Basketball Preview: 20 questions and answers

SHARE Basketball Preview: 20 questions and answers
SHARE Basketball Preview: 20 questions and answers

1. Who is the best player in the Chicago area?

Stevenson senior Jalen Brunson, a Villanova recruit, is the clear choice. Brunson played as well last year as anyone, including Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor and Tyler Ulis. He’s the easy choice for Player of the Year honors if he can simply duplicate his junior year.

2. Which players are on the preseason All-State team?

Brunson, Bogan’s Luwane Pipkins, Stevenson’s Connor Cashaw, Simeon’s Edward Morrow, St. Joseph’s Nick Rakocevic.

3. Which teams are the favorites to win Class 4A?

It will be a surprise if Stevenson or Simeon aren’t holding the trophy in Peoria in March. Stevenson has the best player, Brunson, and a solid squad with two years of playoff success under its belt. St. Rita is the only other team with the talent to handle the Patriots and Wolverines.

4. Is there a team that could make a Cinderella run similar to Benet’s last season?

Lake Forest. Evan Boudreaux is tenacious and effective in the post and guard Noah Karras, 6-5 Steve Vogrich and 6-5 Lorenzo Edwards are a nice supporting cast.

5. Who are the favorites in Class 3A?

Morgan Park, Bogan and St. Joseph. The Mustangs have won the last two titles and are loaded at the all-important guard spot. If California transfer Marcus LoVett is as good as advertised they will be the easy favorites. Charlie Moore has grown to 5-11 and junior Jarrin Randle is ready to step up. The Bengals have the state’s second most dynamic player in Pipkins. Virtually everyone returns from last season’s 27-6 squad. St. Joseph underachieved in the playoffs last season or might be seen as the preseason favorite.

6. What’s the most interesting development for this season?

The superstar big men are gone. Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander and Sean O’Mara have moved on to the college game and city and area is once again guard-driven. Most teams were unable to guard those three bigs effectively last season. That won’t be an issue this year as most teams have players that can slow down a star guard’s production.

7. Which players have improved the most since last season?

Simeon’s Isaiah Moss had a tremendous summer. In April he was virtually unknown, in November he signed with Iowa. He may be the dependable scoring threat that the Wolverines lacked last season. Barrington’s 6-8 Rapolas Ivanauskas made a major splash this summer, as did TF South junior Brandon Johnson.

8 .Which players are worth traveling to see?

Don’t miss the chance to see Brunson. The jury is still out on LoVett, but expect to know after Morgan Park’s first few games if he’s all hype or the real thing.

9. Which freshman is a budding superstar?

The latest phenom talk centers around Simeon’s freshman guard Marquis “Kezo” Brown. He will play on varsity and is definitely worth checking out.

10. Who is the most important transfer?

LoVett. Some evaluators think he’s the Public League’s most talented guard since Derrick Rose. Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin says he’s as good as some of the best players in state history.

11. Who are the most under appreciated players in the area?

Plainfield North senior Trevor Stumpe not be a high-major Division I recruit, but he can put up as many points as any player in the country. Kenwood junior Nick Robinson flew under the radar, but that will change this season.

12. Which teams were over-looked in the preseason Super 25?

Expect Proviso East, Highland Park, Vocational, Geneva, Leo, Lyons to all crack the rankings at some point this season.

13. What is the must-see game of the year?

Stevenson vs. Simeon on Feb. 21. It could be a preview of the state title game.

14. What is the strongest conference in the area?

The Red South is dominant with Simeon, Morgan Park, Bogan and Vocational.

15. Who are the top shooters?

Brunson, Pipkins, Wheaton South’s Josh Ruggles, Plainfield East’s Aaron Jordan, Notre Dame’s Joe Mooney.

16. Who are the top freshmen?

Brown, Orr’s Raekwon Drake, Marian Catholic’s Chase Adams, Simeon’s Messiah Jones, Young’s Xavier Castaneda

17. Which sophomores will emerge as stars?

Evanston’s Nojel Eastern, Larkin’s Christian Negron and Kenwood’s Manny Patterson were all terrific as freshmen. Expect Morgan Park’s Romelo Burrell, Fenwick’s Jamal Nixon, Lyons’ Connor Niego and Curie’s Elijah Joiner to make splashes this season.

18. Who are the best big men?

Rakocevic, St. Rita’s 6-8 Myles Carter, Hinsdale South’s 6-9 Barrett Benson, North Lawndale’s 6-9 Kenneth Perkins and Lake Forest Academy’s 6-10 Diago Quinn.

19 .Who are the hottest rising coaches?

Marlo Finner takes over at Kenwood after a successful first season as head coach at U-High. Hyde Park coach Antonne Samuels has turned the Thunderbirds into a consistent force.

20. Will Public League teams exchange eligibility sheets before games and avoid a repeat of last season’s eligibility scandal?

Hopefully, but some coaches don’t see it happening.

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