Scouting the Mid-Suburban East
Buffalo GroveCoach: Keith Peterson (7th season)
Last year: 18-12 (7-3 MSL East)
Key players lost: Tom Trieb (football at Northern Illinois), Michael Nowakowski (Harper), Ethan Soifer, Conner Adams
Key players returning: G Kam Craft, soph., F Nate Cole, sr., G Tyler Kipley, sr., G Matt Brunelli, sr., F Sloan Kipley, sr.
Newcomers: F Alex Solberg, sr., G Tyler Fricke, sr., G Kyle Brosnahan, Jr, G Steph Harris, Jr, G Adidas Davis, soph.
Outlook: It will be "bombs away" for Buffalo Grove again this season. The Bison broke the school record for made 3-pointers last season and they are ready to stretch the floor even more this season. "We will continue to try to push the pace," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "I am really excited about the individual pieces we have from last year and the ones that we are adding. When we play together we are a fun team to watch." One of the most entertaining players in the Mid-Suburban League last year was just a freshman. Sophomore forward Kam Craft (6-foot-5) made a big splash in his rookie campaign, leading Buffalo Grove in scoring at 20.3 points per game. He was second in rebounding (7 rpg) and led the team in blocks and steals. "Kam had a great summer and continues to get better," Peterson said. "He is becoming a great leader for us and is continuing to find ways to make his teammates better. He is an unbelievable scorer but his passing and his rebounding really makes him a difficult guard." Veterans Nate Cole and Tyler Kipley also return and have stepped into leadership roles. Over the summer, Buffalo Grove won the Illinois Wesleyan tournament and the Crystal Lake South Shootout.
Elk GroveCoach: Nick Oraham (2nd season)
Last year: 6-25 (0-10 MSL East)
Key players lost: Ryley Rathman (Milwaukee School of Engineering), Ryne Singsank (baseball at Southern Illinois)
Key players returning: G Brandon Burns, Jr, G Mark Matos, sr.
Newcomers: G Roderick Fowler, sr., F Mauro Garay, sr.
Outlook: It was a rough ride again in the Mid-Suburban League for Elk Grove. The Grens, who have not won a conference game in three years, went 0-10 in the East Division last year. But they were competitive in many of those games. And that is providing optimism in Nick Oraham's second year as head coach. "We played teams in the conference tight at times, so I think that's a credit to the kids buying into a new system right away," Oraham said. "The kids work extremely hard in practice so hopefully they will start seeing positive results. We are a very tight-knit group. The guys genuinely care for each other and the overall success of the team. That is the most important thing we have stressed in my short time here." Oraham is expecting junior guard Brandon Burns to have a breakout season. He averaged 8 points per game over the final 12 games as a sophomore last year. He had 15-point games against both Evanston and Hersey and 14-point games against Buffalo Grove and Niles West. "He can really shoot it and has developed a lot of confidence in his overall game," Oraham said of Burns. Senior guard Mark Matos will be counted on to do a little bit of everything again. Last year, he averaged 4 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds per game.
HerseyCoach: Austin Scott (2nd season)
Last year: 15-16 (6-4 MSL East)
Key players lost: Rocco Ronzio (Carroll), Matt Hanushewsky (Augustana), Kuba Kluczewski
Key players returning: G Scott Rogowski, sr., F James Nolan, sr., G Clay Augustyn, sr., G TJ Stearns, sr., F Alec Naumowicz, sr., F Dan Clawson, sr., G Luke Martin, sr.
Newcomers: F Ethan Roberts, Jr, F Ben Randall, Jr, G Andrew Wagner, Jr, G/F Drew Zagorski, Jr, G/F Griffin Ginder, Jr
Outlook: Height should be an asset for Hersey, which has 16 total players on the roster and 13 that are 6-feet or taller. Seven of those 13 players are 6-foot-4 or taller, topped out by 6-foot-7 forwards Ben Randall and Drew Zagorski, both new to the varsity this year. Also new is 6-foot-4 forward Ethan Roberts, a talented transfer from Tennessee who could be a focal point. The guards boast experience, led by returners Scott Rogowski, Clay Augustyn, TJ Stearns and Luke Martin. "Our team's success will be determined by how well we understand our identity as a team," said second-year coach Austin Scott. "Defense, rebounding, and taking care of the basketball, all of those game-altering toughness categories that every coach emphasizes will be essential for us to succeed. We realize the collective strength of the group is our strongest attribute. Our best talent is that each of us are made better by each other."
ProspectCoach: John Camardella (13th season)
Last year: 14-16 (9-1 MSL East)
Key players lost: Jon Kreidler, Ben Zellmer, Ben Miller
Key players returning: G Matt Woloch, sr., G Steve Mack, sr., G/F Matthew McAleer, sr., F Colin Carroll, sr., F Zach Zei, sr., F Brian Dini, sr., F Rob Lombardo, sr., G Ben Osowski, sr., F Aam Barich, sr.
