Defending Class AA State Title winner Peoria Central is the early favorite to take the crown again.
2003-04 preseason top teams in Illinois
By Frank Rusnak
The key to this team is unselfishness, ball movement and great guard play. Coach Chuck Buescher has a gem of a team in this year's Lions of Peoria Central. Leading this squad will be two high-major recruits in Brandon Lee (Northwester) and Shaun Livingston (Duke) to go along with a strong supporting cast. Who will finish behind Peoria Central is the only question left to be asked in the preseason.
Central: The defending Class AA State Champions, the Lions are the obvious
pick to repeat. They return their main nucleus outside of Bradley freshman
point guard Dan Ruffin. The state’s top player, Duke-bound Shaun Livingston,
leads this team and will fill in at whatever position needed.
Northwestern-bound Brandon Lee, a 6’1” combo guard, will add to the perimeter
attack along with 5’9” senior guard Jacob Motteler. Junior big man DeAndre
Miranda will provide a solid post presence for coach Chuck Buescher’s team. It
looks like 6’6” power forward Dustin Warfield, a Peoria Richwoods transfer
committed to Lewis University, will be eligible which will give this team an
extra push as one of the nation’s top teams.
The Vikings come at you with a front-line of 6’6”, 6’7” and 6’8”. Not to bad
for coach Roy Condotti’s club. Julian Wright, the state’s top junior, will
play every position on the floor at 6’8”. Senior Brian Nussbaum, a 6’6”
forward, will provide versatility. Cyrus Tate is a relentless worker in the
post at 6’7” and 6’1” senior Excell Hardy and the football team’s quarterback
Freddie Barns will operate from the backcourt. Depth will also be a strong
point for this team.
Aurora: With three Division I starters, talent will not be in question for this
team. Leadership is something that will be asked for out of coach Gordie
Kerkman. Shaun Pruitt, a 6’9” post player committed to the
Illinois, will control the
painted area. The senior backcourt of 6’2” Jaeh Thomas and 6’4” Justin
Cerasoli will be one of the state’s best combinations. Cerasoli is committed
to Seton Hall. Look for 6’2” sophomore guard Travis Marion to make a name for
himself this season.
Belleville West: The
Maroons advanced to the Elite Eight last year and look to do the same with a
revamped lineup, featuring O’Fallon transfer Xavier Price. Price, a 6’2”
guard, is committed to Purdue. Division I prospect J.B. Jones, a 6’2” senior
guard, returns as the team’s leader. Look for star wide receiver
Arthur Sargent to provide
extra versatility and size at 6’4” with long arms and a wiry frame. Sean
McPeak will provide low-post stability at 6’5”.
Von Steuben: The lone
Chicago Public League representative to advance to the Elite Eight last
season, coach Vince Carter has the majority of his squad returning. Senior
forwards, both 6’5” and two of the state’s best athletes, Ryne Hamblet and
Demetrius Evans along with 6’1” junior point guard Angel Santiago will help
make the Panthers go. Look for unsung heroes 6’3” senior Bryon Johnson and
6’5” Paul Warren to be keys for how far this team goes.
backcourt of seniors Bryan Mead and Jonny Reibel has some of the best
chemistry you’ll find in high school basketball. Reibel is an expert at
finding Mead, who is money wherever he releases the ball. The 6’0” Reibel is
deceptively quick and crafty at getting to the hoop when the passing lanes are
cut off. Mead is a well-built 6’4” shooter for the Hawks. Six-foot-5 senior
Brandon Jung will be a reliable third-option.
recruit Ollie Bailey is one of the Chicago Public League’s best players at
6’8” and a relentless worker. The backcourt of 6’2” senior Rodnell Harris and
6’3” sophomore Chris Singletary will be tough to contend with. If 6’5” junior
Johnny Logan can get into better conditioning-shape, he could be a force for
William “Wolf” Nelson’s team.
