Sunday, December 27, 2015

Late December 2015 Report

The 42nd Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York H.S.

First round play opened on Saturday (Dec 26th) the 42nd annual Xmas venue.  The main head-liner on opening day was the performance of 6-7 unsigned senior forward Lorenzo Edwards who ignited his Lake Forest team to a 40-36 victory over T.F. South.  Edwards recorded 21 points – 7 rebounds & 8 blocks, he clearly out-played Western Michigan signee Brandon Johnson a 6-7 forward “who seemingly failed to get the memo that this was in a prime-time match-up for him”.  Lake Forest will face tournament favorite River-Side Brookfield on Monday at 6:00 pm.  This tournament has a band of on-the-brink stand-outs saddled and ready to shine the next several days.  Downers Grove South has the trio of 6-7 senior 4-man Donovan Ferguson who has drawn quite a following with D2 & D3 schools, while juniors T.J. Clifford 6-6 athlete and deadeye shooter Denis Alibegovis a 6-3 wing, Downers Grove will pose some problems for 2nd round foe Palatine.  Glenbard East won a squeaker with an over-time win against St. Ignatius 56-55 on a game winning three pointer by senior guard Carlos Meyers.  East will play York on Monday at 8 pm, they received solid performances from junior forward Michael Finley and senior guards Davonte Smith and Myers.  Northwestern recruit Barrett Bensen continues to sizzle, he tallied 20 markers in win over Lane Tech his squad will face-off against Minooka on Monday at 4:30.  York features a talented freshman guard Nick Kosich a skilled frosh who was impressive versus Schaumburg, shot it and handled it well.  Conant boasts to highly touted young bigs in six foot eight sophomore Ryan Davis (16 points) and 13 rebounds versus Sandburg and St. Joseph transfer Mike Downing a 6-8 junior lefty with a promising future, they will be on display versus Wheatob North at 5:00 pm on Monday.  This most disappointing game of the day was De La Salle dropping an 8:30 am contest vs Providence Catholic.  George Willbourn and his crew got caught sleep walking so he will hold his auditions in the consolation bracket.  A player to watch at this event is Metea Valley 6-6 sophomore Malik Hall who can score.  This event could end up being one of the top 5 in our state this year.

Thurs – Dec 17th
Triton 92 – Kishwaukee 91

Freshman swingman Donte Thorpe’s tip-in with 3 seconds left, sealed an on-the-road victory for Triton College, snapping Kishwaukee’s five game winning streak.  With 1:55 remaining in a hard fought contest Kishwaukee held, on to a 89-85 margin, but a 3 pointer by Josh Doss (Taft) with 1:29 left cut the margin to one for Triton, 89-88, two free throws from Bryson Butler (Lincoln Park) gave Kish a three point advantage at 91-88 with 39 seconds left.  But Thorpe tallied Triton’s final four points, he came up with a steal & basket with 38 seconds remaining, then he converted a tip-in with 3.7 seconds left which pretty much doomed the Kougars, Thorpe, finished with 11 points; 6-6 soph Percell Washington (Foreman) a high energy inside beast, finished plays and demonstrated he has a wealth of athleticism, while grabbing 11 rebounds and leading all scorers with 24 points.  Eric Gillespie 15, Eddie Miles (Hales) 13 and Josh Doss tallied 10 for Triton who came into the game as region IV #1 team.  The Kougars were led by point-guard Bryson Butler 19, Austin Patterson (Morris H.S.) 18, Malcolm Reed had 17 pts for the Kougars.

Fri – Dec 18th
Fenwick 62 – De La Salle 51

Senior Mike Smith led three players in double figures with 18 points, as the Friar’s cruised by De La Salle for a road victory.  In a Catholic league contest the Friars held the Meteors to a frigid shooting night in the second half, combined by ragged floor play, poor shot-selection and numerous miscues.  To take down a discipline squad like the Friars, playing a game of reckless abandonment clearly will strap-you with a quick L.  Senior guard George Willborn recorded 20 points & 6 rebounds, but was saddled by foul trouble most of the first half.  Junior guard William Norman tallied 13 off the bench and senior Andre Raiford contributed 12.  Fenwick had an impressive balanced attack, garnered by strong performances from Jacob Keller 13 and Mike Ballard scored 14 points and registered 8 rebounds.  Fenwick will be one of the key marquee teams on hand at the reconstructed Proviso West tournament.

Sat – Dec 19th
Morton 81 – Kishwakee 67

A crowd of about a hundred plus watched a highly spirited Morton team defeat a Kishwaukee squad who seemed to have slept walked through most of the contest.  Morton just out-scrapped & out-rebounded the Kougars, who never seem to get un-tracked, the home team was just a step slow through most of the contest, they played as if the Xmas break couldn’t come any sooner.  Morton scored 30 points off turn-overs and 20 points off 2nd effort attempts.  Remy Price (Kenwood) 18, Chris Poole was 7-10 & 4-7 from 3 pt mark claimed 18 points, Quawone Harris 12, Chris Soczek had 10.  Daniel McFadden finished with 10 markers and Javonte Peals also tallied 10 points and Bryson Butler went for 9 pts.  The Kougars fall to 8-6.  They will play Madison Community College the 2nd of January.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 Jack Tosh Holiday Classic

Lorenzo Edwards 6-7 forward from Lake Forest is playing in this event and he is one of the top 5 unsigned seniors in the state, averaging 20 pts and close to 20 rebounds, 6 blocks nightly.  On December 26th at 4:30 he will be going head on against Western Michigan 6-7 recruit Brandon Johnson.  

