The Mid-Suburban League has produced a number of Division 1 players over the last few years and will continue to churn out college basketball players. Here are some brief previews of the teams in the MSL
They lost all of their starters from the downstate team. It was a historic group that clicked at the right times. Now they will rely on less experience and more unknowns, but still have options. Senior Donovan Nichols should step into one of the leading roles. The guard has a quick release and a nose for scoring the ball from around the perimeter. St. Viator transfer Dillon Schmidt is a strong, 6-foot-3 guard that plays through contact well and can also shoot it with range.
Sophomore Nick Peipert should be up this year and has some toughness and athleticism that will be welcomed. I wouldn’t be surprised if 6-foot-3 freshman Oliver Gray gets pulled up at some point. He’s already one of the best shooters in the state and is going to be a problem for years to come.
The junior pair of Yusuf Cisse and Cam Lathos both opened eyes as sophomores. Cisse has top-end speed but finds those middle gears to play in to keep defenses off balance. Lathos is a big 6-foot-6 forward that was able to make tough, contested jumpers for them a year ago. They need both to be on their game to compete in the MSL this year.
The motor, athleticism, and ball skills of sophomore forward Bradley Biedke hints towards him having his own standout year. He snatches rebounds off of the glass, can push it in transition, and is a springy finisher up around the rim. As his confidence and aggression grows, this team could reach another level.
Volume scorer Adidas Davis graduated leaving a big hole in the offense. Junior guard Connor Woodin may become the focal point. He is a high-efficiency shooter who could average three-plus made threes a game if he’s able to get space. Expect for plenty of face-guarding and no-help defenses on him this year. Senior Trystan Anderson gives them a rock-solid body on the inside and some athleticism on the glass as well.
Bronson Bartuch had a breakout junior year and was solid over the summer with All-In. At 6-foot, he really knows how to create space with his dribble and will be a tough player to contain once again. Dylan (senior) and Cam (junior) McCorry are both back to give activity from the post spots. The group is very senior-heavy and there will be multiple guards who are able to play off of Bartuch. With experience and a bucket getter like Bartuch, they could sneak up on some teams.
A couple of steady and productive guards graduated. Lefty shooter Ryan Sammons is still there, though, to provide a go-to scoring option from the perimeter. He can break guys down and has some layers to his game as a scorer. Ryan Cox, a prolific shooter in his own right, has made strides as a penetrator and should be able to take advantage of the coverage that he sees.
They may not have a lot of size, but there is toughness throughout the rotation. Sophomore Sam Hirsch just knows how to play, guarding the ball, rebounding, passing, hitting open threes, and showing some athleticism around the rim. His role should increase with time for a team who will have a lot of shooting.
They were young last year, but now some of that youth has experience. I really like 6-foot-7 sophomore Jackson Hupp. He was second in scoring as a freshman and led them in assists. He has nice passing feel and uses his size, footwork, and low post skill well. But he’s also got soft hands, a solid lefty shot from three, and looks to have really worked on his body to impact games for longer stretches.
Hupp should have a big year alongside seniors Johnny Ryg and Quinn Mullen. Both are strong wings who like to initiate contact on both ends and were the top shooters on the team last year. Fellow senior Max Menninga (6-foot-4) plays with an edge and high-energy level. Carson Grove and Jared Ryg should both be more equipped after being up as sophomores and current sophomore Ricky DiVito may add some explosiveness to the backcourt.
The Vuckovic twins graduated, but do-it-all 6-foot-9 forward DJ Wallace has gotten better since last year. There’s good reason to believe that he can average around a double-double while protecting the rim and getting others involved. He’s joined by returner Jacob Atkins-Mirich, who can catch fire from three and will initiate offense when Wallace is off the ball.
Previously at Marmion, Trendell Whiting’s defense and quickness with the ball should give an extra weapon on the wing and an important on-ball stopper. They have some young players to keep an eye on and look to build off of a year where Coach McBride had them playing some of the best basketball at Hoffman in a while.
The senior trio of Tyler Swierczek, Grant Dersnah, and Sam Millstone is a good one to come back to if you’re Palatine. Swierczek scores in bulk from all three levels and has a strong 6-foot-5 frame to bang inside on both ends. Dersnah missed some time for football, but had some good flashes as a junior on the court. He is also 6-foot-5 and attacks the rim with force. And Millstone is the floor general who makes sure everyone gets fed.
The x-factor will be 6-foot-6 Connor May. He does whatever you need him to do to win and has the versatility that could have him flirting with triple-doubles on some nights. A knockdown shooter and capable slasher, May may need to be more assertive offensively to open things up for a team that has the skill and size to make some noise.
Alex Georgakas turned into one of the best scorers in the MSL as a junior. Now, the 6-foot-2 junior will be the primary option in a backcourt where he will be the leader. Every indication points to him having an even better season both as a scorer and passer. Charlie Gilmer should step up as a complementary guard and shooter for them.
Junior Frankie Poshnjari is a hard-working wing that can step into threes with time and space. That energy and floor spacing will be important. 6-foot-4 Nikola Aleksic has good length and mobility for a forward to help on the glass. Sophomore guard Ben Schneider should have increasing value as the year goes on. He’s lightning-quick with the ball, makes pull-ups, and has the craftiness and athleticism to score against size. Schneider is next up for Prospect, who has some players at the under levels.
Heading into the season, the Mustangs are the team to beat. Minnesota commit Cam Christie can score whenever he wants, but you’re going to see more of the playmaking skills that he showed flashes of as an underclassmen. Mark Nikolich-Wilson has some advanced passing instincts of his own despite being a 6-foot-6 center and those tools, along with his shooting and low post proficiency, will be put to use. Fellow senior Foster Ogbonna is a terrific defender, slasher, and rebounder who was also an all-conference player last year with Christie and Nikolich-Wilson.
6-foot-6 sophomore guard Ian Miletic is trending towards a very productive season in multiple facets of the game. He’s going to start in the backcourt and you will see leading the break, scoring off the ball, and deciphering defenses off of ball screens. Senior Tsvet Sotirov (6-foot-7) is also back to stretch the floor. I’d also watch for sophomore guard Jack Duffer, a solid shooter who will feast on open looks in this offense and provide extra ball-handling. Meadows will be huge, skilled, and experienced. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be in the discussion for a top 20 team in the state.
Blossoming 6-foot-8 forward Edvin Bosnjak is going to attract attention with his size and athletic ability. Expect plenty of putbacks and blocked shots in crowds. I think sophomore point guard Jordan Tunis has a chance to become one of the better point guards in the area. He really thinks the game well, blows by defenders with ease, and can comfortably create against pressure.
They will have some experience in Joey Ruiz, a stout guard that gets his work done in a few different ways. Also watch for sophomore Javonte McCoy, who should grow with Tunis over the next few years. New coach Jason Tucker takes over a program that was down the last few seasons. But there is reason for some optimism heading into the season.
Returner Josh Hutchinson is a plus athlete and slasher that was a productive player as a junior. St. Viator transfer RJ Gamble looks like he will fill a role at lead guard where his speed, strength, and playmaking should make him a key factor. He’s been offered by Division 3 programs throughout the Midwest. 6-foot-5 Zach Zalewski is going to be a rebounder, rim runner, and block defender in a conference with many tough bigs. Look for athletic wing Gavin Stanke to also use his physicality to make his presence felt. They have the athletes to be an up-tempo team this year.