Kansas-bound Julian Wright leads preseason
No. 5 Homewood-Flossmoor into action,
trying to top last year's second-place finish at State.
Preseason Top 25
By Frank Rusnak Hales Franciscan is,
bar none, the top team in Class A. Westinghouse received some more talent in the
backcourt via transfers to go with the state's premier big man. And Glenbrook North has the
most dominating high school player in the state.
But it is Hillcrest, which went through the summer
unscathed, that garners the preseason No. 1 spot by HighSchoolElite.com.
With a great mix of talent, chemistry, players who know their roles and solid
coaching, the Hawks are the team to beat heading into the 2004-'05 season.
Hillcrest The best backcourt in the state of Illinois just
knows how to win, as Hillcrest went undefeated with a very tough summer
schedule. Seniors Maurice Acker, 59 point guard, and Jerel McNeal, 63 wing
guard, may or may not be the most talented duo, but they certainly have the
best chemistry and do whatever it takes to come out with a W. McNeal is
headed to Marquette and Acker decided on Ball State. Senior power forward
Reggie Bossie at 63 is also a big part of why this team always seems to
overachieve. Bossie plays like hes six inches taller and has great basketball
instincts. Add in Marian Catholic transfer Ryan Owens, a 63 small forward,
and this is a tough team to handle.
Hales Franciscan Yes, they are a Class A team (small
school), but they are still one of the best in the state. The Spartans have two
players that are usually money in the clutch in 63 senior Nate Minnoy and
senior shooting guard Mike Robinson Their junior point guard, Jerome Randle, is
one of the quickest point guards in the country with the ball in his hands.
Add in 66 senior forwards Austin Chapital and Jeff Wilson and theres a
winning formula. With the already-strong nucleus, Morgan Park transfer Darrien
McKinstrey, 60 junior, can be added to a very talented mix.
Westinghouse Boosted by Proviso West transfers Joe
Ballard, Kris Harris and Marquis Johnson, The House will make a strong run
at the state title. With 68 center DeAndre Thomas holding down the middle
and great guard play with such names as Corey Caston and Jimmy Hill this is
the team to beat in the city.
Glenbrook North It has been said this team is just
slightly above average without super junior Jon Scheyer (6'5", G), and that
may be true. However, with him this team will make things happen. As a
freshman Scheyer led his team Downstate. His stock has dropped somewhat
nationally this summer, but rest assure when the high school season comes
along hell still be dropping 40-point games on defenses solely designed to
stop him. Also watch seniors 61 point guard Sean Wallis and 66 forward Malick Valliani,
along with 66 junior power forward Zach Kelly.
Homewood-Flossmoor Kansas-bound Julian Wright and point
guard/star quarterback Freddie Barnes, who committed to Bowling Green for
football, are the only returning starters, but the Vikings regroup quickly
with bench players from last year and big men from the sophomore team. Most
notably, look for senior D.J. Posley (6-1, PG) who has emerged this summer as
a star in his own right and is committed to Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. Despite
a frail figure, he is a defensive force, can knock down the mid-range jump
shot and is very smart on the court (and in the classroom). Look for emerging
juniors guard Marcus Relphorde, forward Andre Walker and center Carl Hayes.
Julian Young, but very talented. Look for a lot to be
asked of Brandon Ewing (61, PG, Wyoming). Coach Loren Jackson is emerging as
one of the Public Leagues finest coaches and will lead 65 junior DeAngelo
McIntosh, 67 junior Thijan Moses and 68 sophomore Mac Koshwal. The
eligibility of Moses and Koshwal is being looked at by the IHSA. Super
sophomores Jeremiah Kelly and Thornwood transfer Trey Blue can both light up
the scoreboard. Look out for the emergence of 68 senior big man Desmond
Hendrix, another transfer.
Carbondale This team already has experience from a
fourth-place finish in the Class AA playoffs last season, but the addition of
two transfers helps bolster their already strong lineup. The Terriers lost
Justin Dentmon to graduation, but Century transfers Josh Tabb (Southern
Illinois) and Ray Nelson will fit nicely into the mix. Returning players
include junior post Manual Cass and guard Phillip Fane.
Morgan Park This teams downfall could be the lack of a
go-to-player in the clutch. However, they have size and above-par players at
every position. Six-foot-8 center Jimmy Covington leads a talented group of
seniors. Kenyale Evans, Raphael Scott and Halston Hallman will also provide
senior leadership. Watch out for 69 sophomore power forward Isaiah Martin
and immensely skilled junior Brandon Bouche.
Thornton This teams size and strength will be hard to
contend with. Led by 66 junior forward Joevan Catron. The post will also be
anchored in by senior athlete extraordinaire Donnell Lyons. Emerging junior
Jamel McClean moved to Virginia but rumors say he could be back for his senior
year. Brandon Dagans (6-1, SR) is a shooter supreme in the backcourt and
the teams top returning scorer. The IHSA is looking into the eligibility of
Rich Central transfer Brandon Long and Crete-Monee transfer Mustapha
Bloomington As it stands, post player Wesley Ware is still
nursing an injury suffered during the football season, and the Purple Raiders
are very small in the post with an undersized club. However, the Illinois
State-bound backcourt of Dodie Dunson and Brent Holtz will certainly keep this
team a force. Add in sophomore post Lonnie Lawrence and sophomore guard Justin
Bocot and this team may surprise some people.
