The OPRF boys basketball team seems to have a lot of everything this season. The Huskies are senior heavy, and brimming with guards. They also have not one, not two but three talented and experienced big men towering 6-foot-7 or taller.
Straight from his final high school season as the OPRF football team’s premiere running back, three-year varsity player Jakari Cammon steps into the role as floor leader. Cammon averaged 10 points per game last season and was second on the team in steals. He heads up a contingency of talented guards that include Alex Gustafson, Darrius Williams, Jason Gant and transfers Isaiah Watson and Erick Locke. Watson, a 6-4 senior, comes to the Huskies via Atlanta, while Locke, a 6-1 junior, played for OPRF his freshman year before a stint last season at Brooks College Prep in Chicago.
With a plethora of skillful guards, head coach Matt Maloney and his staff have implemented a three-guard offensive set that opens up more long-range shooting opportunities.
“Last season, with the personnel we had, we worked more of a dribble-drive offense. We’re not necessarily abandoning that, we’re just going to use something new to complement who we have out there,” said Maloney, who added the new system is derived from such colleges as Bucknell and Indiana State.
Gustafson, who shot 44 percent from behind the arc last season, Cammon and Locke are expected to have the green-light to launch at will.
But Maloney is sure to utilize his big men in Virgil Allen (6-9), Tacourrus Mattox (6-7) and Thomas Ross (6-8), all of whom helped the Huskies to a West Suburban (Silver) Conference title, a regional championship and a 20-win season last year.
The bench gets deeper with Darion Tate, Matt Van Liedekerke, Jake McCarthy and Dan Moon. McCarthy missed last season with a shoulder injury, while Moon is expected to be game ready by December or January after tearing his ACL during AAU ball last spring.
Simmie Cobbs, a scoring threat who made a name for himself during the off-season, has moved out of the district and currently attends Montini.
Shooting for 20-wins or more, the Huskies will be battle tested early and often. They host area-rival Fenwick in their home opener on Dec. 1 (6 p.m.) and then it’s smack dab into conference play where the competition is expected to be fierce. York returns Colorado State-bound David Cohn, while Proviso West started all juniors last season. Hinsdale Central, who defeated the Huskies by a point in overtime last year, has sophomore forward Matt Raferty back in the fold. Lyons Township sophomore guard Harrison Niego has drawn interest from Indiana University.
“I’m confident we’ll be in the hunt for the top spot again in the conference,” said Maloney, now in his fifth season with a 75-39 career coaching record.
Also on the schedule is a rematch with Schaumburg, the team that knocked OPRF out of the Class 4A sectional semifinals last season. The Huskies travel to Schaumburg on Dec. 8.
The Huskies were scheduled to begin the season Nov. 20 (after deadline) in the St. Patrick Thanksgiving Tournament. They take on Mather on Nov. 21 and Phillips on Thursday (both at 6 p.m.). OPRF closes out the tournament against the host on Saturday.