10 teams that impressed at the Riverside-Brookfield summer shootout

Teams that perform well and look the part of a very good team in June generally do put together successful seasons six months later.

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Rich’s Al Brooks (24) celebrates with Matthew LeSure (11) at the 2024 Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout.

Rich’s Al Brooks (24) celebrates with Matthew LeSure (11) at the 2024 Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

As I was discussing with a few high school coaches at this past weekend’s Riverside-Brookfield Shootout the importance and how relevant the month of June is for coaches and their teams, there were some common beliefs.

First, a poor month of June doesn’t mean you can’t have success in the winter months. Some teams deal with injuries and player absences. Coaches toy with rotations and getting more players court time. And some teams take time to develop and may just lack the experience of playing together at this point.

But teams that perform well and look the part of a very good team in June generally do put together very successful seasons six months later.

While the annual Riverside-Brookfield shootout no longer crowns a champion –– the event has become a bit more of a player showcase while playing with their high school teams –– it’s still easy to figure out the top teams. And the top returning teams didn’t disappoint.

The belief here going into the event was that two teams were vying for the top spot in the preseason rankings this November. Both are defending state champs and both looked very capable of repeating.

Homewood-Flossmoor, the defending Class 4A champ, and DePaul Prep, which will be in search of a third consecutive state championship after claiming a 2A title in 2023 and a 3A title this past season, impressed.

H-F coach Jamere Dismukes does have some significant holes to fill, namely the hole big-moment guard Gianni Cobb leaves as he heads for Columbia this fall. But with 6-5 wing Bryce Heard looking like a potential dominating figure and high-major talent, along with scoring lead guard Jayden Tyler becoming a go-to option, the Vikings are poised for another big season.

The Vikings dispatched Oswego East and East St. Louis and looked very impressive in a win over Metamora before falling to Warren.

There wasn’t a team more in sync and playing with more of a distinct purpose and consistency than coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s DePaul Prep team. It would be hyperbole to call it midseason form, but it’s an eye-opening team when it comes to summer play. The Rams went 4-0 with rather easy wins over De La Salle, Lake Zurich, Peoria Central and Bolingbrook.

The combination of its typical stellar defense, the improvement of returning players, a key transfer addition and the absence of one its top players puts this team squarely in contention for preseason No. 1.

Makai Kvamme has been really good for two years. Remember, he’s been the starting point guard of two state championship teams. But the senior looks different from a physical perspective and is playing at a higher level. Rashaun Porter is a talented and rapidly developing 6-6 junior.

Then there is Rykan Woo, a transfer from Young. As if the Rams needed any more defensive weaponry, here comes a pesky, impactful on-the-ball defender. When Woo, who is also a threat shooting the ball, gets comfortable with the defensive principles Kleinschmidt teaches and expects, this perimeter defense will again be extremely troublesome for opponents. That was apparent already this past weekend.

Junior AJ Chambers and senior Rob Walls are valuable returning guards who have been through a state championship run. Plus, promising 6-6 Jonas Johnson is still recovering from injury after missing half of last season. He will be back this fall.

Other teams that impressed at Riverside-Brookfield:

Benet

Everyone who watched Benet came away impressed. The Redwings still have work to do in getting back to playing typical Benet defense, but coach Gene Heidkamp’s team still went 4-0, drilling both Bloom and Bolingbrook and beating defending 2A champ Phillips.

This team should be better than a year ago, especially if the rapid emergence of 6-9 Daniel Pauliukonis continues. There will be hard-to-match size with Pauliukonis and the improving and imposing 7-footer Colin Stack. With more experience under their belt, there should be steady guard play with the returning backcourt of Blake Fagbemi and Jayden Wright.

Warren

The Blue Devils and Jaxson Davis broke out in a big way last season. After being unranked in November, Warren climbed into the top 10, won regional and sectional championships and finished with 31 wins.

Davis, the star sophomore point guard, will be even better. That’s a scary proposition. But the tandem of junior guard Braylon Walker and senior Javerion Banks have made big strides since the season ended. They opened eyes at Riverside-Brookfield over the weekend. That guard trio led the Blue Devils to a 4-0 mark over the weekend.

Glenbard West

Keep an eye on the Hilltoppers. Coach Jason Opoka’s team will be one of the more improved ones in the area.

In terms of the very top of the league, a drop is expected in the West Suburban Silver in comparison to the past couple of years. But Glenbard West is a sleeper and a team that could very well be favored.

The addition of Glenbard North transfer Josh Abushanab, coupled with a budding player in guard TJ Williams, gives this team a real shot in the arm offensively. The explosive Williams is set to be one of the breakout performers in the junior class.

The pieces that go with Abushanab and Williams, including 6-4 Bryce Huff, massive 6-8 Mike O’Connell and 6-5 Dom Seaney, bring the type of size and length that makes that 1-3-1 awfully effective.

Barrington

The Broncos, who quietly tied Palatine for the top spot in the MSL East this past season, finished a perfect 4-0 over the weekend, including a win over Simeon.

Fresh off a good spring with the Illinois Wolves, sharpshooter Oliver Gray continues to build momentum. The 6-4 wing scored 28 in the win over Simeon. He was rock solid all weekend and is one to watch in the junior class.

With Gray and experienced veterans in Adam Baird and Nick Peipert, Barrington can surpass the 21-win seasons of the past two years.

Rich

There was going to be some hype surrounding this team regardless of how it did at R-B. There is just too much talent to ignore now that transfer Al Brooks joins junior guard Jamson Coulter. That’s a heck of a 1-2 punch from a talent perspective.

Rich finished with just a 2-2 record, but it certainly passed the look test. You also get the feeling that with each season that coach Lou Adams is at Rich the players in the program are getting closer to buying into his coaching mindset. Playing hard and with relentlessness has been a staple of Adams-coached teams. And if this team gets that fully? Watch out for the Raptors.

Evanston

The Wildkits didn’t play any team that will be ranked among the top 10 in the preseason, but it’s a team that should feel good after finishing 4-0 at R-B.

New Trier will be favored in the Central Suburban League South. However, this Evanston team will be pushing for the top spot in what will heat up one of the best rivalries in the state. Coach Mike Ellis’ group will be much better than last year’s team that finished 5-5 in the league and 20-11 overall.

How do you not like Theo Rocca? The 6-4 senior is a throwback in many ways –– a tough, savvy, competitive winner who can knock a shot down, score and impact in multiple ways.

Waubonsie Valley

Last season the Warriors snuck up on some people but coach Andrew Schweitzer’s team will be the favorite, along with DeKalb, in the DuPage Valley Conference this coming season.

Tyreek Coleman is a bonafide star at point guard. The highly active Moses Wilson is experienced, getting stronger and a serious weapon. And keep an eye on the impact of 6-4 Kris Mporokoso, a very promising sophomore prospect.

The Warriors did lose a tight one to Evanston, 57-55, but did impress with a 3-1 record.

St. Laurence

The Vikings didn’t exactly beat world-beaters in going 4-0 at R-B but still proved it will be a top 25 team when the season opens in November.

The addition of EJ Mosley, a dynamic scoring point guard, instantly raises the expectations of the Vikings. Coach Roshawn Russell has a catalyst in Mosley, a player the City/Suburban Hoops Report has among its top 10 prospects in the senior class. Mosley forms a dangerous guard trio with 6-3 hard-nosed Jacob Rice and the steady and consistent Zerrick Johnson.

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