Among the area's top ten teams this season, perhaps no group has a more fascinating future than Bloom.
Currently checking in as the No. 5 team in the NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings, the Blazing Trojans have proven themselves early at an unbeaten 7-0 on the young season. And that's come with plenty of tests for the junior-laden team.
Bloom already owns wins over ranked teams like Homewood-Flossmoor while also winning a big showcase game against West Aurora in the Chicago Elite Classic at Wintrust Arena. Road wins have also come at quality opponents like Kankakee.
And Bloom is doing all of this damage in a variety of ways. 6-foot-9 junior big man Martice Mitchell is starting to figure things out while growing into his own on both ends of the floor. Junior guard Keshawn Williams is another college prospect who can take over a game with his scoring. And the backcourt of Donovan Newby and and Dante Maddox Jr. can both just as easily lead the team in scoring with their play. Senior Kevin Vance is also unsung as a long and active forward who seems to always make plays near the basket.
With four juniors who can all make plays to take over a game, Bloom is one of the area's rare teams that doesn't have to rely on one player to win games against good competition.
"It's been really fun because we haven't been in this position in a couple of years," Newby said. "It's been really fun to get everybody's best 'A' game every time we come out on the court."
Even though Bloom looks like a credible threat in Class 4A this season, they'll face more major tests in the next few weeks. Saturday marks a top-ten showdown for the Blazing Trojans when they face Morgan Park and star junior guard Adam Miller. With so many elite juniors on the floor in that one, college coaches and fans will likely jam Mount Carmel at the Team Rose Shootout to get a glimpse and see if this Bloom team is for real.
"We've been playing a lot. And when coaches come into the gym to see us, it prepares us for moments like this," Maddox said.
The Pontiac Holiday Tournament also looms at the end of December as the state's premier event should also be a gigantic test for the Blazing Trojans.
Although Bloom's offense can rev up and produce at a moment's notice, defense and cleaning up the glass are the final steps to see if the Blazing Trojans are true contenders this season. Some slow starts have also plagued the team at times as they're trying to become more consistent coming out of the gate.
"We know that's our biggest step right now. Defense and defensive rebounding," Williams said. "But like our coach is always telling us: think about getting stops on defense before thinking about offense. Because offense is going to come regardless, but we have to pick it up defensively."
If Bloom can learn to bring it for all 32 minutes while getting timely stops and rebounds then they have the look of a team who can compete with nearly anyone in the state. Even though this Bloom team likely has a two-year window to be competitive for a state title, they're hoping to capitalize and make it to Peoria this season.
"Our expectations are we want to go downstate, win a state title basically," Williams said. "To get better we just have to get better on defense and defensive rebounding."