Junior guard David Sobolewski has never lacked faith in Benet's ability as a team. He's believed the Redwings were capable of big things this year.
But if you had told him before the season that Benet would be 26-3, win the East Suburban Catholic Conference, capture the school's first sectional championship since 1983 and be playing
Tuesday for a chance to play in Peoria, he probably would have thought you were crazy.
"I thought we were going to be good, but I didn't think we'd be this good," Sobolewski said.
To many's surprise, the Redwings have been one of the most dominant teams in the state since 2010's arrival. After dropping a few games in December, they've won 16 straight and are one game away from the state semifinals.
And the main reason for the team's success? Sobolewski, the ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week. He has elevated his play and become one of the area's elite guards. He's delivered whatever Benet has needed this year.
Sobolewski has put together a month to remember:
In the sectional championship, he scored 32 points and helped hand Glenbard East only its second loss of the season.
In the sectional semifinals, he outplayed East Aurora star guard Ryan Boatright and scored a game-high 21 points and dished out nine assists in the win.
In the regional championship, he scored a game-high 41 points to knock off Downers Grove South.
In the regional semifinals, he scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half against Glenbard North.
Against St. Joseph in a matchup of undefeated East Suburban Catholic teams on Feb. 20, he scored 21 of Benet's 50 points in the win.
"He's a very good player," St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore said. "He's a tough kid. He's really improved. He can score. He can pass the ball."
Illinois Wolves AAU coach Mike Mullins would agree with Pingatore, but it did take Mullins some time to see that out of Sobolewski during the last club season. When Sobolewski first played with the Wolves in April, he struggled against a high level of competition.
"Here was a kid who averaged 18 or 19 points a game as a sophomore," Mullins said. "We didn't need him to do that. We needed him to come in and be another ball handler and create. We had a number of talented people around him who could score the ball and needed their shots.
"The spring was a rough transition for him, absolutely. We talked about that he wasn't going to be a 6-foot leading scorer at the Division I level. He needed to work on his point guard skills offensively and defensively."
Sobolewski returned to his high school team in June and began putting it all together. He still scored when he needed to, but he also began distributing. Benet's success followed -- the Redwings were one of the summer's top teams.
In July, when Sobolewski rejoined the Wolves, Mullins witnessed a different player. Sobolewski was all of a sudden a complete player.
"He became a major factor down the stretch in us winning three 17-and-under tournaments," Mullins said. "I think David's individual skills were there. The hardest part was the mental part. David really learned how to play and make other people better as a point guard this year. That was a big maturation and growth part. We pushed him to lead a team and not be just a shooting guard. He's become a really strong leader."
Colleges have taken notice. Sobolewski once was targeted primarily by Ivy League and Patriot League schools. Now, he's become a hot commodity among mid-major programs. Loyola and Wisconsin-Milwaukee offered him a scholarship over the weekend. Davidson and Northern Iowa are also among a number of other schools taking a look at him as well. Sobolewski likes the attention, but he's not complacent.
"It's fun, but at the same time it motivates me," Sobolewski said. "Now that coaches are calling, it makes me want to work harder to get to a higher level."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.