Michael O’Brien’s preseason Chicago-area Super 25 basketball rankings

SHARE Michael O’Brien’s preseason Chicago-area Super 25 basketball rankings

Orr’s Ty Mosley (0), Brian Hernandez (5), Chase Adams (1), Dannie Smith (23), Emanuel O’Neal (2) and Raekwon Drake (25). Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Orr has evolved from a basketball afterthought into a media sensation. The Spartans are the preseason No. 1 team. They were the subject of Rick Telander’s remarkable series “A Season Under the Gun” last year. There is even a movie on the way, “Shot in the Dark,” a documentary focused on Orr’s 2014 team.

“It’s overwhelming,” Orr coach Lou Adams said. “I’m ecstatic right now. The kids deserve it.”

Orr won the Class 2A state title last season and are overwhelming favorites to repeat. The school has never won or even played for a city title. That is a major focus for the Spartans this season, to prove they can beat the city’s powerhouse programs: Simeon, Young, Morgan Park and Curie.

“There is no doubt that we can play with those guys,” Adams said. “ We are a Class 2A school by enrollment, but athletically we are 5A. Curie is 4A and we lost to them by one last year. Young is 4A and we lost to them by one.”

Last season Adams stressed that he thought the 2014 team was the best in school history. This year’s squad is determined to end that talk.

“Lou always throws that team in our face, so that is on our minds,” Orr senior Ty Mosley said. “They didn’t win a lot of big games, but they did a lot nationally.”

“That team was good but they haven’t accomplished what we have,” Spartans forward Raekwon Drake said. “This year we will prove we are the better team.”

1. ORR: Nearly everyone returns from last season and the Spartans have added Chase Adams from Marian Catholic and Demarius Splunge from Clark. Dannie Smith is one of the area’s most reliable double-double threats, Ty Mosley can do it all on the wing and Raekwon Drake is the city’s premier highlight show. All the pieces are in place for a special season.

2. SIMEON: Kejuan Clements, Talen Horton-Tucker and Messiah Jones all return from the squad that finished second in Class 4A last season. Two transfers, Xavier Pinson and Zion Young, will play significant roles. Freshman Ahmad Bynum is getting raves. The Wolverines are the deepest team in the state and are the clear favorites to win the Class 4A state title.

3. MORGAN PARK: Phenom Nimari Burnett moved to California, but the Mustangs are still loaded. They have the state’s best senior, Ayo Dosunmu, and the best sophomore, Peoria Manual transfer Adam Miller. Tamell Pearson, a 6-9 senior, had a terrific summer and will be the primary post threat.

4. YOUNG: Starters Xavier Castaneda, Javon Freeman and Justin Boyd all return for the defending Class 4A champs. Junior Myles Baker and sophomore Tyler Beard both flashed impressive potential last season and will be key figures. Elliott Sieger, a sophomore point guard, transferred in from DePaul Prep. The Dolphins will be fast and fun to watch.

5. CURIE: Treavon Martin and Tyree Martin return to hold things down in the paint and are joined by an all-new backcourt featuring three transfers. Maurice Commander (Marist), Jayden Gasby (UP-Englewood), Marquise Walker (St. Joseph) will team up with a sophomore and junior class that’s underrated and ready to contribute.

6. NILES NORTH: DeMaria Franklin, Dravon Clayborn and Jamal Stephenson give the Vikings an athletic, dynamic senior core. They were terrific at times last year and will need to find consistency this season. Freshman Jalen Butler is worth keeping an eye on.

7. ROMEOVILLE: The deepest, most talented team in the suburbs. It will all come down to chemistry for the Spartans. Senior guards DeAndre Heckard and Kahlil Blakney return with 6-6 Donita Johnson. Junior Mike Salter is one of the area’s most intriguing talents and 6-5 sophomore Destin Whitaker provides some size. The addition of multi-faceted senior Eddie Creal, a transfer from Joliet West, fills a lot of holes.

8. FENWICK: Sophomore DJ Steward was a sensation last season. He’s back and surrounded by a focused, talented group of seniors: AJ Nixon, Billy Bruce, 6-4 Mike O’Laughlin and Sam Daniels. Junior Damari Nixon, a 6-1 guard, had an excellent summer. Size could be an issue, but expect the Friars to mount a serious challenge for the Class 4A title.

