Author Archives: Jakub Rudnik

GBN’s Brooke Blumenfeld Overcomes ACL Injuries, Commits to NIU

Glenbrook North's Brooke Blumenfeld Overcomes ACL Injuries, Commits to NIU

Brooke Blumenfeld is the first commitment in NIU's 2022 class. (Photos courtesy Brooke Blumenfeld)

The summer before her junior year, everything was going right for Glenbrook North forward Brooke Blumenfeld.

As a sophomore in 2019-20, she led the Spartans to their best record since 1992-93, and their first regional final since 1999. Despite limitations from COVID-19, her recruiting was picking up, and she’d just received an offer from Northern Illinois. Playing for her AAU program Wolverinas, Blumenfeld scored 19 points in a game — her high with the team.

Just seconds into her next game, everything changed.

“It was the first possession,” Blumenfeld said. “I cut across the lane, my teammate threw me the ball. And it was almost like I was trying to go up for a right-handed layup, but my feet were planted. So when my body twisted, my right leg didn’t move with it.

Blumenfeld tore her left ACL in eighth grade, but initially didn’t think this injury was as severe. 

She was wrong.

The ligament was torn again, an injury that typically takes nine months or more to recover from — this time in the right knee. She said she was in disbelief after receiving the diagnosis, that it was almost an “out-of-body experience” for some time afterwards.

“The first thing that popped into my head was, ‘I can’t play,’” she said. “‘I can’t play the sport I love. I went through this once, why is this happening to me?’”

Still, Blumenfeld said giving up basketball was never a consideration. Even though she knew how much work the rehab process would be and that she’d miss junior year, she had no choice but to come back once again.

“It’s just kind of who I am,” she said. “I love waking up early and going to practice. I love the feeling after a practice. … If there’s a party, I’d rather be in the gym. That’s where I feel most comfortable. It’s my escape from the world. I really don’t know who I’d be without [basketball].”

“She’s a gym rat,” Glenbrook North head coach Nick Capalbo said. “I’ll open the gym up whenever she wants to come in. She puts a lot of work into her game — she’ll stay for hours after practice, come in every day in the summer, [use] the weight room. She’s super driven, especially with this injury.”

Without Blumenfeld, the Spartans struggled, finishing 3-12 in the shortened season. But she was there with her teammates, their biggest cheerleader in the empty gyms.

“She’s a big personality, which I love,” Capalbo said. “It’s super great to have your best player be such a leader. … I remember that something happened in a game and the whole bench went crazy, and Brooke jumped up, with a [torn] ACL, so high and so excited. And she did a chest bump with one of our players, and she hit the floor.

“I was so concerned that she was going to get hurt again when she was recovering,” he added. “But she was just so excited and happy. … That’s just her personality right there.”

brooke-blumenfeld-niu-1

Blumenfeld Commits to Northern Illinois

Despite missing her junior season — a crucial year in recruiting — Blumenfeld made her college decision on June 26, staying near home at Northern Illinois. Still, proximity wasn’t the biggest factor in the choice.

“Northern, they kept their offer [to me], and they easily could have taken it [away],” Blumenfeld said. “But they didn’t. Through the nine months, there were some schools that dropped me. … All the way through, Northern stuck with me. 

“That just says a lot about the program and how they see me not only as a basketball player, but they care about me as a person,” she continued.

With their first commitment in the 2022 recruiting class, the Huskies are getting a 6-0 forward who was one of the best players in the Central Suburban League South as a sophomore, averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds per game.

As the Spartans’ biggest player, she spent most of her first two years near the basket. 

“Freshman year she was just our strongest, biggest player, and she could make some layups,” Capalbo said. “Her jump shot is outstanding right now. … Her ability to go to the basket now, she’s worked on her left hand, her right hand, she’s worked on her post moves. Right now she’s getting that three down, that’s her next phase, what we’re working on this summer.”

For Blumenfeld, the work on her jump shot has been an effort to diversify her game.

“People, they figured out my game sophomore year was driving to the basket, I can finish around the rim,” Blumenfeld said. “They figured that out, so coaches now have [defenders] sag off me because they think I can’t shoot. In the summer league games, that’s my time to, when they’re sagging off, pull up and hit the three. And I think that just opens my game up a lot.”

That versatility should help Blumenfeld fit the role of the modern collegiate power forward, and fit in with Northern Illinois’ system.

