(H/T South Bend Tribune)
The La Lumiere Lakers are a year removed from a national championship, and one glance at their 2018-19 roster is enough to believe that they can do it again this season. Star big man Isaiah Stewart returns, while fellow 5-star senior Keion Brooks Jr. transfers in for his final season of prep basketball. The Lakers feature a supremely talented supporting cast consisting equally of returners and incoming transfers. One this is certain - the Lakers will be tested. Head coach Pat Holmes put together one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, including a trip to Honolulu for the ‘Iolani Classic.
Stewart and Brooks will share the star duties, which should be very concerning for La Lumiere’s competition. Stewart looks like he’s chiseled out of marble, and he uses his 6-foot-9 muscular frame to bully opposing frontcourts with regularity. He was a 1st-Team All-NIKE EYBL performer for The City Rocks of Albany New York, averaging 18.0 points and 11.1 rebounds in 22 games. Stewart is undecided on a college next season and will be choosing between Syracuse, Duke, Villanova, Washington, Indiana, Michigan State, and Kentucky. Just like Stewart, Brooks balled out in the EYBL for multiple seasons, earning 2nd Team All-NIKE EYBL honors in the summer for the Indy Heat. Brooks averaged 19.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 19 games, displaying an overall floor game alongside top 15 senior big man Trayce Jackson-Davis. Brooks has already proven to be productive alongside an elite big man, so there’s plenty of reason to be excited about his potential next to Stewart.
Some teams struggle with depth. La Lumiere is not one of those teams. In fact, there isn’t enough time to explain the value of their supporting cast. The Lakers have plenty of talent alongside Stewart and Brooks, highlighted by incoming transfer Gerald Drumgoole. The 6-foot-6 Rochester, New York native teamed up with Stewart on the City Rocks this spring and summer, and Drumgoole definitely impressed. The senior swingman averaged 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game at the Peach Jam, earning himself offers from the likes of Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and DePaul. 6-foot-4 junior Desmond Polk transferred in from Milwaukee, and the scoring guard should make an instant impact after showing out for Phenom University (WI) in NIKE’s E16 platform this summer. Polk is a multi-dimensional guard and plays his best when he’s in an uptempo system. Junior guard Wendell Green Jr. transfers in and will see significant minutes, as will the only freshman in the rotation, Kamari Lands. A 6-foot-7 swingman with evolving skills, Lands is one of the best players in the 2022 class, evidenced by his invite to the USA Basketball camp in October. Paxton Wocjic (6-foot-4) returns and figures to start at the point for the Lakers, while 6-foot-11 returner Jakov Kukic, committed to UC-Santa Barbara, will man the middle defensively.
La Lumiere is a certified title contender. They don’t have a noticeable flaw on their roster, and when you throw in the fact that they’ll be as well-coached as anyone, it seems hard to believe they’ll lose more than a couple games all season. Stewart and Brooks are worth the price of admission, and they make a solid preseason claim as the top frontcourt duo in the country. Expect the Lakers to destroy their local competition, and they should find plenty of success in national events.