Wednesday, November 27, 2019


At the opening of a high-school hoop season, we took the opportunity to share some fond memories of the finest teams/programs to ever come through Illinois.

Marshall “1958” (31-0) – the first city team to win the State Tournament. Beat Rock-Falls (33-2) 70-64 in the final, led by All-Stater George Wilson & cast of M.C. Thompson, Tyrone Johnson, Steven Thomas; coached by Isadore “Spin” Salario. 

Thornridge “1972” (33-0) – crushed Quincy (28-5) in the state title game 104-69. Star performer Quinn Buckner spearheaded an attack along with Boyd Batts, Greg Rose, Mike Bonczyk, & Ernie Dunn coached by Ron Ferguson.

Hirsch “1973” (29-2) – City faithfuls were all in behind the popular south-side squad that cruised by New Trier East (21-5) 65-51 in championship game. Ricky Green, John Robinson, Joshua Smith, Mike Matthews, & Robert Brooks were the leaders of their potent attack, coached by Charles Stimpson.

East St. Louis Lincoln “1987” (28-1) – jolted Chicago King (28-5) in the title game 79-62. The team was guided by LaPhonso Ellis, Vincent Jackson, Cuonzo Martin. Coach Bennie Lewis.

Chicago Phillips “1975” (32-1) – raced by Bloom Team (23-10) which featured a talented Audie Matthews & Robert McCoy. Wildcats were quarterbacked by 3 sport star Marty Murray, Vincent Robinson, & a frontcourt of Larry Williams, Robert Byrd, & Herm Hoskins coached by Herb Brown.

Peoria Manual “1995” (32-2) – the USA No.1 team outlasted a talented Thornton squad (30-1) in the state title game. Rams strong core of Sergio McClain, Marcus Griffin, Willie Coleman, & Ivan Watson was too much for Randle El, Napleon Harris, & Erik Herring. 

Chicago King “1993” (32-0) – a buzz saw hit Rockford Guilford (27-7) in the state finale 79-42. Jaguars featured a line-up of 7-foot twin towers Rashard Griffith, Thomas Hamilton, & a talented supporting cast of Ronald Minter, Jarrod Billingsley, coached by Landon Cox.

Proviso East “1992” (32-2) – squeaked by Peoria Richwoods (30-3) in the state final 42-31. The three Amigos led the Pirates-Donnie Boyce, Michael Finley, & Sherrell Ford. Coached by Bill Hitt.

Quincy “1981” (33-0) – blew out Proviso East (28-5) in the title game 68-39. Bruce Douglas, Mike Payne, & Dennis Douglas served up most of the assault. Team coached by Jerry Leggett. 

Simeon “2013” (30-3) – captured its fourth State Championship in a row. Jabari Parker’s 20 points and 8 rebounds paced Simeon win over Stevenson (29-5). Jalen Brunson recorded 14 points for Stevenson. Simeon’s squad had Kendrick Nunn, Kendall Pollard, Russell Woods, & Jaylen Tate.


We’ve had some marvelous players home grown in Chicago as well as downstate. Through various sources & a panel of discussions with long time hoop connoisseurs we were able to pull together a comprehensive list of feared players produced here.


1. Isaiah Thomas St. Joseph (1979) Indiana University

2. Anthony Davis Perspective (2011) University Kentucky

3. Cazzie Russell Carver High (1962) University Michigan

4. George Wilson Marshall (1960) University Cincinnati

5. Mark Aguirre Westinghouse (1978) DePaul University

MOST MENTIONED/RECOGNIZED: Pete Cunningham-Carver; Art Hicks-St. Elizabeth; Maurice Cheeks-Dusable; Mitchell JJ Anderson-Metro; Dan Issel-Batavia; Jack Sikma-St. Anne; Hersey Hawkins-Westinghouse; Derrick Rose-Simeon; Quentin Richardson-Whitney Young, Darius Miles-East St. Louis; Jon Scheyer-Glenbrook North; Jay Shidler-Lawrenceville; Jabari Parker-Simeon; Bo Ellis-Parker; Eddie Johnson-Westinghouse; Juwan Howard-CVS.


