||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Look at ’em now, all grown up and ready to continue to excel.
“We feel pretty good based on our returning experience. All of a sudden, that core group of kids, they’re seniors now. This is it,” said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable, who is not surprised his team is considered the favorite to win the Southwest Prairie Conference.
“It makes sense, based on quality and quantity of returning players. We’ll accept the challenge, but nothing is won on paper.”
That core group of five seniors all played on varsity as sophomores and has a lot of talent. It is lead by the backcourt duo of guards Miles Simelton and Elliott McGaughy, who are both four-year varsity players.
The 6-foot-1 Simelton, a Division I prospect with offers from Chicago State, Miami of Ohio and California-Davis with more sure to come, averaged 15.2 points-per-game last season and led the team in 3-point field goal and free throw percentage. He needs 28 points to reach the 1,000 mark for his career.
“As far as college, he’s undecided,” Schnable said of his team leader. “Our offensive game is gonna go through him. He’s hard to guard because of his versatility.”
The 6-2 McGaughy, who also has next-level potential, led the team with a 17.5 scoring average and led the team in assists and steals on the way to also earning all-conference acclaim.
“They sky’s the limit with him. His offensive game draws a lot of defensive attention,” said Schnable. “We’re prepared for opposing defenses to focus on those two, but we’ve got others who can score. We’re gonna play a team game and share the ball.”
They start with third-year varsity player, 6-4 Jack Kwiatkowski, a returning starter and captain, and include 6-3 Jamaal Richardson, who is back for his second year on varsity after missing last season with a shoulder injury, along with third-year varsity player 6-5 Josh Oros and 3-point specialist, 5-10 Danny Mangers.
Oswego East coach Ron Murphy referred to Kwiatkowski and Richardson as “glue type guys, guys who play strong defense, set screens, rebound and stuff you don’t always see in the box score.”
An appreciative Schnable said, “That says a lot about those kids, when you have an opposing coach, let alone a rival coach, bring them up. I could go on an on about the importance of both Jack and Jamaal to our team. It’s fun to have kids like that on the team.”
The Panthers lost senior guard Thomas Wilder, who joined Kenny Battle Jr. at an Iowa prep school after transferring in for one season last year from Oswego East, and graduated Ryan West.
“A four-year player, Ryan was part of winning a lot of games here,” said Schnable. “Those are big shoes to fill in terms of scoring, rebounding and intangibles like leading and winning. We’re all gonna have to play a part and defend and rebound by committee.”