Other notable players to watch at this event are:  George Willbourn Jr (De La Salle), Barret Benson (Hinsdale South), Mark Smith (R.B.), Jalen Clanton (R.B.), Henry Trelenberg (R.B.), Kaleb Thornton (Nazareth), Ryan Davis (Conant), Michael Downing (Conant), Denis Albegovic (Downers Grove S.), TJ Clifford (Downers Grove S.)

This one of our top 5 tournaments in the state.  This might be the place to be on the 26th of December despite the start of the Proviso West tournament and the Big Dipper event opening on this day.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Top Holiday Tournaments to Watch

Top Holiday Tournaments to Watch

Pontiac Holiday “A Place to be” – December 28, 29, 30, 2015
This will be the #1 Tournament to Watch
Notable Players on the Scene:  Simeon’s Zach Norvell, Evan Gilyard, Josh Thomas, Ben Coupet, Talen Horton-Tucker, Messiah Jones, Charles Payton (Bloomington), Devin Gage (Curie), Elijah Joiner (Curie), Landers Nolley (Curie), Kendle Moore (Danville), Daylan Williams (Danville), Trevian Bell (Joliet West), Elijah Ward (Joliet West), Teyvion Kirk (Joliet West), Tabyous Casterberry (Joliet West), Evan Hines (Niles West), Octavius Parker (Niles West), Breshawn Wilkerson (Oak-Park), Cameron Gross (Oak-Park), Connor Fuller (Oak-Park), Deandre Enoch (Oak-Park), Da’Monte Williams (Peoria Manual), Romon Douglas (Manual), A.J. Youngman (Manual), Kevin Kreiger (Plainfield North), Jayson Dorsey (Warren), Camron Donatian (West Aurora).

1st Round Pairings:
Danville vs Lockport 9:00 am
Curie vs St. Charles North 10:30 am
Bloomington vs Bloom Twp 1:00 pm
Simeon vs West Aurora 2:30 pm
Oak-Pk-River Forest vs Niles West 4:00 pm
Manuel vs Warren 6:00 pm
Benet Academy vs Warren 7:30 pm
Joliet West vs Plainfield North 9:00 pm

Proviso West Holiday Tournament – December 26, 28, 29 and 30th

Notable Players to Watch:  Mike Smith (Fenwick), Jamal Nixon (Fenwick), Jacob Keller (Fenwick), Charlie Boyle (Fenwick), Nick Rakocevic (St. Joes), Joffari Brwon (St. Joes), Lavon Thomas (St. Joes), Marcus Garrett (Hilcrest), James Jones (Bogan), Bryce Barnes (Bogan), Tyler Chisom (Proviso East), Emanuel Cross (Proviso West), Charlie Moore (MP), Jamal Burton (MP), Jarrin Randle (MP), Ayo Dosunmu (MP), Raphael Cruz (Von), Christian Negron (Larkin), Damarius Jacobs (Uplift), Xavier Castaneda (Young), Lucas Williamson (Young), Jake Kosakowski (Young).

1st Round Pairings:
Hillcrest vs Elgin-Larkin 9:30 am
St. Joseph vs Dunbar 11:00 am
Morgan Park vs Providence St. Mel 12:30 pm
Proviso East vs Uplift 2:00 pm
Fenwick vs Von Steuben 4:00 pm
Whitney Young vs Morton 5:30 pm
Proviso West vs Bogan 7:00 pm
New Trier vs Cathedral Catholic 8:30 pm

State Farm Holiday Classic – December 28th-31st

Notable Players to Watch:  Carlos Hines (North-Lawndale), Tyrone Rhivers (North-Lawndale), Isaac Nelson (Springfield), Keon Day (Springfield), Drew Evans (Thornwood), Marcus Hussey (Thornwood), Jason Jones (Rock-Island), William Miles (Rock-Island), Simeon Hinton (North-Chgo), Oliver Stevens (Edwardsville), Dexter Oyewo (Plainfield So.).

1st Round Pairings – Dec. 28th (Shirk Center-IL)
Chicago North-Lawndale vs Springfield High 6:00 pm
Thornwood vs Normal Community 9:00 pm
Rockton Hononegah vs Normal U-High 4:30 pm
Peoria Notre Dame vs Wheaton W’ville South 7:30 pm
Rock-Island vs Chatham Glenwood 1:00 pm
Champaign Centennial vs North-Chicago 2:30 pm
Zion-Benton vs Plainfield South 11:30 am
Edwardsville vs Mahomet-Seymour 10:00 am

Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic – December 26, 28, 29, 30

Notable Players to Watch:  Cameron Bowles (H.F.), Kendric Pryor (H.F.), Jeffrey Boyd (H.F.), Tayvon Tyler (Auburn), Jaylon Catledge (Richards), Marquan “Bay-Bay” Williams (Perspective MSA), Justin Smith (Stevenson), Rodney A Willie Herenton (Stevenson), Dwayne Rose (Crete), Coreyoun Rushin (W’House), Ibrahim Dosunmu (Lincoln Pk), Marco Lewis (Lincoln Pk), Peter Blust (Hinsdale Central).

