Category Archives: Recruiting

2021-22 Early Signing Day: Illinois Girls

Making a decision on where to play college basketball is one of the biggest moments in a young athlete’s life.

All year long we track player commitments. These announcements are generally verbal agreements by the players to the coaches and programs they will most likely play for, but they are not binding.

During multiple windows during the year, athletes can sign official National Letters of Intent (NLI) with their programs, more formally binding athlete to program.

For basketball the Early Signing Period this year is November 10-17. The regular period runs from April 13, 2022, through May 18, 2022. 

Below is a list of all official signees during the early period.

Division I Signings From Illinois

Commitments ordered alphabetically by high school.

Tessa Towers, Batavia

College: Wisconsin
Position: Center
Quote: “I just wanted to go to a school where there’s a good coaching staff and there’s coaches who care about their players … all their players told me that that they do deeply care,” Towers told Illinois-Basketball.com in the summer

 

Morgan Demos, Benet

College: Navy
Position: Forward
Quote: “Everything about that trip felt right,” Demos told Illinois-Basketball.com. “I met some of the players on the team. I saw the court. I saw what they had to offer with the campus.

Ella Lune, Brimfield

College: Eastern Illinois
Position: Forward

Camille Jackson, Butler College Prep

College: Illinois
Position: Guard
Notes: Had offers from DePaul, Louisville, Arizona State, Marquette, Mississippi State, Missouri, Penn State and others.

Tatiana Thomas, Bolingbrook

College: Kent State
Position: Forward
Quote: “I just had a lot of different schools talking to me so I wasn’t pinpoint on one school,” Thomas told Illinois-Basketball.com in July. “But once I visited them, I liked the coaches. They were really nice, kind and genuine. I got to hang out with the girls and they were super sweet, and I would ask them questions and I feel like they told me how it was. Some people just gaslight you … I feel like they were pretty truthful … it seems like a good place to call home.”

Grace Sullivan, Carmel Catholic

College: Bucknell
Position: Center

Alecia Doyle, Carterville

College: Southeast Missouri State
Position: Guard

https://twitter.com/officialsemowbb/status/1458611330789822468

Elle Evans, Edwardsville

College: North Dakota State
Position: Wing/Guard
Quote: “Elle has a very quick release and will be a prolific three-point shooter for us, but is also capable of putting the ball on the floor and making plays at the rim,” NDSU coach Jory Collins said in a press release. “Her ability to guard almost all positions defensively is also a plus for our versatility on that end. I think the thing that stands out most about Elle is that she wants to be great. She is coming to NDSU with a very clear picture of the career she wants to have and the legacy she wants to leave. Her maturity and focus will allow her to impact our team immediately when she gets here.”

Macy Silvey, Edwardsville

College: SIUE
Position: Guard
Quote: “I really enjoy playing basketball at a fast pace, and that is how coach (Samantha Quigley Smith) likes to coach as well,” Silvey told Illinois-Basketball.com in August. “From what I’ve seen so far, the team feels like I would really fit in there which also helps. It helps that the coaches really believe in me, and I think they think I will come in and help shape their program.”

Sydney Harris, Edwardsville

College: Central Michigan
Position: Forward
Notes: Held offers from Cleveland State, Indiana State, Evansville, Murray State, Wichita State, SIUE, Drake, Loyola Bradley and SIU according to the Edwardsville Intelligencer. 

Brianna Wooldridge, Fremd

College: IUPUI
Position: Forward
Notes: Has played at Lincoln-Way West and Fremd, as well as for Example Sports. Considered Top 10 prospect in Class of 2022 by several recruiting services.

Kammie Ludwig, Geneseo

College: Providence
Position: Guard

https://twitter.com/ladyleafbball/status/1458884451384111109?s=21

 

Brooke Blumenfeld, Glenbrook North

College: Northern Illinois
Position: Forward
Quote: “They play fast, they like to push it up the court,” Blumenfeld told Illinois-Basketball.com this summer. “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.”

 

Brianna McDaniel, Kenwood

College: Texas A&M
Position: Guard/Wing
Quote: “I knew that that was the best fit for me because after I hurt myself, they called me to check on me, see the things I needed, asked some of the trainers to give me some information,” McDaniel told Illinois-Basketball.com. “They were really hands-on. Even though I wasn’t physically with them, they were really hands-on with my injury and I really appreciated that. I love the team so much. They called me while I was going through [my recovery] … they checked on me, texted me after I had surgery … they gave me a family-type of vibe and I appreciated that.”

