Coach: Mike Reynolds (fourth season)
Last season: 25-10, 8-2 DuPage Valley
Top returners: Darrell Island, sr., G; Sean Reynolds, so., G
Key newcomers: Davon Grant, fr., F
Worth nothing: Fresh off a run to a sectional championship game last year, the Barbs are searching for a fourth straight DVC title, as well. Island and Reynolds are the only starters back but rotational guys like Tyler Vilet and Cooper Phelps return. All four of those players are guards, and the Barbs are lacking a lot of size this year. At 6-foot-4, Grant figures to be one of, if not the tallest player on the team. But Reynolds said it’s a good mix of older and younger players that should challenge each other for playing time to create another exciting season for the team. Junior Eric Rosenow may see time at both guard and forward, while senior forward Chance Perry, sophomore guard Jackson Kees and senior guard Johnny Henderson should get rotational time, as well.
Coach: Ethan Franklin (first season)
Last season: 13-16, 6-8 Interstate 8
Top returners: Teague Hallahan jr., F; Lucas Winburn, sr., F
Key newcomers: Burke Gautcher, so., F
Worth nothing: Franklin takes over a young group after coming on board from Genoa-Kingston. The DeKalb grad said it’s been a huge program change with what he’s trying to bring to both sides of the ball. Most of the Spartans also play football, which just ended Saturday in the Class 5A semifinals. There’s a pretty deep rotation, to start at least. Franklin is going to have to feel out. That list includes sophomore guard Carter York, sophomore guard Aidan Wyzard, senior guard Jaxon Terney, sophomore guard Preston Picolotti, sophomore forward Thatcher Friedrichs and junior guard Tyler Curtis.
Coach: Ernie Colombe (fourth season)
Last season: 18-9, 10-4 Interstate 8
Top returners: Troyer Carlson, jr. G; Parker Violett, jr., F; Johnny Spallasso, sr., G; Gevon Grant, sr., G
Key newcomers: Freddy Hassan, so., F; Evan Frieders, fr., G; Brad Franck, jr., G; Luke Reinert, so. G
Worth nothing: Colombe said Grant had an outstanding fall and summer season and expects big contributions from the senior. Colombe added that the team should be in the mix in the Interstate 8, although he expects it will be very competitive this year. He said the newcomers really add to the depth of the team, as well as versatility. Hassan, at 6-6, gives the Knights a pretty big size advantage.
Coach: Griffin McNeal (first season)
Last season: 22-10, 5-4 Big Northern Conference
Top returners: Traven Atterberry, sr., G; Josh Bunting. sr., G
Key newcomers: John Kruger, jr., F; Hayden Hodgson, F, so., Justyn Ferrara, sr., C, Nate Skarzynski, sr., F
Worth nothing: There is not a lot coming back for the Cogs because of graduation. Bunting and Atterberry were rotational players. There still is a smattering of seniors, however, around talented youngsters. McNeal is in his first season as head coach of the Cogs. He’s a 2015 graduate of G-K and also was the head coach of Hiawatha previously.
Indian Creek Timberwolves
Coach: Nolan Govig (second season)
Last season: 11-21, 5-5 Little 10
Top returners: Jeffrey Probst, jr., F; Sam Genslinger, sr., G; Landon Schrader, jr., F; Jakob McNally, jr., G
Key newcomers: Logan Schrader, fr., G; Everett Willis, so., C
Worth nothing: Govig is a 2018 graduate of Indian Creek and is back for his second year with a team that loses a lot from last season. The team is young this year, he said, but is an eager group. He said the Timberwolves will try to find their identity on the defensive end – that’s the top goal for the year.
Hinckley-Big Rock Royals
Coach: Seth Sanderson (sixth season)
Last season: 20-13, 8-2 Little 10
Top returners: Ben Hintzsche, sr., G; Martin Ledbetter, so., F; Landon Roop, jr., G
Key newcomers: Austin Albus, jr., F; Michael Murphy, jr., G
Worth nothing: The Royals graduated three starters, but bring back Hintzsche and Ledbetter who had strong seasons. Ledbetter should be able to make a leap from his freshman year, during which he averaged 8.9 points and 7.1 rebounds. The 6-5 forward presents a lot of matchup problems in the Little 10. The sophomore team was successful last year and guys such as Albus and Murphy should contribute to the varsity this time around, Sanderson said. The coach said the team has a very high ceiling this year.