The opportunity will come for so many players around the Chicago area to play different roles and be asked to step up in different ways this winter for their respective teams.
Maybe more scoring will be required. Leadership might be asked or simply more varsity minutes. Some will transform from specialized role players at the varsity level or the featured player on the sophomore team to impact varsity players.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at five players on five teams that will all help in filling some significant shoes. Each team will be ranked or have high hopes this coming season.
Gone: Jabari Parker, Simeon
While Jabari Parker wasn't anywhere near 100 percent healthy the first half of his senior season and simply wasn't the superstar we grew accustomed to during that time, he stepped up and was huge when it mattered most: During Simeon's state tournament run. His presence alone often set a tone, with his overall talent and feel often taking over.
Next up: When talking about filling the shoes of the first two-time Mr. Basketball winner in state history who captured four straight state titles, it's a little unrealistic no matter how you look at it. Plus, the shoes of Kendrick Nunn, Kendall Pollard and Jaylon Tate also have to be filled. This will be a fill-in-the-shoes by committee, but with some remarkable fill-in talent in 6-5 senior Donte Ingram, 6-7 junior D.J. Williams, 6-6 junior Edward Morrow and sophomore Zach Norvell all poised to emerge and blossom in 2013-2014.
Gone: Alvin Ellis, De La Salle
While De La Salle can look to the return of several young, talented players in the program, coach Tom White relied heavily on Michigan State recruit Alvin Ellis a year ago. He scored over 1,000 career points and put up 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists a game while opposing defenses built their game plan around slowing down Ellis. He was steady and consistent, provided momentum-building plays and really emerged as a senior leader.
Next up: The Meteors will look to junior Brandon Hutton to become more consistent and serve as the primary scoring option. Hutton will do it differently than Ellis, but with his athleticism, talent and build he's ready to become "the guy" after a terrific offseason. De La Salle will be dependent on Hutton's ability to rise to another level if it wants to go from a good to really good team this winter.
Gone: Billy Garrett, Jr., Morgan Park
What didn't Billy Garrett do for Morgan Park last season? And it goes way beyond his season stats of 22 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists a game. The 6-4 point guard, now at DePaul, was the player others looked to, and he was the player who seemed to always make the big play in the important moments.
Next up: The folks at Morgan Park have been excited about 5-9 Charlie Moore since he entered high school. Moore can expect to see his minutes and scoring opportunities increase. All the little sophomore will be asked to do is replace a four-year varsity winner who led Morgan Park to a Class 3A state championship last season. He's not Billy Garrett, Jr., but he's a fun, talented floor general who can score with his shooting ability.
Gone: Paris Lee, Proviso East
Most will point to the departure of Sterling Brown, the higher profile player in 2013, brother of Shannon Brown and freshman at SMU as the biggest shoes to fill. But Paris Lee, who is now at Illinois State, was the point guard who brought a competitive spirit and a set-the-tone defensive mentality that led to 60-plus wins and a pair of trips to Peoria the past two years.
Next up: One might think West Virginia-bound Jevon Carter or junior Kailin Fisher would be next up. But if the pieces come together just right for coach Donnie Boyce, he will be relying pretty heavily on a freshman -- Mahir Williams. Though it's always hard to project a player this young and how he will transition to varsity basketball, the 5-9 Williams possesses a feel, toughness and competitiveness you don't typically find in a freshman at the point guard position.
Gone: Pat McInerney, Benet Academy
No, McInerney doesn't fit the profile of the other players on this list. The rugged 6-5 forward isn't even playing basketball anymore -- he's playing baseball at Illinois. However, there is no getting around the fact McInerney was Benet's most valuable piece and filled so many essential roles for coach Gene Heidkamp's 27-win team a year ago. He brought scoring, rebounding, physical and mental toughness, was a secondary ballhandler (sometimes the primary ballhandler) and was an unquestioned leader.
Next up: The problem is there are too many roles and responsibilities McInerney left open for one player to fill at one position. The loss of McInerney means there is now opportunities for everyone. Can star Sean O'Mara become a vocal leader? How much has Collin Pellettieri matured as a point guard? How much more offense can junior Colin Bonnett provide in an expanded role?
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