Glenbard West's Huff plays with poise, confidence

  • Glenbard West's Braden Huff is the Captain of the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage County Boys Basketball All-Area Team.

    Glenbard West's Braden Huff is the Captain of the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage County Boys Basketball All-Area Team. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Glenbard West's Braden Huff is the Captain of the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage County Boys Basketball All-Area Team..

    Glenbard West's Braden Huff is the Captain of the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage County Boys Basketball All-Area Team.. Eileen T. Meslar/for Shaw Media

  • Glenbard West's Braden Huff is the Captain of the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage County Boys Basketball All-Area Team.

    Glenbard West's Braden Huff is the Captain of the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage County Boys Basketball All-Area Team. Daily Herald file photo

 
By Bob Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/20/2021 3:58 PM

Former Glenbard West boys basketball coach Tim Hoder fondly recalls watching Braden Huff's first varsity appearance.

Even as a freshman, Huff had a flair for the dramatic.

 

Two-plus years ago, Huff strolled onto the court without much fanfare. He was a tall but skinny freshman attempting to find his place on a talented team.

Hoder decided to throw the gangly Huff into the fire, bringing him off the bench in the season opener against Glenbard South.

"Braden wasn't a sure thing to make varsity as a freshman, but we had some injuries and he started the year with us," Hoder said. "He was really skinny but skilled, but he came off the bench in our opener that year.

"Seven seconds after he came into the game, he caught the ball in the corner. He didn't hesitate, wasn't worried about anything. He was open and shot it. He knocked it down. But that's Braden. He just plays and plays with confidence. He keeps control of his emotions on the court, and able to stay emotionally even-keeled even when he was a freshman."

Huff laughed and excitedly recalled his first experience playing on the varsity.

"I had the jitters and was a little excited and nervous," Huff said. "I was sitting in the corner, and without thinking, I just hoisted it up and it ended up going in and the crowd went crazy. It was an experience that I'll never forget."

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Huff, a three-year varsity player, is now one of the top players in the Midwest after putting together a sterling junior season.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Huff, the 2021 Daily Herald DuPage Valley Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks in just 22 minutes played per game. He shot 70 percent from the field and 46 percent on 3-pointers for a well-balanced Glenbard West (16-2) squad.

Huff said he cherished helping the Hilltoppers claim a share of the West Suburban Silver Conference title.

"This team was awesome," Huff said. "We were tightly knit, and everybody played for each other. I think it really showed. We were all excited to play."

Even with multiple offers from Power Five Conference schools, Huff's long-range potential exceeds his current production. His combination of height, 6-11 wingspan, strength, perimeter shooting, driving ability, court awareness and vision to go with elite defensive skills are rare qualities. His game should also improve immensely with a full offseason of playing AAU for the Illinois Wolves after not traveling the club circuit last season.

Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka said Huff's a complete-package player with no limit on his potential.

"Braden has the potential to be a professional basketball player," he said. "His mindset, skills, and physical attributes incorporated with his work ethic and passion are one in a million. At 6-10, Braden can play at all three levels and facilitate an offense. At a young age, he learned how to play positionless basketball, which assisted in his development in all areas of his game."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A team-first and humble player, Huff doesn't shy away from the possibility of leaving a memorable legacy at Glenbard West. The Hilltoppers will be among the top teams in the running for the Class 4A state title next season.

"We're returning a lot of guys back, so we should have a pretty good group," Huff said. "Next year should be a lot of fun. I'm excited for next season. I definitely have some goals, like First-Team All-State and Mr. Basketball. But the big goal for us is to make a deep state run and hopefully win it. That's the big one that we're all chasing."

First team

Joshua Harris, Sr., G, Timothy Christian

Braden Huff, Jr., F, Glenbard West

Jack Mielke, Sr., F, Downers Grove North

John Poulakidas, Sr., G/F, Neuqua Valley

Ben Schwieger, Sr., F, Waubonsie Valley

Second team

Kyle Baskin, Sr., G, Naperville Central

Connor Davis, Sr,. F, Neuqua Valley

Grant Johnson, Sr., F, Naperville North

LaDonus Rogers, Sr., F, Glenbard East

Charlie Sessa, Sr., G, Hinsdale Central

Honorable mention

Malik Bell, Sr., G, Metea Valley

Parker Brown, Sr., G, Wheaton Warrenville South

Qati Dalipi, Sr., F, Westmont

Bobby Durkin, Jr., G, Hinsdale South

Kyle Engstler, Sr., F, Downers Grove North

Jeff Grace, Sr., G, York

Connor Haake, Sr., G, Wheaton North

Cade Hardtke, Sr., G, Glenbard South

Kobe Jones, Sr., F, Downers Grove South

Aidan Kramer, Sr., G/F, Naperville Central

Frankie Krygier, Sr, F, Fenton

Vito LaGioia, Jr., G, Lake Park

Luke Nolan, Sr., G, Benet

Caden Pierce, Jr., G, Glenbard West

Marquel Saleek, Jr,. G, Willowbrook

Isaiah Smith, Sr., G, Waubonsie Valley

Ben VanderWal, Jr., G, Timothy Christian

Tyler Van Eekeren, Sr., F, Benet

Paxton Warden, Jr., G, Glenbard West

Zeke Williams, Jr., G, Naperville North

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