Illinois HS Basketball News: Issue 8
Week of August 8, 2020
After the whirlwind that was last week, with the shuffling of Illinois sports schedules, basketball news was less chaotic this week. Still, it was filled with a handful of commitments and lots of girls recruiting. And the fallout from the IHSA news continued as more high-profile boys players transferred out of state.
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Let’s get to basketball!
Nojel Eastern Headed to an HBCU
Former Evanston star Nojel Eastern finally found his new college home, but that news alone wouldn’t normally lead the newsletter. But after leaving Purdue for Michigan, then the move falling through due to credit issues, Eastern went a different direction with this transfer: HBCU. After playing for one Big Ten team and trying to transfer to another Tournament-level Big Ten program, he finds himself at Howard, a program that won four games last season.
No doubt he’ll be one of Howard’s top players when he’s eligible, along with 5-star recruit Makur Maker, who made waves this summer as the highest-profile commit to a HBCU.
Conversations about top players heading to HBCUs have picked up momentum in recent years, and you can see changes in the way the schools are recruiting. Howard is offering 4- and 5-star recruits it wouldn’t have targeted just two years ago.
Perhaps Eastern is just a one-off Illinois player to head to Howard. But maybe we’ll look back and see this as the start of a trend.
Earlier this summer, many of the top 2020 prospects in the state shared on Twitter that even if they had wanted to play for an HBCU, the offers weren’t there. DJ Steward (Duke) shared first, and Adam Miller (Illinois) and Jeremiah Williams (Temple) echoed the same.
There’s no way to say what had happened if they were offered, or if the movement had started two years earlier. But it seems in the future that the state’s top players will have offers from HBCUs: Just this week, Howard offered one of the state’s top 2024 prospects (see Boys Recruiting section).
Van Stuben 2021 power forward Ola Ajiboye said he’s transferring to Evanston. The 6-8 big man is a 2-star recruit, according to Verbal Commits. This news comes less than a week after Evanston lost 2021 wing Jaylin Gibson to an out-of-state transfer. First of all, Evanston loses one D1 talent and replaces it with another. From a raw talent perspective, they’re still right at the top of the list for state title contenders. To me, Evanston’s biggest weakness last season was a lack of size: Gibson, who will be a shooting guard in college, had to guard opposing bigs in Evanston’s starting lineup. In the Wildkits’ matchup with Bloom, they gave up more than six inches at both post positions (and still won). Adding the 6-8 Ajiboye theoretically makes them a more balanced team. I’m intrigued to see how a group that has played together for so long integrates a major new piece.
Former Kankakee guard AJ Storr, who last week announced he’s transferring out of state, is reclassifying from 2021 to 2022, PrepHoops' Scott Burgess reports. He’s now at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, one of the country’s top programs.
Granite City 2022 guard Christian Jones has transferred to East St. Louis. He’s a top 30 player in the state for 2022, according to PrepHoops.
Belleville East 2022 shooting guard Braxton Stacker will transfer out of state to Cardinal Ritter in St. Louis, reports Scott Burgess of PrepHoops. He is rated as a top-10 shooting guard in his class.
How does the IHSA sports decision compare to other states? Dave Eminian at the Journal Star lays it out.
New Trier 2021 shooting guard Ian Burns committed to Michigan as a preferred walk-on. He’ll join Simeon wing Isaiah Barnes as Chicago-area players headed to Michigan in the 2021 class. Head coach Juwan Howard, a Chicago native, also added Fenwick’s Mike Smith as a transfer (and almost added Eastern). The Chicago connections in Ann Arbor continue to strengthen.
Normal Community 2021 power forward Mallory Oloffson committed to D3 UW-Whitewater. The Warkhawks finished 23-4 last season and have made the D3 NCAA Tournament in each of the past five seasons, and 12 of the past 13.
Joliet Central 2020 power forward Kee Hargrow committed to Des Moines Area Community College, reported Burgess. DMACC’s new head coach Brett Putz took the job last month after serving as recruiting coordinator at Chicago State, which we’ve mentioned before. Expect many Chicagoland players to land in Des Moines in the near future.
Dwight 2021 point guard Kayla Kodat has committed to Lincoln Land CC.
Boys Recruiting News
Joliet West 2023 point guard Jeremy Fears Jr. received an offer from Illinois. He has Big Ten offers from Iowa, Maryland and Nebraska.
Simeon 2023 power forward Davius Loury received an offer from Illinois. He already held offers from DePaul and Western Illinois.
