Featuring premier players Mike Shaw (De La Salle), Tracy Abrams (Mt. Carmel) and Nanna Egwu (St. Ignatius), the Chicago Catholic League will be a star-driven basketball league this season. Six-foot-1 senior point guard Dylan Burnett returns to lead Fenwick with his own cachet of being an All-Catholic League selection last year.

While Barnett is a very good player, neither he nor any other Friars this season measure up to Shaw, Abrams and Egwu, who have all committed to Illinois. To paraphrase an old quote from Rick Pitino during his Boston Celtics coaching days, Fenwick coach John Quinn realizes Corey Maggette is not walking through that door.

Make no mistake though, the Friars are a far cry from rebuilding mode. Barnett (9 points, 4.5 steals per game) is an excellent point guard with outstanding defensive and leadership skills.

“Dylan is the type of player you can build a team around,” Quinn said. “As he improved last season, so did our team.”

Flanking Barnett in the backcourt is 6-footer Tyler Sewall, the Friars’ returning leading scorer at 11 points per tilt. Sewall, who signed a baseball scholarship with Dayton, also leads the Fenwick returnees in three-point field goals.

Six-foot-2 senior guard Tim Gancer, a top reserve last year, returns to complete Quinn’s three-guard offensive attack. Six-foot-2 senior forward Peter Haefner and 6-5 senior center John Malone will hold down the paint for the senior-laden Friars.

“Peter is probably our best three-point shooter and led our team in scoring most of the summer,” Quinn said. “John is an excellent athlete who really improved last year. If he can avoid foul trouble and injuries, we hope he can have a big year.”

Seniors John Planek and Joe Fahey, along with promising 6-4 junior Jeremy Gruszka, should provide punch off the bench. Fenwick will receive reinforcements soon once football players Pat Hart, Luke Lattner, Sam Ainsworth and Matt Doherty finish their season against Curie at the Prep Bowl Championship game on Friday.

“We’re looking forward to having those guys back,” Quinn said. “Sam was the leading scorer and rebounder on the sophomore team. Luke and Pat are talented kids, and Matt is a 6-4 kid who can help us in the paint.”

In the newly configured Catholic League with 16 teams and four divisions, Fenwick will play in the North/Central Division. The Friars will play St. Ignatius, Loyola and Gordon Tech twice (home/away) and once against St. Joseph, Hales, De La Salle and St. Rita. Any way the schedule makers slice it, the Friars will have their hands full.

Fenwick opens the season at the Lyons Township Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend.

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Key returners: Dylan Barnett, Tyler Sewall

Newcomers: Jeremy Gruszka, Sam Ainsworth, Luke Lattner

2009-10 record: 14-12, 8-5 Catholic League North

Tidbit: Dylan Barnett and John Malone were the top vote-getters (selected by teammates) for team captains.

2010-11 Home Schedule

Fri., Dec. 10 Loyola 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 18 Conant 6:30 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 7 De La Salle 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 8 Ridgewood 7 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 21 St. Rita 7:30 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 4 St. Ignatius 7:30 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 18 Gordon Tech 7:30 p.m.

Tues., Feb. 22 Northside Prep 7:30 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 25 Brother Rice 7:30 p.m.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...