Newcomers: G Gary Moeller, Jr, G Owen Schneider, soph., G Colin Votzmeyer, Jr, G/F Chase Larsen, Jr, G/F Luke Cwidak, Jr, G Marco Shaw, Jr, G/F Ryan Sagendorph, Jr, F Luke Zardzin, Jr, F Cole Lannert, Jr
Outlook: New faces are everywhere for Prospect. In fact, the Knights will have a new look from position 1 to position 5 this year. "For the first time in my career, we don't return a single starter," said Prospect coach John Camardella, whose senior-heavy team last year won its fourth straight MSL East title and its 10th in 12 years. "With that said, these players are as invested as any team I've had at the start of (the season). They know this is their time and I'm proud to say they have put in the work to give themselves a chance to compete." Prospect competed well this summer, winning the Columbia team camp in Harlem and finishing with a big win over Stevenson to end the season. Leading the way has been senior guard Matt Woloch, who was a reserve last year. Camardella calls him the best athlete on the team. Senior forward Brian Dini will likely start and is versatile with a strong game inside and range from 3-point land. Junior forward Chase Larsen has impressed after a solid season last year on the sophomore team. And speaking of sophomores, Owen Schneider is the only sophomore on varsity and he is competing for a starting role. "This team cares about one another and approaches each day with a focused mindset," Camardella said.
Rolling MeadowsCoach: Kevin Katovich (18th season)
Last year: 15-12 (6-4 MSL East)
Key players lost: Javonte Warrener, Matt Schoessling, Jace O'Hara, TJ Williams
Key players returning: G Max Christie, Jr, G Daniel Sobkowicz, Jr, G Sean Nolan, sr., G Jonah Ogunsanya, sr., G Nife Oseni, sr., F Danny Fallon, sr.
Newcomers: F Alex Lebeau, Jr, G Luke Duffer, Jr, F Joey Mickey, Jr, F Ryan Stubitsch, Jr, G Orlando Thomas, soph., G Cameron Christie, fr., C Mark Nikolich-Wilson, fr., G Aiden Hosler, Jr, G Ethan Kakavetsis, Jr, G Cortez Holmes, sr.
Outlook: Pay close attention to the ending with this team and perhaps not so much the beginning. "We might have some growing pains along the way," Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said. "We will have two to three freshmen and one sophomore who could contribute right away. We will be a very young team. We have four key returning contributors that are still playing (playoff) football, so along with all of our young players, we will be a team that should improve as the season goes on and everyone gets back." There will be one constant amid the uncertainty however. A big one. Max Christie, one of the top and most highly recruited high school players in the nation, is back for his junior season and will be counted on to provide some stability as the Mustangs slowly come together and find their groove. Christie averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds per game last season and is tough to guard as a 6-foot-6 point guard. "Our key will be looking to find guys to supplement Max," Katovich said. "Daniel Sobkowicz (10 ppg last year) started last year as a sophomore and had a terrific summer. We are looking for him to make big strides. We will have some young kids who could contribute right away, including Max's (freshman) brother Cameron who should have an immediate impact. It will be an interesting year as our young players develop."
WheelingCoach: Michael O'Keeffe (5th season)
Last year: 12-20 (2-8 MSL East)
Key players lost: Michael Best (Lake Forest College), Brandon Zettek, Jeremy Kim
Key players returning: F Joe Jordan, Jr, G Solomon Hudson, Jr, G Christian McLaughlin, sr., F Javen Reid, sr.
Newcomers: G Jaden Terrell, Jr
Outlook: With the new year last season came a new Wheeling basketball team. Once the calender flipped from 2018 to 2019, the Wildcats seemed to find quite a rhythm. They won 9 of their 12 games in 2019. "We had a strong finish, going 9-9 after January 1st," Wheeling coach Michael O'Keeffe said. "We've shown the ability to make a lot of improvement over the course of each season and find ways to compete at a high level with the MSL's top teams." The Wildcats will be without leading scorer Michael Best (18.6 ppg), who is now playing basketball at Lake Forest College, but two key starters do return: juniors Joe Jordan and Solomon Hudson. This will be Jordan's third year playing varsity basketball. "In fact, Jordan has been in the starting lineup since the first day of his freshman season," O'Keeffe said. "He is known for his tough and scrappy play. His jump shot and athleticism has improved, which should lead to more offensive production." Meanwhile, Hudson moved into the starting lineup last year after Christmas and become one of the best defenders in the MSL. Christian McLaughlin, a starter until he missed three weeks later in the season due to a concussion, also returns and is a strong shooter.