By Joe Henricksen

New Faces, Sleepers Ready to Rise

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By Joe Henricksen

The first issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report is in the mail this week, with profiles on teams, conferences, current issues and rankings in the preseason issue. Here is a sneak peak at a few programs that are rather new to the ranked scene and a few programs that are just fine with the sleeper label.

NEW FACES
These programs are all ready to rise this winter and offer a new, fresh look to the Chicagoland area's top 25.

• Mundelein
The Mustangs haven't finished among the top three in the North Suburban Lake since the 2000-2001 season. That includes four-win and six-wins seasons in the middle half of this decade. Now every coach in the North Suburban Lake that was surveyed had Mundelein at the top. And why not? Iowa-bound guard Ben Brust is an elite player who has the ability to carry a team, while 6-7 junior Ryan Sawvell is a monster. Throw in junior guard Leavon Head and hotshot freshman Robert Knar and it's easy to see why coach Dick Knar's club is making its first appearance in the Hoops Report's Top 25.

• Riverside-Brookfield
Remember, a year ago this team won 24 games and beat Oswego, the eventual Class 3A state runner-up. Now fresh off a summer in which they beat nearly everyone they faced and returning its nucleus, the Bulldogs look ready to make a deep run in 3A. The trio of Brown recruit Sean McGonagill, talented junior Ryan Jackson and guard Billy VanderMerkt should lead R-B to its first regional crown since 2002.

• Glenbard East
Another team that really opened eyes with its play this summer after winning 20 games last season. The Rams were picked by each DuPage Valley coach as the preseason favorite and should be as good -- or better -- than the 25-3 team from 2006-2007. Senior Lee Skinner is back and has the potential to be the DVC Player of the Year. And the junior tandem of point guard Zach Miller and 6-2 Jonny Hill are a year older and better.

• Orr
Orr? Really? Time will tell if this team is still a little too young to be a serious threat to other Red-West powers like Whitney Young, Marshall and North Lawndale. However, Curtis "C.J." Jones is special. The 6-0 sophomore can score in bunches and won't be afraid of the bright lights. And this could be junior Mycheal Henry's coming-out party. "He will be the difference," says Orr coach Lou Adams of Henry's development. Throw in talented junior guard Santino Siggers and transfer Malik Logan and the school on the corner of Pulaski and Chicago is set to make a name for itself.

• Maine South
The football power is ready to make a name for itself in the gym. Experience goes a long way and coach Tony Lavorato, Jr. has plenty of it. The Hawks return four players who are entering their third varsity season, including a pair of All-CSL South players in 6-7 Kevin Schlitter and P.J. Killean. Everyone returns from a team that won 17 games, finished second in the rugged Central Suburban League South last year and was picked by coaches to finish second again behind powerful Waukegan. The experience and confidence gained from last season will do wonders this coming winter. This team expects to be good.

Note: Unfortunate news this week in that Maine South's top player, 6-7 Kevin Schlitter, suffered a torn ACL and will be lost for the season.

SLEEPERS
• Bolingbrook
The Raiders lost a lot from last year's regional championship team, including a pair of Division I talents in Diamond Taylor and Troy Snyder. However, Wisconsin commit Devon Hodges, a 6-7 transfer from Romeoville, is cleared to play and will provide an immediate presence inside. Ryan Walker returns at the point and Antoine Cox and Delorean Weatherall on the wing could evolve into an athletic, exciting and dangerous tandem. Plus, keep an eye on up-and-coming 6-5 sophomore Nick Molonga, who will provide depth.

• RICHARDS
A regular in the Hoops Report Top 25 over the last few seasons with 100 victories in the last four years, the Bulldogs this year become a sleeper. Coach John Chappetto's program has become accustomed to success and it should continue with the trio of Brandon Snowden, Adonis Bailey and sophomore Dean Danos.

• YORK
Al Biancalana can coach. If he can take middling talent and form it into a team that wins 15 games and a regional title like he did a year ago, it should be fun to see what he can do with a group that has solid, veteran guard play, can shoot and includes a rising talent in junior Will Sullivan. In addition to Sullivan, the Dukes have a three-year varsity point guard in Kevin Kahovec and senior shooter Evan Fendley. If this team can overcome its lack of size and rebound it will be in the thick of the West Suburban Silver race with Lyons Twp. and Oak Park.

The first issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 15th year of publication, is due out this week. To subscribe or for more information email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

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11 Comments

Favorite time of the year and it starts when I get my Hoops Report in the mail! Can't wait for the first issue!!!!!!! Keep up the great work!

I don't disagree with your assessments of Mundelein and Maine South, but keep an eye on Rolling Meadows who returns three starters including stud Richie Kemph (17 ppg, all-area) and 9 returning players overall.

How much is your report and how can I order a subscription? Also look out for Evanston and Garrett Jones. A great junior class at Evanston this year but might be a year away. Also freshman sensation Lorenzo Dillard might make some noise( if he's not on the sophmore team). Evanston will match up with Mundelein in the Mundelein Tournament over Thanksgiving.

I think Riverside Brookfield will progress considerably beyond regionals. In additon to the three players you mentioned, R-B will have considerably more height this season. Mike Hansa at 6-4 is a banger inside and has quite a nice outside shot. At 6-5 Terrence Reed is 4 inches taller than last years center(s). Reed showed a much improved game over the summer. From last years 21-3 sophomore team, center Alex Dziagwa (6-8)and guards Charlie Morrisey, Watoris Slater and Nate Hanley add depth. A stronger schedule would help but they should get tested at the York Tourney and a couple of shootouts.

Thanks for the Hoops Report tease. Can't wait for the issue! I have been subscribing for years and it's the most informative, knowledgeable high school basketball coverage I have seen. Keep an eye on Oak Park too!

DID YOU KNOW THAT AL BIANCALANA ONCE WAS AN ASSISTANT COACH AT LEO HIGH SCHOOL, WITH JACK FITZGERALD, HE COACHED A PLAYER OF MINE FROM MY ST. BRENDAN DAYS, THOR PALAMORE, WHO NOW LIVES IN AUSTRALIA, BIG SHOUT OUT TO COACH AL BIANCALANA, A GREAT MAN AND A GREAT COACH!
REMEMBER THOSE LEO DAYS, PLAYING AGAINST ST. JOES IN THOSE SUPERSECTIONALS IN THE LATE 80'S AND EARLY 90'S!
ENJOY YOUR RETIREMENT COACH BOB FOSTER FROM LEO HIGH SCHOOL, WHAT A GREAT MAN, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK AND YOUR MENTORSHIP, THE LEO HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER BOB FOSTER, A LEO MAN!

As a loyal subscriber I can't wait for all the Hoops Report offers. Best insight on high school hoops around. Bad news for Maine South. You were right on with them as a real sleeper. They don't wow you with pure talent but have nice parts. The sum is greater than the parts but without Schlitter I think they will have a tough time.

Man The richards Bulldogs are gonna be awsome this year.....

Ryan Sawvell is a beast and Mundelein should be outstanding this year! Watch out North Suburban!

I am so glad that you mentioned GE because I was reading the paper this morning and they didn't even have them in the top 25. This team had a great summer and I am excited to see how they do this season.

THE RICHARDS BULLDGOGS WILL PLAY IN THE BIG DIPPER CHRISTMAS TOURNEY THIS YEAR AS WELL, THE TOURNEY IS PLAYED AT RICH SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on November 16, 2009 5:18 PM.

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