Boys basketball: Scouting the DuPage Valley Conference
Coach: Mike Reynolds (fourth season)
Last season's record: 25-10, 8-2 conference (1st)
Top returning players: Sean Reynolds, So, (G, 6-1), Darrell Island, Sr, (G, 6-3), Cooper Phelps, Sr, (G, 6-1).
Top new players: Eric Rosenow, Jr, (G/F, 6-3), Tyler Vilet, So, (G, 6-0), Jackson Kees, So, (G, 6-2), Davon Grant, Fr, (G/F, 6-4), Chance Perry, Sr, (F, 6-4).
Worth noting: All-DVC first teamer Reynolds returns after averaging 10 PPG as a freshman, along with Island (10 ppg and 4 assists per game). "I feel like we have a good mix of older and younger players," Mike Reynolds said. "We will continue with our quick-paced defensive style of play. I am excited to watch this young group develop throughout the season." The Barbs, who have won the DVC three years in a row, lost in the sectional finals to Larkin.
Coach: Pete Kramer (20th season)
Last season's record: 19-10 overall, 6-4 in conference, (tied for second)
Top returning players: Simon Krugliakovas, Sr, (PG, 5-10), Michael Boyce, Sr, (G/F, 6-4), Grady Cooperkawa, Sr, (G/F, 6-3).
Top new players: Jack First, Jr, (F/C, 6-5), Ivan Najdovski, Sr, (G/F, 6-2), Reece Kennedy, Sr, (F, 6-2), Ross DeZur, Jr, (F/C, 6-3), Khalil Cooper, Jr, (F, 6-4), Gavin Wade, So, (G, 5-11), Chase Reeder, So, (F, 6-1).
Worth noting: The Redhawks like the depth and experience that's back from last year's DVC runners-up, but will miss last year's top player Mantas Zilys, who transferred to a prep school in Vermont after averaging 17.5 ppg and 8 rebounds. Krugliakovas will run the offense and can go inside to returner starter Boyce -- a strong, physical presence -- as well as look for perimeter shooters like Cooperkawa. "We're not gonna move them up and not play them," Kramer noted of sophomores Wade and Reeder. "We've got some decent size but it's just a matter of putting it all together. We'll see how quickly these new guys settle in playing on the big stage. Can they perform right away or will it take them some time?"
Coach: Gene Nolan (fifth season)
Last season's record: 17-16, 4-6 in conference (4th place)
Top returning players: Luke Williams, Jr, (G, 6-2), Cole Arl, Jr, (G, 5-11), Jacob Nolen, Sr, (G/F, 6-4), Bryce Welch, Jr, (G, 6-1), Charlie Farrell, Sr, (C, 6-9).
Top new players: Jack Kallstrand, Jr, (F, 6-2), Grant Montanari, Jr, (F, 6-2).
Worth noting: The Huskies won a regional championship last year, defeating Naperville Central and Lake Park, before losing to eventual state champion Glenbard West in the sectional semifinals. Williams and Arl are returning starters coming off strong football campaigns. Nolen and Welch received valuable minutes off the bench, along with Farrell. "We have a terrific group of kids, and very good team chemistry. They're a fun group to coach, very hard working. Defense and rebounding will be the key," Nolan said.
Coach: Todd Sutton (25th season)
Last season's record: 22-11 overall, 6-4 in conference (tied for second)
Top returning players: Luke Kinkade, Jr, (G, 6-1), Nick Lendino, Sr, (F, 6-2), Chris Srbinov, Sr, (G, 6-2), Nick Doherty, Sr, (F, 6-1), Bryan Thomas, Sr, (G, 6-0), Colin Gerrity, Jr, (G, 6-2), Sebastian Grimes, Sr, (F, 6-2), Jack Tolentino, Sr, (C, 6-2)
Top new players: Joe Balgro, Jr, (F, 6-3), Nate Fiore, Jr, (F, 6-4)
Worth noting: As a whole, this is another young team for the Wildcats, but some veterans who saw significant minutes last year on a regional championship team are back. Neuqua lost 3 starters in Jayden Dean and Cole Vonnahme (first team all-DVC) and Nick Kinkade (special mention). The Wildcats do return their top shooter in Kinkade and best defender in Lendino. Srbinov, Thomas, and Gerrity will be relied upon with their experience and scoring to help navigate the Wildcats in the early part of the season. Rebounding and limiting turnovers will be key. Watch out for up-and-coming junior Balgro, who has great size, length, and natural ability to play anywhere. "It's a good group of kids who really enjoy being around each other that love to put in the work on the court," said Sutton, who has compiled a 479-233 record.
