Illinois HS Basketball News: Issue 11
Week of August 29, 2020
This was a surprisingly wild week in basketball news. The newsletter was all ready to go Friday afternoon, already filled with big stories, when a D1 commitment and a major coaching story broke.
We had the latest transfer story in a summer even more filled with players moving than normal. Six commitments. A number of high-profile athletes from the area speaking out about social issues. And much more.
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Let’s get to basketball!
A.J. Casey to Transfer (Again)
The state’s top-ranked 2022 player will attend his third school in as many years. A.J. Casey, who played freshman year at Simeon and sophomore year at Tinley Park, is no longer enrolled at the latter, Pat Disabato of the Daily Southtown confirmed.
Casey’s father, Andre Casey, did not say in the article where his son would play next year. But Disabato wrote about the two most prominent rumors: Whitney Young or a mystery prep school.
The thought of the Dolphins landing the state’s top player call back memories of 2018, when D.J. Steward left Fenwick for the magnet school. A prep school for Casey, on the other hand, would mean that the state’s top two players in 2022 had left the state for prep school since the season ended, with Fenwick’s Trey Pettigrew now at Hillcrest Prep in Arizona.
Homewood-Flossmoor 2021 forward Grace Hall committed to LSU. She joins Whitney Young PG Timia Ware in the Tigers’ 2021 class. Hall chose LSU over Illinois, Kentucky, Rutgers, Indiana and others.
DePaul College Prep 2021 center Brian Mathews committed to UMass. He chose the school over offers from UW-Milwaukee, Chicago State, Western Illinois and others. I talked to him Friday and will have a story later in the week.
Bartlett 2021 PG Lexie Sinclair announced her commitment to D1 St. Bonaventure. John Lemon at the Daily Herald wrote about how the Bonnies’ coaching staff was the determining factor, especially after the death of Bartlett head coach Brad Hunt at the end of her sophomore year. She averaged 19 points, 6.9 assists and 5 rebounds as a junior.
Lyons Township 2021 PG Lindsey Hahn announced her commitment to D2 Winona State.
New Trier 2021 SG Liv Becker announced her commitment to D2 University of Indianapolis.
Villa Grove 2021 PG Kyleigh Block announced her commitment to Lincoln Land Community College.
Boys Recruiting News
Fenwick 2021 forward Bryce Hopkins received an offer from South Carolina. Since decommitting from Louisville he’s received offers from Kentucky, Michigan, Notre Dame and others. He told Stockrisers that he will cut his list this week.
AJ Casey received an offer from Ohio State. It’s his fifth Big Ten offer after Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and Nebraska.
Whitney Young 2023 point guard Dalen Davis received an offer from Illinois. He holds offers from DePaul and Western Illinois.
Normal Community 2022 forward Zach Cleveland received an offer from Southeast Missouri State, his first D1 offer.
Metro-East Lutheran (Edwardsville) 2021 SF AJ Smith received an offer from Southeast Missouri State, his first D1 offer.
Recent Evanston transfer Ola Ajiboye received an offer from D1 Farleigh Dickinson.
Bolingbrook 2021 SG Isaiah Stafford received an offer from D2 Northern Michigan.
Former Morgan Park and current Hillcrest Prep (Arizona 2021) wing Brandon Weston announced he’ll commit on Monday, September 1. His final six schools are Illinois, Michigan, Western Illinois, Seton Hall, Pitt and Wake Forest.
Girls Recruiting News
Mattoon 2022 PG Mallory Ramage received an offer from IUPUI. She holds offers from Loyola, Indiana State, Eastern Illinois, Wofford, and others.
Nequa Valley 2021 SG Ellie Wisner received an offer from NAIA Keiser University (Florida).
York 2021 PG Amaya Rufus received an offer from NAIA Missouri Baptist.
St. Charles North 2021 SG Talia Pellegrini received an offer from NAIA University of St. Francis (Illinois).
Lockport 2022 point guard Cheri Michalek received an offer from NAIA St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
Proviso West 2021 guard Josylin Doxie received an offer from D3 North Park.
Saint Viator 2021 PG Emma Morrisey received an offer from D3 Ripon College.
Coaching Stories and News
Mike Irvin will be the next head coach at Kenwood, the Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien reports. He currently runs the Mac Irvin Fire and will take over for Justin Bowen, who is leaving for a college job. O’Brien writes that Mike Irvin wouldn’t have taken a high school job while his brother, Nick Irvin, was still at Morgan Park.
Patricia Babcock McGraw at the Daily Herald wrote about Wheeling’s new boys head coach Tom Antosz, who was hired last week. Antosz, 28, is a 2010 graduate of Ridgewood and played at Lawrence University. He “wants to have a player-friendly program in which the players have a strong voice.”
Evanston graduate James Farr, who played collegiately at Xavier and had a professional career overseas, has been hired by Louisville as a graduate assistant. The Courier-Journal in Louisville talked to Farr about ending his professional career to join the coaching ranks. Evanston head coach Mike Ellis said on Twitter he knew Farr was “special” in high school and has the makings of a coach or AD.
Retired Peoria High hoops coach Dan Ruffin a master of smoked meats, writes Dave Eminian for the Journal Star. The ribs are his favorite at his restaurant Que For You.
COVID-19 Updates and News
The IHSA approved a modified postseason, reports Dion Martorano at the Journal & Topics. Rather than a typical postseason, the result will essentially be regionals for each sport. Jon Kerr writes on Twitter that this could be a model for basketball in the winter.
“How do IHSA safety guidelines affect how high school teams travel?”, Stan Morris reports for the Journal Star.
“With COVID-19, filling out high school sports schedules has become an inexact science” writes Stan Morris for the Journal Star.
Jacob Blake, a Black man shot by a police officer in Kenosha, played basketball and football for Evanston, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Proviso East graduate and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown was one of two players to read the Bucks’ statement (video on Twitter) as the team decided to strike from their game with the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Blake. In 2018 Brown was tased by police officers and arrested in Milwaukee on suspicion of resisting arrest after illegally parking at a Walgreen’s (an offense that warrants a $200 ticket). Officers later deemed there was no probable cause to charge Brown with a crime, officers were disciplined and Brown sued the city.
Former Rich East and Chicago Bulls guard Craig Hodges spoke to K.C. Johnson at NBC Chicago about the NBA players’ decision to strike. In 1991 Hodges asked Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson to boycott the NBA Finals to stand against racism, then used the Bulls’ White House visit to raise issues to President George H.W. Bush.
Auburn graduate and current Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet spoke out about the police shooting of Jacob Blake before games were postponed. It was definitely a powerful statement from one of the NBA’s most outspoken players on social issues. “Do we actually give a fuck about what’s going on or is it just cool to wear Black Lives Matter on a backdrop or wear a T-shirt?”
Rockford-area Black athletes spoke to Jay Taft at the Rockford Register Star about the NBA’s reaction to Blake’s shooting and other events of the week. Quotes include those from Joe Danforth: VanVleet’s stepfather, a Rockford police officer and Auburn boys assistant basketball coach.
Ernie Kent, a high school All-American at Rockford West who played and coached at Oregon and is a Black man, spoke to Matt Trowbridge at the Rockford Register Star about why Black sports stars fear police. Kent told a pair of stories about being mistakenly being picked up by police or officers drawing guns on him.
Illinois Players in College
St. Rita 2019 forward Jeremiah Oden is “ready to make his impact on Wyoming MBB,” the school writes. He averaged 10 ppg at Sunrise Christian Prep last year.
Jules Williamson and Traevon Brown were teammates from elementary school through sophomore year at East Aurora. They’re now going to be teammates again after three years, this time at Waubonsie Community College, writes Rick Armstrong for the Aurora Beacon-News.
Mother McAuley 2020 guard Jenna Badali drew 50 varsity charges and scored 22 goals for the soccer team as a junior. Tim O’Brien wrote about her for the Beverly Review as she heads into her freshman year playing for basketball for D2 Lewis University.
Jeremiah Williams will wear jersey No. 25 at Temple, where he’s a freshman. The Simeon graduate continues a line of the school’s stars who wear the jersey in honor of Ben Wilson.
Other Stories and News
Joe Henricksen with the Sun-Times wrote about his top 10 ranked boys players in the state’s 2021 class. Notre Dame has three players on the list, and the Dons’ Anthony Sayles is the lone uncommitted player on the list.
The #IHSAShotClockNow movement presented its proposal to the IHSA. They also published the presentation, which included videos from seven coaches, proposed rules changes, cost analysis and an implementation timeline.
Walt Mattingly transferred from Deerfield to Lake Forest. Jon Kerr wrote on his Substack about how the move happened and why it will be good for Mattingly.
The Rockford Register-Star has released an excellent series on Rockford’s top 15 basketball players ever. The first few are out: No. 15 Bill Erickson (player at Illinois and area coach); No. 14 Ernie Kent (player and coach at Oregon); No. 13 Perry Range (player at Illinois); No. 12 Mark Sibley (player at Northwestern; No. 11 Deacon Davis (player at Iowa); No. 10 Kim Hughes (player at Wisconsin, and NBA player and coach); No. 9 Nolden Gentry (player at Iowa).
North Mac High School in Virden will leave the Sangamo conference and join the South Central Conference in 2022, Bill Welt reports for The State Register-Journal.