Another preview of some teams in one of the conferences in the state. The West Suburban should boast a number of Division 1 and high-academic players. Here are previews for a few of the teams across both sides of the conference.
Downers Grove North
Returning all-conference wing Jacob Bozeman is back to lead a group that should be more explosive than a year ago. Bozeman (6-foot-5) will give them a steady scorer that has versatility on both ends. Fellow senior Max Haack also returns as a knockdown shooter who really understands how to play within their offense. Both should have a chance to play at the Division 3 level.
Expect massive jumps in production out of juniors Jack Stanton and Jake Riemer. Both were up as sophomores and have developed into potential Division 1 prospects over the last year. Stanton is still an advanced shooter, but has become just as much of a threat scoring off the dribble and making plays in traffic with his quickness. He’s a game-changer with the ball and highly competitive on both ends. Riemer (6-foot-8) just picked up an offer from Wisconsin-Green Bay and will bring some force on the inside with his athleticism and strength while showing more comfort shooting and attacking from the wing.
The Thulin brothers, Ethan and Owen, also project to play big roles as returners after making impacts on the football field this fall. Owen (junior) started last year and has that on-ball defense and pass-first mentality that is appreciated out of young point guards. Ethan (senior) is also a solid defender who does a lot of dirty work for the Trojans. They have multiple players who have all-conference level talent.
Downers Grove South
You will hear the Sveiteris name a bunch this year for DGS. Justin Sveiteris was an all-conference player as a sophomore and played with efficiency and activity on the block. Expect for more of the same this season, along with some more action around the elbows and out to the three-point line.
His younger brother, Daniel, was called up last year as a freshman and is going to be one of the better sophomores in the conference. At 6-foot-6, he is more of a wing than a post and has deep shooting range. He’s also progressed nicely as a driver and creator off the dribble. Look for a big scoring year out of him. They have a number of guards who will vie for time and should give some production around them.
All of the top 7 are gone from the historic state title team, including 5 Division-1 players. Haverford commit Logan Brown (6-foot-6) will take over as the go-to option. Physical, athletic, and relentless, Brown is going to be a handful for opposing teams trying to box him out and keep him out of the paint. Point guard Benji Zander should allow them to push the tempo and have someone to break down the defense.
6-foot guard Luuk Dusek is a sniper who can shoot it at a high-percentage on a high volume from three. The development of 6-foot-5 sophomore wing Dominic Seaney will be crucial as the year goes on. During the summer, he looked capable of getting his own shot at times and has the type of athleticism and size that tends to shine in the 1-3-1 zone. Once 6-foot-4 Michael Glover is back, they should have another versatile piece to the lineup. Don’t expect a big drop off.
Anchored by a good senior class, Hinsdale Central is going to be a tough out for any team in the area. I think Michigan baseball commit Ben Oosterbaan is one of the more underrated basketball players in the state. He’s a well-built 6-foot-5, has plus run-and-jump athleticism that he uses in transition and on the glass, and possesses natural scoring instincts from three levels. 6-foot-5 Chase Collignon (Carnegie Mellon) will be a bruising, downhill finisher and double-double threat while Emerson Eck (6-foot-3) had some big games as a junior and gives size and perimeter shooting.
Evan Phillips, another productive returning senior, will initiate offense and get his teammates open shots. Also keep an eye on 6-foot-7 sophomore Tyler Thick. He has good feet, plays hard, blocks shots, and has a promising offensive game. The Red Devils should be among the best rebounding and interior-scoring groups in the WSC.
With their third coach in as many years and a young core, Hinsdale South is hoping to get things going in the right direction. Junior Brendan Savage had a big role as a sophomore and looks like he should be prepared to take another jump as a junior. He’s got broad shoulders and plays with good power on his drives. Savage has the motor and outside shooting ability that tends to lead to success, especially in a grueling conference like this.
Sophomores Jack Weigus and Ayden Farrare were both up as freshmen and should have bright futures. Weigus is crafty with the ball and has some of that flash and creativity off of the dribble that can open things up for everyone else. Farrare is around 6-foot-2 and has a knack for getting to the rim. Over the summer, he was dunking and finishing in traffic and looked more comfortable shooting from the outside. They will be young again but there is some talent in the pipeline. 6-foot-3 freshman Chris Bolte is going to be really good for the Hornets down the line.
The deepest senior class in the conference, LT is led by Penn commit Nik Polonowski and point guard Jackson Niego. Polonowski (6-foot-6) had a breakout junior year and is one of the top returning scorers and shooter in the area. His ball-handling has improved, he is more aggressive around the rim, and he will be tasked with taking on some tough matchups on the defensive end. The 6-foot Niego is a smart, playmaking lead guard who defended and provided a nice complement to Akron guard Tavari Johnson last year. This season, Niego will show more of his shot-creating ability while dictating pace on both ends.
Yale football commit Graham Smith (6-foot-5) is a tank and will dominate games with his rebounding and interior defense. He’s added a lot of strength since last year and should be able to score on the block or above the rim in transition. Carter Reid is another 6-foot-5 football player who has skill and athleticism. Over the summer, Reid was effective knocking down open threes, slashing to the rim, and using his frame and leaping ability on both ends. Both will look to continue to help the football team’s deep run.
Senior guard Louis Kaminski provides shooting and another ball-handler. Plus they have some quality size in the junior class with 6-foot-6 Brady Chambers (Michigan State baseball commit) and 6-foot-7 Liam Taylor. I think Chambers brings a level of size and activity that would add a layer to a big front line. They will be one of the favorites going into the year.
Oak Park-River Forest
Both of their top scorers are gone. But lightning quick point guard Max Johnson is back for his junior season and should assume a volume role as the primary playmaker and scorer. He can shake defenders and knows how to use his athleticism to score amongst the trees. It will be a breakout year for him.
Talented Lincoln Park transfer Justin Bowen is going have an immediate impact. Built more like an upperclassmen, the sophomore is going to impress with how well he moves and finishes at his size. 6-foot-9 sophomore center Alex Vincent is growing into his body and will take another step this year.
Four-year guard Jaloni Johnson has been making an impact since he was a freshman. Expect more of that slick scoring ability this year from the unsigned senior. Much of the offense was expected to run through him after last year ended, and for good reason. But the addition of two scholarship-level transfers will ease the burden.
6-foot-7 Bryce Coleman had stops at NDCP and St. Joe’s and will give Proviso ample scoring and rebounding. A mid-range scorer first, his ability to operate out of the mid-post and from face-up positions will allow him to work on the inside. Montini transfer EJ Marshall is a scoring combo guard that had a productive junior season and a terrific summer in AAU. Look for Marshall to show his passing ability and toughness early on as well.
6-foot-5 senior Adam Hardek is the senior leader on a team and will be both an enforcer and double-double threat off of his energy. The rest of the lineup will lean heavily on multiple juniors. Expect AJ Levine to step into the creator role that Drew Kircher had last season. After being up as a sophomore, Levine looked great for stretches over the summer manufacturing shots for himself and making plays off the bounce.
I like the athleticism, size, and tenacity of Braeden Richardson, another returner who shows up consistently on both ends. The junior doesn’t need plays drawn up for him to find ways to score. 6-foot-4 guard Brenden Molis is another junior to look for as a lanky scorer with some defensive instincts.