Looking forward to 2023-24: Ten teams to keep an eye on

It’s time to look at a way-too-early top 10 for the 2023-24 season.

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Joliet West’s Jeremiah Fears (2) drives toward the basket as the Tigers play Romeoville.

Joliet West’s Jeremiah Fears (2) drives toward the basket as the Tigers play Romeoville.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The memory of the 2022-23 season is in the rearview mirror. While there will surely be some player movement between now and the start of next season that will alter the landscape of high school basketball, it’s time to look at a way-too-early top 10 for the 2023-24 season.

Curie

There are a lot of holes to fill. However, coach Mike Oliver’s program, which has been one of the best in the state for two decades, rarely ever returns a star. But the Condors have one in junior Carlos Harris, a 6-2 guard capable of carrying this team.

Keep an eye on talented junior guard Christian Brockett and the development of Isaiah Pickens, Mason Minor, 6-6 Taevion Collier, sophomore Rashaad Wilson and freshman Michael Oliver, Jr.

DePaul Prep

Don’t forget it was the Rams that claimed the only state championship of all the Chicago area heavyweights. The defending Class 2A state champs will make the move up in class and remain a state title contender, thanks to the return of four starters and six of the top seven players.

The junior tandem of 6-7 Jaylan McElroy and 6-7 Payton Kamin are double-figure scorers, while the sophomore class, led by point guard Makai Kvamme and 6-6 Jonas Johnson, provides plenty of upside.

Downers Grove North

Following up a record-breaking season, which culminated with a Class 4A fourth-place finish, won’t be easy. But the star, junior guard Jack Stanton, returns.

Jake Riemer, a promising 6-8 big man, and role-playing guard Owen Thulin are two other returning starters.

Plus, the sophomore team will provide some reinforcements after finishing this past season with a 24-5 record.

Joliet West

McDonald’s All-American Jeremy Fears, Jr., departs for Michigan State. But this now becomes Jeremiah Fears’ team. The state’s best sophomore is a pretty dynamic starting point for the Tigers. Junior guard Justus McNair is an emerging 6-3 Division I talent and 6-8 Drew King should make considerable strides.

Kenwood

Coach Mike Irvin’s team won its second straight sectional championship. The talent returning next year is enough for this program to make its first state appearance.

The frontline of 6-10 Jaden Smith, 6-5 Calvin Robins and 6-5 Chris Riddle will be the best in the state. Emerging, young stars like 6-8 sophomore Aleks Alston and freshman point guard Noah Mister will step into more prominent roles.

Marist

Following a 24-win season and with burgeoning young talent, coach Brian Hynes’ team won’t likely slip under the radar heading into next season. This will be the favorite in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

A standout freshmen group got their feet wet this season with point guard Adoni Vassilakis and 6-8 Stephen Brown consistently showing flashes. A pair of sophomores, Achilles Anderson and Marquis Vance, return. And keep an eye on emerging freshman point guard TJ Tate.

Mount Carmel

The Caravan will look very different in replacing high-scoring, four-year guard DeAndre Craig. However, 6-6 wing Angelo Ciaravino (16 ppg) is fresh off a big junior season, and 6-5 Tre Marks (10.5 ppg) made an impact as an active and bouncy threat at both ends of the floor. There is added depth in this program that will keep coach Phil Segroves’ team in the rankings.

St. Ignatius

After bringing home a couple of Class 3A state trophies the past two seasons –– coach Matt Monroe’s team finished third in 2022 and fourth this past season — anyone expecting the Wolfpack to take a major step back will be disappointed.

The rise this past season of sophomore Phoenix Gill and junior Reggie Ray, a pair of double-figure scorers on the perimeter, will keep this program humming.

Sam Horenkamp and 6-5 Justin Scott gained valuable experience as role players and will provide support for the Wolfpack’s big two.

St. Rita

Big man James Brown, one of the top players in the state and a North Carolina commit, is off to prep school. Whispers remain of others coming and going when it comes to St. Rita.

Regardless, this team will finally be old and has the makings of being a state title contender. And the door is open for Illinois-bound Morez Johnson to put together a monster senior season. Iowa State recruit Nojus Indrusaitis and sophomore Melvin Bell also return.

Young

As always, the Dolphins lost some big names. There’s change coming for coach Tyrone Slaughter’s team. But as always, there are so many talented pieces in the pipeline.

Super sophomore Antonio Munoz showed signs of taking off as a player over the course of the season. The surplus of exciting young talent includes juniors Sean Brown and Kevin Iverson, sophomore Damajay Richardson and a terrific freshmen class headed by Marquis Clark, Rico D’allessandro, Rykan Woo and Nasir Rankin.

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