  • Daron Hall 6-0 PG 78 Glenbard East- “sleeper”
  • Brandon Shoemaker 6-2 WG 73 Plainfield Central
  • Lavell Lundy 7-1 C 71 Chicago Wells
  • Jaden Henderson 6-4 G 76 Jacobs
  • Kendale Anderson 6-7 PF 68 Chicago Leo
  • Chris Williams 6-1 G 75 Peoria High
  • Manny Rodriguez 5-10 G 81 Morton
  • Dominic Galati 5-11 G 83 St. Patrick
  • Jackson Connor 6-1 F 48 Marion IL
  • Connor Dillion 6-2 F 86 Peoria Notre Dame
  • Isaiah Burrell 6-4 F 56 Morgan Park
  • Javari Johnson 5-11 PG 89 Plainfield Central
  • Billy Durkin 6-3 WG 85 Hinsdale South
  • Andre Stewart 6-7 PF 91 South Shore


We will continue this listing from our last Issue (UNSONG CHRONICLES) with the next wave of seniors looking to make their mark.


• Colin Crothers 6-7 F LM 57 Benet Academy
“Fundamentally sound, played through injuries all summer long and didn’t have the sharp efficiency we were used to witnessing. Good low post scorer likely could thrive in an Ivy League setting. An early start will give some insight on his potential destination.”

• Sangolay Njie 6-5 F LM 62 Whitney Young
“This summer he played with a high-motor & a penchant making plays, while finishing around the rim. He is an interior player. Washington University, University Chicago, or Illinois Wesleyan would be a good fit.”

• Alijah Nelson 6-1 G LM 65 Bolingbrook
“Has a rising floor game to go along with strong academics. A transfer over from Glenbard East where he was a 3-year starter, now will have the platform to showcase his emerging play.”

• Atharva Atreya 6-3 PG LM 53 Carl Sandburg
“Un-heralded, not known much outside of the south suburban circles. Terrific ballplayer with all-around floor game. Sneaky athlete with some bounce & dangerous outside threat. His future is in a medical field as a doctor.”

• Elijah Watson 6-6 F LM 66 T.F. South
“Promising prospect still developing, probably 2 years away from being a full fledge contributor at the next level. Has a good lookin’ mid-range jumper but needs strength & polish.”

• Paul Zillinskas 6-4 WF LM 54 Riverside-Brookfield
“Spot-Lite’s Fall Classic MVP in 2018. Played the last 3 seasons at Richards before coming over. Has a European repertoire to his game.”

• Alex Wood 6-0 PG LM 55 Normal U-High
Speedy performer knows how to manage a team & game. Plays with poise & precision. Likely will land in a good situation.”

• Collin Woods 6-5 G/F LM 74 Hampshire
“Viewed as at times as enigma. Rangy athlete with the ability to make plays & shots at times. We still learning more about this youngster and look to see him real soon.”

• Johnny Close 6-4 WG LM 65 Rockford Boylan
“Respectable outside shooter, looking to show he’s been vastly over-looked; Thanksgiving Classic up in Rockford this week will be his stage to impress.”

• Fin Walsh 6-2 PG LM 59 St. Laurence
“Colorful player with a rising game. Fin has a fairly good understanding of how to play. He can make shots. Small College gem.”

• Jamari McClendon 6-2 G LM 80 Hope Academy
“Excels in a big game environment, hardnose competitor whose un-selfish play & team first mentally fits his true character.”

• Lavell McIntosh 6-4 G/F LM 67 Kankakee
“Two sport standout is a superb athlete, this could be a breakout season.”

• Ryan Sroka 6-4 WG LM 69 Huntley
“Silky-smooth jump shooter has good length on perimeter, had a gang of small colleges tailing him this summer & fall.”

• Luke Sgarbosa 6-0 PG LM 70 Lake Park
“Had some eye-popping outings this summer against some top-notch opponents.”


  • Hillcrest – Julius Rollins, Hamahrie Bowers, Jakobi Hardy, Kenton Wright.
  • Chicago Curie – Savion Williams, Ramean Hinton, Phil Berryhill, Reggie Ward.
  • Cary Grove – Frank Jakubicek, Beau Frericks.
  • Lincoln Park – Ismail Habib, Julio Montes, Romelle Howard.
  • Stevenson – Matt Ambrose, Robert Holmes, John Ittounas.
  • Niles Notre Dame – Anthony Sayles, Louis Lesmond, Troy D’Amico.
  • Oak Park – Isaiah Barnes, Josh Smith, Justin Cross.


