Scouting DuPage County boys basketball
Coach: Brendan Lyons.
Last year: 14-16, 1-11, seventh in West Suburban Gold; lost 58-50 to Glenbard East in Class 4A DeKalb regional quarterfinals.
Top players: A.J. Carlson, sr., G; Robert Roszkiewicz, jr., F; Alex Conrad, sr., G; Sammy Renc, so., G; Gonzalo Reyes, sr., G; Chris Meglio, jr., G; Andrew Mackey, jr., F; Prabh Dhillon, jr., F.
Scouting report: Despite the graduation of 90 percent of their scoring, it's not a rebuild for the Blazers. Not with Carlson, a third-year varsity member, returning after last season averaging 8 points with 33 3-pointers. Despite injuries 6-foot-6 Roszkiewicz still saw significant varsity time as a sophomore and will be a solid inside-outside threat. "It'll be a different year for us this year," Lyons said. "We know what we have, but we have to figure out how to use everyone." Experience is thin beyond Conrad on a team with only five seniors. Key help will come from the junior class, but sophomore Renc will hold down the point guard spot. As many as four sophomores could see varsity time throughout this season. "The wins will come if we do things the right way," Lyons said. "We need to focus on the process and how we do things."
Coach: Gene Heidkamp.
Last year: 24-8, 7-2, tied for second in East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost 58-55 to Lake Park in Class 4A DeKalb regional final.
Top players: Colin Crothers, sr., C; Tyler Van Eekeren, jr., F; Matt Reid, sr., G; Colin Gillespie, sr., G; Jacob Snell, sr., F; Sam Hennessy, jr., G; Michael O'Connor, sr., F; John Golden, sr., F; Jack Prock, sr., G.
Scouting report: Can the Redwings notch an 11th straight 20-win season? Considering the thin experience and the always tough schedule, it might be tougher than ever to accomplish the feat. The start of the season might be especially rough because 6-foot-8 Crothers, a fourth-year varsity member who last season averaged 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds, will miss a few weeks with an injury. That leaves Reid, last year's sixth man, as the only experienced player. Snell, a Miami of Ohio-bound defensive lineman in football, returns to the program after a year away and adds another post presence. An additional newcomer poised to make an impact is 6-5 Van Eekeren, a potentially potent scorer. "Just because a lot of these guys didn't play last year, that doesn't mean they're not ready," Heidkamp said.
Downers Grove North
Coach: Jim Thomas.
Last year: 23-12, 5-7, tied for fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost 75-70 to Geneva in Class 4A Bartlett sectional final.
Top players: Jack Mielke, jr., F; Kevin Bozeman, jr., F; Kyle Engstler, jr., F; Griffin Ilyavi, so., G; Eli Carter, jr., G; Aidan Stephens, jr., G; Brice Watson, sr., G; Justin Japlon, sr., F.
Scouting report: Last year's sectional finalist team is getting an overhaul. And it'll be junior-heavy with a group that only lost a handful of lower-level games. "They've got great chemistry and they're ready to go," Thomas said. "But that doesn't mean there won't be a learning curve." The momentum from last season's playoff run remains, but it'll be up to an inexperienced crew to keep it going. A big frontcourt will determine the team's success with 6-foot-6 Mielke, 6-7 Bozeman and 6-5 Engstler. Each of the three presents a different skill set, but all three will contribute on the boards. Expect a big season from Mielke's versatile game. Bozeman has a nice outside shot while Engstler will be strong with his back to the basket. "I think we'll be in a lot of tight games this season, and our success really depends on how we respond," Thomas said.
Downers Grove South
Coach: Kris Olson.
Last year: 23-8, 10-2, tied for first in West Suburban Gold; lost 65-42 to Downers North in Class 4A Downers South regional final.
Top players: Jake Dimovski, jr., G; Chris Gory, sr., F; Lukian Kling, sr., F; Kyle Fenner, jr., G; Michael Rheintgen, jr., F; Jakobe Jones, jr., F; Angelo Ognianov, jr., G.