“The way they play, it’s a lot like my AAU team,” Blumenfeld said. “They play fast, they like to push it up the court. I really wanted to make sure that the school I committed to would allow me to, if I got a rebound, take it and go. … That’s my thing, I’m six foot and I can handle the ball. And I wanted to make sure I wasn’t stuck down low in the five position all game. And the way they run their offense, they’ll allow me to do that.”

This summer Blumenfeld said she’s working on gaining back all of her explosiveness, but she has been healthy playing for both Glenbrook North and the Wolverinas. Capalbo expects her to compete for conference player of the year this winter, and both have their eyes set on a regional title and beyond. No matter what, she’s put in the work to have a chance at both, and then to play at the next level.

“I tore my ACL once, and then I did it again when everything was at my peak — my recruiting, how I was playing,” Blumenfeld said. “I’m back from that. People have doubted me, but I know what I want to do, and I’ve done it.”

14 Illinois Girls Nominated for 2021 McDonald’s All-American Game

Fourteen girls from around the state were nominated for the 2021 McDonald’s All-American game, the event announced Thursday, Feb. 18.

Each one of the seniors is highly decorated and has decided where they will play college basketball. Get to know the nominees below.

Sydney Affolter, Marist

Lauren Cohen, Glenbard South

Khaniah Gardner, Simeon

  • Position: Forward
  • College: Vanderbilt
  • Stats and highlights: 2019-20 3A state champion; averaged 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a junior

Anna Griffin, Aurora Christian

Lindsey Hahn, Lyons

  • Position: Point guard
  • College: Winona State
  • Stats and highlights: All-conference as a junior, shooting 40 percent from three and nabbing 51 steals (Winona Post)

Grace Hall, Homewood-Flossmoor

Lauren Huber, Libertyville

Greta Kampschroeder, Naperville North

Kendall Moriarty, Benet

Aneesah Morrow, Simeon

De’Ahna Richardson, Bolingbrook

Jalysa Stokes, Joliet Central

  • Position: Guard
  • College: Missouri-St. Louis
  • Stats and highlights: Oswego East Holiday Tournament MVP; all-conference; more than 1,100 career points

Timia Ware, Whitney Young

Makiyah Williams, Trinity

Illinois DI Hoopers: December 21 Top Performers

On Monday, 36 Division I basketball players from Illinois saw the court, with five scoring in double figures.

Some notable performances are below, as well as all box scores at the bottom in sortable tables. You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

Monday Notes

  • Oswego East graduate RayJ Dennis had 16 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals Monday. He’s averaging 14.3 points as a sophomore for Boise State, up from 4.1 as a freshman.
  • Austin Richie, who played high school basketball for Bloom and Marian Catholic, scored 14 points for Tulsa in a win over Memphis Monday. He has scored 33 points over the last two games after just 8 points over the first four.
  • Curie graduate Dajuan Gordon had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Kansas State in a win over Jacksonville. It’s the sophomore’s second career double-double, both in the last three games.
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Illinois DI Hoopers: December 20 Top Performers

A huge day for college basketball with 88 former Illinois high school players in action. In total, 24 players reached double figures scoring, with six double-doubles and the rare triple-double

Some notable performances are below, as well as all box scores at the bottom in sortable tables. You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

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Illinois DI Hoopers: December 19 Top Performers

Saturday was a big college hoops day, with 93 Illinois high school basketball players in action across Division I teams. Twenty-one players scored in double digits, with two double-doubles and two other 20-point scorers.

Some notable performances are below, as well as all box scores at the bottom in sortable tables. You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

Williams Scores 11 in Freshman Debut

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Illinois D1 Hoopers: December 18 Top Performers

In the only Friday night basketball we have right now, 66 former Illinois high school basketball players were in Division I action. Of those 15 reached double digits scoring, with a trio reaching a double-double.

Some notable performances are below, as well as all box scores at the bottom in sortable tables. You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

Debut Double-Double for Hawkins

Southern Miss had the first five games of its season cancelled, so juco transfer Fess Hawkins has had to wait more than three weeks to make her debut. The former Champaign Central (she played three seasons before transferring out of state) and Vincennes player did not let the chance to finally play go to waste.

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Illinois D1 Hoopers: December 17 Top Performers

On Thursday we had a strong group of college performances from Illinois players. Of those in action, 14 of 37 players scored in double figures. All the performances and some highlights are below.

