Welcome to a new season! We will be dropping the ranking live shortly. If you miss any of the podcast you can catch up with my rankings and thoughts right here.
- Whitney Young
Considered by many to be a young team last year, Whitney Young held their own in sectionals against Benet. With everybody back and a year older, it is going to be very tough to stop the Dolphins this season. Cam Williams showed great improvement over the summer, they brought in reinforcements via transfer, and Kyla Jones is one of the best pure scorers in the area and can take over a game in an instant.
Arguably the deepest team in the state with 6 or 7 D1 players on the roster depending on who you ask. Benet is another team who returns almost everybody, but the one issue with Benet is who on their talented roster is going to step up with the game is on the line? Now, not having one player that other teams can camp out on is a big advantage, but when push comes to shove, someone needs to step up and take over.
One of the more interesting teams in the area. Evanston again return a ton from a talented, but young, roster from last season but they will be without the services of Kayla Henning for at least the first month of the season. Luckily for the Wildkits, Henning has plenty of help around her in Ambrea Gentle, SyAnn Holmes, and freshman Lola Lesmond. But can this group step up to win the big games?
Easily the biggest mover on this list. Fremd didn’t show up on any rankings last season, but an impressive summer and a talented freshman should have the Vikings in good shape this year. Fremd will boast one of the tallest, most athletic lineups in the state with any of their five starters being able to score and defend. They remind me a little of Maine West last season, with slightly worse shooters.
Some people may be surprised to see Loyola this high after losing three starters last year but some talented underclassmen to compliment Julia Martinez and Celia Satter should easily pick up the slack. Isabelle Ogilore and Addison Ebeling have varsity experience, and Summer Parker-Hall is coming off a very good summer.
The young team that keeps getting younger? Every year it seems like I’m saying Marist is a year or two away from being really good. This could be the start of that era with Sidney Alfoter leading the way for the Redhawks with some nice complimentary pieces in Abby Callahan.
- Maine West
Though Maine West were hit hard by graduation and weren’t exactly a deep team last year, the returning Rachel Kent and Angela Dugalic make one of the best 1-2 punches in the state. With enough complimentary pieces around them such as point guard Dylan Van Fleet, and a very aggressive defence, the Warriors should be competing for their third straight sectional title.
Another team that was hit hard by graduation but arguably brings in the best freshman class in the state. Sam Mitchell will have her hands full trying to lead this young team, but the return of Zoe Zacker should help tremendously.
If you haven’t heard already, freshman Brianna McDaniel is the real deal and certainly has the ability to fill the void left by Jonaie Johnson. Luckily for her though, Kenwood has so much talent around her in Tamara Nard and Shania Jackson to where the pressure won’t all be on the talented freshman.
- Mother McAuley
Death, taxes, McAuley putting together a solid basketball team. McAuley isn’t going to blow you away with outstanding athleticism, or a high D1 caliber player, but they rarely make mistakes and for being undersized, are one of the best defensive teams in the state.
- Lincoln-Way West
The “Splash Sisters” return for Lincoln-Way West, after a disappointing early exit from last years state playoffs. The talent is there, but it’s been difficult to place Lincoln-Way West just because their schedule isn’t anywhere near the top-10 teams. There is potential, but I would love to see them up their schedule.
The graduation of Gabby and Jahari Smith leaves a major void in production, not only in scoring but with rebounds as well. The transfer or Treasure Thomson should help in filling that void, but no matter who the team is, massive personnelel turnover is difficult to overcome early in the season.
After going though some old game stats from last season, I completely forgot that Alyssa Geary had a triple-double against Whitney Young with blocks. Now that void isn’t going to be replaced on this version of the Nazareth roster, but Naz will play a much more up tempo style this season. Annie Stritzel looked much quicker this summer, and seemed to put in a ton of work on the defensive end as well. Should still be one of the favorites in 3A.
To be blunt about it, the injury to Anessa Morrow hurts and it probably knocked Simeon out of a top-10 spot to start the year. Luckily Simeon have a ton of athletes around her, but losing a 6’1” D1 point guard is going to be a tough adjustment.
- St. Ignatius
I’ve struggled to find a place for Iggy in these rankings. They are certainly top-20 caliber, but some days look significantly better than others. In order to take the next step, Molly Gannon, Lauren McDonald and co. need to find that consistency to knock off the more talented teams.
By far the best team in 2A last season, and will be heavy favorites to repeat as they were a year ahead of schedule last year. Marshall was a little hard to peg last year as they didn’t play the best of competition until the end of the season, but a much improved schedule should not only prepare them for playoff basketball, but could see them make a top-10 appearance this year if they knock off some of the 4A teams.
- Lake Zurich
Probably one of my favorite teams on this list. Very talented throughout their entire lineup, and can score from all five positions. Made a nice run to super-sectionals last season before bowing out to Maine West. A team to definitely keep an eye out for later in the season.
- Lake Forest
Top four leading scorers return for the Scouts, and Hailey Douglas keeps getting better every year. The far Northern suburbs have been a bit down recently, but Lake Forest and Lake Zurich can certainly change that impression this year.
- Maine South
The third case of a talented team’s best player losing time due to an ACL injury in this top-20 (It’s a really disappointing issue this season). Unfortunately for Albano and Maine South, since her injury occurred in the summer, there is almost no possibility for her to return this year. On the flip side, Maine South still loads the court with a ton of returners from last years regional championship team.
- Naperville North
There was probably a list of six or seven teams that could have taken this spot, but none of those teams have someone like Greta Kampschroeder who can single handedly take over a game. Last season as a freshman, Kampschroeder almost led Naperville North to an upset win over Montini and a year of experience should only help her game.