Here’s what we learned on the boys high school basketball scene last week.
1. The season likely won’t end with an undefeated team. Neuqua Valley and Thornton recently left the ranks of the unbeatens, leaving just Benet and Simeon. Benet’s schedule still includes three highly-ranked teams in Glenbard East, Notre Dame and Simeon. Simeon still has to face Benet, Morgan Park and Whitney Young. It’s unlikely either of those teams will come out unscathed when it’s all said and done.
2. It’s hard to figure out how good the Public League is this season. Sure, Simeon, Morgan Park, Whitney Young and Brooks are all implanted into the rankings. But what about Crane, Curie, Farragut, Hyde Park, Marshall, North Lawndale and Orr? Where do they all fit in with the rest of the top 20 teams? In just the past few weeks, here are some of the confusing results -- Farragut and North Lawndale beat Hyde Park; Hyde Park defeated Orr; Farragut defeated Crane twice, but lost to Orr; Crane and Marshall beat Orr and Marshall defeated North Lawndale. And then on Sunday, North Lawndale knocked off No. 3 Thornton, a non-Public League team that had been unbeaten. The Public League could end up with a lot more ranked teams, but too many of them are beating up each other to figure it all out for now.
3. Mundelein is a team to keep an eye on. The Mustangs haven’t entered the rankings yet, but they’re getting close. With their 75-68 overtime win over Zion-Benton on Saturday, their winning streak reached 12 games and they improved to 18-2. Ryan Sawvell and Robert Knar make for a tough 1-2 combo. Against Zion-Benton, Sawvell had 26 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks, and Knarr finished with 25 points, four 3-pointers and nine rebounds. Mundelein’s biggest challenge ahead will be Warren on Jan. 29.
4. De La Salle’s loss to Fenwick on Friday makes it difficult to believe De La Salle is a state contender at the moment. Not that Fenwick is awful, but the Meteors shouldn’t have any trouble with a team like the Friars if they’re going to compete for a state championship. It didn’t help that Fenwick lost the following day to Ridgewood. De La Salle has talent, but it needs to be more consistent.
5. Everyone knows about Vernon Hills senior DaVaris Daniels’ football ability, but he’s got a basketball game, too. Despite still juggling football duties -- he recently played in the Under Armour All-American Game -- Daniels has been scoring 20-plus points on a consistent basis for the Cougars. He had 27 points in his latest game on Saturday. When Daniels’ father, Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels, was asked Monday if his son could play basketball at Notre Dame as well, Phillip said he thought with Daniels’ shooting ability and hops it was a possibility.
6. St. Charles East sophomore guard Kendall Stephens is a hot recruiting commodity. Northwestern was the first to offer him a scholarship. Wisconsin followed in late December. Lately, even more schools are checking him out. Purdue coach Matt Painter was at his game last week. It isn’t surprising the Boilermakers are interested in the 6-4 Stephens. His father, Everette Stephens, starred for Purdue before playing in the NBA.