How much stock can you put into a team’s summer performance?
Yes, it’s still summer basketball where wins and losses don’t matter. Teams can be missing a player or two depending on the day and lineups and rotations are being tinkered with by coaches. Nonetheless, it’s a good and reasonable snapshot of what’s to come in the winter.
Here are a half dozen teams that are better because of the summer and what they showed and gained during the offseason.
The summer of 2018 was a chance to start wiping away the taste of a 2017-2018 season that started with so much promise but ended with a 11-16 record and an early regional loss. There were injuries and eligibility issues that helped curtail the season.
This summer was also an opportunity for a talented and experienced returning group to play with its new point guard, Andre White.
While Bryant Brown is on pace to be one of the most productive players in school history and both Ja’Dyn Brown and Jordan Brown return for a fourth season, it’s the addition of White that made this past summer such a success.
“He allows our other guys to be who they are and better players as a result,” says Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw of his new point guard.
White will be playing with his fourth high school team in four years, starting at Loyola as a freshman and then attending Harvest Christian and Harlem. But he’s familiar with this group of Bulldogs as he played with them during his junior high days.
◼︎ St. Viator
Senior point guard Trevyon Calvin showcased he’s a bonafide Division I prospect while senior Jeremiah Hernandez had a steady and solid summer that kept him among the top 20 senior prospects in the Class of 2019.
But St. Viator, which won the prestigious Riverside-Brookfield Shootout in June, also saw supporting cast members step up and emerge, including a pair of juniors, 6-3 Connor Kochera and 6-7 Mike Huene.
The defending East Suburban Catholic Conference champs won 24 games a year ago and should be even better.
Anyone who watched Bloom this past season win 16 games saw that the future was bright with four talented sophomore starters. This summer was simply a time for both individual and team growth and coach Dante Maddox saw both.
That emerging foursome –– guards Dante Maddox, Jr., Keshawn Williams, Donovan Newby and 6-9 Martice Mitchell –– continued to gel and mature together while taking turns shining for their respective club basketball teams in July.
“When we played the best teams we were up for the challenge, we weren’t intimidated and came ready to play,” says coach Dante Maddox of what he learned about his team this summer.
The summer was also a chance for a trio of seniors to take a step forward, including 6-2 Emani Burgess, 6-4 Sincere Moses and 6-5 Kevin Vance.
◼︎ Morgan Park
While Morgan Park did play a bulk of last season without star Ayo Dosunmu, who missed a large chunk of his senior year with an injury, there was always the belief he would be back in time, when things mattered the most.
The 6-4 point guard did come back and helped lead the Mustangs to a Class 3A state championship.
This past summer, however, was a chance for coach Nick Irvin’s team to learn how to play without Dosunmu for good. That experience alone was beneficial as the junior backcourt of Adam Miller and Marcus Watson has a chance to be special.
“We will have the best backcourt in the state,” says Irvin.
The emerging play of 6-4 Isaiah Burrell, a wiry athlete on the wing, along with the expected addition of Lincoln Park transfer Chris Roberts, are added bonuses. Roberts, a guard with blinding speed, is fresh off a big junior season where he averaged 16 points a game.
“What I like with this group is that it plays extremely hard,” says coach Nick Irvin. “But Karl Jones is the wild card.”
Jones, a 6-9 senior who is raw but with intriguing potential, can provide a defensive presence behind a group of quick, fast, in-your-face defenders who will be applying pressure on the ball.
“This could be like some of our teams from a few years ago, more of a defensive team,” says Irvin.
There was a lot to like when watching the Bengals this summer. While there is a chance coach Arthur Goodwin could have too many likable parts and players of equal talent, this summer provided him a chance to begin sorting things out.
Seniors Rashaun Agee, Jeremiah Washington and Jordan Booker all picked up various scholarship offers, and the addition of Julian transfer Antoine Bloxton, a very talented junior, only adds to the lengthy depth.
While coach Chris Perkins’ team is fresh off a regional championship and 26-win season, the Warriors did lose three-year star Ethan Schuemer. But the return of scoring guard Matas Masys and Everett Stubblefield was going to keep Willowbrook near the top of the West Suburban Gold.
However, the addition of Stagg transfer Martin Macenis, who played with the Warriors in June, could put them over the top in a battle with Proviso East for conference supremacy. The 6-5 Macenis is a versatile scorer and heavily recruited small college prospect.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport