Illinois HS Basketball News: Issue 20

Week of October 30, 2020

If you’re reading this, you experienced last week and made it through. Count that as a win.

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Let’s get to basketball!

One Crazy Week

Instead of getting a clear, definitive decision about the high school basketball season, the various powers that be spent the week contradicting one another seemingly ever time I opened my phone.

Here’s my best attempt at a timeline of what happened:

Tuesday, October 27

  • 3:01 p.m. — The Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien reports that the IDPH updated basketball from medium risk to higher risk on its website.

  • 3:45 p.m. — News breaks that governor Pritzker announces at a press conference that basketball, among other sports, are put on hold. Pritzker’s news conference began at 3 p.m., but the stream didn’t work until later when remote reporters rewatched. (Sun-Times story)

  • 4:30 p.m. — Pritzker reportedly blindsided the IHSA, notifying the organization of his decision just 15 minutes before his announcement.

  • 5:23 p.m. — The Wheeling Hardwood Classic tweets that its 43rd annual event is cancelled following the governor’s announcement.

  • 8:03 p.m. — The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association put out a statement expressing its disappointment in the move of basketball to higher risk, saying in part, “We know that the virus has caused a recent increase in cases, but we have not been given specific information as to why basketball has been elevated to “High Risk in Illinois. When so many of our players currently drive across state lines to freely compete with travel teams, this lack of transparency is incredibly frustrating for all of us who simply want to enjoy playing the game of basketball together in our home state of Illinois.”

  • Reaction: “Coaches ‘bitterly disappointed’ by basketball crackdownvia Matt Trowbridge at the Rockford Register-Star.

  • Reaction: “Rockford-area coaches say shutting down basketball ‘defies logic’” via Trowbridge.

Wednesday, October 28

Thursday, October 29

Friday, October 30

So what to make of all of this? The IHSA-state standoff seemingly puts individual school districts in charge of the decisions.

“When it comes to recent developments, I must say that I have never seen so much punting in the sport of basketball,” Peoria Public Schools superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said to Dave Eminian of the Journal Star.

Will any public schools defy the state and its liability warnings? Could the state withhold funding from schools that choose to play?

"I have the feeling that the IHSA decision means very little,” Eldorado Superintendent Ryan Hobbs told Travis DeNeal of the Harrisburg Register. “They have no legal authority, and unless they say they're going to cover our liability, we're not going to be able to do it. The state board of education is who we're dependent on for funding.”

Eddie Carifio outlined the legal issues schools that choose to play basketball could face for the Daily Chronicle.

Why haven’t the IHSA and governor’s office gotten on the same page? The lack of communication has caused “an even bigger mess,” John Sahly said for the Daily Chronicle. At least the IHSA has its attention now, Troy Taylor writes for the Star Courier. And Jim Benson’s article for The Pantagraph has a message for both sides: “Time for Pritzker, IHSA to stop acting like kids and start thinking about the kids”

Could there be two basketball seasons? What do multi-sport athletes do if all sports are scheduled for the spring?

We’ll get more certainty the next two weeks as districts make decisions. There’s still work to do to make a season happen, Tom Johnston reminds us for the Dispatch-Argus. For now, there’s some hope for a season, as Pat Disabato writes for the Daily Southtown.

More Events Cancelled

Out-of-State Transfer News

Sincere Malone, a 2021 wing with multiple D1 offers, announced he will play at Carolina Basketball Academy for his senior season. Malone played at Corliss as a junior and had transferred to Lincoln Park for his senior season. He told me the move was due to uncertainty around the Illinois high school season.

This week it was Malone, last week Joliet’s Jeremy Fears Jr. announced he’s playing at La Lumiere in Indiana. They won’t be the last transfers as news unfolds and kids are kept in limbo.

Bryce Hopkins Commitment, Part Two

In any other week this would be the biggest story. After decommitting from Louisville this summer due to uncertainty around the program’s latest sanctions, Bryce Hopkins was by far the top uncommitted recruit in the 2021 class. The Fenwick forward is a top-40 commit nationally with 6-6, 230-pound size to go along with legitimate guard skills. As Joe Henricksen outline for the Sun-Times a few months ago, Hopkins did his research on schools carefully, and he had no shortage of suitors for his second recruiting stretch.

When it came down to it, Kentucky and coach John Calipari’s ability to get players to the NBA sealed the deal for Hopkins, Henricksen writes. What a gut punch for Louisville fans to lose Hopkins to their in-state rivals.

Hopkins’ sights are on the NBA, and for good reason. His recruiting rankings put him in the range of an NBA Draft pick, with 60 players per year selected, even when you add in international players and other considerations. And I’m no recruiting expert, but Hopkins sure looks the part of an NBA player.

Illinois players don’t often go to Kentucky. It will be exciting to watch him chase his NBA dream.


Other Commitments

Boys Recruiting News

Girls Recruiting News

Illinois Players in College

  • Illinois will play at Duke in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. Former Whitney Young and Fenwick star DJ Steward (Duke) will play against a pair of Morgan Park grads in Ayo Dosunmu and Adam Miller. He lost to Morgan Park in the 3A state final as a freshman (Dosunmu sat out with a foot injury), and he had great two battles against Adam Miller in their senior season (Morgan Park won both) before the two split player of the year awards.

  • Kankakee 2020 graduate Ambranette Storr has entered the transfer portal after her freshman season at Drake.

  • Lyons graduate Connor Niego has transferred from D1 Holy Cross, where he averaged 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, to D2 Lewis. Many factors played a factor, but some incredible family connections were a big part. Henricksen has the story for the Sun-Times.

Other Stories and News