1st Round Pairings
Richards vs Chicago Hope 9:30 am
Stevenson vs Foreman 11:00 am
Homewood-Flossmoor vs Lincoln Park 12:30 pm
Rockford Auburn vs Westinghouse 2:00 pm
St. Charles East vs DePaul Prep 3:45 pm
Maine South vs Urban Prep Englewood 5:15 pm
Hinsdale Central vs Crete Monee 7:00 pm
Crespi Carmelite vs Perspectives MSA 8:30 pm

73rd Annual Centralia Holiday Tournament – December 28th-30th

Notable Players to Watch:  Nick Finke (Champaign Central), Tim Finke (Central), Bailey Dee (Central), Kamron Reaves (Central), Calogeno Dawson (Central), Marcus Latham (Alton), Maurice Edwards (Alton), Kevin Caldwell (Alton), Brandon McCombs (Jacksonville), D’Aaron Owens (Centralia), Tyler Dancy (Belleville West), Damarcus Gilmore (Harlan), Ramar Evans (Loyola), Chance Armstrong (O’Fallon), EJ Liddell (Belleville West).

1st Round Pairings
Alton vs Memphis Raleigh 9:00 am
Arlington, TN vs Cahokia 10:30 am
Christian County, KY vs Belleville West 3:30 pm
Champaign Central vs Addison Trail 6:15 pm
O’Fallon vs Chicago Marist 9:15 pm
Salem vs Germantown, TN 12:30 pm
Jacksonville vs Mount Vernon 3:00 pm
Centralia vs Chicago Sullivan 7:45 pm

Big Dipper Holiday Tournament – December 26, 28, 29 & 30th

Notable Players to Watch:  Nana Akenten (Bolingbrook), Zach Grady (Bolingbrook), Brandon Lawani (Bolingbrook), Devon Sams (Bolingbrook), T.J. Smith (Marian Catholic), Austin Richie (Marian Catholic), TeeAaron Powell (Marian Catholic), Brandon Hurt (Marian Catholic), Myles Howard (Marian Catholic), Karim Sameh (Hales), Darias Oliver (Leo).

1st Round Pairings
Bolingbrook vs Butler College Prep 9:00 am
Hales Franciscan vs Lincoln-Way Central 10:30 am
Rich East vs Leo 12:00 pm
Thornton vs Perspectives Calumet 1:30 pm
Joliet Central vs King 4:00 pm
Rich South vs University High 5:30 pm
Rich Central vs Marquette Catholic 7:00 pm
Marian Catholic vs Tinley Park 8:30 pm
Pekin Holiday Tournament – 51st Annual – December 28th-30th

Notable Players to Watch:  Xavier Bishop (Lanphier), Cardell McGee (Lanphier), Aundrae Williams (Lanphier), Yaakeema Rose (Lanphier), Deshawn Bishop (Peoria), Jake Rhode (Mount-Carmel), Christian Peavy (Mount-Carmel), Nick Chambers (Mount-Carmel), Damon Gillespie (Richwood), Kaeien Johnson (Richwoods), Bryce Vollrath (Richwoods), Elyjah Goss (Plainfield East), Jalyn Adams (Plainfield East), Vinny Tarello (Plainfield East), Nick Meyer (Lake Zurich), Joe Lavin (Lake Zurich), Devin Whitelow (Washington), Lou Griffith (Washington), Jake Meeske (United Township), Bryant Jefferson (United Township), Anferney Burns (Peoria Central).

1st Round Pairings
Richwoods vs Moline 9:00 am
UTHS vs Limestone 10:30 am
Lake Zurich vs Freeport 12:45 pm
Mount-Carmel vs Morton 2:15 pm
Lanphier vs Plainfield East 3:45 pm
Pekin vs Hersey 6:30 pm
Washington vs Peoria High 8:00 pm
Boylan vs Normal West 9:30 pm

Collinsville 32nd Annual Holiday Classic – December 28th-30th

Notable Players to Watch:  Jordan Goodwin (Althoff), Tarkus Ferguson (Althoff), Brandon Gooch (Althoff), Marvin Bateman (Althoff), Edwyn Brown (Althoff), Javon Pickett (Belleville East), Rico Sylvester (Belleville East), Marquise Chairs (East St. Louis), Antonio Johnson (East St. Louis), Patrick Baxter (East St. Louis), Kenny Berry (Granite City), Isaiah Bowers (Lincoln), Keymonta Johnson (MacArthur), Dallas McClain (MacArthur), Amir Brummett (MacArthur), Parker Bland (Quincy), D’Angelo Hughes (Springfield S.E.), Mark Johnson (Springfield S.E.), Trevyon Williams (Springfield S.E.).

1st Round Pairings
Springfield Southeast vs McCluer North 9:00 am
Dec. MacArthur vs Belleville East 10:30 am
East St. Louis vs Riverview Gardens 1:00 pm
Lincoln vs Fort Zumwalt North 2:30 pm
Quincy vs Dec. Eisenhower 4:00 pm
Collinsville vs Oakville (MO) 6:30 pm
Althoff vs Urbana 8:00 pm
Granite City vs Hazelwood East 9:30 pm

On the Trail
Holy Cross and Ivy League schools probably should take some notice of six foot seven junior Mark Taylor arguably one of the top players in the independent school division.  Taylor has an excellent frame, he is a quick leaper, which allows him to be an effective shot-blocker, perimeter skills are noticeable, he possess a nice stoke.  Taylor averages 21 points & 15 rebounds thus far.  Next season he could become a dominant force in the private school arena.