Scouting report: Even with little experience the Mustangs aim to vie for their fourth Gold title in the last five years. Unlike last year's dominant backcourt, though, the focus moves inside with a new group and a talented point guard in Dimovski. "Our height changes us in the frontcourt," Olson said. "We should have a nice inside-outside game." Dimovski played a bunch as a sophomore the second half of last season, and he'll be counted on to run the show and create. Six-foot-three Gory, who last year averaged 2.5 points and 2.2 rebounds, is the start of a deep frontcourt and a workhorse who will get tough points and a bunch of rebounds. He's joined in the post by 6-9 Kling, who shined in the summer, and 6-7 Rheintgen. The Mustangs need to prove they can shoot it from the perimeter, and they'll lean on a group of junior guards that includes Ognianov, Jones and Fenner.
Coach: Chaz Taft.
Last year: 11-20, 4-8, tied for fifth in the Metro Suburban Red; lost 63-40 to Prosser in a Class 4A York regional quarterfinal.
Top players: Jose Alvarez, sr., G; Patrick Block, jr., G; Sherby Brown, jr., F; Tristan Hausen, jr., F; Diamon King, sr., F; Ricky Lopez, jr., G; Andre Reed, sr., G; Marcus Rule, jr., G; Ivan Sosa, sr., G; Gerell Wilson, jr., C; Detwan Yoakum, sr., G.
Scouting report: To the Upstate Eight Conference the Bison bring quickness, grit, multiple pieces and a mix of experience and players from last season's 21-4 sophomore team. Three-year starters include point guard Rule and the 6-foot-2 King, who averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. Reed, a two-year starter and the Bison's top 3-point shooter in 2018-19, and the 6-5 Wilson look to take the next step. Also back, Sosa and Alvarez are part of healthy competition for minutes with players like Brown and Lopez. Taft said practices are the most competitive in his four years with Fenton. Scoring ability should improve regardless, but Taft seeks a defensive-led effort that turns defense to offense through steals and deflections. "How well we're connected on the floor is how dangerous we can be," said Taft, a Fenton grad.
Coach: Scott Miller.
Last year: 14-17, 9-9, tied for fourth in the Upstate Eight Conference; lost 72-44 to Benet in a Class 4A DeKalb regional semifinal.
Top players: Raf Bou, jr., G; Deon Cook, sr., G; LaDaylin Dew, sr., G-F; DaRon Hall, sr., G; Joe Hamilton, jr., G; Dion Harris, sr., G-F; Evan Kale, sr., C; Jack Rivas, jr., C.
Scouting report: This is the final season for the retiring Miller, who has 294 wins through 20 seasons at Glenbard East, 336 wins in 23 years overall. Headed by guards Hall and Cook, he called this a hungry, unselfish group that can go up to 10 deep, pressure full-court and score both in transition and in the half-court. All-UEC selection Hall averaged 13.7 points, 4 rebounds, 2.4 assists. Cook, a terrific on-ball defender, averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals. Otherwise Glenbard East returns little scoring and only Dew, Harris and the 6-5 Kale saw much action. But last year's sophomores went 20-7, and they can shoot. A traditional lack of height makes rebounding a concern; ball security must be steady. But Miller thinks the Rams will vie for the UEC title in his swan song. "Sprint to the finish line, that's what I keep saying," he said.
Coach: Joe Larson.
Last year: 3-22, 1-13, eighth in DuKane Conference; lost 80-48 to Willowbrook in Class 4A Downers South regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Rory Hills, sr., G; Kobie Jamison, sr., G; Sean Laherty, sr., F; Tajhon Allen, sr., G; Owen Van Poucke, sr., G; Angelo Cusumano, sr., G; Jaheim Edmond, sr., F; Jerry Abushanab, jr., F; Matt Murray, jr., G.
Scouting report: The Panthers finally get to lean on experience and aim for a bunch more wins. Most of last season's rotation returns for a group overflowing with athleticism. As always, expect Glenbard North to get up and down the court in a hurry while thriving in transition. "Hopefully we're going to be in a pretty good position for a bounceback," Larson said. Hills returns at point guard. Last year he, Jamison, Laherty, Cusumano and Edmond combined for more than 20 points a game. That'll jump this season. Abushanab and Murray averaged a combined 11 points in their time on varsity as sophomores. The Panthers have some size in the junior class with 6-foot-6 Jake Cicero and 6-4 Jacob Bonnema. "It all depends on how much we've improved and how much they buy in," Larson said. "We have potential."
Coach: Wade Hardtke.
Last year: 25-7, 14-4, third in the Upstate Eight Conference; lost 69-52 to Peoria Manual at the Class 3A Northern Illinois University supersectional.
