The Lake County All-Area Team
Matthew Ambrose StevensonThe cancellation of the rest of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on the eve of the Patriots' sectional final, proved especially costly for the 6-foot-3 senior guard. Ambrose was closing in on 1,000 career points and was coming off a sectional semifinal in which he scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Patriots past Zion-Benton. A three-year varsity starter and repeat all-area selection, he averaged a team-best 12. 2 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game, despite being slowed by a knee injury for the first half of the season. He missed 11 games last season due to a broken finger and four games his sophomore season. "Incredible IQ," coach Pat Ambrose said of his oldest son, who finished as a top-10 scorer in program history. "Great leader and teammate." Ambrose will continue his basketball career at the University of Indianapolis (Division II).
Trey Baker MundeleinReunited with several players who were his teammates before high school, the junior transfer, perhaps not surprisingly, fit in seamlessly. "He was the perfect complement," coach Matt Badgley said, on a junior-laden team that won a school-record 30 games. The 5-foot-9 guard, who grew up in Mundelein but played for Stevenson as a freshman and sophomore, was a Day-1 starter for the Mustangs and made an immediate impact with his perimeter shooting and ballhandling. He averaged 14.8 points per game and was at his best in a regional-semifinal win over Wheeling, as he scored a career-high 42 points, knocking down 12 3-pointers. "He gave us that 2 guard who could shoot it," Badgley said, "and shoot it well."
Jack Barszcz Vernon HillsAs a 6-foot-5, 190-pound wide receiver, the senior was tough to defend on the football field. He was an even more difficult matchup on the basketball court. Barszcz's breakout hoops season included three 30-point efforts, including a career-high 33 against Oak Forest, and a game-winning 3-pointer in the waning seconds at Maine East. Coach Matt McCarty called the latter his favorite moment of the season. Barszcz averaged team bests of 16.9 points (557 points, third all-time in school history) and 6.8 rebounds per game. He also led the Cougars in made 3s. He tallied 30 points and 13 rebounds in the Cougars' regional-semifinal win over Ridgewood. "[The performance] epitomized how much he has done for us all season long," McCarty said. "Jack was a tough matchup for teams because of his ability to use his strength to score around the basket and his soft touch from the arc. He also finishes extremely well with his left hand. All of this put together allows him to score in a variety of ways."
Nick Bulgarelli WaucondaThe junior forward has been flashing his athletic ability and maturity since he was a freshman on the varsity basketball team. His averages of 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game this winter helped the Bulldogs put together their best season in school history. He scored a career-high 22 points against North Chicago. "Nick did a little of everything for us this year," said coach Scott Luetschwager, whose Bulldogs won a school-record 23 games and their first regional title. "At the end of last year we moved Nick from the 4 to the 3. Early in the season I had to go back on my promise of keeping him solely at the 3. During certain situations we would move him back to the 4 to help against pressure and help our transition game. On the wing, he was active for us coming up with deflections (64) and steals (55). His pressure helped set the tone for our defense." The varsity's starting quarterback the last two years, the 6-foot-3 Bulgarelli was an all-area football selection last fall.
Donovan Carter WaucondaHe's the best scorer in program history and an even better student (4.8 GPA, 30 ACT). A three-time all-area selection, the 6-foot-4 senior guard led the Bulldogs to their best season in school history (school-record 23 wins, first regional title and sectional win, share of the Northern Lake County Conference title). He averaged a career- and area-best 20.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He shot 43 % from three-point range (88 of 206) and 87 % from the free-throw line (93 of 107). He piled up a single-season school-record 621 points and will graduate as the school's all-time leading scorer (1,535 points). "We preached to our players to impact the game," coach Scott Luetschwager said. "Donovan led by example. He wasn't just going to be a scorer. He was also going to mix it up down low and rebound."
Scottie Ebube MundeleinAt 6 feet 8 and pushing 240 pounds, the athletic junior fills up the lane. He fills up the stat sheet, too. Ebube averaged 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, and was a feared shot blocker. A repeat all-area selection, he helped the Mustangs win 30 games and advance to a sectional final. The third-year varsity player scored a season-high 25 points against Conant. "A lot of big kids that have always been the biggest kid don't ever really know how good they can be," coach Matt Badgley said. "When he starts to figure out how good he can be -- and wants to be that good -- it's going to be at another level that we haven't seen." Ebube has offers from Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Cleveland State and Miami of Ohio.
Gavin Eldridge AntiochThe 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward never shied away from the big moment. He had a pair of games where he took the last shot as time ran out for the win. He scored 11 of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sequoits past host Lakes. The two-year varsity starter averaged a team-best 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He shot 51 % from the field. "A great leader and he performed at a very high level for his team this year," coach Tim Bowen said. "Clearly the team leader and had several games with double-double stats. Exciting player and will be missed."
