Hope everyone is well and staying safe!
I’ve said I was going to do this for awhile but kept pushing it back for one reason or another.
Well, no more procrastination.
This is largely meaningless because I don’t really pay attention to potential incoming freshman among other things, but I figure this will at least serve as a nice distraction and a potential baseline for next season.
It’s certainly strange not to have Whitney Young or Maine West in here, but the landscape is always changing.
The reigning 3A champs return their best two players to the fold for another season. I made this mistake two years ago assuming Maine West would take a hit after losing their starting backcourt, so not making that mistake twice.
3A is going to be loaded again. Montini returns nearly everybody, and a majority of those players now have two full years of experience under their belt. Watch out for Sawyer White to be the next potential breakout player for the Broncos.
There’s always one team to make a massive jump. Enter Hersey. They return every single one of their contributors from last years 26 win team, have a ton of leadership, and Katy Eidle is pretty darn good. Enjoy the lofty expectations.
Kind of a surprise team last season, the Redhawks won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season. Another year of experience under their belt and Marist has gone from one of the youngest teams in the area, to one of the most experienced.
Their two best players from the previous season were sophomores. That usually bodes pretty well for a successful season. Throw in some solid role players in Zoe Belcher and Jada Maxwell, Kenwood could give Simeon a run for their money in the city.
We’re going to assume that Grace Hall is going to come back healthy and ready to go for the season. Even if Hall isn’t ready to go, there is still plenty in the cupboard with Alyssa Latham.
7. Lincoln-Way West
One Gugliuzza sister is gone, but two remain along with Brianna Woolridge. There should still be plenty to compete for another sectional.
One of the heaviest roster turnovers in the area, but it’s still Benet. Molly Sheehan should slot into the starting lineup nicely and will give the Redwings a nice scoring boost to help compensate for the points they lost.
It’s never easy to lose two, 1,000 point scorers, but fortunately for Libertyville they will have the services of Emily Fisher for the entire season. In fact, since Fisher entered the lineup, the Wildcats have only lost one game, which just so happened to be to the 4A state champions.
The sophomore tandem of Simone Sawyer and Ava Bardic are back, along with a large class of juniors who will be back for their senior season. NSC should be fun once again with some good battles along the way
Another sophomore tandem become upperclassmen. Fenwick has been building something for a couple of years now. Can they take that next step and knock off some of the better teams in the area?
Losing Klaczek hurts, there’s no way to return that kind of production and leadership from a four year starter. Fortunately though, the cupboard certainly isn’t bare. Two scoring wings in Ruthie Montella and Grace LaBarge will have Fremd in contention in 4A yet again.
13. Maine South
There’s not a single player who jumps off the page at you, but that’s what makes Maine South so good. The Gardiner twins will leave the way, but there are plenty of other contributors that can go off on any given night.
One of my favorite players in the area returns for her senior season in Summer Parker-Hall. Loyola was hit by the injury bug last season but that experience should only help going forward.
15. Naperville North
Hard to bet against the team with arguably the best senior in the state. Naperville North quietly put together a 24 win season and had quite a few underclassmen on their roster. Could be one to look out for.
Bolingbrook was hit hard by graduation. They lost three D1 players in Thompson, Marabel, and Middleton. I really like Kennedi Perkins and think she will have an outstanding year, but she needs someone else to step up and help her.
Another team hit hard by graduation. I think Rashele “Z” Olatunbosun is one of the most underrated players in the state, and will make a great 1-2 combination with Lola Lesmond, but Evanston will likely take a step back this season.
18. Burlington Central
Hard to ignore the impact Taylor Charles is going to have. Besides Charles though, Central did win 29 games last year and will be retaining their leading scorer, point guard Elana Wells.
19. Marian Catholic
Marian flew under the radar last season with a very young, but talented team. If you haven’t heard the name Brianna Hill yet, prepare to. Yet another spectacular player in the class of 2023.
We’re making some big assumptions with Nazareth. One, we’re assuming everyone is going to be healthy, they were injured all year long last year. The second, is that the Freshmen who showed some flashes will take a jump and be a little more consistent next year.