PALATINE, Ill. – With seven returners and a solid group of newcomers, the Harper basketball program will look to get started on the right foot as they open their season tonight at 7 PM at College of Lake County.
Head coach Tony Amarino's squad went 13-17 last year, but he and his players are confident that won't be the norm for the Hawks.
"We have the potential to go really far," said sophomore guard Tyler Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows ), who averaged 12.0 PPG and knocked down a team-high 84 3-pointers last year.
"With the group of returners and new guys coming in, our team goal is to definitely win conference and go to nationals."
Gaedele, forward Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) (12.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG as freshman) and guard/forward Charles Wright (Cheyenne, Wyo./Cheyenne East) (8.5 PPG as freshman) are the top returners scorers for the Hawks while forward Eric Porter (Arlington Heights, Ill./Lake Zurich) and center Stefan Vucicevic(Arlington Heights, Ill./Hersey) return for their second seasons. Harper also gets a boost to its frontcourt with 6-foot-9 center Will Botefuhr (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect), who missed last season with an injury. Keven Zelaya(/Elk Grove) also returns for his sophomore season after playing for the Hawks in the 2010-11 season.
The Hawks are deep at the guard position with sharpshooter Luke Potnick (/Buffalo Grove), Kevin Sexton (/Prospect), Kyle White (/De La Salle), Kameron Hill (/Wheeling) andMichael Boyd (/Lake Zurich) all ready to contribute.
Bradley Reibel (/Prospect) and Kevin Walsh (/St. Viator) provide versatility for Harper while forward Dexter Henley (/Thornton Township) provides more size in the frontcourt.
"I'm excited about our group. I think our players can really play the game," Amarino said. "We have the potential to be a really good basketball team. I'm looking forward to us meshing more as a team."
The Hawks finished fifth in the N4C last year with a 6-8 mark. While Joliet (13-1) and Triton (12-2) were atop the conference in the 2012-13 season, Gaedele and his teammates will prepare hard for every game.
"I see every team as big competition. You don't know who they have, who they brought in or who they're returning," he said.
In the first five weeks of the season, the Hawks play eleven non-conference games and the Highland Tournament (Dec. 13-14). The conference slate tips off with a road duel at Joliet on Jan. 8.
"Our conference will be strong again, but we shouldn't overlook our nonconference schedule," Amarino said. "South Suburban is very good, Illinois Central is solid and we'll play three solid teams at the Highland Tournament."