How My Top 20 Fared

  1. Morgan Park (3-1) – Tumbled Simeon 70-65 on-the-road behind a 24 point outing for Charlie Moore; they face another serious challenge at Bogan on Thursday.
  2. Simeon (2-1) – Dropped a home game to MP; still searching for cohesiveness after adding several transfers, in addition to blending in youngsters.
  3. Fenwick (7-0) – Friars arguably have one of the best coaches in the game and one of the better point-guards in the area with Mike Smith; their system just flows.
  4. Riverside-Brookfield (6-1) – Lost to an out-of-town opponent in the Chicagoland Classic; they are a dangerous team; four guys who can score.
  5. St. Joseph (8-0) – Ping has his troops marching particularly behind the trio of Nick Rakocevic/Joffari Brown/Lavon Thomas; they have created a winning formula.
  6. Curie (4-0) – Has a date with Hyde Park on Thurs; there are several teams that may pose a challenge for the Condors at Pontiac.
  7. Bogan (5-1) – The Bengals will be tested at home versus rival Morgan Park on Thurs.
  8. Evanston (6-1) – They have started to click offensively; New Trier shouldn’t pose any threat on Wed.
  9. Notre Dame (7-1) – The North-Suburban Dons squeaked by Lincoln Park a week ago; Ammar Becar has started to contribute his end of the bargain.
  10. Glenbard West (7-0) – William & Mary recruit Justin Pierce has been on a tear offensively; his supporting cast isn’t so shabby after all.
  11. Marian Catholic (6-2) – A talented young core cruised by St. Rita 43-33 Fri night; Benet will visit the Chicago Heights school on Friday.
  12. Whitney Young (2-1) – The locals have placed some high expectations on sophomore wiz Xavier Castaneda; the masses await for him at the Proviso West bash.
  13. Kenwood (3-1) – Slipped by Hyde Park last week; an unproven group still trying to find their way; Nick Robinson & Manny Patterson need to be double digit scorers nightly.
  14. Hyde Park (6-2) – Let one get away at home versus Kenwood due to shaky ball-handling; they are plagued by numerous miscues.  “Brandon Daugherty is a gamer.”
  15. Benet (7-0) – Their hot start makes the Pontiac field even stronger; Simeon could be waiting though; no one will be surprised if they out-last Marion Catholic on Fri.
  16. Farragut (7-2) – Observers were startled that the Admirals dropped a home game to Whitney Young; this could be a topsy-turvy year in the red-west.
  17. Vocational (6-1) – Bogan just dismantled them in a conference game last week; Cavaliers have to clean-up the un-forced turn-overs & bad shot selections.
  18. De La Salle (5-1) – Only loss was to St. Joes on the road; I like their nucleus, senior Andre Raiford and Christian Hayes can play.
  19. Hinsdale South (6-1) – Northwestern recruit Barret Benson has really elevated his play at both ends, his future is so bright on & off the floor.
  20. Thornton (4-1) – We expect the Wildcats coach Tai Streets to win big games in which he demonstrated Friday night knocking off a solid Bradley-Bourbonnais club; he had his squad ready.



Sat, Dec 12th
Kishwaukee 82 – Chicago Olive Harvey 80
2 Over-Times

At O.H. - a mostly well played early evening junior college tilt. A crowd estimated at 200 watched both teams come out from the onset focused on executing their offense/system.  Olive Harvey team was tenacious defensively while Kishwaukee surprisingly wasn’t too shabby either.  Both teams actually demonstrated some patience while both squads played unselfishly sharing the basketball, Austin Patterson a six-foot-three shooter/scorer from Morris (IL) and Ryan Reeder 6-3 a long-distance marksman from Mendota, IL kept Kishwaukee in the game during a seesaw second half.  Bryson Butler a 6-1 point-guard from Lincoln Park got things going during the opening half where he recorded 8 pts & 4 assists for the Cougars before coming-up lame and couldn’t go back out in the second half due to an illness, never-the-less Butler was impressive during his early stint.  E’mon Frison’s (Hales) hit a critical three pointer with 3.5 seconds left tied it at 75-75 to send the contest into the 2nd OT, the Cougars managed to hold on and get their fourth straight win, this one on the road.  Patterson tallied 24, Reeder finished with 16, Butler had 8.  The Kishwaukee group is comprised of predominately all freshmen they have a good young core but lack size on the interior.   Olive Harvey was led by Brenell Pendleton with 22 points and Travis McBride netted 19.  

Fri, Dec 11th
Valparaiso 71 – Chicago State 53

In Chicago - the Cougars hosted perennial Horizon League leaders Valpo.  Washington (IL) native Alec Peters capped off a terrific night dropping in 26 points on 8-11 shooting night as the Crusaders rode to an eighteen  point victory, while shooting at a 41 percent clip in 1st half and 50% from the 3 pt line.  I’m assuming the Chicago State faithful’s left the Jones Convocation Center somewhat disappointed by the Cougars lack-luster performance.  They were doomed by undisciplined play, just a lack of patience while hoisting-up ill-advised shots, many coming from deep on the perimeter, now Chicago State does possess some offensive punch, but they lack size so most understand they have to play a certain style or system that favors their strengths.  Everyone in Chicago want to see favorite son Cougar Coach Tracy Dildy reach the heights with his program, entering his sixth year at the school, but they have to figure out ways to execute whatever scheme or game preparation they have going into an affair with an opponent such as Valpo.  Former Crane guard Kieran Woods was the only Cougar in double figures with 14.  Valparaiso had a contingent of fans in the stand to cheer on Chicago area players Darien Walker 12 (Simeon), Keith Carter 9 (Proviso East), Jubril Adekoya 6 (Andrew) and Lexus Williams (Marist).  The Cougars non-conference match-ups will certainly have them in contention and ready for a tough competitive league play.

