Scouting the Mid-Suburban West
BarringtonCoach: Bryan Tucker (20th year 325-210)
Last year: 19-9 (4-6, 3rd MSL West)
Key losses: Braden Albertson, Jason Boock, Mark Johnson, Evan Lauderback, Justyn Maroon, Will Raider
Returning players: Nathan Boldt (6-8, Soph., C), John Bulgarelli, (6-4, Sr., F), Connor Groom (5-10, Sr., G), Ben Kamptner (6-1, Sr., F), Connor Keenan (6-3, Sr., F), Dylan Keenan (6-3, Sr., F), Charlie Loomis (6-4, Sr., F), Aaron Sarkar (6-3, Sr., G), Damian Zivak (6-5, Jr., F).
Top newcomers: Nick Bordenet (5-10, Soph., G), Will Grudzinski (6-4, Soph., F), Liam Kibby (6-1, Jr., F), Cam Megyery (5-6, Jr., G), Jack Trent (6-0, Soph., G).
Outlook: Barrington lost a pair of three-year starters in Jason Boock and Mark Johnson. The Broncos return two starters from a 19-win team, but fortunately one of those will be Aaron Sarkar, who was All-Area last season. Sarkar, who averaged 11.5 points, knows how to win. He knocked down a trio of game-winning shots as the Broncos had a solid season a year ago. Connor Keenan is the Broncos' other returning starter. "We lost a lot from our team, graduating five of our top seven," Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said. "We will be young and inexperienced." Barrington will look to have a group of players to fill the other starting positions. Although Tucker will be searching for those other three starters, he may have some size to offset the lack of experience. Nathan Bldt, who is a 6-foot-8 sophomore, the Keenan brothers, Connor and Dylan, are each 6-3 and Damian Zivak, who is 6-5, should give opponents matchup issues. "We will be trying to compete in a division that is returning a ton of experience and talent," Tucker said. "The young Broncos will have to grow up in a hurry to be competitive in a loaded league."
ConantCoach: Jim Maley (3rd year,
Last year: 12-16 (4-6, 3rd MSL West)
Key losses: Raj Mittal, Anthony Wachal, Jonathan Kolev.
Returning players: Devon Ellis, (6-5, Jr., G/F), Abaz Karafili (6-1, Sr. G), Matt McColaugh (5-11, Sr., G).
Top newcomers: Daniel Hong (6-0, Soph., G), Brandon Schroyer (6-1, Jr. G/F), Michael Sheehy (5-9, Soph., G), Sean Beckman (6-4, Jr., F), Tyler Burkland (5-10, Jr. G).
Outlook: Conant has been the home of a pair of Division 1 basketball players in Jimmy Sotos (Bucknell) and Ryan Davis (Vermont). The Cougars could be looking at another with the emergence of 6-foot-5 Devon Ellis. A junior, Ellis averaged 9 points per game last season and is coming off a great summer. "Devon Ellis has a chance to be a big-time player," Conant coach Jim Maley said. "He has the strength, athleticism, and ability to give you 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. He doesn't realize how good he can be. When he is in attack mode, he is tough to stop and makes our team better. He is a very nice kid off the court. We need him to be the not so nice kid on the court." The Cougars will also look to Matt McColaugh and Abaz Karafili who are both seniors and saw playing time last season. Sean Beckman, who is a junior, and Daniel Hong, who is a sophomore, should also be in the mix for the young Cougars. "We are young so I anticipate that we will experience some growing pains," Maley said. "I expect that we will improve immensely throughout the season. We need to be able to bounce back from failure. We need to be able to come together when things go poorly and find a way to overcome."
FremdCoach: Bob Widlowski (19th year, 313-160)
Last year: 22-5 (9-1, MSL West champs, MSL champs, regional champs)
Key losses: Bryce Hopkins, John Smyros, Dean Ganas, Tim Carlisle
Returning players: Kayman Hopkins (6-5, Sr., F), Max Wexley (6-2, Sr. F/G), Russ Beaupre (6-0, Sr. G), Jake Schoffstall (6-0, Sr., G), Charlie Towns (6-3, Sr. F/G), Matt Wingen (6-2, Sr., F/G), Tafara Okamor 6-2, Sr, F), Mike Nale (6-3, Sr., F)
Top newcomers: Donovan Amos (6-3, Jr., F), Ed Geist (5-10, Jr., G), Chris Skaria (6-2, Jr., F), Jack Walsh (6-5, Jr., C), Alex Braun (5-10, Jr., G), Marcin Warzecha (6-5, Jr., C), Chris Smyros (5-10, Soph, G), Eli Schoffstall (5-10, Soph., G)
Outlook: Fremd just keeps restocking its shelf. The Vikings, who are the defending MSL champions, have had 10 consecutive winning seasons and have gone 218-69 during that span. The Vikings, who have won three consecutive regional titles, return a pair of players who have been key factors for in the past two seasons. Kayman Hopkins, who plays bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame, and guard Zach Schofstall will again be counted on for the Vikings. Charlie Towns, Max Wexley and Matt Wingen also saw playing time last season and should also be solid contributors this year. All five are seniors along with Russ Beaupre and Mike Nale. "We have a nice mix of returning players and veterans," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "Our strengths should be our senior leadership." Widlowski also has a knack of bringing in a plethora of role players to fill his team's needs. Donovan Amos, sophomores Chris Smyros and Eli Schoffstall will fill that role. They, along with a pair of players in 6-5 Jack Walsh and Marcin Warzecha, will give the Vikings some additional size inside. "We need to learn our roles," Widlowski said. "Then execute our stuff early in the season to be successful."
