards." O'Brien, a senior forward who got a full ride to play at Southern Illinois next year, is averaging a double-double for Mundelein this year at 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He also rolls up 6.1 assists per game with his career-high of 17 assists coming during a regular season game against Wauconda. O'Brien, also a big shot-blocker, recorded 5 triple-doubles this season as well.
Danny Reed Grayslake Central
Points didn't come easily for Grayslake Central this season. So Reed, the Rams' one consistent scorer, became the focal point of every opponent. "Yet, he continued to score for us while playing nearly every minute of every game," Grayslake Central coach Brian Moe said. "I wish a three-year varsity starter would have had a more successful team season, but Danny has been a true leader by example, coming to practices and games every day trying to help our team get better." Reed, a senior guard, averaged 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. One of his best games came in an overtime win over Crystal Lake Central in which he poured in 31 points while playing all 36 minutes.
Ryan Roach Lake Zurich
As far as Roach knew, he was playing basketball. But some of the physical encounters he was involved in this season made it feel more like he was on the football team. "Ryan is a tough kid. He always sacrificed himself and his body for the team," Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher said. "There were a couple charges he took this year that I had to take him out of the game for a while because he got hit so hard." Roach led Lake Zurich with 14 charges. He also topped the team in assists (89) and steals (38) while averaging 9 points per game. Roach, a senior, started every game at point guard for the Bears over the last two years before suffering an injury two weeks ago. "He's been the glue for our team and will be very hard to replace," Pitcher said.
Andrew Stempel Stevenson
On a team that gets much of its firepower from underclassmen, Stempel provides valuable senior leadership and savvy, not to mention plenty of firepower of his own. "He is the anchor to our team," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said of his senior shooting guard. "He's been a steady rock for us, a vocal leader on and off the floor." Stempel averages 10.8 points per game and is second on the team with 45 3-pointers. He is efficient from long range, hitting his 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip. Stempel also averages nearly 5 rebounds per game.
Austin Swenson Wauconda
Swenson is now 2-for-2. The senior guard put together an all-area basketball campaign just months after making the all-area football team. Swenson, the Bulldogs' quarterback, passed for more than 1,800 yards in the fall. Before long, he had fully switched gears and was averaging 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game. "Austin is a special scorer," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschawger said . "He can score in the post or on the perimeter. He also has great vision. He sees the whole floor and knows where his teammates are going to be. When he is able to play at his speed, watch out." Swenson will play playing football next year at Rose-Hulman University.
Player School Pos. Yr.
Aarias Austin Warren PG Sr.
Cullen Barr Carmel Catholic F Sr.
Justin Bergeron Lakes F Sr.
Jalen Brunson Stevenson PG So.
Connor Cashaw Stevenson G So.
Direll Clark Lakes F Sr.
Stephen Curry Vernon Hills G Sr.
Chino Ebube Mundelein F Sr.
A.J. Fish Grayslake North F Sr.
Danny Mateling Grayslake North G Sr.
* Sean O'Brien Mundelein G/F Sr.
Danny Reed Grayslake Central G Sr.
Ryan Roach Lake Zurich G Sr.
Andy Stempel Stevenson F Sr.
Austin Swenson Wauconda G Sr.
Joe Borcia (Libertyville So. C), Adrian Deere (Warren Jr. F), Cliff Dunigan (Mundelein Sr. F), Tyler Innis (Antioch Sr. G), Jake Kohler (Lakes Sr. F), Jack Lipp (Libertyville Jr. G), Keion Miller (Grant Sr. F), James Mobley (Round Lake Fr. F), Matt Morrissey (Stevenson Jr. F), Ryan Noda (Grant Jr. G), Troy Swindle (Lakes Sr. PG), Kodey Thomas (Wauconda Sr. F), Mike Travlos (Lake Zurich So. G), Karnell Wright (Round Lake Jr.G)
Selections and profiles by Patricia Babcock McGraw