Scouting the Mid-Suburban West
Barrington BroncosCoach: Bryan Tucker
Last season's record: 10-3, 9-1 (MSL West champions)
Top returning players: Nate Boldt, sr., (C, 6-10), Will Grudzinski, sr.,(F, 6-6), Daniel Hong, sr.,(G, 6-2), Evan Jno-Baptiste, sr., (G, 5-11), Nick Bordenet, sr., (G, 5-10)
Top new players: Mykolas Ivanauskas, jr., (F, 6-7), John Gurskis, jr., (F, 6-0), Jake Feightner, jr. F, 6-3), Donovan Nichols, jr., (G, 6-0), Ryan Shomaker, jr., (G, 6-1)
Worth noting: With four returning starters, the defending MSL champion Broncos are the team to beat in the West with Grudzinki, who averaged 16 points last season, and Boldt (8 points) back. The Broncos could be huge up front, averaging nearly 6-foot-8 when starters Boldt and Grudzinki add Ivanauskas to the mix. Ivanauskas is the younger brother of 2015 Northwest suburbs all-area captain Rapolas Ivanauskas. Barrington also will have terrific guard play with Hong (7 points) and Jno-Baptiste (5 points) returning as the backcourt tandem. The Broncos will also have great bench depth with Bordenet, Feighter, Nichols and Shomaker. "We have great attitude and unselfish hard workers," Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said. "We need to focus on and improve on the defensive end of the floor."
Conant CougarsCoach: Matt Walsh
Last season's record: 2-11, 1-9 (MSL West)
Top returning players: Leonard Ahmeti, sr., (F, 6-0), Caleb Choe, sr., (G, 5-7), Colin Francia, sr., (G, 5-8), Isaac Hanley, sr., (F, 6-1), David Kulig, sr., (F, 6-1), Michael Sheehy, sr., (G, 5-10)
Top new players: Yusuf Cisse, soph., (G, 6-0), Camden Lathos, soph., (F, 6-5), Des McDaniel, Sr, (G, 6-0), Austin Potocnic, soph., (F, 6-1), Shreyas Talluri, soph., (F, 6-2).
Worth noting: Walsh, who was at Schaumburg for 5 seasons before stepping away after the 2014 season, is back on the bench after coaching the sophomore team at Conant for the past couple of seasons. Walsh inherits a team that is short in stature but will play fast. Francia, Hanley, Kulig, and Sheehy all either started or played big minutes last season. Sophomores Cisse, Lathos, Potocnic and Talluri all should see action this season. "We are excited about the upcoming season," Walsh said. "We have a nice mix of returning experience with some new young guys ready to get their feet wet and contribute. I like our senior leadership. We will count on their experience and character to guide us this year. Coming together as a team will be a real key for us."
Hoffman Estates HawksCoach: Peter McBride
Last season's record: 2-11, 1-9 (MSL West)
Top returning players: Mike Vuckovic, sr., (G., 6-0), Nick Vuckovic, sr., (G, 6-0), Darien Irvin, sr. (F, 6-0), Luka Sparavalo, sr. (F, 6-4), DJ Wallace, jr., (F, 6-7), Yashua Pettis-Taylor, sr., (F, 6-0), Dasharr Scott, sr., (F, 6-2), Preet Brahmbhatt, sr., (G, 5-10)
Top new players: Jacob Atkins-Mirich, jr., (G, 5-11), Kentrell Branch, jr., (F, 6-2)
Worth noting: McBride takes over the head coaching reins. He inherits a senior-dominated squad led by twin guards Mike and Nick Vuckovic running the floor for the Hawks. Irvin and Sparavalo should give Hoffman some strength on the wings. Wallace could open some eyes with his play while Scott, Pettis-Taylor and Brahmbhatt give Hoffman some depth. "This is a special group of young men who love playing together and who play the game the right way," McBride said. "We have valuable experience returning that will help us early and that we should be able to lean on in big games. Offensively we hope to play fast, selfless basketball and lean on our abilities to create for each other."
Fremd VikingsCoach: Bob Widlowki
Last season's record: 12-3, 8-2 (MSL West)
Top returning players: Eli Schoffstall, sr., (G, 6-1), Chris Smyros, sr., (G, 6-0), Archie Cox, sr. (F, 6-1), Aaron Orido, sr., (G, 5-10), Caiden Suchy, sr., (F, 6-3), Ryan Sammons, jr., (G, 6-2), Sevag Aroyan, sr., (G, 6-1)
Top new players: Mark Braun, jr. (G, 6-0), Cameron Kuhl, jr., (F, 6-4), Tyler Kaspar, jr., (G, 5-10), Logan Maloney, jr., (G, 5-9), Scott Nance, jr., (F, 6-3), Bobby Panzino, jr., (G, 5-9)
Worth noting: The Vikings will be small and scrappy and Widlowski would not want it any other way. "We are looking to build around our experienced guards," Widlowski said. "We will have to play together as a team at both ends of the floor." Fremd will have a solid backcourt tandem in Schoffstall and Smyros, both of whom were all-conference last season. Fremd will also be leaning hard on Cox, Orido, Suchy and Sammons. All played last season and are familiar with the Vikings' style of play. "It feels like basketball is back," Widlowski said. "A fresh start, new full schedule. It is great to be back in the gym."
Palatine PiratesCoach: Eric Millstone
Last season's record: 9-6, 6-4 (MSL West)
Top returning players: Tyler Swierczek, jr. (F,), Grant Dersnah, jr., (F, 6-4), Sam Millstone, jr., (G, 5-11), Bobby Widlowski, sr., (F, 6-1), DJ Dick, sr., (G, 6-3), Jackson Wheat, sr., (F, 6-3), Mikey Elter, sr. , (F, 6-2)
Top new players: Mitch Larkin, sr. (F., 6-1), Sean Neilson, sr., (G., 5-10), Connor May, soph., (F, 6-6), Tommy Elter, soph., (G, 6-2 )
Worth noting: The Pirates will need to look fast to replace the 40 points they graduated from last season. The cupboard isn't completely bare as the Pirates return Swierczek, who averaged 10.5 points, Dersnah, who had 4.3 points, and Millstone, who averaged 2.5 points. Widlowksi, Dick, Wheat and Mikey Elter also saw some time last season. "This year we'll have to hit the reset button in terms of production and knowing where it's coming from," Millstone said. "That being said, we have 4-5 different kids that could lead us in scoring each game, so it's going to be fun to see who steps up on a nightly basis. While we're waiting to see where our offense comes from, our length and athleticism at the defensive end should keep us in games."
Coach: Wade Heisler
Last season's record: 5-8, 4-6
Top returning players: Matt Labud, sr. (G, 5-10), Adi Latic, jr., (G, 6-0), DJ Wilson, sr., (G, 6-3), Brendan Burke, sr., (F, 6-4), Nick Doroskin, sr., (F, 6-5)
Top new players: Maurico Reyes, jr., (G, 5-10), Jordan Tunis, fresh., (G, 5-9), Josh Carter, soph., (G, 5-6)
Worth noting: The Saxons will be short on varsity experience. But what they lack there, the make up with their size and flexibility. Wilson, who averaged 8 points last season, could be a matchup problem for opponents thanks to his 6-3 size. Doroskin, who averaged 4 points last season, also gives the Saxons some height up front along with Burke. "Our team has several guys who are committed to playing hard, competing every day and putting the team first," Heisler said. "This will make for a lot of growth throughout season. We have only a few guys who have varsity level experience and will need to narrow and key in on our program's emphasis. We have balance in our rotation with many players who can contribute playing inside and out."