Basketball preseason analysis

Max Cohn, Sports Editor


Last season represented the definition of a perfect season for the Patriot Nation as our boys’ varsity team was able to accomplish a feat they had been striving for the last three years––winning a state title. Led by the best point guard in the country, Jalen Brunson ’15, it was no surprise how successful that team was. But as the seniors graduate, Stevenson not only loses experience but an immense amount of talent.

With the 2013-2014 season also an outstanding one (finishing third in state behind a Jahlil Okafor led Whitney Young squad), boys’ basketball was presented with a tough schedule for 2014-15, consisting of two out-of-state tournaments and a matchup against Illinois’ powerhouse basketball school, Simeon Academy. Although this year we do not have any tournaments against tougher opponents such as Chaminade and Findlay Prep, our schedule is no cakewalk, as we still face Lake Forest and Zion-Benton. Our roster only returns three players that have played starter minutes against top tier programs. It seems unlikely that Stevenson can beat teams that are loaded with returning players, as made obvious by a 19 point defeat at the hands of Hinsdale South.

Only one starter returns from last year’s team: 6’7” forward Justin Smith ’17. Of Stevenson’s four captains, he is the only non-senior, accompanied by Jordan Newman ’16, Kevin Yang ’16 and Rodney Herenton ’16. We are not yet sure what to make of this year’s team; judging by the 11 to 12 guys that Coach Ambrose has been playing each game, he is still figuring out which lineups work best. What we do know is that Smith is developing into that star that we have all been envisioning since he joined the roster freshman year. But, when Smith struggles, which happens once in awhile, we’re left to wonder who is there to pick up the slack. The one game in which they played a team that has state hopes (Hinsdale South) was also the one game Stevenson shot less than 25 percent from the field. Even if Smith does live up to that ESPN top 100 player hype, it just might not be enough for Stevenson to be considered an actual contender for back-to-back state titles.