Fox Valley Conference
Coach: Adam McCloud (second season)
Last season’s record: 15-13, 9-7 FVC (fourth place)
Key returning players: Ben Ferrell, F, 6-3, sr.; Sam Carhart, G, 6-3, sr.; Luc Bressett, G, 6-0, sr.; David Knapp, F, 6-2, sr.
Key new players: Addison West, C, 6-4, jr.; Charlie Walsh, 5-8, G, jr.; Beau Frericks, G, 5-11, so.; Frank Jakubicek, F, 6-5, so.
Worth noting: Zach Beaugureau, who led the Trojans at 16.5 points a game and hit 48 3-pointers, graduated, as did Matt McCumber, who scored 10 ppg. and led C-G in rebounding. … Ferrell, Carhart and Bressett are the leading returning scorers, all at about 4 ppg. Bressett is a dangerous shooter and hit 93 percent on free throws. … West gives the Trojans a big body inside, and Jakubicek comes from a strong C-G basketball family. His sisters, Claire and Olivia, were stars for the girls team and played in college. … McCloud said C-G’s depth will be an advantage.
Crystal Lake Central
Coach: Rich Czeslawski (12th season)
Last season’s record: 9-18, 5-11 FVC (tied for sixth)
Top returning players: Alex Timmerman, F-C, 6-9, jr.; C.J. Lerum, G-F, 6-2, jr.; Evan Cassell, G-F, 6-6, jr.; Collin Freund, G, 5-8, sr.; Colton Haviland, G-F, 6-2, sr.; Cade Keenan, F-C, 6-3, sr.
Top new players: Deonta Dungey, G, 5-11, jr.; Will Welder, G, 5-11, jr.;. Jake Pinn, G-F, 6-3, jr.; Demarius Williams, F, 6-0, jr.;. Lucas Seegers, G, 5-9, jr.
Worth noting: Timmerman will be a three-year starter in the middle and averaged 14.6 points a game last season. He is a good outside shooter and hit 81.8 percent from the free-throw line. … Freund, who plays point guard, also will be a starter for the third year. Cassell and Lerum were starters last year as well. … Lerum took over as a starter when the Tigers lost guard Adam Pump to a knee injury. Lerum hit 27 3-pointers over the second half of the season. … Czeslawski said there is a nice combination of youth and experience, and he thinks the lineup versatility he has will be a plus. … The Tigers went 71-15 from 2011 through 2013 and are 22-87 in the past four seasons. This looks like a group that at least will produce a winning record and could do a lot more.
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Matt LePage (sixth season)
Last season’s record: 10-18, 6-11 FVC (fifth place)
Top returning players: Kyle Leva, F, 6-2, sr.; Tyler Haskins, F, 6-3, sr.; Blake Kuffel, F, 6-4, sr.; Jon Holloway, G, 5-9, sr.; Ben Geske, G, 5-10, jr.
Top new players: Matt Real, F, 6-4, jr.; Ryan Lawson, G, 5-10, jr.; Ben Jenkins, G, 5-11, jr.; Tyler Miller, G, 6-1, so.; Patrick Fischer, G, 6-0, jr.
Worth noting: The Gators have seven of their top 10 players coming back, led by forward Kyle Leva, who averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game. … F Tyler Haskin (6 ppg., 5 rpg.) is another returning starter and a two-year varsity player. … F Blake Kuffel, G Jon Holloway and G Ben Geske are other players returning who played significant minutes. … LePage likes the Gators’ depth and may use as many as 11 players. … “We lack the traditional post player size, so we’ll have to make up for our lack of size with speed and quickness,” LePage said.
Coach: Lance Huber (15th season)
Last season’s record: 4-24, 2-14 FVC (ninth)
Top returning players: Jack Orndahl, G, 6-0, sr.; Gabe Bergeron, C, 6-7, sr.; Ryhne Parreno, G, 6-0, sr.; Brad Stec, C, 6-5, jr.; Damarion Butler, G, 5-11, jr.
Top new players: Jordan Hairston, G, 6-1, jr.; Jack Michalski, C, 6-3, jr.; Josh Raby, G, 6-5, jr.; Travon Hatcher, G, 5-6, so.
Worth noting: D-C is 15-66 over the past three seasons but looks like a team ready to bust out this year. The Chargers’ last winning season was in 2013 (19-8). … Orndahl is a four-year starter, and Bergeron is an explosive leaper who can make a difference around the hoop on both ends. … Orndahl averaged 9.7 points a game and hit 47 3-pointers; Bergeron averaged 7.2 ppg. and had 27 blocked shots. … Butler may run the point and is a tough matchup with his quickness, while Stec adds more size inside. … “Taking care of the ball and rebounding will be big keys to determining how successful we will be,” Huber said. “We only have four seniors, so hopefully the colts will come along quickly and we will be competitive in each game.”
