Category Archives: Commitments

Justin Leszynski’s Hard Work Pays Off with MIT Commitment

Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski chooses MIT basketball

Before heading into his senior season at Glenbrook South, Justin Leszynski knew exactly what he wanted to improve in his game. 

Over the last summer and winter, the 6-5, 210-pound big man made it his primary focus to become quicker and to improve his perimeter defense. 

“I think I have done a pretty good job at that, but there is still room to grow,” Leszynski said. 

As a multi-sport athlete, also playing center striker for the Titans soccer team, Leszynski credits the skills and movements he learned on the soccer field for helping him on the basketball court. 

“He has improved physically so much from last season,” Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said. “I think when you have been a part of a program, no matter what your role is, but when you have been a part of a program that had this much success as our team did last year, it has a sense for those younger kids to translate to wanting to uphold that level of play.”

Last year, Leszynski was one of those younger players. As a junior, Leszynski learned the importance of being “ready to step in when the other team tries to take away those other options” while he played alongside Dom Martinelli — a Northwestern freshman and Glenbrook South’s all-time scorer.

That mindset has carried over to this season and has helped the Titans remain undefeated through their first nine games.  

With junior forward Nick Martinelli — Dom Martinelli’s brother — and junior point guard Cooper Noard as the primary scorers, Leszynski’s role is to complement the duo. He does so with a perfectly-timed three-pointer or a rebound under the basket leading to a fast-break opportunity. 

All of Leszynski’s hard work — on the court and in the classroom — finally paid off when he found out he had been accepted into MIT. 

“The minute we opened the letter and there’s the animated confetti on the screen it really just made my year and it was one of the happiest moments in my life,” Leszynski said. “It was a lot of stress waiting to hear back. I know not everyone gets their first choice with getting into their (preferred) schools. … So it was just a tremendous moment of happiness to finally be able to announce where I’m going to be able to end up and play my next four years and continue playing the sport I love, which is basketball.”

Leszynski’s father, Ed, and mother, Amy Jo, were ecstatic when they heard the news. For Ed Leszynski, he has appreciated just being able to watch his son play his senior season. 

“He has always wanted to really play with his friends, and he has known these guys since kindergarten, second grade,” Ed said. “The other two seniors that start, they have been on the same team since second grade. Either soccer, baseball or basketball, so to finish on that, you can’t write a better script to finish your senior year with your best friends playing a team sport.”

For Justin, he is still finishing the final script for his last season at Glenbrook South. As of now, the Titans have 10 games remaining on their schedule, including two matchups against Evanston — the team that eliminated Glenbrook South in the Class 4A Elk Grove semifinals last year and that split the CSL South title with the Titans.

Regardless of what happens with the rest of the season, Ralston is proud of what his senior big man has been able to accomplish in his high school career.

“We’ve seen so much growth from Justin,” Ralston said. “We always knew he was the type of kid that was going to get into a school like MIT. Very high IQ, very cerebral kid. Getting into a great school like that was not the surprise. How far he has come in 16 months, as a basketball player, if someone would have told me that in November of 2019, I would say that might be a stretch for him. I don’t think it is now. It’s because he, once again, put in that unrequired work in the offseason, and I think it’s playing dividends for him now.”

Multi-Faceted, Methodical Tessa Prellberg Commits to Aurora

Tessa Prellberg’s potential was obvious to Hinckley-Big Rock girls basketball coach Doug Brewington from the outset of her first varsity season.

“When I was a freshman, Brewington told me I was going to get 1,000 points,” Prellberg said. “I never believed him so I just pushed myself to get better.”

Now at 954 points without playing a minute as a senior, the standout Royals player has a chance to quickly eclipse that mark should there be an IHSA season this spring.

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Springfield’s Miller stays close to home, Commits to Illinois Wesleyan

Provided photo of Miller on his visit to Illinois Wesleyan.

With family and friends who attended Illinois State and others who live in the areas, Springfield High School senior guard Shane Miller feels more than comfortable in Bloomington.

This made his decision to attend and play basketball for Illinois Wesleyan a relatively easy decision.

“I’ve got some family that stay at Bloomington,” Miller said. “We always used to go up and see them. My brothers and friends also attended ISU. It just feels like the best fit for me. If something ever goes down, I’ve got people up there I can turn to, and [I can] also get a good education and also go [to] a good program.”

Miller has already scoped out places he plans to frequent; he was blown away by how much he liked the campus and family atmosphere shown to him on a visit. In our call Miller laughed, saying that he’d be likely spending a lot of time at the sandwich chain Potbelly.

The multi-sport athlete excelled in his own right in football as a junior. The 2019 season was his only playing organized football, but it was enough to warrant the interest of a few college coaches.

