This is a group of guys who seem to be on a mission. I see them playing as well as they did this summer in December and beyond.”
OPRF head basketball coach Matt Maloney uttered those two sentences back in July after his team showed off its newfound speed by finishing 24-6 in summer league play. Two players who heated up over the summer for OPRF were Ka’Darryl Bell and Jordan Foster. The only problem is Foster transferred to Seton Academy in August, leaving Bell as OPRF’s main floor leader this season. The 6-foot-1 junior point guard seems perfect for the job. Bell has already garnered interest from such schools as Iowa, Drake, Nebraska and Butler, among others. He scored 10 points in OPRF’s 56-53 loss to Proviso West in the Curie Regional title game last year, and during the regular season was instrumental in helping pull out victories in a few overtime games.
“He developed into quite the speedy guard in the off-season and we feel he’s going to be a great floor leader for us,” said Maloney of Bell, who was fourth in assists on the team last year. “He’s tough to guard in the open court and his vision is tremendous.”
Joining Bell on the court at the tip-off is likely going to be Steve Ramsey, Gabe Levin, Brian Miller and Alex Nesnidal. Ramsey, a 6-3 small forward, is the lone senior in the expected starting five lineup for the Huskies this season. Levin, is the 6-6, 200-pound younger brother of Aaron, who started for the Huskies last season and is now at Grinnell College. Both Miller and Nesnidal are making their debuts on varsity this season. Miller is a 6-3 wing player, while Nesdinal will take up residence at power forward.
Senior Josh Lang is likely to find his way into the rotation as well. Lang helped the junior varsity team finish 10-1 last season.
Others expected to play major roles for the Huskies this season include sophomores Jakari Cammon (5-8, guard), Steve Waddell (6-4, forward), Thomas Ross (6-7, center) and senior Chris Butler (5-9, guard). Cammon, also a varsity football player, averaged 13 points per game last season for the sophomore team.
The Huskies will have plenty of competition in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference this season. Lyons Township, who won the conference title last season, returns four of their top six players, including Illinois State-bound Nick Zeisloft. Proviso West also returns several players, and York will once again be formidable with the likes of Will Sullivan, who scored 30 or more points in four games last season, and averaged 21.
“I think a lot of people are assuming we will be rebuilding this year, but we are looking at it much differently,” said Maloney, who added that with this type of lineup he’s able to implement an up-tempo style of play, one in which he’s more familiar with. “I think with the energy we’re going to bring on defense with presses and so forth, and the speed we’re going to utilize on offense, we’re going to be exciting to watch.”
OPRF tips off the season against Prospect tonight (Nov. 24, 6 p.m.) at the St. Patrick Thanksgiving Tournament. The Huskies take on Senn on Friday (6 p.m.) and St. Patrick on Saturday (7 p.m.).