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Senior guard Lance Whitaker is back for Bartlett after missing his entire junior season with a knee injury. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Lance Whitaker is healthy and back in a Bartlett uniform, which means expectations are soaring for the Hawks.
Whitaker, a 6-foot-4 senior who committed to Illinois Chicago earlier this fall, missed his entire junior season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL.
Bartlett still managed a 14-15 record last year despite the absence of its best player, but the potential for much greater success grows exponentially with Whitaker’s return. The versatile guard played a key role as a freshman on a team that won a sectional title and then averaged a team-best 16.5 points to go along with 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists as a sophomore.
“Lance gives you a guy who can play inside defensively and go and post up on offense,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. “His shot is also phenomenal right now.
“Having him back and healthy, exploding to the rim and getting out on the break makes us really excited about this season.”
Seniors Marcus Aluquin (5-10, G) and Jon Moss (5-10, G) are also back in the fold, giving the Hawks a formidable backcourt presence.
Aluquin and Moss both made significant scoring contributions last season and proved capable of handling point guard duties, giving Wolfsmith some options when deciding how best to use Whitaker on a game-to-game basis.
“One of the positives of Lance being injured, if there are any, is Marcus and John both got extensive experience running the offense and running the team,” Wolfsmith said.
After those three key returning players, Wolfsmith describes the rest of his roster as being filled with role players, most of whom are short on varsity experience.
Senior Billy Kramer (6-2, F) epitomizes the group with his rebounding prowess and strong defensive play, making him the team’s “jack of all trades,” according to Wolfsmith.
Senior Matt Seidl (6-2, G) has a good shooting stroke and will be counted on for some offensive contributions. Senior Tim McKeague (6-1, G) and juniors Kevin Wantroba (5-10, G) and Justin Busch (5-11, G) add to the backcourt depth.
Senior Mitch Reid (6-4, F) is a solid rebounder and defender who will lead the way in the post. Seniors Justin Blanchett (6-5, F) and Chris Kibler (6-4, F) and junior Brian Triphahn (6-3, F) also figure to be in the mix underneath.
“This group of kids has done a great job of bonding already,” Wolfsmith said. “I’m very impressed with how hard they work in practice. As long as we’re willing to sacrifice personal needs for the betterment of the team, I think these guys will put it together quicker than later.”