Thurs, Dec 10th
Kenwood 55 – Hyde Park 51
(Dynamite High-School Environment)

A packed house which included some former notable coaches and players watched this red-central show-down.  Kenwood’s senior guard Zion Morgan was too much for the host team, he turned-in a 29 pt outing.  Morgan a 6-1, combo committed to Valpo but did not sign early, scored nine points in the crucial 4th period, but his two free-throws with 31.7 seconds left pretty much sealed the deal for the Broncos.  Hyde Park’s 6-7 senior Tajuan Agee was saddled with foul trouble most of the game and was held in check until the remaining 5 minutes in the contest where he came up with some key plays, junior center 6-8 Anthony Cameron was also in foul trouble and had a tough time getting on track most of the game.  Brandon Daugherty kept the Thunderbirds within striking distance with 12 first half markers, he finished the evening with 18 points, he is a player to watch, he does have some scoring ability on the perimeter and will likely need a juco next season.  Kenwood’s unsigned senior forward Nick Robinson didn’t reach double figures, but he had several moments of eye-popping plays.  The Indiana State recruit did not sign early just like his team-mate Morgan.  Hopefully this isn’t a new trend we’re witnessing, “because it-isn’t-cool”, there are other optional ways of getting out of a letter of intent if it’s a coaching change by the season’s end.  Whoever might be advising them & their families should look at this in a different manner its business on both sides of the table.  Junior Manny Patterson fought & battled all night, tallied 10 points.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pre-Season (Hype) Previews