Top players: Yazan Blan, jr., F; Trevor Burnett, so., G; Jacob Folkerts, jr., C; Cam Goodrum, sr., G; Cade Hardtke, jr., G; Brandon Malone, sr., G; Marqus Payton, sr., G; Nick Plaso, sr., G; Aryton Temcio, jr., G-F.
Scouting report: The Raiders graduated much from their second supersectional team and first since 2000. The hustling Plaso and Cade Hardtke return 4.9 and 4.4 points a game, respectively. In Plaso, Blan and Burnett they have strength and athleticism, and while Wade Hardtke is concerned with rebounding by a "guard-heavy" group, 12 players are rostered at 6-foot-1 or taller, topped by 6-5 Folkerts and senior forward Nick Consolino. Malone transferred in from St. Joseph, though he played in the Raiders' feeder program. Malone, Cade Hardtke and Temcio will get their shots in a lineup of interchangeable parts. Team chemistry and defense -- 46.8 points allowed on average last season -- will come. "There's a lot more teaching going on early than, say, last year," said Wade Hardtke, only eight victories away from 200.
Coach: Jason Opoka.
Last year: 20-10, 5-7, tied for fourth in West Suburban Silver; lost 54-51 to Lyons Twp. in Class 4A Glenbard West regional final.
Top players: Braden Huff, so., F; Diallo Phillips, sr., G; Aidan Murphy, jr., F; Danny Mulcare, jr., F; Caden Pierce, so., G; Paxton Warden, so., F.
Scouting report: After spending several years coaching at the sophomore level for the Hilltoppers, Opoka takes over the varsity team. He has one immense advantage: he's already coached every player on this roster. "I'm super excited," Opoka said. "The familiarity is there. The expectations are known." Ninety percent of last year's scoring graduated, including Evan Taylor, the 2018-19 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Captain. Phillips is a good floor leader in the backcourt while Huff is the other experienced player. He's grown 3 inches to 6-foot-9 after last year averaging 4.2 points and 3 rebounds as a freshman on varsity. Beyond those two, the Hilltoppers will rely on last year's sophomore team, including a pair of current sophomores and quality shooters in Pierce and 6-6 Warden. Murphy, 6-5, and 6-6 Mulcare give the Hilltoppers size and lineup flexibility.
Coach: Nick Latorre.
Last year: 10-20, 4-8, sixth in West Suburban Silver; lost 66-56 to Geneva in Class 4A Metea Valley regional semifinals.
Top players: Ryan Isaacson, sr., F; Mac Quast, sr., F-C; Phil Borhani, sr., F; Nicolas St. John, sr., G; Connor Nelson, sr., G; Zach Northey, sr., G; Luke Schiavitti, sr., G; Quinn Cain, jr., G; Charlie Herbst, jr., G; Charlie Sessa, jr. F.
Scouting report: Six-foot-seven Isaacson is a third-year varsity member who was slowed by injuries the last two seasons. Now healthy, Isaacson, who last year averaged 9.9 points and 5 rebounds, can score from just about anywhere in the half-court. Six-four Quast, up on varsity since his freshman year, adds even more frontcourt experience. If a large group of inexperienced senior guards steps up, the Red Devils are in business. "As those senior guards get varsity experience, we're really going to improve," Latorre said. "But we definitely need to get some guard play." St. John, a point guard, Borhani, Nelson, Northey and Schiavitti each saw time in seven or eight games last season. Isaacson and Quast are set but the rest of the rotation needs to sort itself out early in the Red Devils' schedule.
Coach: Brett Moore.
Last year: 14-16, 4-8, tied for fifth in West Suburban Gold; lost 58-44 to Lyons Twp. in Class 4A Glenbard West regional semifinals.
Top players: Billy Durkin, sr., G; Aaron Tims, sr., F; James Ruzicka, sr., G; Daeshawn Amy, sr., G; Ahmad Tims, jr., F; Bobby Durkin, so., G.
Scouting report: Between third-year varsity members Billy Durkin and 6-foot-6 Aaron Tims, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better duo in the WSC Gold. Durkin last year averaged 13.5 points and hit 69 3-pointers while fellow all-Gold honoree Tims averaged 12.5 points and 6.4 rebounds. But that's not the end of the experience for the Hornets. Ruzicka and Amy return a combined 13.4 points. It's a veteran quartet that'll have the Hornets vying for the Gold title. "We have a chance to have a real good year if we stay injury free," Moore said. With as many as five shooters on the court, the Hornets should have three players in double-figure scoring each game, but they'll need to shore up their ballhandling. Familiar names deepen the rotation with Ahmad Tims and Bobby Durkin, who played in 20 varsity games as a freshman and might be the team's top shooter.
