His varsity debut. – Boston Herald

Benet’s Gabriel Sularski knows it sounds absurd.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard already has 10 offers from Division I programs, which include Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Purdue, Tennessee and Wisconsin — all before he’s played a minute of varsity basketball.

While some girls basketball players get offers during their freshmen year, it’s much rarer for boys as young as the 15-year-old Sularski to receive such attention.

“Boys usually kind of get it later,” he said. “I’m really thankful and blessed for all the coaches who are looking and seeing what I can have.

“We still have a lot of work to do. It was a really good summer, and I’m really thankful for everything that’s going on right now.”

To put Sularski’s recruiting into perspective, even former Benet star Frank Kaminsky, who led Wisconsin to the national championship game in 2015 and played eight seasons in the NBA, didn’t have Big Ten offers as a sophomore.

“Frank didn’t even play on the varsity his sophomore year,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “It’s unusual for people to get Big Ten offers in general, regardless of what year you are. It doesn’t happen often.

“Obviously, I’m very happy for him, and it’s just the beginning of where he’s going. He’s earned the opportunities, and he’s going to keep earning them.”

Sularski isn’t letting the attention go to his head. After leading Benet’s sophomore team last season, he’s ready to do what it takes to lead the varsity team. The Redwings (35-2) have just one starter, senior center Parker Sulaver, returning after they set a program record for wins and reached the Class 4A state championship game.

“I’m kind of stepping into that leadership role,” Sularski said. “There were guys on the sophomore team that didn’t get a lot of recognition. I think once they get eyes on them, they will be respected. The team is looking really good.”

At the outset, all eyes figure to be on Sularski, a precocious all-around talent from whom Heidkamp expects a lot.

“I’m going to ask him to be impactful in every facet of the game,” Heidkamp said. “He’s got the talent and the drive. He’s got the tools he needs to be impactful. Now it’s just a question of getting better every day.”

Sularski is used to playing guard, but Heidkamp expects him to be able to handle any position once he gets better defensively.

Sularski’s unselfishness is reminiscent of 2023 Benet graduates Niko Abusara, Brayden Fagbemi and Brady Kunka.

“Creating for myself and creating for others is a huge thing for me,” Sularski said.

Sularski’s ascent has been boosted by help from several relatives. His father, Tim, played center at Nazareth, and his uncle Daniel Stopka is the personal skills coach for Sularski and his twin sisters, Maggie and Emilia, senior guards who helped Benet’s girls basketball team finish second in Class 4A last season.

“We have a tight inner circle, and we all work together,” Stopka said. “Gabe is having a lot of success right now, and the girls are a big part of that. A lot of people don’t know that, but the girls are the ones that rebound for him and defend him. They do everything with him.”

That includes helping him navigate the recruiting process. Maggie and Emilia Sularski have committed to Hillsdale.

“I saw them go through it,” Gabriel Sularski said. “It was a lot of ups and downs for them, and same for me.

“You’ve just got to keep playing like you’ve got no offers. That’s kind of what they’ve taught me — just forget about all that stuff and just keep playing.”

Sularski is eager to start playing in front of the typically large crowds the Redwings draw and to see what the team can accomplish. Everyone else is eager to see what he can do.

“He’s got a lot to prove, especially with all the extra pressure,” Stopka said. “You’ve got to just play and not worry about those things. The sky is the limit for him, so we’ll see what happens.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.


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