Each basketball season provides an opportunity for new players to step into the spotlight. Sometimes it can be freshmen or sophomores making an impact right away, or seniors making the most of their increased roles. So far this season, these three players are having breakout seasons for their teams.
School: Hinsdale South
Impact: This season, the sophomore center has grown into his 6-foot-9 frame as well as his larger role in the Hornets’ offense, according to first-year Hinsdale South head coach Brett Moore.
“His core strength, leg strength and upper body strength have all improved tremendously,” Moore said. “He is so much more than a big body this season. He can score in spite of constant double teams, and has become a really solid defensive presence. I think he is as good as any big man in the area, and he is only a sophomore.”
Benson is filling up the stat sheet, too. He is shooting 60 percent from the field and is averaging 12.5 points and nine rebounds per game. Additionally, he has blocked 45 shots this season.
School: Hinsdale Central
Impact: The graduation of three-year starter Brian Owens left a hole at the Red Devils’ point guard position, and the progression of senior Jordan Bradshaw has allowed Hinsdale Central to maintain a solid inside-out presence. In 17 games, Bradshaw is averaging seven points per game, and is second on the team with 53 assists. He also leads the team in free throw percentage, going 38-of-48 from the stripe.
“Jordan has worked really hard to become a great starting point guard for us,” Hinsdale Central head coach Nick Latorre said. “The point guard is one of the toughest positions to play, but he has worked so hard to get where he is. His shooting has shown marked improvement, and his basketball IQ is through the roof.”
Paul Engo III
School: Downers Grove South
Impact: Engo has gone from being a reserve role player to a prime contributor for the Mustangs this season. He led the team in scoring in two of three games at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament earlier this season, and that was no accident. Engo has put in the required work to become a key player. A solid ball-handler with deep range, Engo has added an ability to score off the dribble.
“He is such a hard worker,” South head coach Kris Olson said of Engo, who the coach said is averaging about 16 points per game. “When he was a freshman player, I want to say he was on our B team, and now he makes us go, and it’s all because of his hard work.”