You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

Jones Does Everything for SIU

Sophomore Lance Jones has been a Swiss army knife for Southern Illinois as the Salukis have jumped out to a 4-0 start. The Evanston graduate started 26-of-32 games as a freshman, but he’s had an even bigger impact in year two.

On Thursday, Jones scored a team-high 18 points in an 85-64 win over North Dakota. Perhaps more impressive was the rest of his box score: 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals. He also took a charge.

You know Mike Ellis would love that stat line.

For the season, Jones is averaging 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 steals.

A Happy Birthday for Notre Dame’s Peoples

Schlarman graduate Anaya Peoples’ birthday was Thursday, and her performance for Notre Dame was extra reason to celebrate.

The Fighting Irish held on to beat No. 25 Virginia Tech 84-78, with Peoples’ two layups in the final 80 seconds giving Notre Dame the lead for good. She finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

After an ACC All-Freshman season, Peoples is averaging 13 points and 6.2 rebounds in her second season for Notre Dame.

Tim Robinson Finds Rhythm for Valpo

Kenwood graduate and Tim Robinson, a redshirt senior, had struggled offensively for Valparaiso to start the season. In the first six games he shot just 14-for-36 (38.9 percent) from the field and 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) from the arc.

That changed Thursday when Robinson scored a game- and career-high 21 points in an 89-71 win over Purdue Northwest, going 7-for-8 from the field and knocking down both of his triples.

According to the Post Tribune and NWI Times, Robinson called on an NBA player to help him get out of his rut.

“I told [Phoenix Suns player Langston Galloway] I was having a shooting spell, that I wasn’t hitting my shots like I should be,” Robinson said. “He gave me a few drills to do. And then, the next game, it happened.”

Despite the early season shooting, Robinson is averaging a career-best 9.3 points per game for the 3-4 Crusaders. On Thursday, two other Illinois high school players had strong performances for Valpo as well:

  • Connor Barrett, Loyola Academy: 12 points, 2 steals
  • Donovan Clay, Alton: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 blocks, 2 steals

Shannon Jr.’s Stock Rising

After four years at Lincoln Park and a prep year at IMG Academy in Florida, Terrence Shannon Jr. was a top-100 recruit in his class. He started 20 games as a freshman for Texas Tech, averaging nearly 10 points per game. The 6-6 guard has made a leap in year two.

On Thursday, he finished with season-highs 20 points and 9 rebounds as the No. 14 Red Raiders nearly knocked off No. 5 Kansas, falling 57-58. For the year he’s averaged 13 points and 5.3 rebounds, shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from the arc.

Scouts are starting to give Shannon Jr. more draft buzz as he’s taken on a bigger role on a top-25 team. Though ESPN currently ranks him the No. 47 prospect for the 2021 NBA Draft, Bleacher Report had Shannon Jr. in the lottery as recently as November.

Big games against the nation’s top teams, like his play against Kansas, will only help his stock.

Also for the Red Raiders, Nimari Burnett — who won a state title with Morgan Park before transferring out of state — has been a key piece of the rotation. He hasn’t found his offense, shooting just 27 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from the arc, but he’s managed other ways to contribute.

He’s averaging a team-best 2.1 steals per contest, good for fourth in the Big 12. Eventually his shot will fall, but he’s managed to stay on the floor through his play on the other end of the court.

Other Notes

  • Edwardsville grad Makenzie Silvey scored a season-high 24 points in a win over UMKC. Earlier this week she reached No. 15 on the SIU all-time scoring list. Also for the Salukis, Lincolnwood grad Abby Brockmeyer had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • Mattoon grad Drake Jeffries led Wyoming in scoring (19) in a win over Omaha.
  • Althoff Catholic grad Jordan Goodwin led Saint Louis with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in a win over N.C. State. The St. Louis Dispatch called him Saint Louis’ Yadier Molina, though I hesitate to add Cardinals references to this site.
  • Kenwood grad Jonaie Johnson scored had season highs in points (16), rebounds (7) and assists (7) for UMKC in a loss to SIU.

