Last year's record: 10-18 (5-7 River Valley Conference)
Coach: Tony Waznonis
Assistants: Steve Sarsany, Bryce Shafer
Players to watch: Marshall Landis, 5-11, G (10.7 ppg, 1.3 spg, 54 3-pt FG Made); Anthony Olszewski, 6-6, Sr., C/F (1.1ppg); Dallas Saddler, 6-0, Sr. (1.2ppg).
Outlook: Landis is the lone returning starter, as six seniors graduated. It may take some time for the Bobcats to find their chemistry, but coach Waznonis is looking for his team to be strong in the second half of the season. "It will be difficult to beat St. Anne and Illinois Lutheran, but once we get more comfortable as a team, I expect us to compete in every game we play," Waznonis said.
Bloom Twp. Blazing Trojans
Last year's record: 24-6 (9-1 Southland Athletic Conference)
Coach: Ron Ashlaw
Assistants: Pete McGuire. Dante Maddox
Players to watch: James Coleman, 6-7, Sr., F; Zerell Jackson, 6-0, Sr., G (7.8 ppg, 3.1 apg); Jared Johnson, 6-5, Sr., F.
Outlook: Former Waukegan coach Ashlaw moves from traditional power to another traditional power, and he is excited. The Blazing Trojans have Jackson to run the floor. Johnson and Coleman are expected to clean up on the boards. "We had a great preseason, and we are all greatly looking forward to another fun and successful boys basketball season," Ashlaw said.
Last year's record: 19-9 (5-5 Southland Athletic Conference)
Coach: Tom Cappel
Assistants: Mike Lyman, Al Hutton
Players to watch: Rashad Lee, 6-7, Sr., C (7.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Brandon Johnson, 6-3, Sr., F; Chris Jernigan, 6-2, Sr., F; Tyler Williams, 6-2, Jr., G (11.1 ppg).
Outlook: The Warriors lost some key players including Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss for football), Mark Conner and Marvie Keith. Williams was an honorable mention All-SAC as a sophomore and is expected to be a leader. Jernigan and Lee, who has started since he was a freshman, will have to control the boards. "The outlook is promising as long as the team is committed to defense and team play. We think we can go 9-10 deep," Cappel said.
Last year's record: 21-6 (13-1 SouthWest Suburban Blue)
Coach: Jim McLaughlin
Assistants: Roy Condotti, Nelson Grant
Players to watch: Tai Odiase, 6-8, Sr., F (7.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg); Dorian McGraney, 5-10, Sr., G; Davon Smith, 5-10, Sr., G; Destin Barnes, 6-5, Jr., G; Davante Heard, 6-6, Sr., F.
Outlook: The Vikings have no starters returning, but Oidiase, a UIC recruit, has some valuable experience. H-F won the SWC Blue last year and could be in the thick of things if players step up. "Our game will start on the defensive side of the ball. We are fortunate to have a very unique post player in Tai Odiase who can change the game for us around the rim," McLaughlin said. "Our goal is to be playing our best basketball by the time we get to March."
Illiana Christian Vikings
Last year's record: 19-10
Coach: Tom Roozeboom
Assistant: Chuck Zandstra
Players to watch: Caleb Jonkman, 6-3, Sr., G/F (12.4 pph, 6.0 rpg, 1.5 apg); Marcus Ottenhoff, 6-2, Sr., G/F (7.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg); Brandon Galambos, 6-2, Sr., G/F.
The Vikings lost most of their scoring to graduation in Brandon Martin, Elijah Lares and Jon Sandstra. They return Jonkman, who can light it up. "We are hoping to contend for the Metro Suburban Conference crown," Roozeboom said. "Each night in this conference, we have to bring our best game."
Illinois Lutheran Chargers
Last year's record: 19-7 (9-3 River Valley Conference)
Coach: Mark Kjenstad
Assistants: Tony Brooke, Jeff Uhlenbrauck
Players to watch: Mack Newson III, 5-10, Sr., G (16 ppg); Collin Borns, 6-2, Sr., F (13 ppg); Sam Geraci, 5-11, Sr., G (7 ppg).