 

Whitney Dunn, Kenwood

College: Loyola
Position: Guard
Notes: Held offers from Valparaiso, Central Michigan, Cleveland State, UIC, Coppin State, Chicago State, Indiana State, UMKC, SIU, Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

Emily Pape, Maine South

College: Cornell
Position: Wing/Forward
Quote: “The coaches and players have made the decision so easy because on the unofficial visit I had just met the coaches,” Pape told Illinois-Basketball.com. “The players weren’t there yet. They were awesome. They were super welcoming. On the official visit I had met the players and hung out with them for the day and they were super cool.”

Bella Finnegan, Mother McAuley

College: Indiana State
Position: Guard/Wing
Notes: Averaged 11 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2 assists per game and made 24 3-pointers in 15 games per The Beverly Review.

Kenzie Hare, Naperville North

College: St. Louis
Position: Guard
Quote: “The way they recruited me made me feel comfortable,” Hare told Illinois-Basketball.com. “I have a great relationship with the staff. I talk to the head coach, coach (Lisa) Stone, every Sunday at 7 (p.m.). That’s been going on for over a year-and-a-half now. Definitely felt comfortable making that decision early.”

Simone Sawyer, Stevenson

College: Penn
Position: Guard

Faith Feuerbach, Sycamore

College: St. Thomas
Position: Guard/Wing
Notes: Interstate 8 co-MVP as a junior.

Joy Bergstrom, St. Viator

College: South Dakota
Position: Guard
Notes: Held offers from likes of Akron, St. Louis, UMKC, Valparaiso and UAB.

Sophie Sullivan, Willowbrook

College: SIUE
Position: Guard
Quote: “I absolutely loved SIUE right when I stepped on campus,” Sullivan told Illinois-Basketball.com in August. “Edwardsville is a really beautiful town I would say. I feel like no one really knows it until you get there. It just gave me a feeling of home, and I knew I could end up going there. I’ve also known coach Quigley for a long time. She’s seen me play since I was a freshman at Montini. She’s such a nice person. I can’t wait to learn more from her experiences as a player and a person because we played the same position.”

Division II Signings From Illinois

Avery Larson, Antioch

College: Truman State
Position: Forward/Center

Amanda Hansen, Fenwick

College: Adelphi
Position: Forward

Mya Davidson, Harlem

College: Lindenwood
Position: Forward/Wing
Quote: “That’s what Lindenwood was for me when I first set foot on campus, it … really felt like home,” Davidson told Illinois-Basketball.com in July. 

 

Oliva Mezan, Lyons Township

College: Missouri-St. Louis
Position: Guard

Hailey Markworth, Lyons Township

College: Winona State
Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard
Notes: 11.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a junior.

Ava Bardic, Stevenson

College: Illinois-Springfield
Position: Guard

Division III Signings From Illinois

Laura Mahlum, Barrington

College: Illinois Wesleyan
Position: Guard/Wing

Claire Nazos, Batavia

College: Dubuque
Position: Guard
Notes: Played for Illinois Lady Lightning program for 6 years. 

Myah Udell, Harlem

College: Rockford
Position: Guard 

Sara Balli, Lake Park

College: Illinois Wesleyan
Position: Point Guard
Notes: First-team all-conference in the DuKane as a junior. 

Hope Anecito, Naperville North

College: SUNY Canton
Position: Guard

Megan Duzansky, Providence Catholic

College: Benedictine
Position: Forward/Center

Laurelei Thormeyer, Providence Catholic

College: St. Francis (IL)
Position: Guard

Christina Simonetti, Resurrection College Prep

College: Dubuque
Position: Forward

 

Payton Jacob, St. Joseph-Ogden

College: Illinois Wesleyan
Position: Guard

Annika Gustafson, Warren

College: UW-La Crosse
Position: Center

Seeking Unpredictability, Maine South’s Emily Pape Chooses Cornell

Seeking Unpredictability, Maine South's Emily Pape Chooses Cornell

For Maine South senior and recent Cornell commit Emily Pape, being unpredictable is a matter of habit.
 
Pape had steady Division II and Division III interest going into and through her shortened 2021 junior season. The 6-1 Pape also garnered the interest of programs like Evansville, Brown University and Cornell.
 
A natural left-hander, Pape already brings a degree of surprise to the game in attacking the basket with a variety of different left-handed looks. Heading into her senior season, she wants to prepare in a way that will greatly assist her n her college transition.
 
“I’m left-handed and I love my left, as all lefties do,” Pape said. “Being  … harder to guard, unpredictable. I just want to be unpredictable, be able to fake left and then go right. I will go right, but a lot of people know that I like to go left.”
 
Maine South coach Jeffrey Hamann has seen that hunger for growth as long as he’s known Pape, whose freshman sister Ally Pape is now also in the program. 
 
“She just wants to be really good,” Hamann said. “She’s always had the goal to be a college basketball player ever since I met her. That was … she really really really worked for that. She wanted that really bad.”
 