1. Morgan Park – Adam Miller, Marcus Watson, Brandon Weston, Isaiah Burrell.

2. Bloom – Martice Mitchell, Keshawn Williams, Donovan Newby, Dante Maddox.

3. Bogan – Kyndall Davis, Antoine Bloxton, Darrion Jones, Tremeal Fraley.

4. Whitney Young – D.J. Stewart, Tyler Beard, Grant Newell, Sangolay Nijie.

5. Marian Catholic – Ahron Ullis, Elijah Jones, Joe Green, Yemi Elutio.

6. Simeon – Jeremiah Williams, Black Cat Bynum, Jaylen Drane, Jaylen Griffin.


The opening night of high school hoops in Chicago attracted nearly three thousand fans to Chicago State to see a well-played a basketball game between two Public League Titans go head up. No one left the arena disappointed while both teams gave spectators a heavy dosage as to what we might anticipate this upcoming season. Morgan Park’s Brandon Weston’s basket with 1:35 remaining pretty much sealed the outcome. The senior was impressive, he finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Duke recruit D.J. Stewart was stellar, he dropped 22 points; Whitney Young talented junior Grant Newell tallied 8 points. Morgan Park’s Marcus Watson (Wake Forest recruit) went for 10 markers and un-song senior forward Isaiah Burrell recorded 10 points. Illini recruit Adam Miller had 9 points on an off-shooting night.

The Morgan Park pipeline to the University Illinois continues to gain some traction, adding All-State Guard Adam Miller to the 20-21 roster, re-affirms one’s thoughts. Miller will join highly touted Guard Andre Curbelo out of New York and 6-9 Coleman Hawkins from Napa, California giving Illinois Coach Brad Underwood a sparkling class. The Illini withstood a push from Arizona and Louisville for Miller’s services. His commitment could have him joining fellow Morgan Park Alum/standout Ayo Dosunmu, if he doesn’t elect to go pro next season. The Peoria’s native is regarded as a top 30-35 player nationally.

DePaul off to a fast start with a 6-0 mark, capitalizing on it’s early success by landing a commitment from Simeon Junior Guard Ahamad “black cat” Bynum last week. Bynum, a combo type with ‘a pure sweet looking jumper’, can spray it from distance all over the court with accuracy. He’s kind of a throw-back/reincarnation type, like some dudes we used to see frequently around here (city) in 60’s/70’s/80’s ERA. The Blue Demons have bursted on the scene again getting pledges from the Chicago Public Leagues top players the last few years. The arrival of city heart-throb Charlie Moore (Morgan Park) coming over from Kansas, has fueled the Program. Bynum, at six foot two registers in as, the Spot-Liter’s No.4 prospect in a talented 2021 Class. “Oh, the Blue Demons recently signed six-foot two Kobe Elvis to a letter of intent. He’s considered one of the top players in Canada.”

Sunday, November 17, 2019


“Some of these players will emerge to the fore-front by Xmas. We’ll talk about some others at a later date.”

• Devon Ellis 6-4 G/F MM+ 23 Conant

• Walt Mattingly 6-7 F MM+-MM 17 Deerfield

• Darrion Jones 5-11 PG MM+ 12 Chicago Bogan

• Ismail Habib 6-0 PG MM 26 Lincoln Park

• Bennie Slater 6-5 WF MM+-MM 15 Springfield High

• Ben Schwieger 6-4 G MM 30 Waubonsie Valley

• Hamahrie Bowers 6-5 G/F MM+ 20 Hillcrest

• Ola Ajiboye 6-7 F MM 35 Von Steuben

• Dionysius Hogan 6-4 G/F MM 23 Peoria High

• Phillip Berryhill 6-6 WG MM 40 Chicago Curie


My local guys and I have a different view/take on this class. At the Spot-Liter we are excited about the growth and development of this group. We’ll identify the top 10 & list 10 sleepers in the class. A nice collection of depth with Division 1 players up and down the grid. Right now, we can easily list 50.

• Max Christie 6-6 PG HM 1 Rolling Meadows

• Bryce Hopkins 6-6 G HM 2 Fenwick-“verbal to Louisville for now.”

