Michael Barr CarmelBarr helped Carmel raise the bar this season. The Corsairs, winners of 20-plus games for only the third time in school history, had one of their most successful seasons in years, thanks in large part to the versatility of Barr, a 6-foot-6 senior who has played in the post and at guard. "Michael is very effective at shooting the mid-range jumpshot," Carmel coach Tim Bowen said. "He has worked hard on his fundamental skills." Barr averaged 9.8 points and 6 rebounds per game this season.
Joe Borcia LibertyvilleDespite being frequently double- and triple-teamed in the post, the 6-foot-10 Borcia was tough to stop. He averaged 14.5 points and 10 rebounds per game, along with 3 assists and 2 blocks per game. "Joe has made great strides this year in becoming one of the better low post players in Lake County," Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. "With another year of development, Joe can be one of the top players in the area next season and a prospective Division I player." Borcia scored a season-high 31 points against Lincoln Park and put up 24 points and 17 rebounds against Warren.
Jalen Brunson StevensonCollege coaches from all over the country have their eye on Brunson, who has certainly given them an eyeful this season. Brunson, a junior who has 15 Division I offers already, is averaging 24.9 points per game and has drained a team-best 65 3-pointers. He poured in a school-record 57 points in a double-overtime victory over Lake Forest. He has scored 20 points or more in all but six of Stevenson's 27 games. He also led Stevenson, ranked among the best teams in the state all season, in assists with 4.8 assists per game. "He's exceptional. It's like he's super-human," Ambrose said of Brunson, who has broken six school records this season. "He can do whatever he wants. He's the best player in the state, in my mind."
Connor Cashaw StevensonWhile teammate Jalen Brunson might have the bigger name, Cashaw is convincing college coaches that his name is appropriate and he can indeed be "money" on the court. He's had some of his best games when coaches are in the stands to see Brunson. Cashaw had 24 points against Zion-Benton last month with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Illinois coach John Groce looking on. "Connor is just so versatile," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "He's a great player. Coach Izzo said, 'Wow, he is close to our level,' and he is. People have told us we have the best backcourt in the state. I don't disagree." Cashaw averaged 17.7 points, a team-best 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Aidan Einloth Grayslake NorthThere wasn't a position that Einloth didn't play for Grayslake North this season. The 6-foot-4 sophomore forward could go inside or out, rebound and handle the ball and was the Knights' leading scorer (14 ppg), rebounder (7 rpg), playmaker (4 apg) and most prolific 3-point shooter (45 3-pointers). "One of the most impressive things about Aidan this season is that he is only a sophomore and our only returning starter from last season, but he has welcomed a new and more demanding role after we graduated eight seniors from last year's team," Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh said. In a game against Hampshire, Einloth recorded Grayslake North's first-ever triple-double (26 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).
Jack George CarmelAt 6-foot-10, George has size on his side. Yet, some of his best attributes seem to come in spite of his size. "Jack has better skills than most kids that are 6-foot-10," Carmel coach Tim Bowen said. "He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and make quick moves to the basket. He can also hit the mid- to long-range jumpshot." George led Carmel in its breakout season in points and rebounding. He averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Eric Gillespie, WarrenGillespie had a lot on his plate, and no one appreciated that more than Warren head coach Ryan Webber. Webber counted on Gillespie to score, to direct the offense from the point guard position, to handle pressure and to play tough perimeter defense. All at the same time. "It is incredibly difficult to handle pressure, get your team into its offense and score a lot of points while being the main player that the opposing teams are trying to shut down," Webber said of his 5-foot-9 point guard. "Eric had an outstanding senior season." Gillespie rang up a team-high 82 3-pointers and scored 17.5 points per game. He also averaged 6 assists and 2 steals.
Matt Johnson StevensonA transfer from Batavia, Johnson spent last year adjusting to his new school. He spent this season forcing defenses to adjust to him. Johnson averaged 10.6 points per game and became the Patriots' 3-point specialist. He nailed 47 shots from downtown, second-best on the team. He's also known for his hard-nosed defense. "Matt did a lot of work in the summer to become a much more complete player," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "I knew he would be someone we could count on for defense, but he's also that kind of player on offense for us now, too."
Brad Kruse Lake ZurichKruse led Lake Zurich in points, just not the standard kind. "He led our team in 'hustle points,'" Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher said of Kruse. "That's offensive rebounds, deflections, loose balls, floorburns and charges. Brad is a coach's dream. He does every drill and every possession at 100 percent, and as if they might be his last. He also has played every position on the floor." Kruse was second on the team in scoring at 12 points per game and led the team in assists (2.1 apg) and steals (1.4 spg). Kruse had a season-high 28 points against Chicago King.
Jack Lipp LibertyvilleA shooting guard by nature, Lipp filled an important need for Libertyville at point guard. And he seemed as comfortable as could be. The 6-foot-3 senior averaged a team-high 15 points per game while also grabbing 4 rebounds per game and dishing out 6 assists per game. He did all this while taking on the bulk of the ball-handling duties. "Jack has been an all-around offensive force for us this year," Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. "A player who can play inside and out, Jack stepped up his game to be a 3-point shooter, a point guard and to play in the post when called upon." Lipp scored more than 30 points four times, with his season-high of 34 points coming against Mundelein. He also had more than 10 assists three times and more than 10 rebounds 10 times.