When isolated from others early in the pandemic – Pape said that she worked a great deal with her sister  – Pape would get outside when possible to shoot, work on ball-handling and add other skills to her repertoire. The sisters served as each others’ rebounders during shooting drills. 
 
Off the court, Pape’s curiosity in the environment also grew during the pandemic.
 
“I’m taking right now an environmental science class in high school, and I’m super interested in it,” Pape said. “Over quarantine I was doing some research about it and I watched some documentaries. I just became super interested in it and passionate about it, and that’s why I came across Cornell.”
 
Pape said her Full Package Athletics coach and trainer Steve Pratt encouraged her to look specifically for college programs that offered environmental science majors. After visiting Evansville in June and garnering extensive looks from other programs in the summer, Pape went on an unofficial visit to Cornell in August and then an official visit the weekend of Sept. 26. She committed right after the visit, on Monday, Sept. 27. 
 
“The coaches and players have made the decision so easy because on the unofficial visit I had just met the coaches,” Pape said. “The players weren’t there yet. They were awesome. They were super welcoming. On the official visit I had met the players and hung out with them for the day and they were super cool.
 
“I went to a class with one of them,” she continued. “They were just so genuine. They really cared. I had just met them and it felt like I was so close with them already. I had a good connection with a lot of the players, and even the two other recruits that were there were already committed. That was cool to be there with them and spend some time with future teammates.”
 
As a junior with a largely talented Hawks team a season ago – Maine South went 14-3, and 10-0 to win the CSL – Pape averaged a team-high 13 points and 3.3 steals. She also had 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shot 75% from the free throw line in 17 games.
 
With a team that featured a handful of players capable of playing college basketball – Ellie Ronan will play at Oglethorpe this season – Pape stood out, heading the top of Maine South’s press and providing a variety of abilities that enhanced how the Hawks operate offensively.
 
“She has the athleticism, the length, the quickness,” Hamann said. “She’s able to go inside and outside. When you have that combination, and she’s a lefty … when you have that combination of size, athleticism and the ability to go inside and out, you have the potential to play big-time college basketball.”
 
Hamann, heading into his fourth season as Hawks head coach, notes that Pape has an uncanny ability to guard players of differing size and skill-sets.
 
“She might be at the top of her press at some point in her career (at Cornell), just as she is with us,” Hamann said. “She’s so long and athletic. She definitely led us in deflections and tipped balls. We keep that stat. She’s a really good passer too, so she’ll deflect, get the steal, find a teammate. She’s able to get the ball in transition and attack the basket hard. She’s able to step out and hit a three. She’s able to go inside and score against people in the paint as well.”
 
Loyola Academy’s Summer Parker-Hall is currently beginning her first season at Cornell, where Pape will presumably join up with her as the lone Illinois natives on the roster.
 
Heading into this prep season, the Hawks’ aspirations remain high. Pape feels the Hawks’ depth will be as strength as they defense a CSL title.
 
“We have a super deep bench this year, and I think we just have a lot of energy going into it,” Pape said. “Everybody wants to be there. Everybody works really hard. I think we’re just going to have a really fun season, and I think we’re going to be really successful in our conference.”

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.”

Q&A: Super Skilled Whitney Young Freshman Destiny Jackson

Destiny Jackson will only be a freshman this fall, but she is already a steady presence for the Whitney Young girls basketball team — a program that, by last count, had won at least 15 games over the summer without a loss.

Kaleb Carter of Illinois-Basketball spoke with Jackson on Thursday, June 24, after Whitney Young won summer league games against Kenwood and Batavia. Several days later Jackson picked up offers from Ohio State and Illinois after already having an offer from Arizona State.

Destiny Jackson attacks the basket during a June 24 summer league game against Kenwood at Morton College.
Destiny Jackson (Photo: Kaleb Carter)

Illinois-Basketball: How has it been getting acclimated to varsity with your teammates during this summer ball league?

Destiny Jackson: “It’s been great, I really like my teammates. I like how we bond together and we haven’t even had as many practices or games as most people, but I like how things are going so far.”

I-B: What’s nice about the (bench’s production) and depth this summer?

DJ: “It’s definitely nice to have a bench full of people who just come in the game and be what the starting lineup can be.”

I-B: Did you set any goals coming into this summer league, things you wanted to accomplish individually or as a group?

DJ: “Just molding together as a team really. It’s not really individually. I’m a pass-first point guard, so it’s about my team, just molding together as a team.

I-B: Are you all as a team setting goals for the upcoming winter season?

DJ: “Yes, we want to win city and state. Definitely. We want to go undefeated if it’s a possibility.”