• Ahamad Bynum 6-1 G HM 3 Chicago Simeon

• Chris Hodges 6-8 PF HM 4 Schaumburg-“verbal to Wisconsin.”

• Louis Lesmond 6-5 WG HM 5 Niles Notre Dame

• Josh Ausler 6-3 G HM 6 Rockford Auburn

• John Poulakidas 6-5 WG HM 7 Neuqua Valley

• Grant Newell 6-7 WF HM 8 Whitney Young

• Anthony Sales 6-2 PG HM 9 Niles Notre Dame

• Isaiah Barnes 6-6 WG HM 10 Oak Park


It would really help the class overall of these players collectively get off to a fast start. It just might silence critics rumblings about a tapped-out market/class. Contrary to those comments above, Division two schools should continue to be a fixture in the area, this does resemble the year of small colleges.

• Josh Holmes 6-2 PG LM 37 DeLa Salle
“We’ve seen enough of him for 3 years to know ‘he’s got game’ and penchant for making plays. High academics situations, such as Patriot, Ivy, as well Metro Atlantic, & Northeast Conferences should view him.”

• Micah Schnyder 6-4 G LM 36 Yorkville Christian
“Sure-handed performer, bracing himself for huge year in a new environment. Anticipate Patroit, Metro-Atlantic, and Northeast Conferences to pay him a visit soon.”

• Joe Green 6-0 G LM 31 Marian Catholic
“Most times, my thoughts create my own reality. This smooth cager opens Thanksgiving in Chicago Heights at the Classic. That will validate my point.”

• Robert Holmes 6-5 F LM 42 Stevenson
“This kid has the name to go with his game, totally unappreciated. Very good athlete & student. Has his sights set on MIT. Well, we’re convinced he could suit-up & be contributor for New Jersey Institute, Fairfield, & Loyola-Maryland.”

• Spencer Yoggerst 6-5 PG LM 51 Riverton
“Has an old-school feel/game, pressure doesn’t speed him up on the open floor. Funky lookn’ shot, but he sinks buckets. D2 gem.”

• Yemi Elutigo 6-4 G/F LM 46 Marian Catholic
“Slender prospect with terrific motor & the abilities to score & get to the rim. A favorite of ours, Yemi is mauling an offer from Lewis University.”

• Justin Cross 6-7 PF LM 45 Oak Park
“South-paw has developed into a valuable asset for his team. Un-selfish performer who excels at rebounding & blocking shots. Best hoops await.”

• Christian Shumate 6-4 WF LM 61 Bloom
“Athletic cager comes over from Plainfield East, now playing on a glaring stage, which will present some opportunities to see where his game/play fits.”

• Jayden Johnson 6-5 F LM 40 Batavia
“Regarded as one best shooters in the area. For a while UIC had some interest. He will be closely evaluated in the upcoming weeks.”

• Romelle Howard 6-8 C LM 47 Lincoln Park
“A huge season awaits on the hardwood & classroom for the South-paw. We think he just might be up for the challenge.”

• Aaron Tims 6-6 F LM 60 Hinsdale South
“Division two schools are setting up shop for his services. The lanky fella could throw a wrench into their plans with a sharp start.”

• Axel Matola 6-5 WF LM 39 West Aurora
“What we witnessed at the Spot-Lite Fall Classic, was a springy lad with the ability to make shots on the perimeter with range & a player who can soar through the lane.”

• Jimarius Sneed 6-5 F LM 43 Chicago Crane
“Has huge hands which makes him an effective finisher around the rim. Skills a tad raw on perimeter for now. A player to follow.”

• Brandon Lieb 6-11 C LM 63 Deerfield
“Promising big fella still a project but offers size and defensive presence where he can be impactful during stretches of a game. Now, offensively he’s still work in progress. Often overlooked but not much longer.”

• Devon Davis 6-0 G LM 35 Westinghouse
“Exciting open-court player who possesses some scoring ability. May have some early shortcomings playing in a system. Will need time.”

• Jabari Chiphe 6-5 PF LM 44 Walter Payton
“Thrives around the rim, competes at a high-level. Looking for academic situation with a good basketball program.”

*NOTE: Next week we will identify and talk about 25-30 others in 2020 Class.