Outlook: The Chargers lost size with the graduation of Austin Wood and Matt Carter, but Newson and Geraci are a good back court. "We have guys that are proven scorers. Our concern is rebounding. We lost two seniors (Austin Wood and Matt Carter) that combined for 450 rebounds. We must find a way to replace those. Newson and Borns should excel as a 1-2 scoring punch." Kjenstad said.
Marian Catholic Spartans
Last year's record: 29-4 (6-2 East Suburban Catholic Conference)
Coach: Mike Taylor
Assistants: Kevin Kelly, Nick Novak
Players to watch: Tyler Ulis, 5-9, Sr., G (21.9 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.6 rpg, 2.8 spg); Ki-Jana Crawford, 5-8, Sr., G (7.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 spg); Josh Cohn, 6-0, Sr., G (8.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg); Terrone Parham, 6-7, Sr., F (10.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg); John Oliver, 6-3, Sr, F (4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg); Chris Austin, 5-9, Jr., G (3.3 ppg); Javaughn Young-White, 6-1, Jr., G; T.J. Smith, 6-5, Fr., F.
Outlook: The Spartans return their key players and have an all-senior starting lineup from a team that set a program records for wins and made it to the Class 4A Illinois State Super-Sectional. Kentucky recruit Tyler Ulis leads the way. He is Marian’s career (1,612 points) and single-season scoring leader (693 points). He is also a leader and the program's all-time assist leader. Parham, an Army recruit, and three-year starters Cohn, Crawford and Oilver are strong players. "We’re very blessed to return an experienced senior group that should bring plenty of maturity to the floor and one that has great camaraderie on and off the court," Taylor said. "Tyler Ulis is as special a player as any in history at Marian Catholic, and possesses the ability to make every teammate on the floor a better player. We’ll be able to go deep with a talented bench and should be able to adjust and dictate several different tempo styles."
Mount Carmel Caravan
Last year's record: 11-16 overall (5-6 in Catholic League North)
Coach: Mike Flaherty
Assistants: John Jackson, Eric Shuler
Players to watch: Christian Searles, 5-9, Sr., G (18 ppg, 3 apg); David Nichols, 6-0, Sr., G. (missed most of last year with MCL); Gabe Grant, 6-4, Sr., F (8 ppg, 4 rpg); Devante Charles, 6-4, sr., F( 6 ppg, 6 rpg); Montana Byrd, 6-3, Sr., F ( 6ppg, 3 rpg).
Outlook: The Caravan will be bigger and more athletic. Searles, a football player, can score and play good defense. "We might struggle early while waiting for football players to fill out the varsity roster, but we expect to be a solid team this year and one of the better teams in the area by the end of the season," Flaherty said.
Seton Academy Sting
Last year record: 22-11 (Class 2A state runners-up)
Coach: Justin Domingo
Assistants: Jamal Thompson, Vince Green, James Forte
Players to watch: Christopher Seaton, 6-4, Sr., F (7.2 ppg); Timothy Townsel, 5-9, Jr., G; Eron Evans, 5-9, Sr., G (2.0 ppg).
Outlook: New coach Justin Domingo has two regulars in Seaton and Evans from a team that was second in Class 2A last year. Those two are expected to lead and Townsel will be another key player. The Sting is looking to keep the program's winning tradition going.
St. Francis de Sales Pioneers
Last year's record: 7-21
Coach: Bob Oderwald
Assistants: Kevin Dockery, Rich Larkins, Anthony Oderwald
Players to watch: Cornelius McIntosh, 6-4, Jr., F (12.0 ppg; Tyler Streeter, 6-5, Jr., F (10.6 ppg); Derrick Dawson, 6-1, Jr., G (8.0 ppg, 3.0 apg); Dwayne McNutt, 5-10, Jr., G.
Outlook: Former T.F. South coach Bob Oderwald takes over and has some returning regulars in McIntosh, Streeter, Dawson and McNutt. Oderwald is a teacher, and the Pioneers will play tough defense. By tournament, time, this team will be ready to go in Class 1A.
Last year's record: 9-17
Coach: Scott Alderson
Assistants: Jason Battle, Rocky Hill, Chris Edwards, Maurice Richardson
Players to watch: Darrion Robinson, 6-4, Jr. F (12 ppg, 8 rpg); Leeshaun Evans 6-1, Jr. G (3 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg); Xavier Robinson 6-4, Sr. F (7 ppg, 5 rpg).
