By Patrick Mooney and Brad Engel
Drew Crawford made the leap this season for Naperville Central, from a sophomore finding his way into a junior carrying his team. Crawford increased his productivity across the board. Look at these splits between 2006-07 and 2007-08:
Points per game: 13.8 18
Rebounds per game: 3.7 6.1
Field goal percentage: 39 47
Total assists: 38 59
Blocked shots: 25 51
Who will make a similar transformation next season?
Neuqua Valley will defend its Upstate Eight Conference title and first-ever sectional championship with two emerging forwards. Derek Raridon (12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds per game) is an outside threat who made 45 percent of his 3-point shots this season. Dwayne Evans (8.7 points, 5.9 rebounds) recovered from a knee injury and forced his way into the Wildcats' starting lineup with his ability to finish around the rim.
Jelani Johnson was dominant at times for Waubonsie Valley this season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He should get more shots next season as the Warriors replace guards Josh Daniels, Justin Peaster and Kevin VandenBerg, who accounted for 56 percent of their offense.
Rising junior Joe McNicholas (7.9 points, 6 rebounds) will be entering his third season on the Naperville North varsity and figures to add more strength to his 6-foot-6 inch frame.
And when making these projections, remember the story Benet forward Ryan Haggerty, who developed from a freshman B player into a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recruit.
With that caveat, who is your early choice for The Sun 2008-09 Boys Basketball Player of the Year?