Today, we are looking at some of the Central Suburban League and Chicago Catholic League teams.
Led by a senior all-conference trio of Drake football recruit Luke Woodson, Sam Schecter, and Cooper Vernamore, Deerfield came together and won the CSL North. They were a tough, solid group that hung it’s hat on the defensive end.
6-foot-7 freshman Drew Rodgers flashed a lot of potential with his rim-running, shot blocking, and rebounding. There may be some more broken rims on his future dunks. Also keep an eye out for growing 6-foot-3 freshman Atticus Richmond who should be up with varsity next year.
Evanston will always be competitive under Coach Ellis. This year was nothing different. Fenwick transfer David Gieser became a leader with his three-point shooting, physicality, and feel for the game en route for an all-conference selection. Rashawn Bost and Prince Adams were both productive two-way players and freshman Yaris Irby was fearless. There was a lot to like about the fight of this year’s team.
Adams could elevate into a primary offensive option, where his mobility and slashing should be a benefit. Irby is a natural floor general who is unshakeable with the ball and will be able to facilitate and get more paint touches as a sophomore. They always have solid development at the under levels that should trickle in next year.
A historic year was off capped with the Titans winning their first sectional championship. All-state selections Nick Martinelli (Elon) and Cooper Noard (Cornell) were as good as a scoring duo as there was in the state. Noard is a straight killer that has the motor and shooting that should lead to production at the next level. Martinelli was as one of the top all-around seniors in Illinois. Junior RJ Davis was a solid x-factor while senior Spencer Brown did all of the dirty work. This will go down as one of the best teams in GBS history, and for good reason.
RJ Davis is going to shine in a lead role next year. He is efficient, can shoot the three, and defends at a high level. Gaven Marr, another returning starter, took on some tough defensive matchups and is just a rock solid guard. I was very impressed with sophomore point guard Nate Kasher’s composure and shot making ability. 6-foot-7 sophomore Nick Taylor should elevate next year too. A new face to track is freshman guard Anestis Hadjistamoulou, an athletic, highly skilled playmaker that is going to be a star in the CSL.
Junior Ryan Cohen was a known commodity after an all-conference sophomore year. But he got even better this year, looking stronger, more explosive, and dynamic with the ball. Sophomore Josh Fridman had a great year manufacturing offense and making big shots. Senior Blake Lidskin gave them plenty of fireworks as well as a floor spacer. Still a young team, they managed to be near the top of a very competitive conference.
Cohen, Fridman, and active 6-foot-6 sophomore Patrick Schaller are all back. They won’t have a problem finding ways to score and the balance and IQ of Cohen and Fridman should bring out the best in the supporting pieces. It will be an exciting team to watch next year.
Despite playing without their floor general and Wash U commit Yogi Oliff for the first few months of the year, Niles North never seemed overwhelmed. Part of that was due to the quick acclimation of freshman Reid Olson, who proved to be one of the top young guards in the state. Once Oliff came back, he opened things up for Olson, Dajour Stephens, and Cyrus Walker. They were a few plays away from knocking off Glenbrook South in the regional.
Every coach wants someone they can trust to make plays, knock down shots, and lead. Simply put, Olson is one of them. Learning from the long line of excellent point guards at Niles North, he knows how to control pace, has in-the-gym range, and leads with his excellent work ethic. They will be young, but Coach Olson has found ways to bring the most out of groups in the past. Especially when building around PGs.
One of the top 10 teams in 4A for much of the year, New Trier was a stout defensive team that had a ton of offensive weapons. Led by Dartmouth recruit Jackson Munro, who was an all-state forward, the Trevians had a great flow offensively with his passing and versatility creating a ton of mismatches. They had size and shooting in Jake Fiegen, Karlo Colak, and Noah Shannon along with an unselfish ball-handler in Peter Kanellos. 6-foot-5 wings Colak and Shannon are two of the better uncommitted seniors remaining and saved their best years for last.
Fiegen is capable of averaging 20 points a game with his shooting, transition play, and foul shooting along. He has taken big strides in the weight room and is bouncier and more physical as a result. I would expect him to be ready to carry the load after having a big spring and summer with Full Package. Junior Evan Kanellos should play a similar role to his brother and 6-foot-10 Tyler Van Gorp will be counted on as the interior force. Freshman Colby Smith is a true bucket getter who will be a difference maker for years to come.
De La Salle
The seniors led the way with DJ Bates, an electric yet underrated point guard, and Marcellius Cohen anchoring the squad. 6-foot-6 Junior Evan Jackson is a serious talent that was a terror in transition, as a slasher, and on the offensive glass. Mike Davis was another transfer that didn’t miss a beat. They struggled at times, but there is reason to believe in the returning players.
Jackson and Davis will be a nice combo next year. Both are scholarship-level players and Jackson should blow up over the next few months. They should be more consistent and be more competitive in the CCL next year.
