Best of the best: NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball Preseason All-Area Team

Best of the best: NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball Preseason All-Area Team

Since the IHSA boys basketball season is right around the corner, it's time to take a look at the main players you need to know for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

While this preseason all-area team will likely be very different than the one we see at the end of the season, the Chicagoland area is once again stocked with a host of talented players this season. The preseason all-area team has a lot of high-end college prospects on this list, but high school accomplishments are the most important factor in determining these teams.

First Team

Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park. The only player on this list to make our all-area team last season, the Illinois commit is the frontrunner for Player of the Year honors. The 6-foot-3 Dosunmu is a potential McDonald's All-American after he averaged 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals per game last season. Dosunmu was injured the final two games of last season, but he helped Morgan Park capture a Class 3A state title and Public League Red-South title.

Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon. The versatile wing forward was one of the area's best two-way players last season while helping Simeon capture its second consecutive city championship. Horton-Tucker averaged 18.2 points and seven rebounds per game last season and is signed with Iowa State.

Zion Griffin, Hinsdale South. Though many fans were unaware of the 6-foot-6 forward until he became a high-major recruit this summer, Griffin put up great numbers for Hinsdale South as a junior last season. Helping the Hornets win a Class 4A regional title as a double-digit seed, Griffin averaged 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. The Iowa State commit is one of the area's best athletes.

Javon Freeman, Whitney Young. Helping Whitney Young to a Class 4A state championship last season, Freeman was one of the best guards in the state. Putting up 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the Dolphins as a junior, Freeman could have a monster senior season now that Lucas Williamson is gone. Freeman is signed with Valparaiso.

Xavier Castaneda, Whitney Young. Consistent floor generals can be tough to find at the high school level, which is why the 6-foot Castaneda is so special. The USF commit put up 10.1 points and 4.0 assists per game last season for the Class 4A champion Dolphins, doing a great job limiting turnovers and finding open teammates.

Second Team

Raekwon Drake, Orr. A huge presence at Orr the past few seasons, the 6-foot-5 Drake is known for his ridiculous above-the-rim play on both ends of the floor. Capable of throwing down huge dunks or erasing shots on the defensive end, Drake helped the Spartans capture a Class 2A state championship.

Drew Peterson, Libertyville. Perhaps the state's best uncommitted senior, the 6-foot-7 Peterson has been a consistent performer for the Wildcats the past few seasons. As a junior, Peterson averaged 19.5 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game. Capable of big scoring numbers, Peterson had three 30-point games last season.

Dannie Smith, Orr. Dominant at times during Orr's Class 2A state-title run last season, the 6-foot-5 Smith is perhaps the Spartans' best player despite not being the top college prospect on the team. Adept at scoring and rebounding, Smith averaged 11.1 points and seven rebounds per contest in his first full season of high school basketball.

Maurice Commander, Curie. The reigning East Suburban Catholic Conference Player of the Year transferred to Public League power Curie this offseason after starting for three years at Marist. The UT-Chattanooga commit averaged 13.7 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals per game last season.

Xavier Pinson, Simeon. Another transfer coming from the ESCC to the Public League, the 6-foot-2 Pinson was stellar at St. Patrick as a junior. After averaging 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds per game last season, Pinson joins a loaded Simeon squad that has city- and state-title aspirations. After briefly committing to Kent State in the fall, Pinson opted to open up his recruitment and is currently uncommitted.

Third Team

Camron Donatlan, West Aurora. Possibly the best multi-sport athlete in the area, the 6-foot-3 Donatlan was tremendous for the Blackhawks last season. Also a solid football player, Donatlan averaged 15.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season.

George Conditt, Corliss. Coming out of relative obscurity to become a high-major recruit, the 6-foot-10 Conditt is committed to Iowa State, following in the footsteps of his father, who played football for the Cyclones. Conditt averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game as a junior.

Sam Shafer, Lincoln-Way East. One of the area's premier sharpshooters, the 6-foot-6 Shafer is committed to Southern Illinois. Helping Lincoln-Way East to a school-record 20 wins last season, Schaefer put up 15.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as a junior.

D.J. Steward, Fenwick. Bursting on the local scene as the area's best freshman last season, expectations are high for the 6-foot-1 sophomore. As a starter for the Class 3A runner-up last season, Steward averaged 15 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range.

Justin Hardy, St. Charles East. Last season saw the 6-foot-5 Hardy put up big numbers for the Saints, as he averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Shooting 56 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range last season, Hardy showed he can be a lethal perimeter threat while also doing a lot of damage on the interior. The senior remains uncommitted.

Every team's biggest difference-maker in the semifinal round of the IHSA football playoffs


Every team's biggest difference-maker in the semifinal round of the IHSA football playoffs

In anticipation of Saturday's semifinal round of the IHSA state playoffs, here are some difference-makers on each team in Class 8A through Class 5A. In some cases these are high-profile names, while others are just key players you can't ignore come game day.

Class 8A

Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis: Kokosioulis, who is verbally committed to Northern Illinois, has been a mainstay in the Hawks offense for the past three season. Kokosioulis was held in check in the Hawks' Week 2 loss to Lincoln-Way East. I fully expect Maine South to find ways to get Kokosioulis much more involved in this rematch.

Lincoln-Way East quarterback Brendan Morrissey: Morrissey, a converted running back, has been one of the most consistent players on the Griffins this season. Morrissey, a high-honors student, is a dangerous runner who has also been very efficient when asked to throw the football this season.