Coach: T.J. Tyrrell.
Last year: 11-17, 4-8, tied for fifth in the Metro Suburban Blue; lost 49-45 to St. Edward in a Class 2A Timothy Christian regional semifinal.
Top players: Danny Cronin, sr., F; Johnny Falduto, jr., G; Dom Gaudio, sr., G-F; Michael Hilgart, jr., G; Zach Jordan, sr., G; Chauncey Lee, jr., G.
Scouting report: The Knights return six players who started games last season. A seventh, all-Metro Suburban Blue post player Ryan Wojtalewicz, chose not to play his senior year. That makes a vertically challenged lineup shorter with 6-foot-3 Cronin and 6-2 sophomore Johnny Hilgart heading the top rotation. But it may create space for Jordan, all-conference point guard Lee and Gaudio, who all averaged between 10.5 and 9 points in 2018-19. Jordan hit 55 3s and has added strength to get to the rim, which he already did well. Shooting is a plus with Jordan, Gaudio and the Hilgart brothers. These are smart players who can pressure and play fast. Experience also gives them a head start on chemistry. "It's a pretty battle-tested group," said Tyrrell, 17 wins from former coach Darren Howard's program-record 142 victories, but facing a demanding schedule.
Coach: Billy Pitcher.
Last year: 23-11, 8-6, tied for third in DuKane Conference; lost 46-44 to Downers North in Class 4A Bartlett sectional semifinals.
Top players: Luke Sgarbossa, sr., G; Trevor Montiel, sr., F; Montrell Perry, sr., G; Joey Czaja, sr., G; Drew Myers, sr., G; Payton Goldsmith, sr., F; Joey Harrington, sr., F; Marcellus Hardison, sr. F; Alex Burzawa, jr., C; Aaron Brown, jr., G.
Scouting report: After surprising teams with a junior-heavy lineup during last year's run to a regional title, the Lancers won't sneak up on anyone. Not with four starters returning. "Last year was a little unexpected, but it gave us a lot of confidence," Pitcher said. "It's a fresh start and a new year." Sgarbossa last season was super consistent while averaging 15.8 points. Six-foot-five Montiel made tremendous strides throughout his junior season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds, and he's poised to make another leap this year. Perry and Czaja are steady as they come in the backcourt. A big change is improved depth. Myers and Goldsmith saw time last season. Harrington should contribute after not playing last year. Burzawa, at 6-8, adds needed post depth for a Lancers team that'll challenge for the DKC title.
Coach: Mark LaScala.
Last year: 13-14, 7-3, tied for third in the Interstate Eight Conference; lost 62-59 to Southland Charter a Class 2A Beecher regional semifinal.
Top players: Ray Bandzoumouna, sr., G-F; Sean Etzkorn, jr., G; Josh Farrell, jr., F; Demetrius King Jr., sr., G; Joe LaScala, sr., G; Connor Nigro, sr., G; Cal Payne, jr., G; Anthony Raineri, sr., F.
Scouting report: As the Lions and some familiar foes enter the Illinois Central Eight era, the terrible news is that Division II Trevecca Nazarene recruit Connor Webb, a high-flying 6-foot-6 point guard who averaged 10.3 points and was to be a three-year starter, hurt his knee in August. If he plays at all it'll be at season's end. That's on top of graduating three starters. But LaScala has reasons for optimism. King averaged 5.8 points and led Lisle in steals, and joins bulldog Nigro as top on-ball defenders. Etzkorn and Joe LaScala, the coach's son, will also pressure. The task is not only to play lockdown defense but also to find scoring. King will penetrate to the rim or find 6-3 Raineri and 6-4 Farrell inside. But someone may also need to hit a jumper. "It will take a few games to find our offensive identity," Mark LaScala said.
Coach: Isaiah Davis.
Last year: 12-17, 2-6, fifth in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 69-56 to Hinsdale Central in Class 4A Metea Valley regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Myles Leavy, sr., G; Kymari McBride, sr., G; Tahj Morgan, jr., F; Seann Kelly, sr., F; Will Hopkins, sr., F; Alex Moreno, jr., F; Marquel Brumfield, sr., F.