The 2015-16 season approached us quite rapidly, just sitting the gym recently watching hoops was a quick reminder for me to get myself mentally ready for a season of shenanigans
  1. Simeon – (0-0) After consecutive seasons as a non-participate in the State Tournament, Chicago’s flagship program will rally this season behind the senior trio of Zach Norvell (Gonzaga recruit), Ben Coupet and Josh Thomas, but the glue to this Wolverines group will be the play of rapidly emerging junior guard Evan Gilyard. Minutes will be distributed among the transfer tandem Terrell Phillips a 6-7 senior cast-off from Al Raby, James Gordon (Toledo recruit) and Devonire Glass. The Wolverines have plenty depth, they house youngster’s Messiah Jones a 6-4 jumping jack, silk-smooth Bakari Simmons a 6-4 lefty, and physical/gritty swingman Talen Horton-Tucker a capable scorer. Highly touted Kezo Brown returns, he may have to compete for his ticks this go-around. Translation – this will be the year they march through the city opponents and on to a state title.
  2. Morgan Park – (0-0) Senior guard (Memphis recruit) Charlie Moore returns as a POY candidate, but will be asked to play pivotal role in providing leadership to a unproven cast. Western Michigan signee Jarrin Randle is primed for a banner season. He’s improved his overall game, he once was labeled as just a spot-up shooter. Jamal Burton a six-foot one athletic energizer will ignite crowds regularly with his spirited play, but the performance of 6-7 senior Alonzo Chatman and junior’s Melo Burrell and Lenell Henry will be key. Sophomore transfer Ayo Dosunmu from Westinghouse will have opportunity on stage to demonstrate where his potential lies. Player to watch is junior shooter Cam Irvin.
  3. Riverside-Brookfield – (4-0) This well-oiled team will welcome back four starters from a group that went toe to toe with 4A state champ Stevenson before losing a close game in the super sectionals. Whitney Young transfer Skyler Nash’s arrival will give the Bull Dogs another capable scorer, besides it’s a new beginning for Nash who’s been hindered by injuries as well as lofty expectations, a change of scenery could produce wonders. The guard trio of Daniko Jackson, Jalen Clanton and Henry Trelenberg will amount for 30 plus points nightly, senior forward Mark Smith has that inside/outside unorthodox style that provides match-up nightmares, he is a scoring threat.
  4. Kenwood – (1-0) Some significant parts return starting with Indiana State recruit Nick Robinson, guard Zion Morgan (Valpo) and junior forward Manny Patterson arguably the best 2017 prospect in the public league. He will be a load for most opponents nightly. Patterson was sidelined most of last season with a shoulder injury, while his team was battle tested last season without his services, look for the Morgan/Robinson tandem to lead the way. Hyde Park Academy will present a challenge. 6-5 junior David Hunt could be a contributor early, while 6-5 Lincoln Park transfer Miles Curry should add quality depth. 5-11 JR G Calvin Hill could see significant minutes.
  5. Fenwick – (4-0) Senior catalyst Mike Smith a 4 year starter will quarter-back the whole operation; Smith has the perfect ingredients to run coach Rick Malnati’s disciplined system. In addition Smith will be hoping to elevate his value as the no. 1 point-guard available at season’s end, he just might have pursuers from all over the country, by guiding this cast any success will be the key to his future fortunes. Junior Jamal Nixon has size & versatility, he returns from a previous season shortened by injuries. 6-5 senior Mike Ballard gives the Friars a consistent outside threat. The player who could surprise some viewers could be senior big-man Charlie Boyle a six foot seven mobile front-courter, he could be a difference-maker.
  6. Evanston – (4-0) Coach Mike Ellis is close to sustaining the winning culture he sought after when he arrived at the north-suburban school which was always noted for its rich hoops tradition. Ellis’ largest challenge will be managing highly touted junior Nojel Eastern’s development as well as meshing his talents with the talented cast of forward Elyjah Williams a 6-5 ever improving forward who operates under-the-radar and talented 6-4 junior swingman Chris Hamil, he can stroke-it on the perimeter and his handles are adequate enough allowing him to attack the rim effectively. Hamil can score, junior Malik Jenkins has to be a steady ball-handler nightly if the Wildkits wanna trump the Morgan Parks, Kenwoods, Fenwicks, and River-Side’s. Eastern wants to be a star so badly, now he gets to blend his skills with some talented mates. His leadership will be everything.
  7. Curie – (1-0) Some reasonable question marks loom with this inexperienced bunch. DePaul recruit Devin Gage known as all-around gamer has the ability to be a twenty point a night threat, will likely carry the heavy lifting along with junior stand-out Elijah Joiner destined to become the top ranked PG in the 2017 class of public leaguers. Sophomore Landers Nolley has received an awful lot of love since his arrival in the windy city. “But his play will determine if the love affair is for real.” Promising 6-6 sophomore Treavon Martin will be thrown under fire early. The Condors have some essential parts to work with now Coach Oliver will have the task of assembling his parts properly. DePaul Prep transfer Mike Johnson could provide depth in the back-court.
  8. Bogan – (3-0) Reigning city champions will battle Simeon and Morgan Park in the red-south section but may not have enough weapons this time around. The Bengals arsenal will start & end with scoring duel of seniors James Jones (Buffalo recruit) & Bryce Barnes, they will rely on a scrappy/pressing brand & relentless style. They won a watered down Thanksgiving Tournament in Rock Island.
  9. Niles Notre Dame – (3-1) This squad has all the ingredients of a sleeping giant, come March the Don’s will need some formidable outside shooting other than junior sparkplug Matt Stritzel to combine with the inside play of 6-7 Anthony D’Avanzo and budding standout Jeameril Wilson a six foot six versatile wing. This group will be hard pressed to compete in big game settings when 6-6 senior forward Ammar Becar is unproductive at both ends of the floor, which we witnessed from him in the championship game versus Evanston in which the Don’s lost 71-64, Becar managed 2 points. 6-4 SR PG Lucas Simon is capable of having some outstanding outings, by Xmas they will be clicking on all cylinders.
  10. Hyde Park – (4-0) Everything here starts up-front with leadership from the bench, but their size & length will pose enough problems for most opponents. Tilden H.S. transfer 6-9 post-man Anthony Cameron is blossoming into one of the top pivot-men in the 2017 class, while senior swingman Tajuan Agee has emerged as all-conference/all-city candidate, Agee likely will be a highly sought-after come spring signing period. Guard play will be the key to the Thunderbirds success.
  11. Bradley-Bourbonnais – (3-0) Valparaiso recruit Micah Bradford arguably has the best upside of all the point-guards in the 2016 class, he will have his team in position to contend with the big boys come late February. He and senior forward Zach Hollywood (James Madison recruit) will be a formidable scoring duel that could rack-up 40 plus points between them most nights. Bourbonnais secret weapon happens to be versatile senior forward Dante Emerson a bruising inside/outside scoring threat, in addition he hits the glass with authority. “The Kankakee area will have a memorable season.”
  12. Whitney Young – (0-0) Execution will be everything to the inexperienced bunch, never-the-less there’s talent on the board, action starts with junior forward Lucas Williamson an all-around scorer, sophomore Xavier Casteneda will be expected to man the point-guard slot, he carries that highly billed label, sophomore Justin Boyd and Brother Rice transfer Jake Kosakowski should provide some scoring punch. This band of youngsters have an interesting match-up with perennial city favorite Simeon on Saturday Dec 5th at Chicagoland Classic.
  13. St. Joseph – (4-0) Coach Ping will find ways to replace the senior trio of Watson/Ash/Brown, but the key component will be centered around 6-9 senior forward Nick Rakocevic keeping the ship afloat straight-ahead. If he does maintain his composure he just may drum-up some player of the year conversation. Rakocevic, off to a superb start will team with physical forward Lavon Thomas and “do-it-all” sophomore Joffari Brown. Fri Dec 4th – De La Salle will invade their home turf.
  14. Farragut – (4-1) Young, Marshall and North-Lawndale will have a major tussle on their hands with this talented up-coming Admiral team. Coach Will Nelson often mentioned in city circles as one of the public league’s top coaches, will hand-over an line-up card of under-rated 6-3, G/F Dulon Scott, 6-8 post-man Tawon Keith who sat out last season after coming over from Marshall, he’s considered one of the better front-line players we have in the city, while Farragut has a reputation for developing pivot men. The player to watch might be Darnell Jones a 6-3 junior who knows how to play, he’s skilled & makes good decisions. 6-10 junior Lonnell Bowman continues to be a project at the moment.
  15. Joliet West – (5-0) Faced with the daunting task of establishing a winning culture to a program that has been in a sagging state the last several seasons Coach Nick Diforti has this youthful group off to a rousing start, actually they have more talent than they’ve had since the 2000-01 campaign. Junior forward Trevian Bell is a top 25 prospect in the 2017 class, point-guard Teyvion Kirk is a potentially dazzling performer. The player that would probably wear many hats will be the talented junior Elijah Ward, at 6-4 he can play multiple slots. Once this team learns the art of winning, perhaps high-school hoops can breathe life back into a town that’s been shattered and divided by racial tension the last couple years.
  16. De LaSalle – (4-0) “They are for real”, this undoubtedly will be the year that Tom White and his Meteor’s exceed everyone’s expectations, especially media & area scouts/hoop junkies. This scrappy team-orientated group has been led by the play of budding standout George Willbourn, but the unsung cast of 6-2 senior Christian Hayes and 6-5 mega-athlete Andre Raiford will challenge opponents nightly, both play extremely hard. Willbourn is poised for a banner year, he is highly regarded unsigned senior, one of the top 7-8 seniors available in the state.
  17. Stevenson – (3-1) We know all about them not playing well last week, it doesn’t matter this program has established a winning culture, adding the likes of the Herenton brothers, Rodney & Willie we know would take some patience and adjustments as they team-up with 6-6 junior Justin Smith. By Xmas this should be a fine-tuned outfit. Smith’s development took a slight pause over the summer. We need to see him grace the hardwood in a different fashion this season, particularly the team will need him to be a scoring threat even though he will likely be the primary focus of opposition every outing.
  18. Marian Catholic – (4-1) Got beat-up n bruised some in the loss versus Homewood-Flossmoor over the weekend. This squad probably has more young talent than anyone in the state other than Althoff, at least on paper. 6-6 TJ Smith has returned from a sophomore season where he was shelved with a knee injury will be the glue, while 2nd year guards Brandon Hurt and Chase Adams continue to gain seasoning and polish. Rapid growth will be expected from 6-8 senior Myles Howard and 6-8 junior Tee-Aaron Powell. The difference maker could be junior forward Austin Richie a legitimate baseline scorer. Can Coach Taylor get them over the hump?
  19. St. Ignatius – Early season hype doesn’t matter with this program, they are the Northern Iowa of the Catholic League, well coached & always prepared, they sent a cast with lefty scorer Kailen Lee, 6-4 Will Fleming while 6-5 SR Daniel Ogele and 6-8 Robert Lindland will be stalwarts in the paint. Coach Rich Kehoe doesn’t need all-city types & transfers to be successful.
  20. Homewood-Flossmoor – (3-1) An early season surprise, knocked-off Marion Catholic last weekend which wasn’t considered a monumental feat particularly this juncture in the season. The junior tandem was impressive starting with Cameron Bowles who was a beast, he’s a 6-5 undersized force in the paint, 6-3 Jeffery Boyd is a steady perimeter shooter while 5-8 guard Trelan Morrow can be electric in the open-floor, in addition he’s a capable mid-range shooter. Hopefully the Viking’s conference schedule won’t laurel them to lackluster play & habits before post-season presents some stiff challenges. Senior leadership will come by the way of guard Kendric Pryor.



