If football season is any actual indication, then who knows who wins the SAC in boys basketball season this time around. There are some coaches that believe that could very well be the case.
For my mental state, I sure hope not. For the fun basketball lover in me, I sure hope that it is the case. A lot of games could be a lot of fun in conference this year. Underdog may not mean much by the time everyone gets their legs under them around Holiday Tournament time.
With the shake up at North Side, long considered the conference’s favorite, there could be a new blue blood brewing or perhaps just a bunch of schools taking turns making a run.
Snider remains my favorite because of what they have coming back but also for what coach Jeremy Rauch has been able to do with the program in such a short time. Snider basketball is respected and it is a destination for players and fans. Dillon Duff has the ability to be the best player in the conference by the time the season is up if he stays properly motivated.
Carroll has two guys that you have to feel completely comfortable with the ball in their hands at all times. Dan McKeeman and David Ejah have seen the ups and the downs for years and are prepared for pretty much anything that comes their way. Together they make up arguably the best one-two guard-forward punch in the conference.
Homestead is always at the top. Ask anyone who knows Bounce and I’ve told them this: Chris Johnson could get this frog, a couple of other stray animals and a pair of parking cones and make us a title contender. Johnson is a great coach and has has had great talent to work with. With Luke Goode at the forefront of his offense for the next three seasons, Homestead will continue to reload and be fun to watch.
Northrop has an embarrassment of riches in talent that will carry a chip on its shoulder this season I think. Look at the Bruins as basketball season’s Wayne football. They have all of the talent, they have their doubters and they will either fold under the pressure or rise to the occasion; Bounce doesn’t see a shade of gray in there.
Bishop Dwenger is always consistent and it helps that one of their point guards and de facto leaders in Brenden Lytle will be one of the guys joining them off a run to the state title game in football. The Saints have guys who know how to win.
Wayne will continue to be a curious case until we know more about how players will fill in around the freakish athleticism of Craig Young. That will start at the point guard position with Cam Starks and Bounce is a big fan of that. Starks plays with a lot of finesse and seems much taller than he did last year. Can he be the distributor that graduated Anthony Phillips was? I know, at least, that he can be the same level of defender.
Concordia poses more questions than we have answers. They underachieved at times last year. They overachieved at times last year. Throw all that out the window because Bounce doesn’t yet know how Phil Brackmann coaches. What I do know is that they return their top three scorers in Jadon Dance, Adam Gottschalk and Brayden Pearson and that is never a bad problem to have.
South Side will look to rebuild around the young Austin Jordan and JT Langston. Both showed flashes of being high caliber at times last year. Do not discredit a big season for Amari Hall if he plays strong in the post. I’m also just going to say that they have a freshman named Ashton Johnson who could open up some eyes. How much will be relied on? Well I don’t read J.J. Foster’s mind but my guess is he will get his looks.
Bishop Luers will welcome in new coach Fonso White and if you think I don’t know much about some coach’s styles, count White into that group. He does acquire quite the sophomore in Naylon Thompson and I would take his energy any day of the week.
North Side is in full blown rebuild the likes of which we never see. Zero varsity players return for new coach Gary Andrews. What Bounce knows is that Andrews is a great guy and a great coach. But he will have his work in front of him to line up his pieces this year.
Dillon Duff of Snider is more multi faceted than you think he is. While Bounce wants to see him turn into the vocal leader at Snider, his game will do a lot of talking for him.
Craig Young of Wayne is Craig Young. You know what that means. I know what that means. Is there a better pure athlete in the SAC? No. Does getting so close to a pair of team titles during football season make him hungrier and meaner? Other teams better hope not.
David Ejah of Carroll is an absolute beast…when he wants to be. Bounce has a good feeling that he will want to be more often this year than any other time in the past. Case in point: 23 points in a season opening win over South Bend Adams. Will the SAC just be Ejah’s world that we are all just living in?
Luke Goode of Homestead developed his game since the last time you saw him. He wont just be a shooter, but he can do that very well too. His confidence grew on the football field this fall and it was visible.
Qualen Pettus of Northrop impressed me the most over the summer and even as I watched football season play out. He is an impressive athlete that has turned any remaining baby fat into muscle. He will be yet another athlete in this conference who is likely to get to the basket at will.
Jadon Dance of Concordia is a favorite of frogs everywhere. Like the hoop loving frog that came before me, I am a huge fan of Dance’s game, his confidence and the fact he always is growing with his game. I have questions, as mentioned, about Concordia but I don’t have any questions about Dance. Games he is able to establish himself in early will be games easier for Concordia to win.
Players on the Rise
Austin Jordan of South Side is no stranger to being thrust into big time roles. Last year, he went from a freshman splitting time on the JV to the starting varsity point guard in the snap of a finger (or the transfer of a teammate). He excelled in that role. Now, Jordan may likely be THE guy for the Archers. Bounce thinks he will handle the pressure just fine.
Jalen Causey of Bishop Luers never seemed fully healthy last year at North Side after offseason surgery. If he can get back to freshman form now that he is back at his freshman year school, he could be the most valuable player on their roster.
Jayshawn Underwood of Snider is a tough point guard that will be looked to as a guy who can help the Panthers establish a flow. They also need a guy who can make sure all of their weapons get involved. Is Underwood that guy?
Richie Gross of Carroll in a tenacious defender that could turn into a valuable shooter in a lineup that needs a big third option to compete outside of the city.
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