Scouting report: Davis, an assistant coach for the Mustangs the last three years, was promoted to head coach to usher in a new era of Metea Valley basketball. "I'm hoping we can hit the ground running," Davis said. "But we know it's going to take a lot of work." The work begins by trying to make up for the graduation loss of Ethan Helwig, the program's all-time leading scorer who last year averaged 20 points, and Manny Hess, who holds several program records. Despite their loss the Mustangs return three other starters in Leavy, the team's best shooter who averaged 9.2 points, McBride and Morgan. It's a group that'll go at least eight deep, which will allow them to push the tempo. If the Mustangs pick it up on defense, rebound and find consistency at the line, they'll compete in the DVC. "If we stay the course and battle, we can have a good season," Davis said.
Coach: Bob Lozano.
Last year: 12-20, 4-11, tied for fifth in the Chicago Catholic League White; lost 60-56 to Glenbard South at the Class 3A IMSA regional final.
Top players: A.J. Ashford, jr., G; Johnny Ernest, sr., G; Antoine Harris, jr., G; Mike Koszewski, sr., G; Jemari Moore, jr., F; Garrick Neilsen, jr., F; Andrew Stokes, so., F.
Scouting report: Last we saw, the Broncos extended Glenbard South into overtime at IMSA behind Jermari Harris' 36 points. Much has changed. Harris graduated, Kai Evans and Julian Gatewood transferred and several football players decided against playing, an annual trial at Montini. Yet despite slight senior experience and little height besides 6-foot-3 Stokes and 6-4 Nielsen, Lozano believes the difficult Chicago Catholic League will prepare the Broncos for another regional bid. (Montini also upped its schedule by adding York's holiday tournament.) They should be athletic with defensive stopper Ashford and slashers Harris and Moore ready to run the floor. Montini will try to exploit matchup problems rather than succumb to them, and the players like each other, which always helps. "I think they're going to really blend as a team," Lozano said.
Coach: Pete Kramer.
Last year: 10-17, 3-5, tied for third in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 53-50 to Batavia in Class 4A Downers South regional quarterfinals.
Top players: Cam Dougherty, sr., G-F; Chris Conway, sr., F-C; Aidan Kramer, jr., G; Kyle Baskin, jr., G; Matt Murphy, sr., F; Jadon Thompson, sr., G-F; Mike Wood, sr., G; Neil Gupta, sr., G.
Scouting report: Between Dougherty and Conway, the Redhawks won't be hurting for experience. Both enter their third varsity season. "They'll have to help us again this season and be consistent, but they won't have to carry us," coach Kramer said. "We'll have five guys out there who can score." Still, it starts with 6-foot-6 Dougherty, who last season averaged 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds, and 6-10 Oakland-bound Conway, who averaged 9 points and 4.8 boards. The key to success, though, and the intriguing element of the team is the junior backcourt of 6-3 Aidan Kramer and 6-4 Baskin. With potentially five starters at least 6-3, the Redhawks will create tremendous matchup problems for opponents. Thompson, a Marist transfer and University of Illinois commit for football, adds a nice boost to the program.
Coach: Gene Nolan.
Last year: 18-12, 7-1, first in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 57-51 to Glenbard West in Class 4A Glenbard West regional semifinals.
Top players: Riley Thompson, sr., G; Myles Barry, sr., G; Michael Imhoff, sr., G; Grant Johnson, jr., F; Liam Kim, jr., G; Zeke Williams, so., G; Peter Krebs, jr., G.
Scouting report: Even with the graduation of Tom Welch, now at Loyola after last year averaging 21 points and 8.6 rebounds, the Huskies look to improve in their second season under Nolan. Four starters return -- a core that combined to average 24 points and got a taste of playing without Welch when he missed seven games due to injury. "Playing without (Welch) is a huge adjustment," Nolan said. "He made an impact in so many ways." The Huskies have all the pieces to be successful: a point guard in Barry, a perimeter shooter in Thompson, a lockdown defender in Imhoff, a skilled post in Johnson, and backcourt depth with Williams, who contributed well beyond his years as a freshman, and Kim, who overcame injury issues last year. Defending the DVC title and winning postseason hardware is a definite goal this season.
Coach: Todd Sutton.
Last year: 14-18, 3-5, tied for third in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost 61-60 to Oswego East in a Class 4A Joliet West regional semifinal.
