Scouting the DuPage Valley
Metea ValleyCoach: Isaiah Davis (3rd season)
Last season's record: 1-7 overall, 0-6 DVC [Mustangs were out due to COVID protocols for half the spring season.]
Top returning players: Charlie Nosek, sr. (G/F, 6-4), Srivant Avulabalayyagari, sr. (G, 6-2),
Haas Duggirala, sr. (F/C, 6-3), Zac Steffgen, sr. (G, 6-0), Quentin Schaffer, jr. (G, 6-2)
Top new players: Jahki Gray, jr. (G, 6-0), Javion Grizzle, jr. (G, 6-2), Mike Bryant, jr. (G 5-9), Nick Schroeder, so (G 6-4)
Worth noting: Davis has more depth to work with this season and expects the Mustangs to be an exciting team to watch with strong guard play. "We do not have a lot of varsity experience so that will be a test early on, but this group plays hard and has great on-court chemistry together," he says. He adds that Metea has solid depth this year with many players capable of stepping up, and a trio of seniors guards -- along with a senior post player in Duggirala -- will help with leadership on the court.
Naperville CentralCoach: Pete Kramer (19th season)
Last season's record: 7-6 overall, third in DVC
Top returning players: Jonah Hinton, sr. (G, 6-2), James Jopes, sr., (G/F, 6-3), Mantas Zilys, jr., (G/F, 6-4),
Top new players: Brad Kuta, sr., (G, 6-3), Michael Boyce, jr., (F, 6-3), Simon Krugliakovas, jr., (G, 5-9), Grady Cooperkawa, jr., (G/F, 6-3), Pambos Nicoloudes, jr., (F, 6-1), Lucas Johnson, jr. (F, 6-3), Colin Duckworth, sr., (F/C, 6-3), Eric Martin, sr., (F/C, 6-5), Nathan Kwon, jr., (F, 6-4).
Worth noting: The Redhawks return three starters, including Hinton at the point, who will be one of four guards who open the season in the starting lineup. Hinton, Jopes and Zilys return to the lineup and "all three can shoot it, and they can all score in different ways and they're going to have to be threats on the offensive end throughout the year," Kramer said. If the team can become consistent on the defensive end, get stops and only give up one shot on most possessions, they should be pretty successful this season.
Naperville NorthCoach: Gene Nolan (4th season)
Last season's record: 8-9 overall, 3-7 DVC
Top returning players: Zeke Williams, sr. (G, 6-1), Luke Williams, soph. (G, 6-1), Jake Torcasio, sr. (G, 6-0), Andrew Dawson, sr. (G, 6-1), Vaughan Beallis, sr. (G, 6-2), Sam Kupres, sr. (G, 6-1), Johnny Griffin, sr. (G, 6-0), Aiden Houston, sr. (G, 6-0)
Top new players: Charlie Farrell, jr. (F, 6-9), Cole Arl, soph. (G, 5-10), Bryce Welch, soph. (G, 5-11)
Worth noting: The Williams brothers combine for plenty of experience -- Zeke Williams is a 4-year varsity player and Luke Williams was the 6th man last year on the varsity. Torcasio is an outstanding shooter who will provide a spark from the perimeter. A trio of sophomores (Luke Williams, Arl and Welch) will all be vying for varsity playing time, Farrell is a stretch 4-man who continues to improve for the Huskies. Naperville North has outstanding senior leadership with Zeke Williams, Torcasio, Dawson, Beallis, Kupres, Griffin, and Houston.
Neuqua ValleyCoach: Todd Sutton (24th season)
Last season's record: 10-6 overall, 5-4 DVC record
Top returning players: Mark Mennecke, jr. (G, 6-1), Erikas Gurskas, sr. (F, 6-4), Cole Vonnahme sr. (F, 6-3), Nick Kinkade, sr. (G, 5-10), Jayden Dean, sr. (G, 6-0), Kurt Lomuntad, sr. (G, 5-10)
Top new players: Nick Lendino, jr. (G, 6-2), Luke Kinkade, so. (G, 6-0), Peyton Kuhl, jr. (G, 6-0)
Worth noting: This will be the youngest and most inexperienced team the Wildcats will have since the first varsity season in 1998. With a successful football season, the Wildcats could be down 3-4 contributors the first week of games. The Wildcats lose two 1,000-point career scorers in guards Connor Davis and John Poulakidas to graduation. Davis is at NCAA Division II Quincy; Poulakidas is at D-I Yale. Special mention All-Conference starter Mennecke returns and will look to play more on the wing this year as to point guard last year. Keep an eye out for Gurskas, who has improved immensely since the COVID season. Rebounding and limiting turnovers will be the determining factor in the Wildcats success this upcoming season. Watch out for up-and-coming sophomore Luke Kinkade to be one of the next top scoring guards to come through the program. "It's a good group of kids who really enjoy being around each other that love to put in the work on the court," Sutton said.
Waubonsie Valley Coach: Andrew Schweitzer (1st season)
Last season's record: 12-4 overall, 7-3, second in DVC
Top returning players: Tyler Helbing, sr., (G/F, 6-2), Ashton Baula, sr., (G, 6-0)
Top new players: Jackson Langendorf, jr., (F, 6-6), Shoi Rathi, jr., (G/F, 6-2), Braylon Spicer, jr. (G, 6-0), Elijah Whitaker, so., (G, 6-0), Tre Blissett, so., (F, 6-4),
Worth noting: Schweitzer, a former assistant football and basketball coach at Wheaton Warrenville South, starts his first season as the Warriors head coach, and will look to Helbing, 3-year varsity player, for leadership. Baula, an athletic sharpshooter, can do a lot with his shot and quickness, and then there's a strong junior class that includes Langendorf, a tall bodied, extremely gifted player who can play the inside-outside game. Schweitzer says the 6-6 junior has "got a chance to be really good" and that the athletic point guard Spicer also is expected to have a big impact this year. "The biggest thing that we're going to start out with is we need to bring the defensive intensity and just be the tougher team every time we set out on the floor. You know, I'm a big believer that you know, there's nights where your offense isn't going to work. And when that's the case, your defense and your toughness will keep you in. So that's kind of gonna be our mantra. Offensively, we're going to look to run the ball and get out and get as many transition points as possible. And you know, here's one thing I'll say about this group, they are just a very coachable, coachable group, high basketball IQ, and they just pick things up quickly."