Coach: Isaiah Davis (fourth season)
Last season's record: 10-20, 2-8 (sixth in conference)
Top returning players: Jahki Gray, Sr, (G, 6-1), Quentin Schaffer, Sr, (G, 6-2), Nick Schroeder, Jr, (G, 6-4), Jackson Corbett, Sr, (F, 6-4), Javion Grizzle, Sr, (G/F, 6-2), Michael Bryant, Sr, (G, 5-10), Jake Nosek, So, (G/F, 6-7).
Top new players: Will Ashford, Jr, (G/F, 6-6), James Parker, Jr, (G, 5-10), Dom Smith, So, (G/F, 6-2).
Worth noting: All-DVC performer Gray (13 ppg) is one of four returning starters back and the Mustangs also get a boost from East Aurora transfer Parker, who started for the Tomcats last winter as a sophomore. After a slow start last year the Mustangs played much better the second half and then followed that up with a solid summer and fall. "We bring back a veteran group and we have really good depth this year, so I'm pretty optimistic of this group," Davis said. "We play a tough schedule that will test us but we're definitely excited to have a good season this year. "
Coach: Andrew Schweitzer (second season)
Last season's record: 15-15, 4-6 in conference (fourth)
Top returning players: Jackson Langendorf, Sr. (F, 6-6), Tre Blissett, Jr. (F, 6-5), Tyler Threat, Jr. (G, 6-0), Eric Chtilianov, Sr. (G/F, 6-3), Shoi Rathi, Sr. (G/F, 6-2), Braylon Spicer, Sr. (G, 5-11).
Top new players: Tyreek Coleman, So. (G, 6-0), Elijah Whitaker, Jr. (G, 6-1), Matt Sessom, Jr. (F, 6-2), Ryan Morton, Jr. (F, 6-2).
Worth noting: With four starters and two other players that saw major minutes returning there is a lot of optimism surrounding this team. "We should be a tough matchup for anyone with our ability to defend and get after it, but we do have an absolute bear of a schedule," Schweitzer said. The Warriors' nonconference matchups include tests with Bolingbrook, Rockford Lutheran, Mt. Carmel, Moline, Oswego East, and Downers Grove North. Add in the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament and there should be a lot of intriguing matchups.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL EIGHT
Coach: Andrew Weber (first season)
Last season's record: 18-12, 8-6 (3rd in conference)
Top returning players: Chris Farrell, Sr, (C, 6-5), Zach Ebert, Sr, (G, 6-2), Casey Rosenberg, Sr, (G, 5-9), Dom Nigro, Sr, (G, 5-10), Jude Peters, Sr, (G, 6-1), Matt Williamson, Sr, (W, 6-2), Octavius Peterson-Turner, Sr, (F, 6-4)
Top new players: Drew Nigro, Jr, (G, 6-1), Matt Kane, Jr, (G, 5-8), Nate Harer, Jr, (F, 6-4), Kyle Grutzmacher, Jr, (W, 6-2), Ty Russell, Jr, (F, 6-5), Clay Hicks, Jr, (G, 5-11)
Worth noting: "This year's team has grown up together and team chemistry should not be an issue," the Lions new coach said. "This is a group that brings toughness and a competitive desire." Farrell (6.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg) is the top returning scorer and rebounder. "Our depth has a chance to be a dangerous asset. It is going to be a lot of fun to coach this team and watch them continue to get better as the season goes on. The sooner we understand what we want to do offensively and defensively, the sooner we will have success, but that will come with time."