By Matt Nestor
The fast and furious summer basketball session is in full swing for next year’s returning and potential local varsity basketball players.
The coaches use this precious time to help players work on their game and get incoming varsity players prepared for what to expect.
While most schools manage to work in between 40 and 50 games in a little more than a month span, the epicenter for Rockford summer ball is through the Rock Valley College summer league, hosted at Harlem High School.
While we are still far off from the high school season, Auburn looks to be rounding into shape quite nicely. While they will need to replace conference Player of the Year J.D. Danforth, they will also be returning one of the top players in the conference in Fred Van Vleet, as well as welcoming a very talented younger class.
Entering this past holiday weekend, the Knights’ summer team was 33-6 in summer play and have been running through the Rockford league.
Despite winning, Auburn has not always been at its best in town, but Head Coach Bryan Ott has been thrilled with how his team has performed out of town against stiff competition.
“We’ve played very well on the weekends and gone through the motion on Monday nights,” Ott said. “Out of town, we’ve played top-flight competition and played very well. The pieces are coming into place. We’re talented enough to get the wins, I just want us to play at a higher level of basketball consistently.”
Jefferson, meanwhile, is trying to break in a mostly new team. While there could be some tough sledding ahead, coach Todd Brannan said he has been encouraged by what he has seen so far from his young team after a loss to Auburn.
“We’ve lost a lot,” Brannan said. “But that means we have some positions and some roles open for some kids to step up into. We’re looking forward to see who might take advantage of those opportunities.”
Most of the top teams in the area are competing in the summer league scene. Boylan and Hononegah, among others, are noticeable by their absence, but there are still some great teams around.
Winnebago, led by Marcus Posley, has been playing very well despite having to replace a large part of their core. They were played tough by Rockford Lutheran, who looks to be executing very well in the more laid-back summer play.
The championship of the summer league, which will be determined by the final standings, will take place July 12 at Harlem.
From the July 7-13, 2010 issue