Championship Game – Friday, Nov. 27th
At St. Patrick’s – 4:00 pm

De La Salle 65 – Niles West 55

George Willbourn led three players in double figures as the Meteor’s defeated Niles West to capture the holiday title.  Willbourn, one of the top unsigned seniors in the state was named the tournament MVP, but the play of 6-2 senior swingman Christian Hayes and 6-5 forward Andre Raiford was impressive throughout the event.  Both players certainly helped their value with recruiting both being unsigned seniors, this could be the year De La Salle surprises the Catholic league foes, their trademark this season will be all out scrappy/heady play, one thing about this group they are relentless competitors.  The Meteors will be tested with an upcoming date at St. Joseph.

Championship Game – Friday Nov. 27th
At DePaul – 7:45

Evanston 71 – Niles Notre Dame 64

“At the onset of this build-up marquee matchup, it was a swift reminder for me that high-school basketball has resumed and prima-donna antics are in full bloom.”  A full house on the north-side witnessed Evanston survive a mild comeback by the Don’s from Notre Dame to win the second annual Lane Tech/DePaul Prep Thanksgiving Classic.  Junior guard Chris Hamil (16 pts) kick-started the Wildkits offense with three treys in the 1st period giving Evanston a 14-10 lead, the Wildkits drained five 3’s in an entertaining first half, junior Nojel Eastern netted two of the five.  Eastern was the tournament MVP but he had a subpar showing in the final, going 4-13 from the field, while converting three treys, he mustered-up 6 turn-overs while finishing with 19.  The Don’s struggled in the third quarter, but somehow managed to recover from a 20 point deficit behind the spirited play of junior guard Matt Stritzel (19 pts) and point guard Lucas Simon (6 pts).  The closest the Don’s could gain on the Wildkits was four points.  Anthony D’Avanzo added 14 markers and 11 rebounds, while junior standout Jeameril Wilson was saddled with early foul trouble, he wasn’t much of a factor this game, but the 6-6 junior is a player to watch.  Elyah Williams for Evanston played well, he tallied 10 points and 13 boards, his total results came quietly, he wasn’t involved much in the offense.

Monday, November 16, 2015

In-state College Briefs

In-state College Briefs

San Francisco 78 – Illinois Chicago 75, Friday, November 13th

In Chicago 7,500 plus watched the opener for both teams as the West Coast Conference Don’s spoiled the debut of UIC head coach Steve McClain.  San Francisco all-conference senior guard Tim Derksen tallied 17 points.  The UIC Flames had plenty opportunities to win the game, but were plagued by 32 percent shooting.  The McCLain era looks to be a bright one, the Pavilion was electric, we hadn’t seen that kind of lively audience since the early Jimmy Collins days.  Freshman Dikembe Dixson was the high-scorer finishing with 13 points for the Flames, he displayed a sweet shooting stroke, and with his 6-7 frame he has the capabilities to be a versatile threat and a player to watch.

