How about a way-too-early preseason top five?
The summer is over and the season doesn’t start for another few months, but it’s never too early to start dissecting the 2019-2020 season. And there is no better way than to start with a look at what a preseason top five could look like in November.
Here are five teams (listed alphabetically) primed, ready and look the part of a top five team in the preseason when the season tips off in November.
Last season: 26-4 and lost in sectional semifinals
The early buzz: Bloom’s big-name seniors are set to go out with a bang.
Why top five: The Blazing Trojans are loaded with talent and experience. The final step is winning on a big stage and claiming titles at Pontiac and in the postseason and finding its way to Peoria. This group could do all of that.
There are four returning seniors who have been together for years and among the top players in Illinois in the Class of 2020, including 6-9 Martice Mitchell and dynamic guard Keshawn Williams. Both have offers from major college programs.
The unheralded backcourt of Donovan Newby and Dante Maddox brings production and intangibles, while uber-athlete Christian Shumate will be an added weapon after transferring in from Plainfield East.
Last season: 29-5 and lost in sectional championship.
The early buzz: The dynamic backcourt of Adam Miller, a top 40 national prospect, and Wake Forest commit Marcus Watson is certainly buzzworthy.
Why top five: Again, it starts with the guard play of Miller and Watson. There isn’t a better backcourt in the state. Miller is a prolific scorer and shooter while Watson brings blazing speed and puts a ton of pressure on opposing teams at both ends of the floor.
But it’s also about what Morgan Park has added via transfer. Brandon Weston, who transferred in from Lake Forest Academy last year, is 6-5 and a top five player in the Class of 2021. Seryee Lewis begins his third school in four years after previous stops at Marist and Kenwood. The 6-8 senior is a Division I prospect and brings much-needed size to the Mustangs.
Coach Nick Irvin is poised to make a run at another state championship in Class 3A, which would be the program’s fifth since 2013.
Last season: 19-12 and lost in regional
The early buzz: With the talent-filled junior class, it’s not too early to get excited about a Dons team that could be the best at Notre Dame in over 20 years.
Why top five: This one is based on the potential and growth of a fantastic junior class. The class includes three players — 6-5 Evanston transfer Louis Lesmond, athletic guard Anthony Sayles and 6-6 Troy D’Amico — who are all ranked among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 prospects in the Class of 2021.
Throw in the much-improved Jason Bergstrom, a 6-4 senior who has grown physically and with his confidence, and coach Kevin Clancy has a team that will be favored to win a top-heavy East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Last season: 27-6 and lost in super-sectional
The early buzz: This just might be the best team in the north suburbs and the potential of playing in Peoria is real.
Why top five: The Patriots aren’t going to wow you in warm-ups and the roster isn’t loaded with Division I prospects. But coach Pat Ambrose has the classic high school basketball team to work with this winter. There is experience, chemistry and pieces that fit. The Patriots impressed all summer while winning the prestigious Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.
Stevenson put together a monster season and return four starters and its sixth man. Matt Ambrose, a 6-3 shooter and son of the head coach, is an all-state caliber player ready for a big senior season. With Matt Ambrose, highly-athletic Robert Holmes inside and perimeter threats in John Ittounas, Matt Kaznikov, and Evan Ambrose all returning, the Patriots are a lock to be a top five team in the preseason.
Last season: 25-8 and lost in sectional championship
The early buzz: Senior star D.J. Steward is coming off a monster spring and summer which has netted a boatload of major college offers, including Duke and North Carolina.
Why top five: For starters, the Dolphins boast Steward, who is among the top 35 players in the country and one of the most productive players in Illinois. The 6-3 guard puts up numbers and wins. He led Fenwick in scoring as a freshman and helped the Friars to a second-place finish in Class 3A. And in three years he’s been apart of 75 wins.
Tyler Beard, a talented 6-2 guard and Division I prospect, has played a lot of minutes and produced in a lot of big games the past two seasons.
The Dolphins, however, will need their young talent to take a step forward to maintain this high ranking all season.