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Morgan Park's Josh Cunningham works to the hoop past Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media.
Last season was all about the backcourt at Morgan Park, with Billy Garrett Jr., Kyle Davis and Markee Williams leading a younger group of bigs to the Class 3A state championship. Along the way the Mustangs were the only in-state team to knock off Simeon.
Those guards have all moved on, so Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin will turn to sophomore Charlie Moore, who received significant playing time last season, and 6-3 junior Kain Harris.
Irvin clearly trusts Moore, often saying he was “born for this.” Irvin played Moore regularly throughout his freshman year, even in the most pressure-packed situations.
Harris has received rave reviews during club play but has yet to do much on the high school court. He’s reportedly a gifted scorer, which is something that the Mustangs will desperately need after the departures of Garrett and Davis.
Josh Cunningham and Lamont Walker will be the team’s cornerstones. Cunningham, a 6-7 senior, is a smooth scorer that dominated in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament title game last year against Proviso East. Walker is the heart of the team in many ways. He is one of the state’s top rebounders and defenders. He’s expected to take on more of a scoring role this season.
Last year many observers thought the Mustangs had the state’s best backcourt. This season a solid case can be made that Cunningham and Walker are the state’s top forward duo.
Senior Torry Johnson, a terrific mid-range shooter, should provide some veteran stability in the backcourt. Irvin will look to a trio of sophomores (6-6 Alonzo Chatman, 6-4 Derick Dorsey, guard Jarrin Randle) to provide depth. Kierre Perkins, a promising 6-6 junior, is also back with the program after a year away.
The x-factor for Morgan Park could be big man Lamous Brown. The 6-11 big man began his high school career at Harlan and then transferred to Bishop Noll in Indiana, but had to sit out the entire year because of controversy over the transfer. He hasn't been cleared to play yet, but Morgan Park is hopeful.
So far this preseason Irvin is as boisterous as ever. He’s already proclaiming his team the favorites to win the city and state titles. Expect a lot more people to take him seriously this season.