Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Illinois Notes & Happenings (3)

Illinois Notes & Happenings (3)

Purdue added Texas Arlington guard Johnny Hill to its roster.  Hill a graduate of Glenbard East and he performed at Illinois State for 2 years.  The 6-3 180 pounder averaged 10 points, 3.6 assists in 21 games last season before suffering a season ending wrist injury.  Hill, a high-character individual will provide instant leadership to the Boilermaker program.

Geneva’s silent assassin Nate Navigato will take his services to University Toledo, the decision came after retrieving his release from Buffalo a month ago.  He brings some intangibles to the floor as well as off that are hard to find in this modern era.  “Winning is a special trait.”

Illinois seems to be locked in on hot-shot Ohio 2016 lead guard Xavier Simpson.  The Lima, Ohio native has become a well-known commodity playing along the Nike EYBL circuit, Simpson is regarded as a top 65-70 recruit by most national scouting circles.  He’s lured offers from Illinois, Iowa, Purdue & Xavier.

Former Brother Rice stand-out Bobby Fraser has returned to his alma-mater as the newly appointed head-coach.  The 2005 grad and former McDonald All-American brings with him an impressive resume, his senior year he was named Chicago Catholic league’s player of the year, he won a national championship in 2009 as the starting point-guard for North Carolina.  Then he played in Europe for seven seasons before returning to North Carolina to take a job as the assistant video coordinator, Fraser moved on to Alabama-Birmingham where he held the position of director of basketball operations.  “He will do wonders for enrollment and basketball at the south-side school.”

St. Cloud State picked-up six foot guard Gage Davis from IPFW-Fort Wayne.  The Bolingbrook alum had a heck of a summer going into his senior season, which enabled him to carve out some Div I offers.  Davis will have 3 years at the D2 program.

Illinois Notes & Happenings (2)

Illinois Notes & Happenings (2)

Illinois Coach Ryan Pedon held the title as special assistant to coach John Groce for the last two years, well now he will move over to Butler University where he replaces assistant coach Emerson Kampen.  “Illinois will miss Pedon, he was quiet but effective in duties.”

Western Illinois continues to bolster its roster adding front-court depth with the inking of 6-10 Jordan Hughes from Conant.  Hughes a promising prospect has an appeal for shot-blocking & rebounding his offensive game is in the developmental stages.  The Leathernecks already nabbed 6-9 Plainfield East forward James Claar a true diamond in the rough.  Observers will wonder where did he surface from.   Give him 2 years to strengthen his lengthy frame.

One of my favorites from the class of 2013, Matt Mooney will sit-out this upcoming season at South-Dakota State then have 2 years remaining.  He had plenty run at Air Force his freshman/sophomore campaign, but I guess the service commitment was a little overwhelming.

Add another 2015 prospect to the junior college grid of potential game changers.  Rockford East six foot nine -260 pounder Patrick Green will roam the paint at Mineral Area Community College next season.  The folks up north are buzzing over his progress as player in a short period.

West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman retired on Thursday, May 14, 2015 after 39 years at Helm, compiling an 805-313 mark.  In Kerkman’s tenure the Blackhawks won 24 regional titles, 14 sectional titles and 11 state quarter final appearances.  West Aurora won the state title in 2000.

Illinois Notes & Happenings (1)

Illinois Notes & Happenings (1)

Barrington’s six foot seven inch forward Chris Lester had a relatively quiet senior season statistically, but this spring hoop’n for the Full Package program, he has turned some heads with his all-around play.  Lester a versatile defender had been quite often plagued by inconsistency within his offensive game, but this spring he showed to be a steady scorer & rebounder.  Reportedly he’s holding out for a low division one offer or a good division two situation.  If those opportunities don’t prevail, look for him to bee-line towards a prep-school.

6-8 front courter Julian Torres decided to stay close to home to fine tune his game at UIC the decision could pay huge dividends for him in the long haul, scoring and rebounding will be Torres calling card, once he develops into the kind of player we feel he could become.  He played a pivotal role in Bolingbrook’s surprising 4th place finish during the state finals.  The Flames have also added Najeal Young a six foot five wing from Milwaukee, WI; Young suited-up at Lincoln (IL) Community College last season.

Former Providence St. Mel scoring guard Tevin King will hone his overall game at South-Dakota State next season.  The Summit League could be the perfect setting for him to enjoy a banner career, his improved perimeter shooting was quite noticeable during his recent play.

