Joe Henricksen’s 3-pointer: Glenbard West’s potential, DePaul’s tremendous backcourt and the Christie brothers
Are the Christie brothers at Rolling Meadows the state’s best-ever brothers combo?
We’ll just have to wait to see how dominant Glenbard West really is.
The Hilltoppers are running roughshod over their West Suburban Conference foes. Second-year coach Jason Opoka’s team is 7-0 with an average margin of victory of 27 points and could very well run the table during its 13-game schedule.
Glenbard West, however, won’t be able to measure itself against some of the Chicago area’s best teams because the West Suburban Conference decided that no team would play outside its league this season.
Opoka will welcome back four of his top six players next season, when the Hilltoppers inevitably will be one of the top teams in the state — and have a chance to bulk up their schedule. They’re already locked in to play in the annual When Sides Collide Shootout, which will pit them against a highly ranked foe.
There will be a couple of tests down the stretch in the coming weeks, including a season finale against Downers Grove North that could decide the West Suburban Silver. But it’s too bad we won’t get to see these Hilltoppers against another top-notch ranked opponent this season because they really look the part.
It starts with two Division I prospects in juniors Braden Huff, a super-intriguing 6-9 threat with high-major offers, and Cade Pierce, who’s 6-5 and versatile. But it continues with a group with enormous size, including wiry 6-8 Troy Glover, 6-6 shooter Aidan Murphy, 6-7 junior Ryan Renfro, 6-7 Danny Mulcare and 6-3 junior guard Paxton Warden.
The upside of the junior class is real. This group has a chance to be the best team in program history and to be playing in Champaign in 2022.
Is the state’s best backcourt at DePaul Prep?
From an impact standpoint, the best backcourt in the state might belong to DePaul. Maybe more than any other outstanding guard duo, TY Johnson and Rasheed Bello make an impact at both ends of the floor.
Johnson, the 6-3 guard headed to Loyola, has been well-regarded as a bona fide shot-making scorer on the perimeter.
He’s a threat from three-point range and has a deadly pull-up jumper in his repertoire. Using his sneaky and underrated athleticism, Johnson gets to the basket off the dribble to create additional scoring opportunities.
Bello is a nice complement to Johnson. The 5-11 senior uses his speed in the open court, gets to the rim, finishes and will fill a stat sheet. But he especially shines on the defensive end, where he’s an absolute menace.
Johnson and Bello set the tone for coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s team, particularly when applying ball pressure, getting in passing lanes and turning defense into offense for the Rams.
The Christie brothers take top honors
There have been some outstanding basketball-playing sibling combinations, including Dominique and Gerald Wilkins, Pau and Marc Gasol and Reggie and Cheryl Miller.
But the Rolling Meadows brother tandem of senior Max Christie and sophomore Cameron Christie is the best basketball-blood duo this state has seen play together.
The Christie brothers have surpassed Quincy’s Bruce and Dennis Douglas.
The No. 1-ranked prospect in the state, Max is the smooth Michigan State-bound guard who is closing in on 6-7.
One brother ranked among the top 20 players in the country is quite the starting point in the “best brother tandem” conversation.
Max has been a star since the day he entered high school. He has lived up to the hype and is off to a terrific start this season, leading his team to a 7-0 start while averaging 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Cameron, a shooting guard, is still maturing — physically and in his game. His production has taken a leap as a sophomore. He’s averaging 15 points. Cameron has grown to 6-4 and is a top-five player in the Class of 2023 in Illinois with high-major interest and offers.