DePaul 69 – Western Michigan 63, Saturday, November 14th

In Chicago the second tour of the Dave Leitao era was a successful one, his Blue Demons knocked-off a good Western Michigan team in front of an energized packed house on the Lincoln Park campus Saturday night.  The DePaul offense sputtered early, while missing several point-blank attempts near the rim, but managed to hold a 17-16 edge at the 7:42 mark before half.  Suddenly both team’s offense finally opened up with the Broncos  towering front-line they jumped out to a 35-24 half-time margin behind the scoring tandem of junior guard Tucker Haymond (13) and sophomore PG Thomas Wilder (9) who hooped in high-school at Oswego East.  Leitao in the second half found a rotation that was able to push the ball and create some offensive opportunities, but more importantly they were able to clamp down defensively against their MAC conference opponent who are projected to finish 2nd in the West Division of its league.  They used a 21-6 run in the 2nd half that enabled them to take control of the game at the 9:35 mark freshman guard Eli Cain converted a three point play to put the Blue Demons up for good.  Billy Garrett Jr. stabilized the offensive flow in the second half for the Blue Demons, he finished with 18 points, Myke Henry added 16 and Tommy Hamilton recorded 11 pts in an impressive outing.  Front-courter Rashaun Stimage will be the key for DePaul nightly. 

Northern Illinois 65 – Wright State 59, Sunday, November 15th

In DeKalb, NIU was able to hold off a feisty Wright State team to record its first 3-0 start since the 2006 season.  Junior guard Aaric Armstead was fouled attempting a 3 pointer with the score knotted at 59-59 with 51 seconds remaining, he converted 2 out 3 to put the Huskies up 61-59, senior guard Chuks Iroegbu made 1 out 2 foul shots on the Huskies next possession, then guard Travon Baker sealed the game with a huge three pointer with 20 seconds left to finish off WSU.  NIU fought an uphill battle most of the contest while being down at half-time 39-31.  The Huskies managed to limit Wright State top 3 first half scorers JT Yoho (16), Grant Benzinger (9) and Joe Thomasson (15) to ten second half points, the trio combined for 30 in the opening half.  Armstead tallied 18, sophomore center Marin Maric registered 13, while point-guard Travon Baker added 12.  “The student body in DeKalb will be rock’n this season.  The football team will share some head-lines this time around.”



Memphis head honcho Josh Pastner secured the one player he highly coveted in the 2016 class when he lured Morgan Park’s stand-out guard Charlie Moore to sign a letter of intent with his Tiger program.  Moore, one of Chicago’s favorite sons decided on Memphis over the likes of VCU and surprisingly California.  In most circles Moore is acclaimed as the no. 1 player in the 2016 class.

Long-time Chicago hoop fans were sadden to learn of the death of former Farragut star forward Michael Wright.  The six foot eight inch performer played college ball for Lute Olson at Arizona and was drafted by the New York Knicks in the 2001 draft, but instead carved out a career playing overseas with stops in Poland, South-Korea, France and Israel.  He also played extensively in Turkey and established Turkish citizenship under the name Ali Karadeniz.  Wright was found slain in his SUV in Brooklyn last week, he was a part of the highly decorated 1998 graduating class in Ilinois.

Loyola-Chicago inked on two quality prospects in guards Bruno Skokna from Croatia and Gilbert, Arizona native Cameron Satterwhite.  Skokna is a six foot four 18 year old with a wealth of competitive experience, he played well at last summer’s European 18-U championships in Greece averaging 17.2 points per game.  The 6-4 Satterwhite is an explosive athlete who excels in the open floor, has a pretty good skill set.  The pair should be able to contribute to the Ramblers line-up next season.

Northwestern was recently dealt a blow when sophomore forward Vic Law was declared out for the year as he recovers from surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder.  This injury certainly hurts the versatility & depth within the Wildcats rotation.  Now much will be expected from fellow sophomore 6-6 Scotty Lindsey as he will be asked to fill that void efficiently.

Illinois-Chicago signed Geneva native K.J. Santos a 6-8 forward who now preps at Sunrise Christian Academy.  The Flames continue to add size & depth to their roster, in addition they continue to make a point of emphasis that their program will be a force to reckon with as they build for the future.   

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2016 Early Signees

2016 Early Signees

C.J. Duff 
Western Illinois University 
Isaiah Roby 
Dixon H.S. 
University Nebraska 
Rapolas Ivanaukas 
Barrington/Brewster Academy 
Northwestern University 
Devin Gage 
Chicago Curie 
DePaul University 
Matty Smith 
Central Illinois University 
Barrett Benson 
Hinsdale South 
Northwestern University 
Brendon Gooch 
Belleville Althoff 
Southern Illinois University 
Nate Kennell 
Bradley University 
Noah McCarty 
Northern Illinois University 
Elijah Goss 
Plainfield East 
Jarrin Randle 
Chicago Morgan Park 
Western Michigan University 
Zach Hollywood 
James Madison University 
Jacob Cushing 
Neuqua Valley 
Cal Poly 
Justin Pierce 
Glenbard West 
William & Mary 
Tarkus Ferguson 
Belleville Althoff 
University Illinois @ Chicago 
Brandon Johnson 
T.F. South 
Western Michigan University 
James Jones 
Chicago Bogan 
University of Buffalo 
Jason Jones 
Missouri Western University  
Nick Robinson 
Chicago Kenwood 
Indiana State University 
Zach Norvell 
Chicago Simeon 
Brandon Suggs 
Bethune Cookman University  

NoteKenwood’s Zion Morgan a six foot three combo guard has elected at the last hour to sign his letter of intent to Valparaiso come spring signing period.  He and his family have indicated they will remain committed to the Valpo program.