Yorkville Christian 2022 shooting guard Jaden Schutt received an offer from Ohio State. He has his pick of top Big Ten programs, among other offers.
St. Rita 2024 big man James Brown received an offer from HBCU Howard. He holds offers from Siena and Western Illinois as well.
Lake Forest 2021 small forward Walter Mattingly received an offer from IUPUI and D2 Hillsdale. Last week he announced he was transferring from Deerfield to Lake Forest. ScoopmanTV talked to Mattingly about his recruitment.
Bolingbrook 2021 shooting guard Isaiah Stafford received an offer from D2 Illinois-Springfield.
Washington 2021 forward Devon Vanderheydt received an offer from NAIA Indiana Wesleyan.
Prospect 2022 point guard Owen Schneider received an offer from D3 Augustana.
Joe Henricksen checked in with three uncommitted 2021 players for the Sun-Times: Notre Dame College Prep’s Anthony Sayles, Nequa Valley’s John Poulakidas, and Whitney Young’s Grant Newell. Each has options, and COVID-19 has slowed the process for two of them.
Girls Recruiting News
Kenwood 2022 guard Brianna McDaniel received offers from Kentucky, Syracuse, Dayton and Houston. She currently holds 31 D1 offers.
Joliet West 2023 guard Lisa Thompson received an offer from Florida State.
Homewood-Flossmoor 2023 forward Alyssa Latham received an offer from Loyola.
Aurora Christian 2021 forward Anna Griffin received an offer from Virginia.
Carterville 2022 guard Alecia Doyle received an offer from Southern Illinois.
Olney 2022 guard Anna Blank received an offer from San Jose State.
Thornton 2021 center Elaiyah Heard received an offer from HBCU Mississippi Valley State.
Lincoln-Way Central wing Haley Stoklosa received an offer from D1 Bellarmine University.
Nequa Valley 2021 shooting guard Ellie Wisner received an offer from D3 Coe College.
Nequa Valley 2021 power forward Jada Devine received an offer from NAIA Judson and D3 North Central.
Lincoln-Way East 2021 point guard Samara Swire received an offer from D3 Rockford.
Downers Grove South 2021 center Ashley Lang received D3 offers from D3 Augustana and Edgewood.
Yorkville 2021 guard Kenzie Senffner received an offer from D3 Dominican.
“Senior forward Alison Kickel polishes game entering second year at Naperville North: ‘She’s going to get a lot more looks and offers.’” from Matt Le Cren at the Naperville Sun.
Coaching Stories and News
Mascoutah announced on Twitter that it has hired Cole Schomaker as its new boys head coach. Schomaker has been a Mascoutah assistant for the past three years, and he was the head coach in the Sandoval School District from 2013 to 2016, Dean Criddle reports for the Belleville News-Democrat. Schomaker takes over the program after the loss of head coach Justin Love in late June.
Peotone has hired Todd Zasadil as its new boys head coach, Cody Smith reports for the Daily Journal. Zasadil was most recently a girls assistant at Saint Viator. He takes over for Mike Curta, who went 2-25 in his single season with Peotone.
Reed-Custer has hired Shelby Zwolinski as its new girls head coach, Smith reports for the Daily Journal. Zwolinski has been in the Reed-Custer program for the past three seasons.
Greenview hired Michael Cameron as its new boys head coach, the school announced. Cameron played for his father at Pleasant Plains, then in college at both Lincoln Land and MacMurray College.
The Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions has been cancelled due to COVID-19, reports Dave Reynolds at the Journal Star. It was scheduled for November 24-28 at Washington, and hosted 24 teams.
Players in College
Morgan Park grad Ayo Dosunmu is staying at Illinois to win titles, writes Gavin Good for The State Journal-Register.
Lane Tech’s local school council voted 12-0 to abolish the school’s “Indian” mascot, via the Sun-Times. Michael O’Brien pointed out on Twitter that there are other Chicago-area programs that still have problematic mascots. Shaw Media published part one of a three-part series investigating the use of Native American mascots and imagery in Illinois schools.
“A second basketball court and an additional 100 parking spaces have been added to Phase 1 development of the Oak Brook Park District’s Central Park North Fields project, after bids for work came in lower than expected,” reports Chuck Fieldman for the Pioneer Press.
“Mike Boatright-McAllister, younger brother of Ryan Boatright, navigates sometimes choppy waters as he pursues professional career: ‘I’ve got a story.’” Rick Armstrong writes for the Aurora Beacon-News.
“Former Wauconda basketball star Donovan Carter honored by village of Island Lake” by the Lake County News-Sun.