Top 5 Sleeper Boy’s Basketball Teams In Chicago Area

Top 5 Sleeper Boy's Basketball Teams In Chicago Area

In all due respect, virtually anyone who follows Illinois high school basketball can come up with their preseason rankings of top teams in either their own geographical region or even throughout the state.  All it really takes is having an opinion. However, it takes a bit more skill to be able to accurately identify those teams that have fallen under-the-radar: the ones that people aren’t paying attention to enough or even at all.

That is why in this entry Illinois Prep Bulls-eye provides the skinny on five Chicago area teams that are not ranked in anyone else’s preseason top 25 yet could very well crack those lists sooner rather than later and will be forces to be reckoned with.  Our track record of successfully projecting sleeper teams over the years speaks for itself.  Therefore, don’t be surprised if all five of the teams listed below are either contending for conference championships or go further in the state tournament than most folks ever envisioned come next March.  And when they do, remember where you heard it first!

Hyde Park

Has anybody even noticed the outstanding job that Antonne Samuels has done in his three seasons as the varsity boy’s basketball coach at Hyde Park?  During that time Samuels has compiled a 57-22 record including a trip to the final four of the Chicago Public League playoffs.

Samuels’ 2015-16 squad returns a wealth of experience and is talented.  It features two hidden gems from the 2016 class in 6’7 forward Tajuan Agee and 6’2 Brandon Daugherty, both of whom have shown us that they could be D1-caliber recruits.  5’5 2016 point guard may be small but is productive and a sparkplug.

There is no question that a huge challenge lies in front of the Thunderbirds this time around, as they play in one of the state’s toughest conferences in the Chicago Public League Red-Central.  We will find out early just how good they can be, as they face dates versus conference frontrunners Kenwood and Curie within a week’s time in December.


Apparently the Chicago media pundits do not consider DeKalb to be within the geographical boundaries that are considered the Chicago area.  What other explanation could there be for not including a team that returns three key players and finished 21-8 last season in their top 25?  They couldn’t be that clueless, could they?

Leading the way is 6’3 2016 2-guard Michael Pollack, who is one of the state’s better long-range shooters and has signed with Northern Michigan.  Promising 6’7 2016 forward Luke Davis could also emerge as a D1 recruit.  6’1 2017 point guard Cole Tucker also saw significant minutes last season.

DeKalb varsity boy’s basketball coach Al Biancalana has already done an outstanding job of resurrecting the program and has always gotten his teams to play to their fullest potential.  We look for that to be the case yet again this season as the Barbs look to reach even greater heights. 

West Aurora

For all practical purposes this will be considered a down year by West Aurora standards.  And understandably so.  After all, Gordie Kerkman retired after 39 seasons as West Aurora’s varsity boy’s basketball coach and the bulk of the talent from last year’s supersectional qualifier is gone.

Nevertheless, the talent base at West Aurora is never empty and with that in mind, there is still plenty of young talent on hand.  While this year’s Blackhawks squad will be inexperienced they do feature a potential star player in 6’1 2017 guard Cameron Donatlan, who is still growing into the point guard position.  6’0 2017 combo guard Dayshawn Rogers also has potential and impressed us at the Pangos All-Midwest Frosh/Soph Camp in October.

It will be a work in progress, and they make take some lumps early in the season.  However, we believe that new head coach Brian Johnson has enough pieces in place for West Aurora to contend for an Upstate Eight Conference title and ultimately achieve the same level of dominance that has been a staple of their boy’s basketball program for so long.


Conant’s Tom McCormack is another in the line of high school basketball coaches in Illinois whose body of work has gone underappreciated over the years.  McCormack’s teams are always competitive and this season Conant looks to be the preseason favorite in the Mid-Suburban Conference.

What makes the 2015-16 Conant boy’s hoops squad intriguing is that it features a good blend of talent at several key positions.  The point guard spot is in the capable hands of 6’2 junior Jimmy Sotos who is undoubtedly the team leader. The Cougars should also receive solid inside production from 6’7 junior power forward Mike Downing, who transferred from St. Joseph High School in Westchester.  6’3 senior Kyle Bradley also has experience on the wing.

Above all else, Conant is known for its hard-nosed defense and a team-oriented and slow-down style on offense which is capable of giving most any opponent fits.  Therefore, with a solid returning nucleus, don’t be surprised if Conant makes a deep run in the class 4A state tournament come next March.

Lake Park

Yes, they have only one returning starter from a team that reached the class 4A supersectional last season.  But we still think it would be foolish to completely dismiss the Lancers from contention in the DuPage Valley Conference.  That is because they still have a quality combination of 3-point shooting, team defense and size.

The primary returnee is 5’11 2016 2-guard Dan Hines, a 3-point shooting specialist who came up big in the 2015 state tournament.  6’4 2016 wing Bailey Vance and 6’5 2016 2-guard Kenny Bogus also sport some versatility and received varsity minutes last season.  There are also some promising 2018 prospects who varsity boy’s basketball coach Josh Virostko hopes can step up after leading Lake Park’s freshman team to a conference championship last season.

This team may not sport a D1 player, but the bottom line is that we like its balance.  And despite the relative inexperience in comparison with a year ago there is depth.  Therefore, another conference title and deep state tournament run is not out of the realm of possibility.  

We welcome comments regarding this story or any other entry published by Illinois Prep Bulls-eye.  They can be made by e-mailing us at [email protected]

Continue to check in with Illinois Prep Bulls-eye for all of the latest as it pertains to recruiting and high school basketball in Illinois.


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