Coach: Ben Whitehouse (third season)
Last season’s record: 8-22, 4-12 FVC (eighth)
Top returning players: Nathan Cork, G, 5-11, sr.; J.D. Shaw, G, 6-2, jr.; Drew Dalby, C, 6-5, sr.; Jon Westerlund, F, 6-2, sr.
Top new players: Collin Woods, G, 6-3, so.; Marcus Lazar, G, 6-0, jr.; Kyle Johnson, G, 6-0, jr.; A.J. Bishop, F, 6-0, jr.
Worth noting: Cork and Shaw are returning starters for the Whip-Purs, while Dalby and Westerlund saw significant time as reserves. … Woods played at Harvest Christian in Elgin last year as a freshman but transferred and gives the Whips a tall athletic guard who can do a lot of things. … Whitehouse wants his team to play an aggressive, up-tempo style.
Coach: Will Benson (fourth season)
Last season’s record: 7-21, 5-11 FVC (tied for sixth)
Top returning players: Cory Knipp, G, 6-2, sr.; Chris Costantino, G, 5-11, sr.; Zack Loveisky, G, 6-0, sr.; Andrew Fulcer, F, 6-2, sr.; Brett Bigden, G-F, 6-3, sr.; Devin Borring, G, 6-2, sr.; Sam De La Paz, F, 6-1, sr.; Trevor Sloth, G, 5-8, sr.
Top new players: Ryan Sroka, G, 6-3, jr.; Davis Pasco, G, 5-11, jr.; Nolan Engmann, F, 6-2, jr.; Patrick Roppolo, G, 5-11, jr.; Nathan Draper, G, 6-2, jr.; Dylan Barnedo, G, 6-0, jr.; Blake Ottaviano, F, 5-10, jr.
Worth noting: The Red Raiders do not have great size or one particular star player, but they have depth and a group that has played together for a long time. … Knipp qualified for state in the IHSA Class 4A 3-Point Showdown and is one of the Raiders’ best shooters. Costantino, Bigden, Loveisky, Borring and Fulcer all got playing time last year. … Sroka gives Huntley a tall backcourt player with skills. … “It’s a great mix of kids,” Benson said. “We think we can take a big step forward in terms of challenging for the top of the conference if we play the way we are capable of.”
Coach: Jimmy Roberts (fifth season)
Last season’s record: 30-2, 15-1 FVC (champion)
Top returning players: Ryan Phillips, G, 6-4, sr.; Kameron Mack, G, 6-6, sr.; Nik Balkcom, G, 6-2, sr.; Ajani Rodriguez, G, 5-10, sr.; Joey Price, C, 6-7, jr.; Daniel Murray, F, 6-2, sr.
Top new players: Matt McCoy, G, 6-0, jr.; Jaden Henderson, G, 6-2, so.
Worth noting: The Golden Eagles graduated one of the best big men to ever play in the area in 6-9 Cameron Krutwig (15.6 ppg., 14 rpg., 2.8 apg., 2.8 bpg.). Krutwig played on four FVC champion teams (FVC Valley Division in 2014-16, FVC in 2017). He was the Northwest Herald Player of the Year and made The Associated Press Class 4A All-State second team. … Jacobs returns four players who were integral to their 30-2 season that ended one basket from a trip to the Class 4A final four. … Phillips (10.8 ppg., 39 3s) and Nik Balkcom (5.5 ppg., 2.9 apg.) will be third-year starters at guard. Ajani Rodriguez is ultra-quick and can play the point, while 6-6 Kameron Mack can score all over and will help defending inside. … Joey Price (6-7, 318) is now getting looks as an NCAA Division I football prospect after playing one season, but his first sport has been basketball. With Krutwig gone, the Eagles will need more from Price inside. … Jacobs will miss the shooting from other graduates Cooper Schwartz and Mason Materna, but the Eagles still should be a factor in the FVC. “Faces change, guys move on, but the expectations remain the same,” Roberts said. “Compete for a sectional title.”
Coach: Chris Madson (first season)
Last season’s record: 18-12, 12-4 FVC (third)
Top returning players: Gavin Markgraff, G-F, 6-4, sr.; Gio Calabrese, G, 5-11, sr.; Maki Mohr, G, 6-3, sr.; Patrick Breisch, F, 6-4, sr.
Top new players: Brian March, F, 6-4, jr.; Jacob Evans, F, 6-6, jr.