Top players: Connor Davis, jr., F; Mark Gronowski, sr., C, 6-3; Patrick Hoffman, sr., G-F; Donovan Navarro, sr., G; Nonso Obguefi, 6-5, sr., C; Nick Porter, jr., G; John Poulakidas, jr., G-F; Max Rivera, jr., G; Eric Roche, sr., G.
Scouting report: The Wildcats return a strong core led by the 6-5 Poulakidas, who with 660 points may threaten Keelan Amelianovich's program record of 1,291 this season. Poulakidas has 14 Division I scholarship offers, according to 24/7 Sports. Last season he averaged 15.5 points and 3.8 rebounds, made 72 3s and converted 55 percent of his 2-point shots. Perpetually evolving, the left-hander has added low-post scoring to his game. That's also where 6-5 Obguefi and 6-3 Gronowski should thrive. The 6-4 Davis displays all-around skills and returns 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. Sutton likes point guard Rivera; Hoffmann got better and better last season. Scoring? Not a problem. "If they want to play defense," Sutton said, "they can be good."
Coach: Erin Dwyer.
Last year: 10-22, 4-8, tied for fourth in the Metro Suburban Blue; lost 61-50 to Montini in a Class 3A IMSA regional semifinal.
Top players: Danny Blank, sr., G; Michael Bumpus, jr., F; Nick Ciombor, jr., F; Mike Fasana, sr., G; Ryan French, sr., F; Sebastian Miller, so., G; Robert Nocek, sr., F; Jake Tangorra, sr., F; Bryce Walker, sr., C; Eric Welch, sr., F; Brendan Yarusso, so., G.
Scouting report: Having graduated only one starter, Mike Cascella, and returning five players who got starts -- Blank, Miller, Nocek, Walker and Welch -- experience and depth are strengths. It may take time to jell with several players coming in late from football. Once the court legs return, St. Francis should go fast/athletic or big with 6-foot-8 Walker, 6-5 Nocek and 6-2 trio of Blank, Miller and Bumpus. An emphasis on strength and conditioning will help a program renowned for its man-to-man defense. A task will be to identify scorers and perimeter shooters. Last season Miller, a slasher, and big men Nocek and Walker each averaged around 8 points. Yarusso and Fasana figure to spark off the bench. "I'd like to think we can be very competitive, but we have to put all the pieces together," Dwyer said.
Coach: Scott Plaisier.
Last year: 20-11, 9-3, tied for second in the Metro Suburban Red; lost 68-39 to Orr in a Class 2A Aurora Christian sectional semifinal.
Top players: Jack Baldridge, sr., G; Josh Harris, jr., G-F; Marquis Johnson, sr., G-F; Zach Orange, sr., G; Matt Owens, sr., G; A.J. Vos, sr., G-F.
Scouting report: A good-looking team that returns five of last season's top six players plus newcomers, like 6-foot-5 Ben VanderWal, from a 22-4 sophomore squad. Owens is a fearless, three-year point guard who averaged 10 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists; he'll be pivotal to this team's success. Three-year starter Harris, 6-4, averaged 13 points, hit 54 3s and is working to expand his game after the graduation of top rebounder and inside defender Danardo Jones. Orange and Vos are just good, well-rounded players while shooter Baldridge increasingly found his stride after transferring from York. Scoring could come from multiple sources, some positions are interchangeable and it's a lengthy, deep team that can run the floor, though rebounding is a concern. "We have a bunch of different guys who on any given night can put some points on the board," Plaisier said.
Coach: Jason Mead.
Last year: 27-5, 5-3, second in DuPage Valley Conference; lost 58-36 to Oswego East in Class 4A East Aurora sectional semifinals.
Top players: Marcus Skeete, sr., F; Ben Schwieger, jr., G; Mason Marinelli, sr., G; Adri Malushi, jr., G; Justin Starks, jr., G; Isaiah Smith, jr., G; Carter Langendorf, jr., F; Caleb Brackett, jr., F.
Scouting report: Six-foot-five Skeete, a two-time all-DVC honoree who last season averaged 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds, won't sneak up on anyone. Six-five Schwieger, who already holds offers from Robert Morris and IUPUI, just might. With immense confidence from a breakout summer, he'll form a terrific tandem with Skeete. Unlike the last couple seasons when Skeete played on senior-heavy teams, he'll be the leader of a group that'll lean on several juniors. "They know they have to play together and compete as a team to find a way to win," Mead said. Marinelli, who offers good defense and a perimeter shot, played in 31 games last year. Malushi, the point guard, is a fierce competitor who was on the varsity roster as a sophomore. More outside shooting comes from Starks. Expect the Warriors to be in the hunt for the DVC title.
