Preps Talk

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 24 Lincoln-Way East

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 24 Lincoln-Way East

School: Lincoln-Way East

2016-17 record: 20-11, 6-4 Southwest Suburban Blue

Postseason results: Lost to Joliet Central in Class 4A regional finals.

Players to watch: Senior Sam Shafer is a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter who is committed to Southern Illinois. Shafer is one of the area's biggest perimeter threats and he is an All-Area candidate. Senior point guard Joe Buggemi proved himself on the varsity level as a capable floor leader last season while senior Zach Parduhn had bright spots on both ends of the floor.

Why they're in the power rankings: Lincoln-Way East is coming off of a 20-win campaign in which they knocked off Class 4A third-place finisher Bolingbrook late in the regular season. The program also scored its first varsity basketball win over Homewood-Flossmoor. With a bonafide scorer in Shafer and an experienced backcourt, Lincoln-Way East is ready to make some noise.

Did you know? Known primarily as a football school, Lincoln-Way East has made 17 consecutive trips to the IHSA state playoffs on the gridiron, spending most of this season at No. 1 in Edgy Tim's NBC Sports Chicago football power rankings. On the hardwood, the school is hoping to earn its first regional title this season.

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 3 Simeon

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 3 Simeon

School: Simeon

2016-17 record: 30-4, 8-2 Public League Red-South

Postseason results: Lost to Whitney Young in Class 4A Title Game

Players to watch: Senior Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State) is one of the area's premier two-way players. Senior forward Messiah Jones (Drake) is an elite leaper and rebounder. Talented junior guard KeJuan Clements is also back. The Wolverines also added some intriguing transfers in Xavier Pinson (St. Pat's) and Northwest Indiana native Zion Young. Both Pinson and Young have Division I interest and add even more perimeter firepower. 

Why they're in the power rankings: On paper, you could argue that Simeon is the most talented team in the state this season. The Wolverines have proven veterans who have won city titles and Division I transfers at multiple positions. But how will all of the pieces fit together? This is a fascinating group with a high ceiling.

Did you know? Making it back to Peoria last season, Simeon has now made 13 state finals appearances.

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 4 Orr

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 4 Orr

2016-17 record: 23-5, 8-2 Public League Red-West

Postseason results: Won Class 2A State Championship.

Players to watch: Seniors Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake are both major All-Area threats after strong junior seasons. Another senior, Ty Mosley, might actually be the best long-term college prospect of the group as he's pledged to Milwaukee for next season. Sharpshooter Brian Hernandez is another seasoned veteran who has a knack for making big plays.

Why they're in the power rankings: The Spartans return most of last season's Class 2A title team and they also added some key transfers in former Marian Catholic point guard Chase Adams and former Clark wing Demarius Splunge. While the Spartans should be the heavy favorites to repeat in Class 2A, they haven't made as much noise in the Public League Playoffs, which is why they're still behind some of the other schools in the preseason Power Rankings.

Did you know? Orr was absolutely dominant during its Class 2A title run last March as the Spartans won by an average of 21 points. Only one team, Uplift, even played Orr to within single digits and that was still a nine-point margin of victory.