Scouting the 2021 season in the Northwest suburbs
Top teams: Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Maine South, Hersey, Fremd, Barrington, Palatine, St. Viator
Top players: Barrington -- Will Grudzinski (Jr., F), Daniel Hong (Jr., G), Damian Zivak (Sr., F); Buffalo Grove -- Kam Craft (Jr., F), Steph Harris (Sr., G); Conant -- Sean Beckman (Sr., C), Devon Ellis (Sr., G); Elk Grove -- Brandon Burns (Sr., G); Fremd -- Ryan Saxe (Sr., G), Eli Schoffstall (Sr., G), Chris Smyros (Sr., G), Jack Walsh (Sr., F); Hersey -- Griffin Ginder (Sr., F), Ben Randall (Sr., F), Ethan Roberts (Sr., F), Brett Wolff (Sr., F), Drew Zagorski (Sr., F); Hoffman Estates -- Nahum Smith-Hernandez (Sr., G); Leyden -- Matt Espinsoa (Sr., G); Maine South -- Marko Anderson (Sr., F), Sean Gallery (Sr., G), Nikola Zelenovic (Sr., G); Maine West -- Jared Pearson (Sr., G); Palatine -- Julian Campbell (Sr., F), Luke Seiffert (Sr., G); Prospect -- Chase Larsen (Sr., G), Owen Schneider (Jr., G); Rolling Meadows -- Cameron Christie (Soph., G), Max Christie (Sr., F), Daniel Sobkowicz (Sr., F), Orlando Thomas (Jr., G); Schaumburg -- Vaurice Patterson (Sr., G), Armen Torosian (Sr., G); St. Viator -- Eli Aldana (Soph, G), Aidan Harrington (Sr., G), Nathan Kochera (Sr. G); Wheeling -- Joe Jordan (Sr., F), Jaden Terrell (Sr., G)
Season outlook: MSL East -- BUFFALO GROVE lost key components from last season. But the Bison still have huge firepower in Kam Craft and Steph Harris. ELK GROVE is hoping to turn its fortunes around behind Brandon Burns and sophomore Josh Mottley. HERSEY is huge up front with Ethan Roberts, Ben Randall, Brett Wolff, Griffin Grinder and Drew Zagosrksi all above 6-foot-2. PROSPECT is coming off its first regional title since 2009. Chase Larsen and Owen Schneider return to lead the Knights. ROLLING MEADOWS has four starters returning in Max and Cameron Christie, Orlando Sobkowicz and Orlando Thomas. The Mustangs also have tremendous depth with seven other players returning who saw time last year. WHEELING has a new coach in Tom Antonosz. The Wildcats will lean on returnees Jaden Terrell and Joe Jordan.
MSL WEST -- BARRINGTON will have tons of size in 6-foot-5 Damian Zivak, 6-6 Will Grudzinski and 6-8 Nate Boldt. The Broncos will also lean on Conant transfer Daniel Hong at guard, CONANT should have a solid 1-2 punch in Devon Ellis and 6-8 center Sean Beckman. FREMD will be like an oak tree with lots of limbs. Jack Walsh, who is 6-4 and 295 pounds and is headed to Wyoming to play football, will be the trunk. He will be surrounded by a trio of shooters in Chris Smyros, Eli Schoffstall and Ryan Saxe. HOFFMAN ESTATES lost a huge chunk to graduation and has just three seniors on the squad. The Hawks will be led by Nahum Smith-Hernandez. PALATINE should be in the mix for the conference title. The Pirates are looking for solid play from four-year varsity player Julian Campbell as well as Luke Seiffert, Brandon Storm and Eric Pecson. SCHAUMBURG The defending MSL champions suffered a huge blow when Wisconsin-commit Chris Hodges opted out for the season. The Saxons still should be tough thanks to returnees Vaurice Patterson and Armen Torosian.
OTHERS: CHRISTIAN LIBERTY returns just one senior in Rob Litzenberger and will count on 6-6 Dillon Baer. LEYDEN graduated its main scorers, but the Eagles will be looking to Matt Espinosa and Jiovanny Garcia to pick things up. MAINE EAST also was hurt by graduation and the Blue Demons will be looking to rebuild. MAINE SOUTH could be a solid factor in the CSL South. The Hawks' top players include Marko Anderson, Sean Gallery and Nikola Zelenovic. MAINE WEST will be young this season with just four seniors on the squad led by Jared Pearson. ST. VIATOR has a new coach this season in Michael O'Keeffe. The Lions figure to still be tough on defense and will be led by seniors Aidan Harrington and Nathan Kochera along with rising sophomore star Eli Aldana.