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Fuzak brothers to stand tall at Geneva after transferring from Wheaton Academy

Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 7:47 p.m. CDT

Ripening the outsized expectations awaiting the 2014-15 Geneva boys basketball team figured to take some doing.

How does adding a pair of towering transfers to an already formidable front line sound?

The Vikings did just that Wednesday, as brothers Chandler and Bennett Fuzak – a 6-foot-10 senior and 6-7 junior, respectively – enrolled at Geneva after recently withdrawing from Wheaton Academy.

"We've never played in the town that we live in, so that will be a unique experience for us," Chandler Fuzak said. "Get connected to the people around us while we're playing, so that will be exciting."

Home-schooled until high school, the Fuzaks relocated to Geneva from Naperville in November, some four months before the Vikings capped a banner 2013-14 season.

With then-junior wing and NCAA Division I prospect Nate Navigato leading the way, Geneva eighty-sixed the progam's 28-year regional title drought while winning 25 games, the school's most since 1962-63.

Benet senior center Sean O'Mara, a 6-9 Xavier recruit, struck consistently in the Vikings' season-ending loss in the 4A East Aurora Sectional final. With the Fuzak brothers now flanking 6-7 returners Mike Landi (senior) and Loudon Vollbrecht (junior) in the paint, the Vikings find little reason to stop thinking big.

"It'll be interesting," said Geneva coach Phil Ralston, who's entering his seventh season. "Obviously, they add greater depth beyond what we already have for a front line. I think that it'll be something from a coaching perspective that fortunately we have a lot of time to talk about and consider."

The Fuzaks, both part of the Illinois Wolves AAU program, competed for Wheaton Academy during summer ball, including games at Geneva's bi-weekly league last month. Chandler projects as more of a post presence, with Bennett possessing greater shooting range.

Shortly around the time the league concluded, the brothers conferred with parents Bob and Elizabeth and elected to transfer.

"It was just a series of events that kind of … we just felt led out of the program," Chandler Fuzak said. "And we felt it was time to go."

Warriors coach Pete Froedden was not immediately available for comment, but both Fuzak brothers wished him the best and said they will miss him and their former teammates.

One of them, Wheaton Academy sharpshooter Josh Ruggles, already has offered the Fuzaks insight into some Vikings from his AAU experiences, which include playing alongside Navigato for Mercury Elite.

The Fuzaks also played with Navigato during a camp at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, in June. Athletic guard Pace Temple gives the Vikings another potential returning starter.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Bennett Fuzak said. "They've got a pretty good team as-is, so I'm looking forward to finding where I can contribute to the team and stuff like that."

Ralston, who this week attended a star-studded clinic in Indianapolis led by some of the top coaches in the college game, hopes that first encounter comes soon.

With five days of IHSA-approved coaches' contact remaining this offseason, he's optimistic the Fuzaks can be part of a skills and lifting session later this month.

"As a coaching staff, we certainly want our returning players to make sure that we welcome these boys," Ralston said. "Make them feel welcome, make them feel part of it."

Neither Fuzak has doubts toward that end, especially as word-of-mouth about their transfer spreads.

"By association," Chandler Fuzak said, "we're kind of getting connected, I guess."

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