It’s a brand new cast of characters at St. Joseph this season. Big man Nick Rakocevic is the only returning member from last season’s Class 3A state champions. So let him give you the scouting report on this season’s Chargers:
“I think Jason (Towers) is going to be one of the players to watch this year with his athleticism and his playmaking skills,” Rakocevic said. “I think Marquise Walker is a star in the making. He’s going to have a really good freshman year. Lavon Thomas is another sleeper. Our whole team is filled with young guys that will be exciting to watch the next couple years.”
But what about this season? According to the legendary Gene Pingatore, the pressure rests on Rakocevic’s shoulders.
“Nick is gonna be a marked man,” Pingatore said. “He has to become a leader for this group. They are going to be looking to him. If he’s a goof that is what they are going to do. The pressure is on him. Not his game, his leadership.”
Pingatore says this might be the youngest team he’s ever coached. St. Joseph has just one senior, five juniors (only two play) and the rest are sophomores and Walker is a freshman.
All that promising young talent got the job done Tuesday at the St. Charles East Thanksgiving Tournament in a 64-45 win over Eats Aurora.
Rakocevic was dominant. He scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked five shots. He’s firmly embracing his leadership role.
“I love it, being the only senior on the team and having these younger guys look up to me,” Rakocevic said. “It’s a really awesome feeling. I’m going to do the best job I can to try and be a great leader. Hopefully we can make another run back at state.”
Towers scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds and Lavon Thomas added nine points for the Chargers (2-0). Walker was steady throughout and and scored five points. He played varsity ball last year as an eighth grader in Kentucky.
“The progress they’ve already made is ridiculous,” Rakocevic said. “We are looking better and better every day.”
Senior Ronald McBride led East Aurora (0-2) with 10 points. Highly-regarded freshman Traevon Brown, who scored 15 points in his debut on Monday, finished with seven points. He’s small, but very smooth.