Basketball Preview: The preseason Super 25

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The current trends are not on Stevenson’s side and neither is history.

-It’s been nearly five years since an area, non-Chicago Public Schools team won a Class 3A or 4A state title (Hillcrest in 2010) and it’s only happened one other time (Richards in 2008) since the Illinois High School Association expanded the basketball tournament to four classes in 2007. That’s two titles out of a possible 14.

-No team in Lake County has ever won a boys basketball state title, and they’ve been awarding those every year since 1908.

Jalen Brunson and the Patriots have the talent and experience to buck the trend and make some history. Here’s a look at Stevenson and the 24 other best teams in the area:

1. STEVENSON: Brunson, Connor Cashaw and Matt Johnson have things locked down in the the backcourt. Size will be the issue. Parker Nichols, a 6-4 junior, will once again have to defend in the post. A breakout season from 6-5 sophomore Justin Smith would be invaluable.

2. SIMEON: The coaches and players are completely confident that this is one of the best Wolverine teams ever, which says a lot. Edward Morrow is a rock. DJ Williams and Isaiah Moss are difficult matches for any team. Juniors Zack Norvell and Ben Coupet and sophomore Evan Gilyard will be the x-factors. Watch freshman sensation Marquis “Kezo” Brown.

3. MORGAN PARK: What looked like a possible rebuilding year turned into a possible state championship season when highly-touted guard Marcus LoVett transferred in from California. He’ll team up in the backcourt with Charlie Moore and Jarrin Randle. Success may rest on how quickly 6-6 junior Alonzo Chatman and 6-4 sophomore Romelo Burrell are able to contribute big numbers.

4. BOGAN: Luwane Pipkins is the city’s best guard and has his eyes on stealing Player of the Year away from Brunson. The Bengals have all the pieces to make a state title run. Tom Johnson and Bryce Barnes are solid complements to Pipkins. Big men Antonio Thomas and Isaiah Robinson are rugged and athletic. Junior James Jones seems poised for a solid year.

5. ST. RITA: Charles Matthews is a possible giant-slayer. Don’t be shocked if he’s challenging Brunson for Player of the Year honors and playing in Peoria on the final Saturday. Morgan Park transfer Kain Harris adds some scoring punch to go with point guard Armani Chaney and 6-8 center Myles Carter.

6. ST. JOSEPH: The sky is the limit for the Chargers. A Big Ten backcourt with Glynn Watson (Nebraska) and Jordan Ash (Northwestern) is complement nicely by junior Nick Rakocvic, a 6-10 center that should be the area’s premier post player. Senior guard Joffrey Brown is an athletic scorer.

7. CURIE: Junior Devin Gage had a tremendous summer and could become a star. Senior Josh Stamps is one of the city’s top scorers. Malik Washington, an underrated 6-5 post, isn’t Cliff Alexander but should be productive. Sophomore guard Elijah Joiner is another scoring threat.

8. YOUNG: Joseph Toye, a 6-7 Vanderbilt recruit, has transferred back after a year away. A lot of last season’s supporting cast returns and will step into much bigger roles. Ant Mosely and Skyler Nash are solid, junior Rodney Herenton has the ability to be one of the city’s top guards.

9. LAKE FOREST: Evan Boudreaux is a points and rebounds machine and can single-handedly keep the Scouts in most games. Senior guard Noah Karras improved over the summer and will be key along with 6-5 senior Steve Vogrich and 6-5 junior Lorenzo Edwards.

10. KENWOOD: Marlo Finner takes over as coach and has a stable of young talent on hand. Broncos may be a year away from being a city and state title contender. Sophomore Manny Patterson, a 6-7 post, has transferred in from North Lawndale and junior guard Zion Morgan has arrived from King. Junior Nick Robinson, a 6-6 forward, should lead the charge.

11. UPLIFT: Last season’s Public League Cinderella story returns most of its key pieces (star guard Jeremy Roscoe, Quentin Olagbedi, 6-6 Jamaya Wyatt) and has added high-scoring forward Spencer Foley, a transfer from Northside.

12. HILLCREST: Unlike many teams the Hawks have an athletic big, 6-7 Toledo recruit Taylor Adway. Senior forwards D’Angelo Isby and George McDaniel return.

13. DE LA SALLE:The Meteors ended last season with a solid run in the Catholic League Tournament. Seniors Karl Harris (La Salle) and Brand Hutton (Iowa) have the size and athleticism to give opponents fits. Junior guard George Wilbon will have to step up.

14. HINSDALE CENTRAL: Looked good over the summer. Size is a strength with 6-7 Matt Rafferty and 6-5 George Kiernan (Navy). Success will depend on the guards, led by senior Jordan Bradshaw.

15. BOLINGBROOK: Tons of talent. Colorado State recruit Prentiss Nixon is a top-notch scorer and Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit Julian Torres is a 6-8 force in the post. Senior guard Broderick Thomas is much improved.

16. PLAINFIELD EAST: Illinois recruit Aaron Jordan has a solid, athletic supporting cast with 6-7 James Claar, 6-4 Cameron Graves and 6-5 junior Elyjah Goss.

17. MORTON: Always a hardworking team, Mustangs will threaten to win a sectional with 6-6 Harvard recruit Weisner Perez and guard Luke Belcaster.

18. THORNWOOD: Proved a ton last season after Donte Thomas went down to injury. Super solid backcourt with seniors Kaliph Fagan, Chelby Frazier and Jejuan Payton. One of the few teams with an actual big man, 6-9 Kenneth Bates.

19. WEST AURORA: Illinois State recruit Roland Griffin, a 6-5 senior, has improved every year and will be counted on for even more now that big man Carleton Williams moved away. Senior guard Matt Dunn is solid and Tommy Koth will contribute.

20. FENWICK: Friars lost a lot of size, but it’s easy to believe in junior guard Mike Smith and sophomore Jamal Nixon. Both played like seasoned veterans last year and provide coach Rick Malnati with a solid foundation.

21. HYDE PARK: Senior Antoine Pike is one of the state’s unheralded workhorses. The 6-5 senior is a tremendous rebounder and proved his mettle in last year’s city tournament. Senior guard Martin Oliver averaged 16 points last year and should be even better.

22. EVANSTON: Very young, but full of promise. Highly-regarded point guard Nojel Eastern lived up to expectations as a freshman and should take a few steps forward. He’ll be joined by fellow sophomores Jerome Bynum and Trevor Gardner. Elijah Henry, a 6-6 senior, provides some size.

23. ZION-BENTON: A lot of talent has left, but Tennesse recruit Admiral Schofield is still a matchup nightmare. Watch for sophomore point guard Henry Demarquis to have a breakout season.

24. MAINE SOUTH: The always solid Hawks should be even better than usual with 6-7 George Sergeant, 6-9 junior Brad Perry and point guard Caleb deMarigny.

25. BRADLEY-BOURBONNAIS: The Boilermakers should stay in the headlines the next two seasons thanks to junior point guard Micah Bradford and 6-7 junior Zach Hollywood.

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