Frank Jakubicek 6-8 PF Cary Grove Belmont University
Ahron Ullis 6-2 PG Marion Catholic University Iowa
Jordan Kwiecinski 6-8 F Loyola Academy Drake University
Connor Kochera 6-4 G St. Viator William & Mary College
Elijah Jones 6-5 WF Marian Catholic    Western Illinois University
R.J. Ogom 6-5 PF Homewood/Flossmoor College of Charleston
Nate Shockey 6-2 G York North Dakota State
Destin Whitaker 6-6 WF Romeoville Fresno State University
Bennett Kwiecinski 6-8 F Loyola Academy Siena College
Marcus Watson 5-11 PG Morgan Park Wake Forest University
Darius Burford 6-2 G Bolingbrook Elon University
Isaiah Rivera 6-4 G Geneseo          Colorado State University
Ryan Isaacson 6-7 WF Hinsdale Central Merrimack College
Ramean Hinton 6-4 G/F Chicago Curie         South East Missouri State
Dante Maddox 6-2 PG Bloom Cal State Fullerton
Aquan Smart 6-4 G Niles North East Tennessee State
Colin O’Rourke 6-8 PF Plainfield North Wisconsin Parkside
Donovan Newby 6-3 PG Bloom University Milw. -Wisc.
D.J. Stewart 6-3 G Whitney Young Duke University
Ray’Sean Taylor 6-1 PG Collinsville   Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
Connor Linke 6-9 C St. Charles North Bradley University
Martice Mitchell 6-10 F Bloom University Minnesota
Chris Conway 6-9 F Naperville Central Oakland University
Beau Frericks 6-2 G Cary Grove Lewis University
Keshawn Williams 6-2 G Bloom University Tulsa
Matt Ambrose 6-3 PG Stevenson University Indianapolis
Kyndall Davis 6-5 G/F Chicago Bogan Long Island University
Johnathan Odom 6-5 PF Legal Prep Governor’s State

*NOTE: Anticipate Morgan Park’s Adam Miller (No.2 in the Class) signing with Illinois or Arizona in waning days.
You can bet several of these players feel over-looked, under-valued, pissed-off, and disrespected. Well, the logical notion would be opening the season from the start with a chip that resembles a vengeance. We need for this core group to excel with a strong year.

Jeremiah Williams 6-4 G MM+-MM 6 Simeon
“A huge start would draw some high-major interest swiftly. This ultimate hooper, has been angling for a platform to showcase his rangy game.
Tyler Beard 6-2 G MM 9 Whitney Young
“Explosive competitor might be lusting for greener pastures.”
Savion Williams 6-6 F MM 21 Chicago Curie
“Straight baller, dynamite motor-plays above the rim. Excellent shot-swatter. Fairfield, Central Conn, Monmouth, Texas Reo, & Semo, this is your guy.”
Seryee Lewis 6-7 PF MM 24 Morgan Park
“Defected from Kenwood for a loftier environment, now must demonstrate he’s legit mid-level recruit. Why not Eastern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, or even Cleveland State.”
Jayson Kent 6-6 G MM 25 Oak Forest
“Has elevated his game to one of the top shooters in the Class. Offer from NIU still on the table, expect a visit from Pepperdine soon.”

Armond Williams 6-8 F MM-LM+ 27 East St. Louis
“Slender forward will eventually grow into a wing player, has huge up-side. Overall game starting to formulate.”
Sam Shultz 6-6 F LM 35 Oswego
“All eyes will be on him early, has good length on the perimeter where he’s become a reliable threat. New Jersey Institute, Metro-Atlantic, & Northeast Conferences should zero in.”
Jamere Hill 6-3 PG LM+-LM 29 Joliet West
“If this speedster has the academic piece, he possibly could place himself in a prime position to receive a nice scholarship.”
Damontae Taylor 6-5 WF MM 19 Zion-Benton
Wiry cager has enough offensive punch & athleticism to have observers on edge. We won’t assume, but grades could be thorn for him.”
Dom Martinelli 6-5 F LM 34 Glenbrook South
“A versatile player can provide a mix of all-around ability during a course of a game. The numbers he brandished last season indicates just that. We wouldn’t be startled if he lands in a Div. I setting.”
Will Wolfe 6-6 G/F LM 33 Oswego
“Once highly touted & viewed as one of the top players in the class. Coming over from Aurora Christian, he now can flash some click-bait opportunities while teaming with Schultz.”