Bradley University scooped-up former De LaSalle/Seton Academy alum Alex Foster.  He will have a 2 year window to play after he sits out next season.  Foster spent the last two seasons at Texas Tech, where he logged limited floor time during his brief tenure.  A change of scenery just may rejuvenate his overall make-up.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Surveillance 5/7/2015


Benton (IL) native and former Southern Illinois stand-out forward Randy House has quietly put together a successful program at Rend-Lake College which is located in Ina, Illinois the southern part of our lengthy state.  His success has come without much fanfare, illustrated by his improbable run to the junior college championship, just a few years ago.  The hardworking House and bright young assistant coach Tommy Holder, who hails from Carbondale (IL) pretty much reaffirmed their status this past season that this program isn’t fearful of jumping on the highway and following-up on a lead for an untapped talent or just coming north to build a relationship with a kid and his family.  This was proven by the collection of talent they reeled in from separate corners of the state.  After the Jalen Brunson, Ed Morrow and Marcus LoVett tandem the 2015 class was billed as the ground breaking year for junior college prospects.  Within a year and a half frame our state will be a proximity where colleges from across the country will decisively tap into a rich talent pool cast from our 2015 class.  “I mean we have plenty of depth with this group.”  Rend-Lake came-up with an astonishing group of talented high-character types and with one more to give they are bracing themselves for the sure-handed highly regarded East Aurora prospect Adrian Smith, a six foot three point guard who will announce on Friday (May 8th) he’s going to the Lake, this will be a coup for their program.  Let’s take a look at the prospects House and his staff added to their roster.

Devonte Williams    6-10    C    Cahokia – Already academic qualifier; very good athlete runs the floor well and patrols the paint effectively erasing shots; needs some polish at the offensive end; projected mid-major after one season with a huge upside.

Dwayne Ward    6-6    SF    Marine Leadership Academy
– A chiseled specimen; one of our state’s top athletes; very explosive around the rim, now he has to learn how to compete throughout a ball game; limited on the perimeter right now; projected mid-major or above after 2 seasons; has to put the work in, the talent is there.

Jeremy Franklin    6-6    WF    Cahokia
– “The sleeper out of the core, accurate jump shooter, doesn’t have long distance range yet; excellent frame; observers in the southern part of the state are excited about the potential of this wing forward; projected mid-major.”

Will Preston    6-9    F/C    Belleville West – His passion for the game has been questioned at times, but there has never been any doubt regarding his ability to score along the block.  Physically he’s ready to compete at the next level.  Projected mid-major and above.

Anton Ivy    6-7    SF    Peoria Manuel
– A stud, once he realizes how talented he could be look-out!  Terrific physical build, capable of stepping out on the perimeter to make shots & plays, now competing throughout a contest will be the key to his growth as a player.  Projected mid-major plus.

Adrian Smith    6-3    PG    East Aurora – Committed Thursday evening (5-7-15) this kid’s future is very bright; a sure-handed ball-handler who sees the floor extremely well, while capable of registering 20 points per night.  He understands classroom work will be the key to his fortunes.  Big East, A10, PAC 12, Big 12 and Big 10 will scoot in for his services!

Tony Haley    6-2    G    Morton – Combo clone, versatile defender, big-time athlete awfully explosive in the open-court; now cleaning-up some ball-handling miscues here & there will be a point of emphasis; a marvelous talent, jumper needs some consistency; projected mid-major.

Jamaya Wyatt    6-5    F    Uplift – Played in the shadows of three other future division one players at Uplift; superb athlete with a very good feel for the game; now watch his profile soar; he had a tendency to take a back seat to others; he’s a good mid-range shooter and we can see that extending.  Already and academic qualifier.  Projected mid-major.

Chelby Frazier    6-0    G    Thornwood – Has more to prove out of the core bunch, first he has to reestablish himself as a hooper by getting rid of the south suburban coolness to his game and competing every possession particularly in a big game settings should be his focus.  He does have a wealth of potential, enough to lure attention from mid-major types.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Looking at the Top 35 College Coaches

Looking at the Top 35 College Coaches

After looking over Hoop Scoop’s Clark Francis rating of the top 60 coaches, I figured why not take a snag at the debatable chronicle circle of college coaches.  I’m unsure of what criteria or formula the animated surly evaluator based his rating system on, but our over-all view will be judging on the success a program has had during a 5 or 6 year period not a bunch of political malarkey.  Programs that are perennial leaders year and year out, regardless of who they lose in terms of players.

