Ready to Rumble
A look at the top teams in the Windy City.
De La Salle
Breakdown: When you lose two senior captains in Mike Shaw (current Illinois freshman) and Andre Henley plus junior point guard Jaylon Tate to Simeon, things usually wouldn’t look so good. Luckily for the Meteors, they still have enough talent to not only compete around the city but also have a shot at the Chicago Catholic League title. It actually is pretty amazing how much the Meteors lost last season, yet they still retain a few great pieces to the puzzle. 6-4 guard Alvin Ellis is one of the most underrated players in Illinois, garnering little to no national attention so far in his career. His dedication on the defensive end combined with his incredible floor vision makes him, in my opinion, one of the best overall players in a star-studded Class of 2013 in Illinois. Joining him is fellow junior big man Alex Foster, a 6-8 athletic specimen who defends the rim as well as anyone in the state. 6-9 Gavin Schilling will look to ease the load in the paint for Foster. Schilling, who recently received scholarship offers from DePaul and Illinois, consistently knocks down mid range jump shots and finishes well around the rim with either hand. He can explode to the rim with ease and runs the floor extremely well. If Schilling can provide a major post presence for the Meteors, they should emerge as the favorites in the CCL.
Team MVP: Close call between Ellis, Foster, and Schilling. I’m going with Ellis, simply because he will have the ball in his hands for most of the game and can impact the game without scoring with his phenomenal court vision and defense.
Surprise Player: Gavin Schilling. Schilling spent last season in Europe and returns to the Windy City after a brief stint his freshmen year at Loyola Academy. Schilling, a 6-9 junior big man, possesses an advanced skill set for a big man. When Schilling’s game is clicking on all cylinders, De La Salle has a shot at beating virtually anyone in the state.
Notable Freshman: Martez Walker may be the most physically ready point guard in the 2015 class. He manages a team well and can defend the other team’s best player without much trouble.
Breakdown: If a team from outside the Chicago area wants to garner some statewide attention, it better be loaded with tough, game-proven talent. Rockford Auburn has not beaten Simeon or Whitney Young as of late and may not come into the season with the hype surrounding many of the CPS teams, but Auburn has the talent necessary to make a trip down to Peoria this spring. Everything for the Knights begins and ends with its point guard Fred Van Vleet. A 6-0 Wichita State commit, Van Vleet is without question the top point guard in Illinois. He possesses a basketball IQ that exceeds anyone in recent memory from Illinois, directing every player on his team into certain spots on the court. He plays with poise and composure, never losing his cool against the highest ranked players. He led his aau team PrymeTyme, which I extensively wrote about in a previous SLAMonline article, to multiple victories over some of the top ranked teams in the country. Marcus Posley, his backcourt teammate in AAU and a Ball State commit, transferred over to Auburn this season in hopes of competing for a state title. The team will go as far as Van Vleet and Posley take them. If AAU ball is an indication of how many games they will win this season, then a trip to the final four seems extremely likely.
Team MVP: Fred Van Vleet. This video basically sums up Fred Van Vleet on the basketball court. He is, in my opinion, the best true floor general Illinois has seen in years.
Surprise Player: Real Illinois basketball junkies know how good Marcus Posley is. He may be my candidate for Illinois’ “Most Underrated Player.” But Posley committed to Ball State and has attracted a decent amount of attention over the course of the AAU season. So, I’m going with 6-1 SG Lamark Foote. Foote makes all of the hustle plays on the basketball court. He does the little things like box out bigger opponents, dive for loose balls, and take charges. He guards the other team’s best guards and relentlessly attacks them. Foote may not be a sure fire division one prospect like Van Vleet or Posley, but his success will be crucial in Auburn’s quest to Peoria.
Orr- 2014 superstar Tyquone Greer and 2013 big man Marquis Pryor will lead the Spartans in the post-Mycheal Henry era.
Homewood-Flossmoor- The senior trio of 6-7 Tim Williams, 6-5 Delvon Rencher, and 6-0 Ty Sherman can’t be counted out come March.
Downers Grove South- Jerron Wilbut, arguably the best guard in Illinois for the 2012 class, will not go down without a fight. Look for the Mustangs to contend for the West Suburban Conference championship this year.
Leo- 6-8 junior Russell Woods hopes to solidify his standing as one of the best post prospects in Illinois. Helping him along the way will be Mark Seylan, a 6-2 guard who just recently moved to Illinois from Virginia.
St. Rita- Gary DeCesare has a dangerous squad this year. Seniors AJ Avery and Tony Hicks will provide leadership for the Mustangs. Throw in 2014 stud Dominique Matthews with 2015 stars Victor Law, Charles Matthews, and Miles Carter and you have one heck of a squad to compete for the CCL title.