Worth noting: The Warriors notched their highest winning total last season since 2004. Their strength lies in the backcourt with Markgraff (18.7 ppg., 81 3s), Mohr (9.6, 63) and Calabrese (8.4, 33). … Breisch also started last season and is a tough player inside with rebounding and defense. March saw some time as a reserve and will assume a bigger role, while Evans also will give them some size. … Madson, who turns 27 this week, is one of the youngest coaches in the state. He graduated from McHenry in 2009, played at NCAA Division III Lake Forest and assisted former coach Tim Paddock for three seasons. … The Warriors never have won an FVC title, but hope to change that with this group. “We are focused on competing at a very high level and pushing past the achievements of last season,” Madson said.
Coach: Corky Card (16th season)
Last season’s record: 20-8, 14-2 FVC (second)
Top returning players: Connor Kazin, G, 6-0, sr.; Jack Hoyland, G, 6-2, sr.; Joe Hansen, F, 6-3, sr.; Hunter Morlock, G, 6-0, sr.
Top new players: Michael Patterson, G, 5-9, jr.; Drew Gende, F, 6-4, jr.; Jared Lindquist, G, 5-10, jr.
Worth noting: The Wolves had their top six scorers graduate, amounting to 47.9 points a game. … Kazin could be one of the area’s best guards. He will get a lot more opportunities to drive and shoot this season and was a strong complementary player last season. … The Wolves thrive with their half-court zone defense, which has been a constant with Card’s recent teams. … The Wolves are 80-36 over the past four seasons.
Kishwaukee River Conference
Coach: Donnie Nolen (sixth season)
Last season’s record: 5-21, 0-12 KRC (seventh)
Top returning players: Angel Castaneda, G, 5-9, sr.; Rafael Escobar, G, 5-10, sr.; Pablo Peralta, F, 6-1, sr.
Top new players: Andrew Cooke, F, 6-2, jr.; Gavin Perkins, F, 6-0 , jr.
Worth noting: Nolen said the Hornets can dramatically improve on last year’s record after the work put in this offseason. … Juniors Cooke and Perkins will help with size and shooting.
Coach: Mike Toussaint (seventh season)
Last season’s record: 14-17, 6-6 KRC (tied for fourth)
Top returning players: Zach Toussaint, G, 6-0, jr.; Mason Sobiesk, F, 6-2, sr.; Jackson LaMarche, G, 6-2, sr.; Brody Frazier, F, 6-2 sr.; Dylan Paprocki, G, 6-1, sr.
Top new players: Alec Smith, G, 5-9, jr.; Jacob Gutierrez, F, 6-0, jr.; Gibson Groves, F, 6-2, jr.; Garrett Straulin, F, 6-3, jr.
Worth noting: Johnsburg was a team that scared opponents with its ability to hit 3-pointers last season and again will scare them with Toussaint (96 3s), LaMarche (63) and Sobiesk (33), its top three outside shooters, returning. …Toussaint had an outstanding sophomore season, averaging 22 points, which was second among area players to Marengo’s Mike Volkening (25.3). The coach’s nephew is a shooting point guard who also is adept at getting his own shots in the lane. Toussaint is ranked in the top 50 of Illinois juniors by PrepHoops.com and has a scholarship offer from D-II Augustana (South Dakota). … LaMarche averaged 14.1 points a game and Sobiesk added 9.6 and was one of the Skyhawks’ top rebounders. … Frazier is not tall but is a great leaper and will help inside and in the transition game. Paprocki played an extensive AAU schedule and should provide a spark. … “We have a lot of leadership and experience coming back this season, which should help us be very competitive in the KRC and be one of the better teams in the area,” Mike Toussaint said. … Toussaint is in his 18th year as a head coach at his alma mater, the first 11 of which was as girls head coach.
Coach: Nate Wright (fourth season)
Last season’s record: 25-8, 9-3 KRC (tied for second)
Top returning players: Blaine Borhart, G, 5-10, sr.; Alex Schirmer, F, 6-4, sr.; Alejandro Rodriguez, C, 6-6, sr.; Jake LaSota, G, 5-10, sr.; Aiden Kirchner, G, 6-4, sr.
Top new players: Matt Fischer, G, 6-1, sr.; Anthony Shambo, G, 6-1, sr.; Nick Wascher, G, 6-0, jr.; Brock Bertrand, F, 6-3, jr.