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They call her ‘Cheese,’ Bartlett junior Hare commits to Saint Louis

Kenzie Hare – photo by Brandon Clay

Getting a hefty chunk of cheddar is inevitable when taking the hardwood against Bartlett junior and recent Saint. Louis women’s basketball commit Kenzie Hare.

The longtime M14 Hoops (Team M-X14) super-scorer has been cheesin’ on the court for the Aurora-based travel squad since her elementary days, and her nickname of “Cheese” can be traced back to the organization.

“We had two Mackenzies on our team, and we both go by Kenz or Kenzie,” Hare said, referring to her and teammate Kenzie Senffner, who wrote about in November. “So coach Ryan (Haun) was like, ‘Alright, someone’s got to go by something else.’ So one of our teammates, Kendall Moriarty, she’s (signed) … to Nebraska, she was like, ‘Why don’t we do Mac ‘N Cheese?’ So now we’re Mac ‘N Cheese. Now me and Mac, we love Mac ‘N Cheese, so we get it at every restaurant we go to as a team.”

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Wheeling’s Jaden Terrell Commits to Davenport to “Do Big Things”

Less than a week after Davenport offered him a full-ride scholarship, Jaden Terrell knew it was the place for him.

The Wheeling senior had been in conversations with the program for months, visiting the school’s Grand Rapids campus prior to officially being offered. After the coaching staff told the 6-7 wing he had a full-ride scholarship waiting for him, there was little doubt in Terrell’s mind.

“I was very excited at the time,” he said in a phone interview. “Knowing what I knew about the school, and the coaches and the players, I was pretty set on Davenport. … I felt like I could trust the coaches. I felt that when I go there I could do big things, help the team out a lot. And just thrive and progress in life.”

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Loyola commit Ramage ranges from confident to unstoppable

Mallory Ramage poses for a photo in her Indiana Elite Havoc uniform – Provided photo

Before Mattoon High School and Indiana Elite Havoc standout guard Mallory Ramage ever received a single collegiate offer, the then-sophomore provided one of her AAU coaches a list of schools.

“I did look into the (Loyola) basketball team actually, and I gave Dan (Gates) a list of colleges that I was really interested in and were on my list,” Ramage said. “I know a while back the (Ramblers) boys did really good, so I’ve known about the program for a while.”

The 5-9 junior who received her offer from the Ramblers this past July 15, committed on Nov. 4 to be part of the Missouri Valley Conference program in Chicago. Ramage said that Gates was especially helpful with recruiting, and feels that her time with Indiana Elite Havoc pushed her to this level.

Having also received offers from the likes of IUPUI, Wofford, Indiana State, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Eastern Illinois, and North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW), Ramage was a bonafide Division I inevitability.

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Commitments: Brandon Hall to ETSU and Trayton Trice to Lindenwood

Photos of Trayton Trice (left), Brandon Hall (center) and Caleb Corro (right) provided by Trice, Tai Streets and Saint Patrick High School, respectively.

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 “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.

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Commitment Notebook: Murphy & Braman a big pair of verbals

Aidan Murphy (left) shoots a free throw in a game for Glenbard West (provided photo). Luke Braman (right) blocks a shot in a postseason game for Roanoke-Benson. – Photo provided by Suzy Thompson

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.”

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Commitment Notebook: Fierce Howard chooses Murray State, Hopkins to Kentucky

TaKiya Howard handles the ball in a February contest against Mother McAuley. Beverley Review photo by Tim O’Brien

TaKiya Howard didn’t have to lead her team in scoring to be the type of impact player that caused colleges to come running.

Now a 5-10 senior guard who helped lead the 17-15 De La Salle Meteors last season as a junior, Howard committed to the Division I Murray State Racers on Oct. 19, telling that the Racers program fits her and her style of play.

“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.”

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Blue Demons getting a pair of sponges: Morrow Sisters Commit to DePaul

Provided photos via Miami-Dade athletics (Nazlah Morrow, left) and Baylor Youth Foundation (Aneesah Morrow, right).

In a family line of immensely successful athletes, the Morrow sisters Aneesah and Nazlah Morrow stand poised to be the next up to leave an impact on their respective sport. Aneesah, a 6-2 combo player and defending state champion for Simeon, made her verbal commitment to the DePaul Blue Demons on Saturday.

Demonstrating finesse and power on the hardwood as a junior — Aneesah Morrow averaged 23 points, 3.6 assists, 12.1 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 2.5 blocks per game for the 35-2 Wolverines — her coaches see tremendous upside in her. The Class of 2021 star came up big for the city and 3A champion Wolverines, posting a 22-point, 13-rebound effort in the state semifinals, propelling Johnny Davenport-coached Simeon to a state title win over Morton.

“I hope she comes out and (can) be an even stronger impact player than she was for our program,” Baylor Youth Foundation Director Toi Baylor said of Aneesah Morrow. “Hopefully she can make it overseas and into the WNBA because she’s that type of player.”

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