Coach: Bill Recchia.
Last year: 9-22, 2-16, ninth in the Upstate Eight Conference; lost 56-40 to Naperville North in a Class 4A Glenbard West regional quarterfinal.
Top players: J.B. Baptista, sr., G; Matt Brotnow, sr., F; Marco Calderon, jr., G; Raed Haroon, sr., G; Christian Krahenbuhl, sr., F; Jacob Lim, jr., G; Marque Phillips, jr., G; Alex Resendiz, jr., G; Daniel Roldan, sr., G; Ryan Schmidt, jr., F.
Scouting report: Having graduated the trio of Isaac Nelson, Sam Ricci and Jordan Wilkins, the Wildcats do return experience but little height. They will try to counter that with shooting, grit, speed, energy and defense. Point guard Lim, Haroon, 6-foot-2 Krahenbuhl and the 6-1 Brotnow and Schmidt all played in at least 29 games. Haroon, potentially a perimeter threat, leads all returners in scoring at 3.8 points, Roldan at 3.4. Roldan played the fourth-most minutes in just 19 games last season, and it'd be really nice if he and Baptista, who as a freshman was called up to varsity, could finally remain injury-free. Defensive pressure will be the identity. "They know as a group they'll be outsized," Recchia said, "and that means we'll need to do things right and limit our mistakes."
Coach: Craig Etheridge.
Last year: 25-7, 7-3, tied for third in the Interstate Eight Conference; lost 49-41 to Fieldcrest in a Class 2A Peotone sectional semifinal.
Top players: Qati Dalipi, jr., C; Ben Juska, jr., G-C; Alex Pietrzak, sr., G.
Scouting report: A season of change. An Interstate Eight member since 2006, the Sentinels now are in the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division. It should be a good fit. More dramatic, a program that won its most games since 28 in 2000-01 graduated six of its top seven players including four, like mainstay Caden Anderson, who saw varsity minutes as freshman. The trio listed above accounted for 12 of last season's 56-point average. Pietrzak averaged 6.4 points and is the team's top shooter and ballhandler. The 6-foot-4 Dalipi and 6-2 Juska each played in at least 27 games; both impact inside but can score away from the rim. Contributors may include guards Leo Requiron and Drew Collins and 6-2 post player Amarion Williams, among others. Defensive intensity is among the aspects to be solidified. "If we get off to a good start and figure out the rotation I think we have the potential to have a solid year," Etheridge said.
Coach: Steve Thonn.
Last year: 19-9, 10-2, first in the Metro Suburban Red; lost 57-45 to Burlington Central at the Class 3A Wheaton Academy regional final.
Top players: Marcus Bult, sr., G-F; Bryson Mitchell, sr., G; Jack Oswald, jr., G; Christian Pares, sr., C; Solomon Pitts, jr., G; John Rienow, sr., F; Luke Roman, sr., G; Jayson Rucker, sr., G; Max Scharnowski, sr., F; Tobi Sonuga, sr., G.
Scouting report: Bult was the 2018-19 Metro Suburban Red player of the year. The 6-foot-4 wing averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds, made 69 3s and led the Warriors in steals and charges taken. A three-year starter, he can score from the arc to the rim. And he's got lots of help to mount a Metro Suburban Red repeat bid. Sonuga is now point guard, a penetrator who averaged 8 points last season. Scharnowski, 6-4, can get hot from outside while Pares and Rienow battle in the post. There are shooters like Mitchell, defenders like Roman. Coach Thonn sees better overall athleticism leading to defense. But with a lot of depth and talent it'll also be important to develop roles and chemistry. "We have a lot of guys to give minutes," Thonn said, "we're just trying to find where they fit."
Coach: Dave Brackmann.
Last year: 18-13, 9-5, second in DuKane Conference; lost 46-39 to WW South in Class 4A Metea Valley regional semifinals.
Top players: Garrett Horner, sr., G-F; Xander Mueller, sr., F; Ben Bonga, jr., G-F; Emanuel Wilson, sr., G; Connor Haake, jr., G; Christian Halstead, sr., F; Zach Lorentsen, sr., F.