Outlook: The Falcons will be very young, but do return three starters from last year’s squad. Alderson must replace Antonio Woods and Austin Dunbar, who were leaders. "We do have some talent, and a group of kids that truly enjoy playing with each, so as long as we withstand those growing pains as a strong unit, we will have some success this year." Alderson said.
Last year's record: 16-14 (11-3 SouthWest Suburban Red)
Coach: Troy Jackson
Assistants: Jeff Haynes (assistant head coach), Brandon Willoby
Players to watch: Justin Taylor, 6-4, Sr., F; Demarcus Turner, 5-11, Sr., G; Justin Montgomery, 6-0, Sr., G; Jamani Pierce, 6-4, Sr., C/F; Keyvontae Anderson, 6-2, Sr., G/F.
Outlook: The Wildcats return all starters and have several players from an undefeated sophomore team. The Wildcats could be the best in the SouthWest Suburban Red. DeQuan Applewhite, Leslie Wilson, Keondre Woods, Brian Davis and Robert McCalley are juniors who are ready to give the team depth.
T.F. North Meteors
Last year's record: 20-7
Coach: Tim Bankston
Assistant: DeAndre Lowery
Players to watch: Quwone Harris, 6-3, Sr., F; Vance Johnson, 6-6, Jr., F; Christian Johnson, 6-5, Jr., G/F; Sadiq Salisu, 5-5, Jr., G
Outlook: The Meteors return experience, but are young. Harris, Salisu, Vance Johnson and Christian Johnson will have to lead. "It will be the first time we will have two sophomores and two freshmen on varsity playing some heavy minutes," Bankston said. "The upside is we have size to go alone with that youth. We’re young and we might struggle early with our tough non-conference schedule, but I am also looking for us to come on strong late in the season. We should be a team to be reckoned with for the next three years."
T.F. South Rebels
Coach: John O'Rourke
Last year's record: 12-13 (7-6 South Suburban Blue)
Players to watch: Ka-Ton Mays, 6-2, Sr., F (8.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 spg); Donald Stone, 6-2, Sr., F (8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 spg); Jamahre Baker, 5,11,Sr., G (5.2 ppg, 2.1 apg); Ronald Ryan, 5-11, Sr., G.
Outlook: The Rebels are young and Mays, Stone and Baker will have to lead. Newcomers Ronald Ryan, Brandon Murdock and Brandon Johnson will be contributors. "We feel that we have a very talented team but understand that the key to our success is predicated on senior leadership, hard work, and committing ourselves to one another as teammates," O'Rourke said.
Last year's record: 13-15 (8-6 SouwthWest Suburban Red)
Head Coach: Paul Slavich
Assistants: Jonathan Hill, John Kohn, Anthony Clemons, Jesus Sanchez
Players to watch: Donte Thomas 6-6, Sr., G/F (15.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0apg); Rashaad Alexander, 6-8, Jr. (10.0 ppg), F; Kenneth Bates, 6-8, Jr., C/F Kaliph Fagan, 6-4, Jr., G; Je'Juan Payton, 6-0, Jr. G.
Outlook: The Thunderbirds have a good mix of talent, led by Bradley recruit Thomas. They will be tested early playing in the Chicago Heights Classic. Thomas, Alexander and Bates, who led the sophomore team in rebounding and blocked shots, give Thornwood size up front and it could contend for the SWSC Red title. Payton is a transfer from Seton Academy and Fagan is a transfer from Morgan Park. "If we play smart, hard and execute, we can have a very good season here at the 'Wood,'" Slavich said.
Coach: Brian Centella
Assistant: Matt Seaquist
Players to watch: Richie Chavez, 5-10, Jr, PG; Jermaine Watkins, 6-2, Sr., F.
Outlook: The Patriots lost three starters and six seniors in all. Chavez and Watkins will have to carry the load. "We will be a fairly inexperienced team," Centella said. "However, we hope to surround the two returning starters with quality young players and be a competitive team in conference."
-- Compiled by Mike Nieto