All Performances by Men from Illinois High Schools (12.17.2020)

PlayerHSCollegeResultMin.Pts.Reb.Ast.Blk.Stl.
Jordan GoodwinAlthoff CatholicSaint LouisW: 80-69 (NCST)361615512
Donovan ClayAltonValparaisoW: 89-71 (PNW)2397352
Kyndall DavisBogan / Homewood-FlossmoorLong IslandL: 72-87 (SHU)1202110
Thomas BellCahokiaNorth TexasW: 85-55 (HB)28510130
Terrence Hargrove Jr.East St. LouisSaint LouisW: 80-69 (NCST)401000
Lance JonesEvanstonSouthern IllinoisW: 85-64 (ND)32184705
Nick RobinsonKenwoodValparaisoW: 89-71 (PNW)24212113
Terrence Shannon Jr.Lincoln ParkTexas TechL: 57-58 (KAN)33209000
Connor BarrettLoyola AcademyValparaisoW: 89-71 (PNW)27120102
Justin BrownMaristWagnerL: 75-81 (BRYANT)1749001
Drake JeffriesMattoonWyomingW: 82-78 (OMAHA)25193010
Nimari BurnettMorgan ParkTexas TechL: 57-58 (KAN)2122003
Demarion Bariffe-SmithNiles NorthJackson StateL: 60-83 (BRAD)501001
Anthony D'AvanzoNotre Dame (Niles)Southern IllinoisW: 85-64 (ND)1945101
Jeremiah OdenSt. RitaWyomingW: 82-78 (OMAHA)1404100
Detalian BrownUpliftNorth AlabamaW: 99-51 (CR)2182001
Demarius JacobsUpliftSaint LouisW: 80-69 (NCST)1574200
Chris CrossUrbanaSouthern IllinoisW: 85-64 (ND)100000
Nate ShockeyYorkNorth DakotaL: 64-85 (SIU)620000

All Performances by Women from Illinois High Schools (12.17.2020)

PlayerHSCollegeResultMin.Pts.Reb.Ast.Blk.Stl.
Kaylah RaineyBelleville EastNorthwesternW: 70-54 (PURD)100000
Quierra LoveEdwardsvilleSouthern IllinoisW: 79-68 (UMKC)27102203
Makenzie SilveyEdwardsvilleSouthern IllinoisW: 79-68 (UMKC)37241501
Kate BullmanGrayslake CentralIllinois StateW: 69-38 (OMAHA)14114030
Isis FitchHomewood-FlossmoorBradleyL: 68-84 (SD)601000
Michelle PruittHomewood-FlossmoorUTEPL: 75-83 (NAU)27177111
Jonaie JohnsonKenwoodUMKCL: 68-79 (SIU)35167701
Abby BrockmeyerLincolnwoodSouthern IllinoisW: 79-68 (UMKC)30237500
Juliunn RedmondMarshallIllinois StateW: 69-38 (OMAHA)2593421
Aannah InterranteMcHenryBradleyL: 68-84 (SD)100000
South DakotaMontiniSouth DakotaW: 84-68 (BRAD)400000
Frankie KokkinesMontiniSouthern IllinoisW: 79-68 (UMKC)100000
Maya WongNormalIllinois StateW: 69-38 (OMAHA)1643411
Brea BealRock IslandSouth CarolinaW: 103-41 (TEMP)1953302
Anaya PeoplesSchlarmanNotre DameW: 84-78 (VT)34158303
Sheahen DowlingTrinityFlorida Gulf CoastW: 91-55 (WI)1624000
Kiara LewisWhitney YoungSyracuseL: 68-92 (UNC)24103301

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Illinois Next-Level Preps: December 16 College Basketball Roundup

On Wednesday, 47 former Illinois high school basketball players played in a Division I basketball game. There were plenty of strong performances, as 13 total players reached double digits, and two women had double-doubles.

You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

The DJ Steward Highlight Show

At 9:34 p.m. last night I got a text that simply read “Something happened” along with this Tweet:

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Illinois Next-Level Preps: D1 Roundup 12.14.2020

Monday had a small slate of games on both the men’s and women’s side, so we’ve combined our roundup into one post. Just 18 D1 college basketball players from an Illinois high school appeared in a game, compared with over 100 on Sunday.

Sortable tables are at the bottom, with default ordering by high school alphabetically. You can also view all Division I men from Illinois and Division I women from Illinois.

Harden Emerges for Miami

It took a few years, but Destiny Harden is starting to put up the numbers in college that made her an all-state player at Morgan Park. The redshirt junior scored 20 points and added 12 rebounds as the Hurricanes beat ACC foe North Carolina 67-63. Miami head coach Katie Meier was pleased with her offense.

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