Hinsdale Central senior Ben Oosterbaan might have to readjust his expiration timeline for his basketball career.
After committing to play baseball for Michigan in June 2021, Oosterbaan’s sports journey started taking a different swing because of a historic change of events. Oosterbaan said the pandemic gave him an unusual amount of free time to work on his basketball game.
“I was lucky because I had the code of the gym at my church and we could go anytime,” Oosterbaan said. “I would go with my older brother last year at any time, even midnight to shoot. It really upped my game. Basketball just became easier. I would go to the gym with my dad almost every day or shoot 45 minutes in the hoop in my backyard.”
The 6-foot-5 Oosterbaan said the extra time transformed his overall game, helping him become an inside-outside threat and all-around player. He’s averaging almost 25 points per game this season. Oosterbaan, in a way, is following in the family’s footsteps. His father’s great-uncle, Bennie Oosterbaan, was a superstar football and basketball player at Michigan in the 1920s.
“I think right now that the two are almost even in terms of where I’m at in both sports,” Oosterbaan said. “My projectability in baseball could go higher, and I have a better chance to be a professional athlete in baseball, but I do feel I can play with the best players in the state in basketball. I had just always put playing basketball in college out of my mind for some reason.
“I just thought I couldn’t be that good. I didn’t realize I was playing at that level until the last couple of years. I also grew a lot but could still shoot the same. That really elevated my game and my confidence.”
Throughout his basketball career, Oosterbaan has displayed an ability to score and shoot at a high percentage. He averaged 17.1 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals a game and shot 54% from the field last season.
Oosterbaan said he worked on adding a few new touches to his game over the past few years.
“My coaches have really helped me a lot,” he said. “Playing a lot has helped me figure out how to get my shot off against taller and bigger players than me. I’ve also learned a lot of tricks. My 3-point shot felt good last year, but I didn’t have the confidence to shoot it all the time. This year, I’m working on shooting it more and getting good rotation. Whenever I have a sliver of space, I try and shoot it or pump fake.
“Last year, I worked more on my inside game a lot. When you have all three levels of scoring, it makes it a lot easier. Playing [basketball] in college is definitely in my mind now. I love the sport so much. I just don’t know if it can happen in college. But I don’t see me letting it go.”
Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre said Oosterbaan has the total package in basketball.
“His leadership has been great, but he’s kind of the whole package,” Latorre said. “On and off the court, in practice, he works really hard every single day. It’s been fun watching his development. His perimeter shooting has improved. He definitely has a nice turnaround fadeaway jump shot in the lane.
“I think he could play at the next level, even at a very high level. He loves playing basketball. He doesn’t miss or take a practice off.”
Lyons off to a solid start
With four wins in four games, Lyons is another West Suburban Silver team looking to make a run at the conference title after Glenbard West’s epic two-year run. The Lions, led by Jackson Niego and Nik Polonowski, have won three of their four games by 20 points or more.
“We’ve had contributions from all 14 players on the varsity so far,” Lyons coach Tom Sloan said. “Carter Reid has been a consistent contributor inside and outside and on both ends of the court. Matthew DeSimone has provided toughness, skill and rebounding. Connor Carroll’s athleticism and defense has been very important, and Graham Smith is a physical presence in the paint.”
Westmont slowly building
Inexperience has been a factor in Westmont (2-3) suffering some tough early season losses. The Sentinels have a young team, with a faction of seniors contributing heavy minutes. Junior guard Joe Kone is leading the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points a game. Junior guard Abe Johnson is averaging 12 points. Senior Joey Dooley is scoring at a 11.8 clip.
“We’ve had some impressive performances from Joey Dooley, Joe Kone, Abe Johnson and Hayes Templeton, but we haven’t clicked as a unit yet,” Westmont coach Craig Etheridge said. “We have a lot of good athletes and hardworkers. The next step is figuring out how the pieces fit together so we can maximize the talent that we have. Seniors Jeff Doll and Henry O’Connor have been great additions to the team this year. They elevate our energy, competitiveness and basketball IQ.”