1. Mike Krzyzewski – Duke   
2. John Calipari – Kentucky   
3. Rick Pitino – Louisville   
4. Tom Izzo – Michigan State  
5. Bill Self – Kansas   
6. Bo Ryan – Wisconsin   
7. Roy Williams – North-Carolina   
8. Sean Miller – Arizona   
9. Tony Bennett – Virginia   
10. Jay Wright – Villanova   
11. Billy Donovan – Florida   
12. Mike Brey – Notre Dame  
13. Mark Few - Gonzaga   
14. Bob Huggins – West Virginia   
15. Jim Boeheim – Syracuse   
16. Jim Larranaga – Miami-FL   
17. Shaka Smart – VCU   
18. Lon Kruger - Oklahoma
19.  Jamie Dixon - Pittsburgh
20.  John Beilein - Michigan
21.  Greg Marshall – Wichita State
22.  Dana Altman - Oregon
23.  Fred Hoiberg – Iowa State
24.  Steve Fisher – San Diego State 25.  Fran McCaffery - Iowa
26.  Larry Brown - SMU
27.  Mike Anderson - Arkansas
28.  Tim Floyd – UTEP
29.  Mark Gottfreid – N.C. State
30.  Johnny Dawkins - Stanford
31.  Randy Bennett – St. Mary’s
32.  Tom Cream - Indiana
33.  John Thompson III - Georgetown
34. Tommy Amaker - Harvard
35.  Ben Jacobsen – Northern Iowa

News 5/4/2015

News & Updates

DePaul added one-time U. Conn assistant Pat Sellers to the last coaching vacancy on Dave Leitao’s staff.  Sellers who spent last season at Creighton will be the second Big East conference coach joining the DePaul staff.  Recently hired associate head coach Rick Carter re-routed over from Xavier, Carter and Sellers will be assembling with returning coaches Billy Garrett Sr. and Kevin Edwards a former stand-out Blue Demon guard who played over 13 years in the NBA.  This crew of seasoned coaches gives Leitao enough arsenal to contend with the upper half of its Big East counter-parts and don’t be surprised if they are tournament bound next season.  These are exciting times on the Northside. 

Steve McClain’s era has officially began at University Illinois-Chicago.  He took former St. Rita grad Dominique Matthews a six foot three guard who prepped last season at Victory Prep in Florida, but now he must change the selfish culture.



One-time Wisconsin-Green-Bay signee Antoine Pittman of Rockford Auburn has decided to join the staff that recruited him initially to Green-Bay, this time the stakes will be a tad higher entering the Missouri Valley pressure cooker where he will don a Bradley Brave uniform.  Elevating his play should be his primary focus.  He’s too lackadaisical at times.

Jeff Finke landed the Champaign Central job recently.  Many of us following the process were hoping Sergio McClain could muster-up enough supporters to retain the position, after having the job last season on interim basis.  Things have a way of being political in that part of our state.  It’s a shame that administration wouldn’t give him opportunity to see things through with the program.

The splash of the spring thus far has been the play of Kenwood’s 6-5 junior forward Nick Robinson and Simeon’s six foot three utility performer Josh Thomas.  Both public leaguers have showcased sparkling performances during the Nike Ebyl league play. Robinson & Thomas are coming off of subpar school seasons.  The pair seems to be breathing a breath of fresh air, particularly with their recruitment, Thomas who was on the campus of Valparaiso (Mon. 5/4) and has offers from Drake, Loyola-Chicago, UIC with an inquiry from St. Louis; while DePaul and UIC are practically drooling over the opportunity to land the services of Robinson and St Louis has shown interest as well.

Nate Navigato’s release from Buffalo has a few Midwest schools in hot pursuit for his services and I can’t blame them.  He’s a six foot seven system type who brings winning intangibles to any program.  Bradley, UIC, Toledo seem to be in the mix.

One of the Chicago Public League’s prized academic schools had a coaching position just open in recent days.  Lincoln Park once viewed as the jewel of the Northside will look for candidates to replace guy who never valued the significance of his student athlete environment.  Hopefully Lincoln Park administration will get it right this time around.  The program has been in obscurity in the last 5 years and whoever lands the job will inherit some talent to work with.

Lyon’s Township sharp-shooting guard Harrison Niegro turned down several Division One offers to walk-on at Indiana University, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in their highly valued business program where he wants to major.