9. WAUKEGAN: The Bulldogs lost some major pieces, but the Brown’s (not related) are all back. Expect 6-5 junior Bryant Brown to become one of the area’s dominant players. Ja’Dyn Brown and Jordan Brown are talented, clutch guards. Will rely on speed and athleticism.

10. LARKIN: Senior guard Anthony Lynch leads a deep group of guards but 6-9 senior Jalen Shaw is the big difference-maker. He can be a force offensively and defensively. If he finds consistency, the sky is the limit for the Royals.

11. BOGAN: So many talented guards. Junior Jeremiah Washington is a small but destructive force. Senior Cortez Bailey adds some experience. Rashaun Agee, a 6-5 junior, is one of the city’s best rebounders and gives the Bengals an interior force that few teams can match.

12. BOLINGBROOK: Junior Tyler Cochran was one of the big eye-openers on the summer circuit. He’s part of an impressive guard trio including junior Joseph Yesufu and senior Kaleb Thornton. The Raiders lost a lot of size and scoring. They’ll be fast and confident but will need to find rebounding.

13. ST. RITA: The Mustangs don’t have a breakout superstar, but they have all the right pieces. Senior guard and leading scorer Jordan Matthews returns. Sophomore guard Joel Watts can play and there is plenty of size with 6-6 Jeremiah Oden, 6-8 Cam Bartman and 6-5 Landen Gladney.

14. WEST AURORA: Most everyone returns from team that lost to Bolingbrook in the sectional semifinals last season. Camron Donatlan is a four-year varsity star, 6-4 senior Jared Crutcher is underrated. Junior point guard Traevon Brown transferred in from East Aurora and will be a major contributor.

15. OAK PARK: Senior Isaiah Fuller emerged over the summer. He’ll team with junior Dashon Enoch in an excellent backcourt. Charles Hoehne, a 6-6 junior, can do a lot. The Huskies lost a lot, but are fast and talented and loaded with potential.

16. ST. CHARLES EAST: Senior Justin Hardy is one of the area’s top scorers. He’s unselfish, can pass and rebound. The senior class is strong overall and has some the length. The Saints play a fun, wide-open style and have shooters all over the court including Nate Ortiz, Zach Robinson and Charles Murphy.

17. HINSDALE SOUTH: Senior Zion Griffin, a 6-6 Iowa State recruit, was the huge breakout star of the summer. A lot will rest on his shoulders. Senior guard Robert Barnes can play and 6-8 sophomore Aaron Tims should be a major factor.

18. FARRAGUT: Junior Aaron Strong and sophomore Reggie Strong give the Admirals one of the area’s best back courts. Edmund Forrest is an underrated junior. Size and depth could be an issue, but Wolf Nelson’s teams generally crash the board hard.

19. EVANSTON: The Wildkits lost a ton, but have a stable of talented young guards, led by juniors Lance Jones and Jaheim Holden. It could be a rough start, but the potential here is high.

20. UPLIFT: Kansas recruit Markese Jacobs is one of the area’s most intriguing talents. If he stays focused and dominates the Titans will be a major threat in the city. Toraze Dobbs, a spirited 6-5 forward, can play inside and outside.

21. KENWOOD: The Broncos have two athletic, highlight reel seniors in 6-6 Nas Turner and 6-4 RJ McGee. The emergence of junior point guard Artese Stapleton will be key to any success.

22. DEPAUL PREP: Junior Perry Cowan is one of the area’s most dependable scorers. Pavle Pantovic, a rugged 6-5 junior, provides a physical presence. Sophomore Lance Mosley has flashed a ton of potential.

23. WILLOWBROOK: Everyone returns from 24-5 squad that was upset in the first round of the playoffs last year. Ethan Schuemer, a 6-6 senior, can play inside and outside. Shooter Matas Masys is dangerous.

24. LINCOLN-WAY EAST: Sam Shafer, a 6-6 SIU recruit, leads what could be the best team in school history. Two sophomores, 6-8 Nate Seputis and 6-7 Sean McClaughlin provide some nice size.

25. PROVISO EAST: The Pirates expect senior Quinlan Bennett to emerge as a star this season. Picked up Jeremiah Jones, a transfer from St. Patrick.

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