Matt Morrissey StevensonA star football player, Morrissey has proven to be a valuable asset to one of the best basketball teams in the state. Morrissey, who will be playing football at Michigan State next year, is the blue-collar, lunch-pail player that every team needs. The senior forward is averaging 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. One of the most valued parts of his game is his defense. Morrissey routinely guards the best players on opposing teams. "He guards the best of the best,'' Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "He guarded all those good players at (the) Proviso (West holiday tournament). He can do it all. I think he plays the ball in the air better than anyone."
Robbie Nardini Vernon HillsNardini spent this year breaking the records of some of the best basketball players in the history of Vernon Hills High School. Next year, he might wind up breaking his own records. Just a junior, Nardini set the single-season scoring record at Vernon Hills previously held by DaVaris Daniels (2010) and Matt Glees (2001). He also broke the school record for 3-pointers in a season with 67 and set the record for made free throws. "Robby is the heart and soul of our team," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "He can be a deep threat from the arc but he is also very good at penetrating the defense and finding creases to the basket that a lot of players do not find." In February, Nardini averaged 26.6 points over 7 games, with his most complete game coming against Warren. In that game, he scored 24 points and rolled up 4 assists and 2 steals.
Derek Parola MundeleinParola was arguably the most improved player in Lake County this season. The senior guard went from playing only a few minutes per game as a junior to ranking among the most prolific 3-point shooters in state history. Parola rolled up 122 3-pointers, which ties him at No. 13 on the IHSA list for most 3-pointers in a season. Parola nailed 38 percent of his 3-pointers and averaged 20.2 points per game. "It's not easy to go from just being a guy who runs into the game, stands in the corner and knocks down a few 3s to a guy who is counted on to score every night, even when teams are doing everything they can to stop you," Mundelein coach Corey Knigge said of Parola. "What he has done this year has been remarkable." Parola put up a season-high 38 points against Libertyville and Little Village on 12 and six 3-pointers, respectively. His 12 three-pointers against Libertyville ties him for third place in IHSA history for most 3-pointers in a game.
Mike Travlos Lake ZurichThere's not much that gives Travlos pause, at least not on the basketball court. "In our first game of the year against Chicago King, they were getting steals and dunks and our guys were tentative, but not Mike. He kept attacking and that mentality was contagious and led us to a victory. He was the only aggressive guy this year against Highland Park and Warren's zone, leading us to wins in those games as well. Mike is not afraid of any team or any moment." Travlos had plenty of big moments himself. He averaged a team-high 19.5 points per game and nailed 53 3-pointers, also best on the team. In the King game, Travlos rolled up a season-high 29 points.
Karnell Wright, Round LakeWright made plenty of right moves for Round Lake this season. The senior guard averaged 21.4 points per game with a season-high of 34 points against North Chicago, one of the top Class 3A teams in the state. After averaging nearly 16 points per game last year, Wright stands fifth in all-time scoring at Round Lake with 910 points. "Karnell has shown greatness this year with his scoring and his play," Round Lake coach Jeremy Fisher said. "He always has a smile on his face and he enjoys playing the game." That goes for all parts of the game. Wright also set the tone for Round Lake on defense. "He has a knack for seeing where the ball is going before it gets there, which has helped him create turnovers," Fisher said of Wright.
Player School Ht. Yr. Pos.
Michael Barr Carmel 6-6 Sr. Forward
Joe Borcia Libertyville 6-10 Jr. Center
* Jalen Brunson Stevenson 6-2 Jr. Guard
Connor Cashaw Stevenson 6-4 Jr. Guard
Aidan Einloth Grayslake North 6-4 So. Forward
Jack George Carmel 6-10 Sr. Center
Eric Gillespie Warren 5-9 Sr. Guard
Matt Johnson Stevenson 5-11 Jr. Guard
Brad Kruse Lake Zurich 6-4 Sr. Guard
Jack Lipp Libertyville 6-3 Sr. Guard
Matt Morrissey Stevenson 6-3 Sr. Forward
Robby Nardini Vernon Hills 5-10 Jr. Guard
Derek Parola Mundelein 6-0 Sr. Guard
Mike Travlos Lake Zurich 6-3 Jr. Guard
Karnell Wright Round Lake 6-1 Sr. Guard
* honorary captain
Honorable mentionG Charlie Anderson, sr., Grayslake Central, G Jake Balliu, jr., Lakes, C Ben Carlson, jr., Wauconda, F Adrian Deere, sr., Warren, G Dom DiProva, jr., Grayslake North, G Chris Duff, soph., Carmel, F Steve Dunning, sr., Grant, G Dion Head, sr., Wauconda, G AJ Marsiglio, sr., Antioch, F Will McClaughry, jr., Lake Zurich, G JT Michalski, sr., Mundelein, G Ryan Noda, sr., Grant, G Malcolm Reed, sr., Grayslake Central, F Ethan Sage, jr., Lakes
Selections and profiles by Patricia Babcock McGraw