Loyola Academy lineman Marty Geary: Geary, who started the season strictly as a defensive linemen for the Ramblers, has now added playing on the Loyola offensive line in the postseason due to various injuries. Geary has been an impact player on the defensive line all season and is huge for the Loyola offense to slide him over when needed on the offensive line.

Edwardsville quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman: Abdur-Rahman is the key to the Tigers offense and has had a big-time season. Abdur-Rahman has exceptional speed and quickness, and his open-field running ability is top notch.

Class 7A

Benet Academy linebacker Devin Petersen: Petersen is one of the leaders of the Redwings defense this season, a defense that has limited playoff opponents to just over a touchdown a game. Petersen, who has 50 solo tackles and counting, is a big-time finisher and tone-setter for the Redwings.

Batavia quarterback Riley Cooper: Cooper, who split playing time as a junior in 2016, has taken full advantage of his senior season and has provided a passing threat to go along with an already solid Bulldogs run game. Cooper, who has thrown for 1,885 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, will be asked again to step up big against Benet Academy.

Mount Carmel lineman Jeremy Cooper: Cooper, who is verbally committed to Cincinnati, is a rare two-way starter for the Caravan. Cooper is a force on both sides of the football and must be accounted for in any game plan.

Lake Zurich running back/linebacker Joey Stutzman: Stutzman is a speedy, 110-percent effort guy who just never slows down on either side of the football. Stutzman is a great mix of speed and power carrying the football for the Bears offense and is a sure tackler and defender for the Lake Zurich defense.

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge lineman Jeff Jenkins: Jenkins, an Iowa commit, has played both ways all season long. Jenkins is key upfront in opening holes for the Wolves' running game while also acting as a run-stuffer on the Wolves' defensive line.

Hoffman Estates wide receiver/linebacker Jaylan Alexander: Alexander, a Purdue commit, is a rare athlete who has the speed to play receiver and has the size, frame and strength to play linebacker, as well. Alexander, who is also one of the Hawks' senior leaders, seems to always be around the football whenever a big play is needed.

Nazareth Academy running back/defensive back Devin Blakely: Blakely, who is one of several underclassmen who is drawing Power Five recruiting looks, has been key on both sides of the football. Blakely has terrific speed and quickness and also has good strength and toughness as an inside-the-tackles runner while also being a lock-down defender.

Providence Catholic running back De'Shon Gavin: Gavin, a Western Illinois commit who played defensive back a season ago, made the adjustment to running back quite well this fall. Gavin has good speed and power and has been a reliable, consistent 100-yard rusher for the Celtics offense.

Class 5A

Phillips running back/linebacker Craig Elmore: Elmore, who started last season at linebacker and some running back, has taken on full-time duty at both positions this fall. Elmore is a gritty, hard-nosed inside power back while also being one of several top-notch hitters on the Wildcats defense.

Sterling lineman Tyler Willman: Willman, who is also slated to play baseball in college, is the lifeblood on both lines for the Golden Warriors. Willman has terrific speed and athleticism and will be asked to lead the Warriors again on Saturday.

Dunlap tight end/linebacker Charlie Mangieri: Mangieri, who is verbally committed to Northwestern, has been key for the Eagles over the past few seasons. Mangieri has been a devastating blocker on the offensive side of the football while also a leader on the top-notch Dunlap defense.

Washington running back Sam Walters: The Panthers feature several backs in their power running game, but Walters is capable of breaking a big play on every touch. Walters, who also plays defensive back for Washington, will be needed in a big way on Saturday.

High School Lites Football Quarterfinals Roundup

High School Lites Football Quarterfinals Roundup

High School Lites has plenty of great IHSA football playoff action from an action-packed quarterfinals on Saturday as NBC Sports Chicago has highlights of many of the area's top matchups. 

Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie RidgeEpisode 13

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: St. Laurence's Tori Clinton

St. Xavier Team of the Week: Solorio Warriors boys soccer

This Week's Scores

Class 8A

Loyola 30, Marist 10

Edwardsville 28, Minooka 25

Lincoln-Way East 31, Oswego 0

Maine South 39, Naperville Central 28

Class 7A

Mount Carmel 21, East St. Louis 18

Lake Zurich 49, St. Rita 17

Benet 14, Lincoln-Way Central 10

Batavia 20, Lincoln-Way West 10

Class 6A

Hoffman Estates 35, Belvidere North 10

Providence 49, St. Laurence 24

Prairie Ridge 42, Willowbrook 7

Nazareth Academy 20, Sacred Heart-Griffin 17

Class 5A

Phillips 15, Lemont 3

Dunlap 24, Hillcrest 6

Washington 35, Peoria Richwoods 21

Sterling 22, Marian Central 10

Class 4A

Raby 38, Dixon 13

Highland 77, Herscher 47

Morris 14, Rochelle 9

Rochester 56, Herrin 14

Class 3A

Pleasant Plains 20, Carlinville 14

IC Catholic 46, Wilmington 21

Anna-Jonesboro 56, Vandalia 41

Byron 13, Williamsville 0

Class 2A

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 42, El Paso-Gridley 7

Newman Central Catholic 40, Orion 14

Maroa-Forsyth 20, West Hancock Coop 16

Shelbyville 51, Westville 44

Class 1A

Athens 34, Red Hill 14

Forreston 42, Princeville 0

Lena-Winslow 67, Freeport Aquin 28

Tuscola 48, Carrollton 40