Worth noting: The Indians are the only area team currently with four consecutive 20-win seasons after their Class 3A supersectional appearance last season. It is the first time Marengo accomplished that since Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bill Barry’s teams from 1989 to ‘92. … The Indians won a sectional championship for the first time since 1998 and return three starters from that team (G Blaine Borhart, G Jake LaSota and F Alex Schirmer). … Mike Volkening led the area with a 25.3 scoring average and made The Associated Press Class 3A All-State second team but has graduated . … Borhart averaged 10.7 points a game and hit 34 3s. Schirmer averaged 6.6 ppg. and Rodriguez could be more of a factor inside this season. … “Losing 25 points per game in Volkening is tough to replace, but there are a lot of shooters on this team that can fill the void,” Wright said. “We have a lot of different dynamics in how we will score this year.”
Coach: Brandon Creason (ninth season)
Last season’s record: 18-13, 9-3 (tied for second)
Top returning players: Mark Marzahl, G, 6-0, sr.; Shane Byrne, F, 6-4, sr.; Kyle Townsend, G, 6-1, sr.
Top new players: Devin Bailey, G, 5-10, jr.; Jeff Jankowski, G, 6-1, jr.; Luke Uhwat, F, 6-1, jr.
Worth noting: R-B lost a lot with graduated guards Blaine Bayer (17 ppg.) and Jake Kaufman (10.3). Bayer was a four-year starter and Kaufman started for most of his career. Bayer was an All-Area first-team selection last season and finished his career with 1,327 points. … Marzahl hit 40 3s last season and averaged 6.9 ppg. No other returning player averaged more than 3.9 ppg. … Unlike in recent seasons, Creason said this year’s team is young and inexperienced.
Coach: Al Baker (10th season)
Last season’s record: 12-18, 6-6 KRC (tied for fourth)
Top returning players: Mikey Gardner, F, 6-1, sr.; Evan Bridges, G, 5-9, jr.; Carl Anderson, G, 5-9, jr.; David Shinherr, G, 5-10, jr.
Top new players: Andrew Adams, F, 6-3, jr.
Worth noting: The Blue Streaks do not have much size – their tallest players are 6-3 – but their strength may lie with outside shooting. “We won’t be big, but we should be able to make some shots,” Baker said. … Bridges, Gardner, Anderson and Shinherr combined for 172 3-pointers last year. Bridges had 67, Gardner had 52. Bridges hit 38 percent on 3s. … The Streaks started 5-14 last season but were 7-4 in their last 11 games.
Coach: Dale Jandron (first season)
Last season’s record: 5-24, 2-10 KRC (sixth)
Top returning players: Collin Mergl, F-C, 6-4, sr.; Joe Grover, F, 6-2, sr.; Joe Haynes, C, 6-4, sr.; Braeden Given, G-F, 6-3, sr.; Ryan Schaffter, G, 5-8, jr.
Top new players: Matt Fallaw, F-C, 6-2, jr.; Zach White, G, 5-9, jr.; Carter Coalson, F, 6-3, jr.
Worth noting: The Thunder will miss Mergl, who suffered a broken leg in football, for a while. He was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13 ppg. … Jandron hopes North can push the ball and spread the floor. PG Schaffter will run the team, 6-4 Haynes will be a presence inside, and 6-2 junior Fallaw gives the Thunder a scorer inside and out.
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Coach: Curtis Price (10th season)
Last season’s record: 10-16, 2-7 ESCC (ninth)
Top returning players: A.J. Golembiewski, F-G, 6-4, sr.; Kevin Herbst, F, 6-6, sr.; Jonny Preston, G, 6-0, jr.; Thomas Menner, F, 6-7, sr.; Sam Limbaugh, F, 6-3, sr.
Top new players: Charlie Kramer, G, 6-4, jr.; Bryce Radcliffe, G, 6-3, jr.
Worth noting: Marian lost 6-8 Sam Ohlrich and 6-3 guard Jack Moscinski, its top two scorers, to graduation. Ohlrich averaged 15.9 ppg., Moscinski was at 13.2. … Preston gained some important minutes last season as a reserve and should fit in nicely at a guard spot. … Menner, Herbst and even some of the guards will give the Hurricanes good size inside.
Northeastern Athletic Conference
Coach: Tim Lenckus (first season)
Last season’s record: 6-20
Top returning players: Brad Judson, F, jr.; Cam Norton, F, sr.; Mason Mindham, G, sr.; Justin Steele, G, sr.; Juan Castaneda, G, sr.
Top new players: Tomi Mor, F, jr.; Mike Ellison, G, so.; Kyle Judson, G, jr.; Cody Kurcab, F, fr.
Worth noting: The Giants have several players who saw significant playing time last season. … “We are expecting underclassmen who have made the varsity roster to contribute immediately,” Lenckus said. “Thus far the boys have competed at practice with a fast pace and a high intensity level.”