Scouting report: Between Deng Reng, Jacob Schauer and Matthew Brend, the Falcons graduated their best player, best shooter and point guard. It might take a while for this group to develop its identity, but the talent's there to make it happen. "We'll have a lot of new faces, and they'll be the key," Brackmann said. "At both ends of the court, we'll see a team that gets better later in the season." Horner, who last season averaged 9.3 points and hit 77 3-pointers, was a complementary player the last two seasons, but he'll be the go-to guy this year. Bonga, who came up from the sophomore team at midseason, is another scoring threat. Without the explosive offense of last year, the Falcons will improve defensively. That's epitomized by Mueller, committed to Northwestern for football, and Halstead. Additional scoring needs to come from inexperienced varsity arrivals.
Coach: Mike Healy.
Last year: 20-12, 8-6, tied for third in DuKane Conference; lost 45-38 to Geneva in Class 4A Metea Valley regional final.
Top players: Ben Bastian, sr., G; Jason Haw, sr., F; Tyler Fawcett, so., F; Parker Brown, jr., G; Michael Rogers, sr., G; Yonatan Algawerash, jr., G; Micah Kim, jr., G; Jaylen Brown, jr., G.
Scouting report: Just like last season -- a 20-win campaign -- no starters return. But, just like last year, expectations remain. Only now the Tigers will rely on a young crew that lost only three games last season at the sophomore level. "We'll need our juniors to step up," Healy said. "We'll get better as the year goes along." Bastian, the point guard, and Haw played in 18 games last season, but they and Rogers combined for 5 points a game. Fawcett is the team's tallest player at 6-foot-5, and he'll be counted on for consistent scoring in the post and on the perimeter. Parker Brown, another good shooter, had a strong summer on the wing. Depth is an issue, especially early as many of the players transfer from football. The Tigers need development beyond a rotation that includes a sophomore and three juniors. "We see no reason to take a step back this year," Healy said.
Coach: Chris Perkins.
Last year: 17-14, 7-5, third in West Suburban Gold; lost 60-46 to Downers North in Class 4A Downers South regional semifinals.
Top players: Everett Stubblefield III, sr., G; Sam Tumilty, sr., G; Sean Paige, so., F; Isaac Gaines, sr., G; Deandre Holliday, sr., F; Sam Bruns, sr., G; Jalen Flowers, sr., F; Jeremiah Robinson, sr., G; Mike Hay, sr., F.
Scouting report: Once the Warriors get everyone in full swing from football season -- especially Stubblefield, Tumilty and Holliday -- they'll be ready to roll. "This senior class has a history of winning, so this is a pretty good group," Perkins said. "And we've added some good pieces." Stubblefield, who last year averaged 19.2 points and hit 45 3-pointers, is among the state's top guards. Tumilty, who averaged 5.8 points, logged significant minutes last year. Gaines played in 30 games and Holliday, who overcame injuries, played in 24. The big addition is 6-foot-7 Paige, a transfer who's a pure post with a nice midrange shot. Flowers, out last year with a knee injury, is a wing slasher and shooter. Robinson is poised to emerge while 6-7 Hay, who didn't play last year, will help Paige inside on the boards.
Coach: Vince Doran.
Last year: 29-5, 10-2, second in West Suburban Silver; lost 58-56 to Young in Class 4A Proviso West sectional semifinals.
Top players: Nate Shockey, sr., G; Jeff Grace, jr., G; Tim Glavan, sr., F; Jake Brandolino, sr., G; Nick Hesch, so., F; Milo Mann, sr., G; Denton Rohde, jr., F; Dan Wagner, sr., F.
Scouting report: Don't worry about the Dukes, even after losing four starters and their top three scorers. The reason is North Dakota-bound Shockey, who last year averaged 10.6 points with 41 3-pointers. With the ability to do a bit of everything, he'll carry the Dukes. "Nate is a special player," Doran said. "We definitely lost a lot, but we've got under-the-radar guys who can play." In addition to Shockey, the Dukes return Grace, who's been on varsity since his freshman season. That backcourt is a great start, with the post manned by 6-foot-5 Glavan, 6-5 Rohde and 6-4 Wagner. A big addition will be 6-5 Hesch, a good shooter on the wing. Don't be surprised if 10 players see playing time early in the season as the Dukes narrow their rotation. "Last year we had a really clear picture of our top seven," Doran said. "That's not the case this year."