Conor Enright MundeleinHis sophomore season was better than his freshman season. His junior season was better than his sophomore season. His senior season? Who knows what the 6-foot-2, 166-pound junior point guard is capable of achieving? What's certain is that Enright keeps raising his game. The captain of the Lake County All-Area Team, he led the Mustangs to a school-record 30 wins and sectional-final berth. With 30-foot-plus range on his jumper, while also able to penetrate and get to the rim, he averaged 14.5 points and 6 assists per game. He scored a career-high 27 points against Libertyville. He verbally committed to Drake University before the start of the season. "There was a point in the last quarter of the season where Conor had developed an ability to be able to take over a game," said coach Matt Badgley, noting a four-game stretch in early February when Enright produced consecutive games of 22, 24, 23 and 22 points. "We were able to see the flow and pace of the game [together]. It was like a point guard/head coach eye-contact thing. It was like, 'OK, (Conor). Do it.' "
Grant Hardy Grayslake CentralThe 6-foot-7, 208-pound Hardy had a hearty appetite -- for success. And satisfied it. "Grant was an incredibly important part of our 18-win season," coach Brian Centella said. "He impacted the game on both ends of the floor." The senior forward/center averaged 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, providing the Rams with an important inside presence. The two-year varsity starter poured in a career-high 23 points against Grayslake North. "Grant saw double-teams all season and always made the unselfish play," Centella said. "He was a tremendous leader for us and one of the best defensive players in the county."
RJ Holmes StevensonThe 6-foot-6 senior was recognized as one of two winners in a national slam-dunk contest (online voting) at the end of the season. Truth is, he did more than produce highlight dunks in his two seasons as a varsity starter. He rebounded, scored, blocked shots, altered shots -- and won. Holmes averaged 9.6 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block per game for the North Suburban Conference champs and 28-game winners. He opened the season by scoring a career-high 25 points against Elk Grove en route to being named tourney MVP at Palatine. "Incredible athlete who is really smart," coach Pat Ambrose said. "Anchors our defense with his huge blocks."
John Ittounas StevensonIttounas had the "It" factor. The Patriots' top wing defender, the 6-foot-3 senior was consistent at both ends of the court in his two seasons as a varsity starter. "Johnny Buckets, Johnny Steady," coach Pat Ambrose called the guard after his second of back-to-back games of 18 points against Mundelein and Libertyville, respectively, in mid-January. Ittounas averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He had his first double-double (career-high 21 points, 10 rebounds) as the Patriots beat Lake Forest in late February to avenge their only North Suburban Conference loss. "Super steady and a great ballhandler," Ambrose said. "Really unselfish."
Matt Kaznikov StevensonAptly nicknamed the "Russian Bear," the 6-foot-4, thick-legged senior mauled opponents in the post. Kaznikov averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds per game in his third season on varsity and second as a starter. A legitimate three-point threat who could finish inside, as well, he scored a career-high 19 points against Warren. "Our best post defender and a matchup nightmare," coach Pat Ambrose said. "He was tough on other teams."
Deveauntay McNeal Round Lake
A midseason call-up last winter as a sophomore, McNeal was the real deal, a "unique talent," coach Jay Iden said. The 6-foot-3 McNeal averaged 20 points (569 for the season), 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals per game, as the Panthers went from 9 wins in 2018-19 to 21. Better yet, the junior guard proved himself as a leader to his teammates and coaches. He produced a pair of 31-point games. "His statistics are quite eye-catching, but they do not sum up how dominant and entertaining a player that he truly is," Iden said. "Deveauntay is extremely effective on the ball, offensively and defensively. His instincts and hands are the best that I have ever seen, and when combined with his relentless effort and ferocity, I am relieved that Deveauntay plays for Round Lake High School."
Bryce Moore Carmel CatholicThe Corsairs got more from Moore in the sophomore's second season on varsity, and his play was a big reason why the team won 19 games. The 6-foot-4 guard/forward averaged 12.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and shot 33% from three-point range. He poured in 31 points against Milwaukee Collegiate Academy. An exceptional athlete, he also played varsity football last fall. "As a sophomore, Bryce took a huge leap forward as a player," coach Zack Ryan said. "He showed the ability to score multiple different ways and was a very good defender and rebounder for us."
Adnan Sarancic WarrenThe Blue Devils didn't have the season they wanted, winning only 11 games, but the 6-foot-5, 205-pound senior forward continued to provide a consistent scoring and rebounding threat. A repeat all-area selection, he led Warren in scoring for the second year in a row, averaging 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He was a three-year varsity starter. "He's a tough player to defend because he's very strong and can score inside and from the perimeter," coach Jon Jasnoch said. Sarancic announced after the season that he will continue his basketball career for Division-III Lawrence University.
