MID-SUBURBAN WESTBarringtonCoach: Bryan Tucker
Last year: 14-14 (4th, MSL West)
Returning players: Blake Gosswein (6-0, G, Sr.), Jackson Perkins (6-7, C, Sr.), Eli Polovina (6-3, F, Sr.), Anthony Spann (6-0, G, Jr.), Bart Susol (6-3, F, Sr.).
Newcomers: Justin Alperin (6-1, G, Jr.), Jason Boock (6-2, F, Soph.), Connor Dykes (6-1, F, Jr.), Connor Larson (6-3, F, Jr.), Miles Lester (6-1, F, Jr.), Connor Mahoney (6-2, G, Jr.), Ray Niro (5-10, G, Jr.), Jack Reinhard (6-6, C, Jr.), Jake Parsons (6-3, F, Jr.)
Key losses: Ben Weber, Will Reinhard, Mickey O'Donnell, Brett Budzak, Ethan Small, Justin Speigel, Sawyer Smith
Outlook: Barrington will have a deep scoring hole to climb out of this season after losing 46 points per game to graduation. But the Broncos probably won't need much a ladder, as it boasts one of the tallest squads in the MSL West. The Broncos feature six players that stand at 6-foot-3 or better and are led by returnee 6-7 Jackson Perkins, 6-3 Eli Polovina and 6-3 Bart Susol. Blake Gosswein and Anthony Spann figure to have big backcourt roles. "We do have a couple of tall kids," coach Bryan Tucker said. "But we are also young and inexperienced. We only return Perkins and Spann. They are the only guys who played a lot and who can score the basket. That gives lots of other people some opportunities."
ConantCoach: Tom McCormack
Last year: 23-7 (1st in MSL West); won regional and sectional; lost in supersectional
Returning players: Jimmy Sotos (6-3, G, Sr.), Ben Schols (6-3, G, Sr.), Ryan Davis (6-8, F, Jr.), Mike Downing (6-7, F, Sr.), Danny Ranallo (6-3, F, Sr.), C.J. Deschazer (6-0, G, Sr.)
Newcomers: Raj Mittal (6-4, F, Soph.), Jonathan Kolev (6-5, F, Soph.)
Key losses: Brandon Vinson, Chima Oduocha, Palmer Graham
Outlook: The sky is the limit for Conant this year. The Cougars welcome back the core of the MSL championship team and a team that advanced to the supersectionals. "I think everybody has some pretty high expectations for us," Conant coach Tom McCormack said. "The only pressure we are putting ourselves right now is the same thing we do every year, and that is that we want to be playing our best at state tournament time." Jimmy Sotos leads the way for the Cougars. The four-year starter recently signed to attend Bucknell and averaged 16.5 points and 4.5 assists per game to help lead the Cougars to their first MSL title since 2008. He will be joined on the front line by 6-foot-8 Ryan "Big Country" Davis, 6-7 Mike Downing along with Danny Ranallo, Ben Schols and C.J. Deshazer. The Cougars also have a pair of large sophomores in Raj Mittal and Jonathan Kolev to give them some depth. "It is a long race during the course of the season," McCormack said. "We just want to be at full strength and playing our best basketball come the end of February."
FremdCoach: Bob Widlowski
Last year: 22-7, (2nd MSL West), regional champs
Returning players: Kyle Sliwa ( 6-0, G, Sr.), Shaan Patel (6-5, F, Sr.), Brian Dompke (6-5, F, Sr.), Luke Schoffstall 6-0, F, G), Ryan Martin (6-2, G, Jr.), Mark Kating (6-5, F, Sr.), KJ Jackson (6-0, G, Sr.), Brock Rubin (6-0, G, Sr.), Austin Schwantz (6-3, F, Sr.), Owen Lang (6-2, F, Sr.).
Newcomers: Bryce Hopkins (6-3, F, Soph.), Greg Cano (6-3, F., Jr.), Elliott Kim (6-1, G, Jr.), Luke Seidel (6-0, G, Jr.), Isaiah Turner (6-0, G, Jr.), Zach Zimmer (6-0, G, Jr.), Jake Schmeling (6-1, G, Jr.)
Key losses: Pat Benka, Payton Kim
Outlook: The Vikings are looking to build off the regional title they won last year, before bowing out of the playoffs to Lake Zurich in a 1-point loss. Fremd will need to replace all-area players in Pat Benka, who averaged 12.5 points, and Payton Kim, who averaged 8.3 points. Coach Bob Widlowski will have a senior-dominated group and as usual figures to go 9 or 10 deep. Kyle Sliwa, who was also all-area a year ago and averaged 10.9 points per game, will be running the show for the Vikings. A three-year starter, Sliwa can both dish and shoot. Brian Dompke, who saw lots of action last season along with Shaan Patel, gives Fremd some size up front. Mark Kating, Austin Schwantz and sophomore Bryce Hopkins also figure to give Widlowski some help on the boards. The Vikings also like to go to a three-guard set, so Luke Schofstall and Ryan Martin figure to see lots of action along with KJ Jackson and Brock Rubin. "We have a nice mix of returning players with newcomers for 2016-17," Widlwoski said. "Our senior leadership will be a key to this year's success."
Hoffman EstatesCoach: Luke Yanule
Last year: 13-18 (4th MSL West)
Returning players: Errick Delany, (6-4, F, Sr) Sam Mwangi (6-0, G, Sr.), Ryan McCurry (6-3, F, Sr.), Micaiah Hill (6-0, F, Sr.), Marshall Davis (6-0, G, Jr.)