With the addition of 6’3” Washington transfer Jordan Morris, coach Joe
Stoner’s team has just elevated its status to legitimately compete as one of
the top teams in the Mid State Six. Bradley-bound Jeremy Crouch, a 6’4” combo
guard, and Rice-bound Matt Hagen, a 6’9” post player, are four-year varsity
veterans. Look for 6’6” junior power forward Kyle Meyers to play a big role as
Franciscan: The defending Class A state champions come back with almost
all their weapons from one year ago. Leading the Spartans will be 6’4” junior
post Nate Minnoy. A strong banger, Minnoy also has the ability to take his man
off the dribble. Look for senior guard Jerrod Haynes and sophomore guard
Jerome Randle to provide stability in the backcourt for coach Gary London.
Junior wing Mike Robinson is an overlooked ingredient to this team’s success.
Williams is the heart and soul of this team. A 6’5” high-flying forward,
Williams, a Wisconsin recruit, Williams led the Rockets in Peoria Central’s
only loss last year. Dave Mott’s team returns four starters including
Williams’ cousin Kelly Peterson, a 6’3” guard.
junior-dominated team is athletic, versatile and can shoot. Dodie Dunson will
take the point guard responsibilities and Brandon Holtz the shooting guard
position. Both have played on varsity since their freshmen year. Watch for
6’3” junior Wesley Ware, who has a capable three-point shot and is fearless
around the hoop. Brandon Holtz’ little brother Brent, a 6’1” sophomore who
also is Bloomington’s quarterback, should also play a role.
West: Valparaiso recruit Jarryd Loyd is one of the quickest point guards
in the state and he has a prime option in junior slinger Sead Odzic. Junior
guard Jackie Hunt, a 6’2” pogo stick, will add another offensive option for
the Wolves. Victor Colon, a freshman starter last season, is coming off an
injury, but should be close to 100 percent.
Schaumburg: The senior
combination of Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel will try to finish out their
last year of high school ball on a high note before they both leave for
Northern Illinois University together. Pancratz, a 6’4” combo guard, has a
light-you-up jump shot. Reichel, a 6’8” post, has a soft touch and good post
moves for the Saxons.
Downers Grove South: Junior Bryan Mullins will lead the Mustangs as one of the
best high school point guards in the state and a true winner. An Elite Eight
qualifier, coach Paul Runyon’s team also returns 6’1” post player Sam Carson,
also a gridiron star, and 6’1” shooting guard Trey Bowens.
Transfers Tyrone Brazelton (Rich East), Marlon Mixon (Rich South, Hillcrest) and Jarvis Walker (Bremen) will help
coach Glen Hefferman’s system. Look for a starting lineup of
Brazelton, Walker, 6’2” Brandon Long, 6’4” Fred Washington and 6’6” Mike
Louis recruit Tommie Liddell will make this team go at the point forward
position. A 6’5” athletically skilled player, Liddell and the Flyers invite
Cahokia-transfer Darian Luster, a 6’5” small forward. High-flyer Demario
Edwards, a junior, is one of the state’s top athletes at 6’5”.
Westinghouse: If the
pieces to this puzzle fall correctly, coach Quitman Dillard could have another
state title contender on his hands. Led by senior do-everything guard Jamarcus
Ellis, the best player in the Chicago Public League, the Warriors are a
talented team. Dante Lewis, a 5’9” point guard and Jimmy Hill, a 6’2” shooting
guard are two rising juniors in the city. Look for 6’7” post player DeAndre
Thomas to have a breakout season.
Centralia: This team
is led by 6’7” post Matt Shaw, a rugged low-post performer committed to
Southern Illinois. First-year coach Gus Gillespie comes from a solid tenure
with Robinson High School. Look for 6’2” athletic junior Jeremy Moss to make a
difference. Sophomore Joey Parker, a 6’1” hard-nosed guard, will provide an
extra body for the Orphans.