Jamon Thomas Grayslake NorthLike his brother Jamal (two-time all-area selection), the 5-foot-10 senior left his mark as one of the best point guards in program history. Thomas, who rarely left the court, averaged 12 points, 4 assists and 2.1 steals per game. A three-year varsity starter, he ranks second in school history in career steals and third in assists. He scored a career-high 23 points against Grant, making 10 of 11 shots from the floor, and also poured in 23 points vs. North Chicago. "Jamon was the heart and soul of our team this year," coach Todd Grunloh said. "He has been a leader for this program at the varsity level for the past three seasons. Jamon was an extension of the coaching staff at all times. He was our mouthpiece on the court. He led by example on both ends of the court. None of his teammates worked harder on the defensive side of the court and did so for longer stretches of time. Jamon averaged over 30 minutes a game, never once asking to voluntarily come off the court. All while playing at an all-conference level and while putting all the pressure that comes with playing point guard squarely on his shoulders."
Will Tucker Lake ZurichA starter and team captain as a sophomore for a Bears team that won a sectional championship, the 6-foot-1 senior guard provided a sweet shot from the perimeter and an even better demeanor on and off the court. Tucker, who surpassed 1,000 points for his career late in the season, averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. "Will is a three-time captain that was always willing to do what it took to help us be at our best," coach Terry Coughlin said. "Everybody knows that Will can shoot the basketball. However, he was a tremendous leader who gave his team everything he had on a daily basis. His commitment to being at his best is truly uncommon."
Jackson Watson LibertyvilleFew Wildcats in team history have displayed a smoother shooting stroke. The 6-foot-2 senior guard set the team's single-season record with 76 3-pointers, giving him 140 in his two seasons on varsity. A two-time All-North Suburban Conference selection and two-year team captain, he averaged 10 points and 2 assists per game and helped the Wildcats increase their win total from 14 last season to 19. "Jackson is one of the hardest-working student/athletes I have ever coached," coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "He has proved to be one of the top shooters to put on a Libertyville uniform. His leadership, work ethic and attitude are invaluable to our program, and he will be missed."
Hakim Williams Round LakeA move-in from Iowa after his freshman year, he keeps moving up the school's all-time scoring list. The 6-foot-3 junior forward was an all-area player last season and might have been even better this winter. He averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals per game for the 21-game winners. His 503 points put him at 1,039 for his two-year career. "Offensively, Hakim has one of the more well-rounded games that I have seen," coach Jay Iden said. "He has the ability to play the point at a high-level, shoot consistently from deep ranges and, pound for pound, one would be hard-pressed to find a more dominant post player. Defensively, Hakim has great instincts and when called upon has served as our rim protector. He has the ability to guard positions 1-5 due to his quickness and raw strength. Combining those skills with his natural athleticism, Hakim Williams is a special high-caliber talent, and we expect to see great things from him in the near future and at the next level."
Kimahri Wilson Carmel Catholic
Following Wilson's second all-area campaign last season, coach Zack Ryan said his expectation for the point guard was for him to take over as a leader on the team. The 6-foot-1 junior did that. He led the 19-game winners in scoring at 14.8 points per game, while also averaging 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3 steals. He led the Corsairs in assists and steals, as well. A repeat All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection, he surpassed 1,000 career points in early January, becoming the fastest player in school history to achieve the milestone. He has 1,247 career points. "He sets the tone for our team with his play and leadership from the point guard position," Ryan said. "His natural abilities and basketball IQ are very high. Kimahri took strides this year as a leader."
Evan Ambrose (Stevenson Jr. G), Mikal Ashley (Grant Sr. G), Jack Bikus (Mundelein Jr. F), Chase Bonder (Libertyville So. F/C), Tony Brown (Vernon Hills Sr. G), Benji Chung (Wauconda Jr. PG), Juan De La Cruz (Warren Sr. F), Noah DeLuga (Lake Zurich Sr. G), Dillan Dumanlang (Grayslake Central Sr. PG), Blake Ellingson (Libertyville Jr. G), Tylor Gunther (Lakes Sr. G), Tony Hines (Grayslake North Jr. G), Dominic Jankowski (Grayslake North Fr. G), Kobe Kriese (Antioch Jr. PG), Will Moore (Libertyville Sr. F/C), Branden Nava (Lakes Jr. F), Nick Pierre (Round Lake Jr. G), Daniel Rogers (Grayslake Central Sr. G/F)