St. Joseph This is a recruiting spot most all DIs will
want to familiarize themselves with for the next three years with a near
top-10 level prospect in each of the next three classes. It begins with senior
61 Iowa-bound Tony Freeman, ends with 64 sophomore Demetri McCamey and has
64 junior Jon Peoples in the middle. Emerging sophomore Evan Turner is not
expected to begin the season on varsity, but could make an impact latter in
Proviso East Senior guard Phillip Perry has been a starter
since his sophomore year and has been in the presence of some great players
who went onto success in the Big 10: Shannon Brown at Michigan State and Dee
Brown at Illinois. Now, it's Perrys turn, as he committed to Wisconsin.
Indiana-State-bound Jerimiah Wise will be in the backcourt with Perry, while
610 junior Brian Carlwell will hold down the middle. Senior swingman Marcus
Scott is strong, skilled and plays very physical. Look for sparkplug Sergio
Brown, 60 junior guard, to be the fifth starter or a super sixth man.
Simeon Young, talented, hyped. You can go on and on about
Derrick Rose and the talented, yet inexperienced Simeon ball club that will be
one of the states top teams for the next three years to come. Led by the 63
Rose, this talented nucleus of sophomores has 65 post Tim Flowers, 63 wing
Bryant Orange and 64 Whitney Young transfer Kevin Johnson. Look for senior
point guard Tim Green, a two-year starter, to provide experience. And, an
emerging player off the bench will be junior point guard Carl Hampton along
with 64 junior Josh Davis.
Belleville Althoff The leader of this team is certainly
St. Louis-bound Kevin Lisch. However, he is surrounded by some nice size and
talent, which include 66 juniors Brandon Roth and Ryan Gore. Sophomore
Jeremy Felton will be a nice inside-outside scoring threat. Watch for Kevins
younger brother, freshman Daniel, to also make a name for himself.
Rockford Jefferson With a college-like front line going
69, 68 and 66 the J-Hawks will prove to be an intimidating foe for most
opponents in the NIC-9. Ball State-bound center Pat Nelson has elevated his
game along with junior power forward Robert Eppinger, who has shown great
versatility with his skills. Small forward Matt Peterson is athletic and has a
nice touch from outside. The key may very well be junior point guard Brandon
Fisher, who did not play last season because of academics.
Farragut The leader of this team is one of the Public
Leagues best, junior point guard Chris Singletary. Singletary is experienced,
under control with the ball and has a talented group surrounding him. Senior
power forward Johnny Logan is strong and can throw his body around. Look for
Logan to receive help from 67 freshman Mike Dunnigan. Prosser transfer Cory
Hughes is a threat at either guard position.
Crane The trio of senior forward Tyrone Kent and juniors
Sherron Collins and Darius Walton are what make the Cougars tick. An athletic,
high-scoring team, coach Anthony Longstreet will have this squad going from
start to finish.
Moline Coach Frank Dexter can never be doubted, and this
year is no different. Led by junior sharpshooter Paul Bayer, this team will
likely set the tone for in the Western Big Six. Also watch for junior post
Marist Juniors Jeremy Nash (6-4, WG) and Mitchell Bouie (6-4, F) are the unquestioned leaders, but senior Jim Griffin is a
multi-dimensional player at 67. Also look for Tom Sullivan, the teams top
scorer from last year, to make some noise.
Von Steuben Senior guard Angel Santiago is a four-year
starter and has the experience on the court to lead this young team. The
junior combination of Jeremie Simmons and Kendall Russell are both emerging
prospects. Senior point guard John Johnson and senior forward Paul Warren will
both put points on the board. Look for sophomore guard Michael Horton to give
the Panthers a spark off the bench.
Rich Central One of the areas top combo guards, Brandon
Long, transferred out (to Thornton), but replacing him is Rich South transfer
Jeremy Winters. Winters is a 61 senior who is an explosive athlete and
flat-out winner. He will team with 64 Mississippi State-bound Jarvis Walker,
62 sophomore Justin Taylor and Crete-Monee transfer Howard Little.
Harlan If all the pieces align, this could be the states
top team, but on the same token, they could fall apart and dismantle
themselves. Seven-foot big man Clarence Holloway (Louisville) has been out of
action for a while, whether it be sickness, ineligibility from transfer or
injury. Jeremiah Bryant was ineligible for all of last year after his
transfer, along with Holloway, from Chicago Fenger. The key for this team will
be 6'5" junior wing guard Andre Gullens who has elevated himself to high-major
status with sterling performances this summer. Also watch for senior guards
Jabbarie Brown, an explosive athlete, and Lamont McCall, a pin-point shooter.
Leyden Marcus Green has improved his game perhaps more
than anyone else in the state since the start of his high school career. Next
year he will take his prodigious skills to Purdue, but before he goes he has
high hopes for his senior year. Brown University-bound center Aaron Jimenez
will help Green redeem Leyden from a disappointing season last year. Proviso
East transfer J.P. Stanback will provide a steady ball handler and senior
guard Jimmy Arce can light it up from outside.
Civic Memorial The junior combination of 61 point guard
Stephen Jones and 65 small forward Dustin Maguire are more than any opponent
can handle in the Mississippi Valley. Add in transfer guard Michael Elliott
and the Eagles could make some postseason noise.
Downers Grove South The Mustangs are led flawless point
guard Bryan Mullins, headed to Southern Illinois. Look for versatile junior
Elliot Engelmann and rising sophomore Colin Ruben to also make an impact.