DePaul College Prep
Again one of the top teams in their class, Coach Kleinschmidt did a great job of retooling after losing a great 2021 class. Wisconsin-Milwaukee signee Dylan Arnett was an all-state interior presence that produced well in and around the paint. Alex Gutierrez and Trevon Thomas played like seasoned vets, hitting timely shots and handling pressure. The youth stepped up as well, with Payton Kamin averaged around 10 points a game and Jaylan McElroy showing power and attacking ability.
Both Kamin and McElroy are around 6-foot-6 and playing AAU with the Illinois Wolves, having varying styles that should play off of eachother. Kamin is a lights out shooter with a fluid, deliberate offensive game. McElroy is a strong and athletic forward who gets downhill well and shows promise as versatile defender. The sophomore team was solid as well, so there should be some more help coming. I like the long-term potential of 6-foot-5 freshman Jonas Johnson, a skilled inside-out forward that moves well.
It was a new look Fenwick team under first-year head coach Tony Young. They were young and dealt with some of those typical ups and downs, but got better as the year went on and won a regional. Seniors Gabe Madej, an uncommitted 6-foot-6 shooter, and Den Juette, a St. Thomas football recruit, were the driving forces for them. The freshmen had some nice showings as well, with Damion Porter leading the way.
Porter is a going to be a problem as a big guard that can score. They had a bunch of sophomores up as well who should grow into larger roles next year. There shouldn’t be as slow of a start with the players acclimated to the new system.
They had a terrific year, even as a 2A school in the CCL, with Player of the Year Jakeem Cole breaking out as a shot creator for them. Fellow junior Tyler Smith was really good when he was aggressive and Cam Cleveland put together a big senior year. Austin Ford provided quality minutes as well. Leo was tenacious defensively and played well off of each other offensively. They should be right back near the top of 2A next year.
Cole and Smith will be seniors with big expectations as seniors. Look for a larger role from active, slashing wing Jarrod Gee, who has a ton of upside and defensive ability. Leo should start the season as a favorite to make it down state next year in 2A.
You can count on Loyola giving teams fits and controlling tempo. Junior Alex Engro had an impressive All-CCL year in his first full varsity season, scoring, facilitating, and rebounding well as a lead guard. Charge-taking machine Connor Casper was a model of toughness and should be a nice D3 prospect. Sophomore Miles Boland was a revelation as a crafty and creative playmaker who can get his own shot. Wisconsin-Superior commit Shane Tarjan gave them another hard-nosed guard.
Engro will once again be the go-to weapon and primary playmaker. He’s going to attract plenty of college interest in AAU with Breakaway this spring and fall. Boland will be another scoring threat to give them a good foundation for production. They had a good sophomore team with some of those players coming up next year as well.
Marmion nearly won a regional with a young squad under Coach Piekarz. Junior point guard Collin Wainscott was an all-conference player who orchestrated the offense and stretched the floor. Sean Kavanaugh was a senior leader, transfer Jabe Haith had some scoring outbursts, and Trevon Roots was an elite defensive player. They really started to gel by the end of the year and are on the right path going to next year.
I am pretty confident that college coaches will be drawn to Wainscott’s feel, shooting, and pick-and-roll ability. Haith’s game continues to grow and Roots has figured out how to use his athleticism to impact the game. Sophomore Trendell Whiting is a very good on-ball defender that should see more offensive opportunities next year.
DeAndre Craig is clearly one of the top guards in Chicago. They were one of the last remaining undefeated teams in the state before running into a tough stretch of competition. Sophomore Angelo Ciaravino tore up the CCL and gave plenty of optimism for years to come. Carmel has plenty has a lot returning and should have a chance to compete with anyone in the CCL.
Craig and Ciaravino could both be top-10 players in the conference. Their ability to score in the open floor or create in the half court should have them in position for most games again. Carmel has been rising the last few years and next season should be a team capable of winning a sectional.
Ignatius came into the year with high expectations, struggled for a bit, but got going near the end of the year on their way to a third place state finish. AJ Redd and Kolby Gilles (Air Force) were crucial to keeping the team heading in the right direction. Junior Rich Barron was an all-state guard that battled through injury in the state tournament and still found ways to contribute. It was a successful year for a team that was viewed as one of the top groups in Ignatius history.
Barron has the ability to take over games on the block, from the three-point line, and as a playmaker. Already holding multiple Division 1 offers, he will be one of the more sought after two-guards in the class. 6-foot-9 junior Jackson Kotecki showed nice growth from last year, but still has more potential to tap into and could be in the perfect spot to make a big impact next year. Sophomore Reggie Ray Jr. should be able to step into the hole left by AJ Redd.
In a conference of teams with youth, Rita has the most talent. Five-star center James Brown and super-talented Illinois commit Morez Johnson both averaged around double-doubles this year. And they still have two years left together. Kaiden Space gave them solid play and leadership at the guard spot. There was no adjustment time needed for freshman Melvin Bell, a highly explosive guard that is another underclassmen that gave Rita quality minutes.
It’s rare to find a high school team with two frontcourt stars like Brown and Johnson. They could each go for 20 and 10 any game. Space and Bell will be back as well, along with freshman Amari Edwards who will see more time. Expect some more talent to come in as well to bolster the lineup.