Newcomers: Adrian Punzalan, (5-11, G Jr.), James Allen (6-3, F, Jr.), Brendan Thompson (6-4, F, Jr.), Julian Pablo (5-11,G, Jr.), Marquez Woodard (5-11, G, Soph.), Rudra Patel (6-2, G, Soph.), William Nune (6-2, G,, Jr.), Cristian Fernandez (6-0, G,, Jr.), Konnor Lancor (5-11, F, Jr.), Marcell Boclair (5-10, G, Jr.)
Key losses: Jorden Thornton, Dante Cleveland, Brandon Hall, Michael Johnson, Lamont McIntosh, Terry Davis, Byron Williams, CJ Stevens, Konrad Kieruzal, Malik Blackwell
Outlook: The Hawks will be looking for more buckets. That's because it will be almost a complete rebuild for Hoffman Estates this year, especially after losing 4-year starter Jorden Thornton, who scored over 1,200 points in his career. The Hawks graduated 10 players from last year's squad and return only Marshall Davis, who average 2 points last season. "We look forward to restocking," Hoffman coach Luke Yanule said. "And we look forward to preparing for another year in the always tough and highly competitive MSL West." Yanule is very high on junior point guard Adrian Punzalan, who will be joining Davis in the backcourt. Also look for sophomores Marquez Woodward and Rudra Patel to log plenty of minutes along with Julian Pablo when the Hawks want to go small and quick. That type of play propelled Hoffman to a first-round upset of St. Viator in the playoffs before the Hawks bowed out in the regional finals. Errick Delaney, Ryan McCurry, James Allen and Brendan Thomson give the Hawks some size inside when needed.
PalatineCoach: Eric Millstone
Last year: 17-13 (3rd in MSL West)
Returning players: Johnny O'Shea (6-3, F, Jr.), Scott Elter (6-0, F, Sr.), Malik Harding (5-10, G, Sr.), Matt Garner (5-8, G, Sr.), Mackenzie Balanganayi (6-3, F, Sr.), Dylan Tapia (6-1, G, Sr.), Josh Turner (5-11, G, Sr.), Zach Oles (5-11, F, Sr.).
Newcomers: Lamon Berry (6-0, G, Jr.), Jake Moertl (5-11, G, Jr.), Evan Daly (5-11, G, Jr.), Luke Garrett (5-10, G, Jr.), Leo Donlin (6-5, F, Jr.), Martize Walker (5-11, F, Jr.), AJ Grana (6-0, F, Jr.), Sean Dell (5-11, G, Jr.), John DiBiasilio (5-10, G, Jr.), Cortez Hogans (6-3, F, Jr.), David Balanganayi (6-3, F, Soph.)
Key losses: Matt Ulrich, Charlie Van Dyke, Chris Refka, Jovone Stricker, Matt Mayer
Outlook: It is a double-edged sword for Palatine and coach Eric Millstone. For the second consecutive year, the Pirates are in the state football semifinals. But that will again slow the development of the basketball team, which could have as many as 10 players affected. "Obviously with football still going on, we have a lot of things still up in the air," Millstone said. "We still don't know who's even coming out for basketball." Millstone, who has been a huge supporter of the football program and what it has done for the school, is also very aware how it helps his program. Despite the slow start last year, Palatine finished in third in the MSL West with a 17-13 overall record. "We won a handful of close games last year and I really think that all those football kids and multi-sport guys being in a bunch of competitive situations really carried over to the basketball season." Millstone will have huge holes to fill after losing nearly 32 points in scoring average to graduation. He does welcome back Johnny O'Shea, who averaged 7.1 points as a sophomore last year. Scotty Elter is also back after sitting out last season with an ACL injury but Zach Oles won't return for a while after breaking his collarbone on the football field.
SchaumburgCoach: Wade Heisler
Last year: 6-23 (6th MSL West)
Returning players: Aaron Kline (6-1, G, Sr.), Kameron Powell (6-2, F, Sr.), Daniel Pyde (6-2, F, Sr), Dakari Ferguson (5-11, G, Sr.), Heze Trotter (6-1, G, Soph.).
Newcomers: Zack Zolen (5-9, G, Jr.), Byron Price (5-9, G, Jr.), Jerry Clark (6-0, G, Jr.), Brandon Barber (5-10, G, Jr.), Jake Schneider (5-10, G, Jr.), Dom Tyler (5-10, G, Jr.), Lucas Helton (6-1, F, Jr.), Nav Vala (5-9, G, Jr.), Davis Drs (6-2 F, Jr.), Michael Hodges 6-1, F, Soph.).
Key losses: Jason Schoo, Kenny Travis, Eric Rushing, Sam Smith
Outlook: The Saxons will be lacking height but sure look deep on speed and athleticism this season. Because of that, figure to see opponents challenged up and down the court by a starting group of four seniors that should be mixed in with some very speedy underclassmen. The lack of height doesn't bother Schaumburg coach Wade Heisler. "What is lacked in size will be made up in speed," Heisler said. "They play extremely hard." With Aaron Kline (10.6 ppg) and Kameron Powell (10.4 ppg), the Saxons have the two top scorers back as they look to improve from last year. Schaumburg will also have sophomore Heze Trotter, who started for the Saxons most of last season as a freshman. "We are looking for a strong progression from him," Heisler said. The Saxons will also have Dakari Ferguson and Daniel Pyde back, giving Heisler some experience. "We have some very key pieces returning," Heisler said. "With that and enthusiasm combined with hard work, the Saxons expect to compete in conference."