Romeoville Coach Marc Howard has long relied on Trayton Trice, a varsity performer since his freshman year, to be an enforcer-type player thanks to Trice’s attitude and size on the floor.
“I always had that approach my whole life,” Trice told Illinois-Basketball.com. “Every time I would set foot on the court,(I’ve) always been the enforcer. I do all the dirty work, grab rebounds, guard the biggest or strongest guy on the court.”
Trice took one visit to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, and realized quickly how much he liked nearly everything about the campus, the coaches and the men’s basketball program in general.
Aidan Murphy is springing into the future, one leap at a time. For someone who has added at least nine inches to his vertical leap thanks to studious training, the potential outweighs what Murphy has already done on the court for Glenbard West.
The 6-6, springy Hilltoppers senior made his commitment to Division III Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Oct. 28.
“I chose Carnegie Mellon first because of the world class education,” Murphy said. “(I) felt connection with coaches and style of play, and really felt it would suit my game. I think I can contribute early as well with my shooting ability. Absolutely loved the campus and think it’s the perfect size. Pittsburgh is one of the great sports towns and I’m very excited to play in it.”
“Murray State made the decision easy because of the environment they created, and I could tell I would be going there after our first conversation,” Howard said. “The coaching staff and the school as a whole I knew would be a good fit.”
COVID-19 and its fallout put much of the traditional recruiting cycle on hold for John Poulakidas, as it did for so many athletes in the class of 2021. Still, the Neuqua Valley shooting guard had enough early interest to have his choice of more than 15 Division I schools — despite losing out on most of his final AAU season and the chance to meet many coaching staffs in person.
Poulakidas, a 6-6 sharpshooter who averaged 17.5 points and knocked down 76 triples as a junior, had the option to stay close to home: Loyola-Chicago, Illinois-Chicago, Bradley, Southern Illinois, UW-Milwaukee and Saint Louis all offered.
He also had a number of Power 5 options: Minnesota, Wake Forest, Rutgers and TCU.
Northern Illinois offered 2024 point guard Jaedin Reyna
Siena offered 2023 combo guard Kaiden Space
It was the first offer for four of the five, with Brown already holding offers from Siena, Western Illinois and Howard.
The infusion of young talent aligns with Roshawn Russell, who enters his second season as St. Rita’s head coach, taking over the program. Finishing with a 21-11 record overall in year one gave faith to prospective players about the direction of the program, Russell believes.
Six years ago, Brian Mathews didn’t even play basketball: He was a soccer goalkeeper. Fast-forward to late August and Mathews committed to play Division 1 basketball at UMass.
How exactly did he go from hoops newbie to college player so quickly?
Like many other athletes thrust into basketball at that age, Mathews, a Chicago resident, was blessed with height that naturally attracts them to the game (or often brings people in the game to them). Mathews was 6-5 when he entered high school and had a size 15 shoe in seventh grade. Still, he was an expectedly raw prospect.
“He was big and long — imagine a puppy dog,” Tom Kleinschmidt, Mathews’ high school head coach at DePaul College Prep, said in a phone interview. “He was all over the place. His body was so big, he couldn’t control it at 12 years old [when I first met him].”
Still, being tall doesn’t guarantee that someone plays in college. Mathews had something many other young bigs lack.
“What stuck out to me was how hard he played,” Kleinschmidt said. “To get a kid that size to play that hard that early, it’s a great piece of clay [to mold].”