Fenwick fell just short of winning a Class 3A state championship last season as they try to make another run behind some new leadership this season.
Losing seniors like Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon will be difficult to replace since both of those players were key players for the Friars since they were underclassmen. Thankfully for Fenwick, a new underclassman appears to be taking over where those two decorated seniors left off.
After bursting on the scene last March with his stellar play in Peoria, sophomore guard D.J. Steward will be one of the marked men in the state this season. The 6-foot-1 Steward averaged 24.5 points and shot 20-for-31 from the field in two games at state last season, including going a perfect 10-for-10 in the loss to Morgan Park in the state title game.
The smooth and skilled Steward isn't the only returning player who showed promising signs for Fenwick. Senior guard A.J. Nixon and junior guard Damari Nixon have both shown signs of growth while senior Billy Bruce can play any spot on the floor with a variety of skills.
Finding a reliable big man might be the key to Fenwick's overall season as they didn't have senior post player Mike O'Laughlin with them at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.
If Steward can emerge into a go-to scorer then Fenwick should once again see themselves in the Catholic League and state title race this season. With a number of talented perimeter options, head coach Rick Malnati has plenty of pieces at his disposal as Steward should have a lot of help.