Julian: Junior guard
Brandon Ewing is a winner and is expected to take the Jaguars far. Look for
6’8” senior Lorenzo Eckford to make a name for himself while holding down the
painted area for coach Loren Jackson. Luther Andrews is a versatile performer
at 6’4” that will add an extra punch for the team. The Jaguars will get a
boost from one of the state's top scorers last season in Tilden-transfer
Senior shooting guard Robert Bush is expected to be the high-scorer for
first-year coach Troy Jackson’s team. Look for the combination of 6’6” junior
power forward Donnell Lyons and 6’6” sophomore center Joevan Catron to form
one of the best, young front-line combinations in the state. Senior guard
Marcus Randle-El, a football standout, along with fellow senior guard Tyranne
Mitchell will provide depth and speed for the Wildcats.
Hillcrest: The junior
backcourt of 5’8” Maurice Acker and 6’2” Jerel McNeal is tough to stop for
coach Tom Cappel’s team. Acker, an unselfish, assist-master has a prime target
in the athletically-gifted McNeal. Look for contributions from 6'2" Reggie
Bossie and 6'1" James Smith.
Althoff: Look no further than Kevin Lisch for the reason to the Crusaders’
success. The 6’2” junior is a tough, hard-nosed performer with a terrific jump
shot and the ability to carry a team on his back.
Simeon: The question
remains: Will long-time coach Bob Hambric let 6’2” freshman Derrick Rose play
varsity. No freshmen have played varsity at Simeon under Hambric, while a long
line of talented players have walked the halls of the school. Rose is special.
Look for 6’5” senior wing man Calvin Brock to lead the Wolverines. With a
long, wiry, athletic assortment of players Anthony Newell, a 6’5” senior, and
Brandon Alexander, a 6’6” senior will both be playing above the rim. Also look
out for junior point guard Tim Green.
Thornwood: A talented,
athletic and versatile group is what coach Bob Curran has this year, but
that’s nothing new for the
school. Senior Andre Muse will lead this group as a 6’4” athletic
sharp-shooting swingman that can lay on tight defense. Fellow senior Cordell
Liggins, a 6’5” post will provide strength down low. Junior guard Lonte Ward
is a quick, scoring-minded guard. Junior forward Darnell Westbrook is getting
ready for a break-out season and has the athletic ability and size at 6’7” to
be one of the state’s best.
Prairie Ridge: The
combination of 6’6” Brett Cole and 6’5” Todd Babington will carry the Wolves
far in the Fox
Valley. Cole is a gritty shooter that plays with a great competitiveness.
Babington has already committed to play at Austin Peay.
Senior Frank Clair will get most of the credit for this ball club. The 6’6”
swingman has committed to
Northern Illinois and can hit the outside jumper or take his man in the post.
First-year head coach Noah Cannon has plenty of other talented individuals on
this team that play with a chip on their shoulders and a toughness they get
from the football team. Look for senior forward Alan Downing to continue to
make a name for himself as one of the state's top scorers. Guards Keelan
Donald and Terrence Robinson will be factors at the guard position and 6'7"
Tracy Robinson will provide scoring punch at the forward.
Guard-oriented, the Chargers will be guided by Dayton-bound Trent Meacham, a
6’2” wiry, coast-to-coast guard. Senior wingman Steve Holdren can flame it
from outside and has surprising athleticism. Look for 6’0” junior guard
Zach Manolakes to make
an impact, as well.
Next year will be their year, but the J-Hawks shouldn’t be too bad this year
with an imposing front line of 6’9” junior Matt Nelson, 6’6” sophomore Robert
Eppinger and 6’5” Matt Peterson. With athletic, quick guards as well,
Jefferson can make some noise come March.
Leyden: Another team
that might have next year as it’s coming out year; the Eagles have size and
athleticism. Particularly, 6’8” junior post Aaron Jimenez and 6’5” junior
forward Marcus Green will be the team’s focal points. Coach Ken Davis has done
a wonderful job putting this program on the right path.
Pickneyville: Look for 6’8” Daniel Maddox, an underrated post player, to lead the Panthers into action. Junior wing, 6’4” Mason Woodside could be a surprise for coach Dick Corn’s ball club.
Copyright © 1999-2000
High School Elite, All rights reserved.