Each season, the Chicagoland area features a number of talented underclassmen that look to make an immediate impact on varsity. Below is a list of a few sophomores — and freshmen — that could make an impact on varsity this season. It will take time for all of these players to grow into their complete games, but these guys have shown early flashes of promise.
Barret Benson, Hinsdale South — Benson is one of the best long-term prospects in the sophomore class because at 6-foot-9, 245 pounds, he already has great natural size for the post. As he continues to develop his post skills, feel, and Benson continues to grow into his body, he will be one to keep track of for Hinsdale South.
Devin Gage, Curie — The key to Curie's season could rest squarely on the talented and athletic 6'1" point guard, who holds a scholarship offer from Bradley and is talented enough to be one of the better guards in the class locally. Gage was inconsistent on varsity last season and needs to focus on getting Cliff Alexander the ball in the post as much as possible until its his time.
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Charlie Moore, Morgan Park — Losing the leadership and production of now-DePaul guard Billy Garrett Jr., is going to hurt the Mustangs, but if they hope to repeat in Class 3A, the 5-foot-9 point guard will be key. Moore can score from anywhere on the floor, despite his size, and is also a slick handler that can pass a bit as well. Moore is apart of a loaded Morgan Park sophomore class that includes forward Alonzo Chatman, guard Jarrin Randall and guard Jamal Burton.
Zach Norvell, Simeon — The best sophomore in the state has some serious range on his jumper and is a tremendous passer at 6-foot-3. Norvell might be thrust into having the ball in his hands a lot for Simeon this season, but he's surrounded by a lot of talented wings.
Nick Robinson, Kenwood — A wide-shouldered 6-foot-5 wing forward, Robinson is similar as a sophomore as former Orr star Mychael Henry before his transition to the wing. Robinson has a ton of upside and developing wing skill and he has a chance to make a major leap this season for Kenwood.
Nojel Eastern, Evanston — The talented lefty guard has a tremendous feel for the game and is already drawing interest from local high-major programs. The 6'1" guard can knock in shots or use his incredible vision and passing ability for an assist to a teammate.
Christian Negron, Larkin — The buzz for Negron built during the Mac Irvin Fire Back to School Jam this fall when the 6'5" forward threw down some fantastic dunks and showed that he's capable of playing immediate varsity minutes. He could start inside right away for Larkin.
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Manual Patterson, North Lawndale — The 6-foot-7 power forward could start in the middle for North Lawndale from the opening tip and he's a sound positional defender and area rebounder for his age. If Patterson can provide any offense it'll just be an added bonus.
Mahir Williams, Proviso East — Williams is a small lead guard at 5'10", but he has tremendous quickness and ball-handling ability and he's advanced attacking with either hand. Williams might not get as many immediate varsity minutes as some others on this list, but he has the talent to earn it by the end of the season.
Brennen Woods, Hampshire — Woods is long and active and should give Hampshire some athleticism and defensive ability as he grows into his game and finds his offense. A 6'2" guard, Woods has long arms and good athleticism.