“Huskie Havoc” is a style of play that the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys basketball team constantly looks to impose on opposing teams.
“It’s a style of play in which we look to play fast on both ends of the floor to generate easy baskets and transition scoring opportunities,” OPRF coach Matt Maloney said. “I think this year’s group is really buying into the concept and will execute it well on the court. We are a very fast, long, versatile and athletic basketball team.”
Among the players, “Huskie Havoc” is a source of both personal and program pride.
“‘Huskie Havoc’ is a more of a personal thing,” 6-3 senior swingman Connor Fuller said. “Letting your man catch the ball and score feels like you’re letting the team down. We love to run so the more pressure we can apply, the better chance we’ll have to get the ball out and go.”
The strategy makes sense given the Huskies’ personnel. 6-2 senior guards Breshawn Wilkerson and Deandre Enoch, along with 6-4 forward Cameron Gross, 6-5 forward Jared Scott and Griffin are all tremendous athletes who can play multiple positions.
Wilkerson, who also excelled as a linebacker/wide receiver on the Huskies’ 9-2 football team during the fall, is a returning West Suburban Silver All-Conference point guard. He averaged 10 points, four rebounds and 2.5 steals last season and is a defensive ballhawk.
“Breshawn is an extraordinary athlete with a high motor,” Maloney said. “He’s one of the top defenders and guards in the conference.”
Fuller, an Honorable Mention All-Conference Selection in 2014, possesses many of the same attributes as Wilkerson. Fuller, who averaged nine points and five rebounds last season, has expanded his game offensively while remaining a very solid defender.
“I’ve really worked on my shot and footwork,” Fuller said. “I’ve also worked on getting stronger and handling the ball.
“The team was put through a lot of strength and conditioning during the offseason. We’re all a brotherhood. We have a great bond which will help us be successful on the court.”
Juniors Gross and Scott are the epitome of the Huskies’ aforementioned length, versatility and athleticism. Both are drawing recruiting interest from Division I programs and have high ceilings as players.
“Cam and Jared are so versatile and can affect a game in many ways,” Maloney said. “Not only are they long and athletic, but they have added some muscle as they continue their improvement as players.”
Enoch, a key reserve on last year’s team, is eager to get back on the court after an injury limited his effectiveness last season.
“I think one of our main strengths is that we have a lot of returning players that started or got valuable playing time last year,” said Scott, who played AAU basketball for Chicago Lockdown during the summer. “That could have a huge impact with guys being in situations where they know what to do.
“For our team to be successful though, we will need great leadership from not only our seniors but everybody. If everyone on the team accepts and takes pride in his role, we should be just fine.”
The bench will include plenty of new faces this season. While senior guard Sam Francis returns to give Wilkerson, Enoch or Fuller a breather as needed, Jack Simpson, Isaiah Fuller, Malachi Ross, Eddie Gorens and Dashon Enoch provide an infusion of promising talent to the bench.
Simpson is an excellent shooter, while Fuller, Ross and Gorens play with great energy and instincts. Dashon Enoch, a combo guard, is regarded as one of the best freshmen in the state.
“This year’s team is a hard working group of men,” Wilkerson said. “We have a great opportunity to make a name for ourselves. We also have a ton of younger guys. I can’t wait to see what they do on the court.”
While OPRF is loaded with playmakers, Maloney cites several areas that need improvement if the Huskies hope to realize their considerable potential.
“We will need to improve on our rebounding and defensive discipline,” he said. “We also need to cut back on turnovers to maximize our potential. Moreover, we need to show an added toughness around the rim on finishes and on the glass.”
The Huskies might need to be a resilient team at times, too, considering the opponents they’ll face this season. Per usual, OPRF has a daunting schedule including appearances at the Bill VandeMerkt Thanksgiving Tournament and Pontiac Holiday Tournament against elite teams plus perennially high-end competition in theWest Suburban Conference Silver Division. For good measure, the Huskies face crosstown rival Fenwick in the Chicago Elite Classic at UIC on Friday, Dec. 4 (6 p.m.).
“I would argue that we have one of the toughest schedules in the state,” Maloney said. “The conference is deep as ever. It would be hard to find a conference as deep and balanced as ours. In most other conferences, there is a clear divide between the upper tier and lower tier; however, in the West Suburban Silver, any team beat anyone on any given night.”