Hoffman EstatesCoach: Luke Yanule (9th year)
Last year: 8-20 (1-9, 6th, MSL West)
Key losses: Rudra Patel, Marquez Woodard, Jon Robson, Arman Sandhu, Philip Ziecina, Jeremiah Blocker
Returning players: Vatsal Pandya, (5-10, Sr., G), Jevin Dobbins, (5-10, Sr., G), John Kurzynski (5-9, Sr., G), Nate Fisher (6-3, Sr., F), Levent Sertesen (5-11, Sr., G), Bat Nordog (5-11, Sr. G), Mihir Kadiwala (5-7, Sr., G)
Top newcomers: Nahum Smith-Hernandez (6-3, Jr., F/G), Shayan Badal, 6-3, Jr., F), Michael Haw, (6-0, Jr., G), Kehinde Badejo (5-10, Jr., G), Taiwo Badejo (5-9, Jr., G), Bryan Leon (5-11, Jr., G), Elijah Mitchell-Brown (5-10, Jr., G), John Mulica, (6-1, Jr., G)
Outlook: Hoffman will be looking to turn things around this season and get back to winning ways. The Hawks have four players that are 6-foot or taller. With that in mind Hoffman Estates will look to play a fast and furious game. "Our guards are quick, savvy and tough," Hoffman Estates coach Luke Yanule said. "This will be a strength for our team this year." The Hawks will have some experience back with Vatsal Pandya, who averaged 7 points, Jevin Dobbins, who averaged 2 points and Nate Fisher, who averaged 4 points leading the charge. Nahum Smith-Hernandez should bring the Hawks some size and strength to the frontcourt while New Jersey transfer Michael Haw and Shayan Badal are untested but ready to compete. "We had a competitive summer with a lot of new players and implementing a new system," Yanule said. "We're looking forward to see what effort looks like with this group. We are acutely aware of our circumstances this year regarding how competitive the league is this year. We're excited to test our mettle in one of the best basketball conferences in the state."
PalatineCoach: Eric Millstone (12th season)
Last year: 13-18 (4-6 in MSL West, tied for 3rd)
Key losses: Ben Storm, Marshawn Rayford, David Balanganayi, Matthew Elter, Demo Collins, Zac Garnmeister
Returning players: Luke Seiffert (Jr., 5-10, G), Julian Campbell (6-7, Jr., F), Tommy Swanson (6-2, Sr., F), Josh Rivera (5-10, Sr., G), Shailan Rajpurkar (6-0, Sr., G), Brandon Hernandez (6-0, Sr., F), Connor Aikman (5-9, Sr. G), Eric Lambke (5-11, Sr., G), Jon Murray (6-0, Sr., G).
Top newcomers: Eric Pecson (5-10, Jr., G), Brandon Storm (6-0, Jr. G), Jermal Williams (6-0, Jr. F), Ronald Todd (5-10, Jr. G), Colin McNichols (5-10, Jr. F), Dominic Gac (6-1, Jr. F), David Onyekonwu (6-5, Jr., F).
Outlook: It will be post and point for the Pirates this season. Palatine returns post player Julian "JuJu" Cambell, the 6-foot-7 junior who had a terrific season last year as a sophomore, averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds to help him earn All-Area honors. Also back for the Pirates is point guard Tommy Swanson, who averaged 6 points and 4 assists. "With a post player and point guard back after a full year of experience, as well as some key reserves from last year, these kids expect to be very relevant in the MSL West," Palatine coach Eric Millstone said. "We did some good things over the summer, but it's hard to put a lot of stock over the summer because kids are being pulled in a million different directions. When we had our top guys together and they had their legs under them, we were very competitive." Swanson, who dropped 37 3-pointers last season, should help key the offense. Josh Rivera, who saw significant playing time as well junior Eric Pecson should give the Pirates a solid starting five. David Onyeekonwu, who is 6-5, should also give Palatine some size underneath. "Because we'll be a little undersized, we have to utilize our speed at both ends of the floor," Millstone said. "If we have to go toe-to-toe with teams, I have enough confidence in our team's moxie and toughness, but I think we'll be at our best when we're playing fast."
SchaumburgCoach: Wade Heisler (5th year, 51-64)
Last year: 23-7 (8-2, 2nd, MSL West)
Key losses: Mike Hodges, Heze Trotter, Nick LaBud, Christian Orozco
Returning players: Chris Hodges (6-8, Jr., F). Jared Schoo (6-2, Sr, G), Arnav Karnik (6-0, Sr., G), Shamaree Brown (6-3, Sr., F), Vaurice Patterson (6-1, Soph., G), Armen Torosian, 6-0, Jr., G)
Top newcomers: Joe Sturino (6-1, Sr., G), AJ Prowell (6-1, Jr., F/G), Cameron Nicks (6-0, Jr., F/G), Carsten Cannella (6-4, Jr., 6'4 F)
Outlook: The Saxons are coming off one of their best seasons recently and look to get even more this year. Schaumburg will have the top post player in the area to build around in Wisconsin-commit Chris Hodges. The junior was dynamic a season ago averaging 16 points while shooting an eye-popping 66 percent from the field. But according to coach Wade Heisler, Schaumburg won't be a one-man show. "We have a strong inside presence with Michael," Heisler said. "But we have multiple kids who can shoot the ball. The focus of our program will be to limit turnovers, rebound, and emphasize defense. We have good team balance with multiple guys we expect to be able to make shots." While opponents will be focused on slowing down Hodges, Schaumburg also returns seniors Jared Schoo, Arnav Karnik and Schamaree Brown. Vaurice Patterson, who saw plenty of action as a freshman, will also help key the potent offense. "We have a lot of hardworking athletes who are driven to see the program be successful," Heisler said. "We were up and down over the summer. A lot of new faces and we are young in some positions. Kids have worked very hard and we are excited for the season."