I-B: Facing Kenwood is a great chance to test to see where you’re at. Even knowing they’ll still have other players back (a pair of starters that didn’t play Thursday), how nice was it to make a statement like that?

DJ: It was great, Kenwood and Whitney Young have some type of rivalry, so it was great just being able to beat Kenwood the first time we come out. The way we beat them was great.”

I-B: Have you had a chance to attend some college camps?

DJ: “I actually just went to the Louisville camp and they said they loved me. They said they’d reach out to my coach so that’s the only camp I’ve been to so far, but I’m going to go to the Marquette camp and Purdue camp.”

 

Destiny Jackson (Photos: Kaleb Carter)

 

Q&A: Glenbard West Forward Ryan Renfro Due to See Increased College Interest

On one of the biggest teams in the state, Ryan Renfro is an overlooked athlete who wouldn’t be in the background at nearly any other boys basketball program in Illinois. As it is, the 6-8, 225-pound senior forward who plays in the middle of Glenbard West’s arduous 1-3-1 zone, is surrounded by some of the other more talented players in the state of Illinois.

The Hitters went 13-1 in 2021, blowing away most of their competition and beginning to receive warranted respect from Chicago-area and statewide media. They have been remarkably large for several years now, something Illinois-Basketball.com wrote about in November. And while many will understandably shower adulation upon the likes of Division-I talent Braden Huff, Caden Pierce and newcomer Bobby Durkin, Renfro is starting to put on display the type of athletic feats and on-the-floor determination that should have more colleges calling soon. 

While not possessing as much shooting or ball-handling skills necessarily as some of his teammates, Renfro possesses the traits that winning programs need in players to put them over the top. As a quarterback previously, his footwork is an aspect of his game that will steadily improve. A physically imposing post presence, Renfro can play bully ball around the rim and does so often on the offensive glass.

Governors State had offered as Renfro a spot on the team as of June 24. More offers are surely to follow.

Ryan Renfro, at center playing defense against Michele Clark. (Photo Kaleb Carter)

Illinois-Basketball.com’s Kaleb Carter spoke with Renfro following two Ridgewood Live shootout wins over Michele Clark and Maine South. 

Illinois-Basketball: What are you guys doing well this summer?

Ryan Renfro: “We may have five guys on the court, but we’re all one player. We’re all working the ball around, getting it to each other. We’ve been playing (together) since fourth grade, so we all know each other really well. I think it’s the chemistry that stands out the most. We’re always looking for the extra pass, it’s just a ton of fun.”

I-B: As an individual, do you try to have an individual identity yourself or is there anything in particular you’re trying to do when you’re on the floor?

RR: “When I’m on the floor, I’m just trying to find the small things to impact the team. I’ve got some of the greatest scorers in the state [around me], so my role, I feel like I really have to go for every offensive rebound or get helpline, maybe take a charge. But I mean, that stuff is just going to lead to scoring on my end, so I just love making the extra pass, hustling, because that’s what helps our team the most.”

I-B: You guys are playing some of the best teams you can this sumer, so how do you think you guys have responded in some of these instances and where do you still want to improve? 

RR: “We’re just hoping to come out and try and blow every team out. Nobody would expect Glenbard West to be good, so we’re just trying to make a name for ourselves. We have a big target on our back this year, so I mean, it’s just going out there, proving them wrong and just staying humble because we know we can do it ourselves.”

I-B: As you’ve got the attention for being the “big team” — what has that been like?

RR: Yeah *laughs* the big team. Oh yeah, we have a lot of teams that like to talk bad about us, say we’re overrated and stuff, but at the end of the day, we know what to do, we’ve been here many times. Height is height. We were going to be the same team no matter what, but it does help though.”

I-B: You do want to play college basketball, so what are your expectations in terms of what type of college you’d like to attend?

RR: “I like to shoot big. You shoot for the moon and land in the stars is what I say so hopefully I can end up playing mid-major basketball at the DI level. I don’t know what my options are yet, but I’m just hoping I can play at the next level…hopefully mid-major for sure.”

I-B: Are you considering JUCO then going up, etc.?

RR: “If that’s the option, that’s what it is. If prep school is the option, it is. I’m not going to quit. Basketball is the sport.”

I-B: Have you made any college visits or had anyone reach out to you?

RR: “ I have not made any visits, but I have talked with West Point (Army), North Dakota and Cleveland State reached out to me. It’s nothing final yet. I just started this recruitment process. A bunch of schools have been texting me, it’s pretty fun. Nothing yet, hopefully some more though. I’ve just got to play my game and hopefully more will come.”

(Photo: Kaleb Carter)

Ridgewood Live Notebook: Tinley Park, Kenwood and Others (+Photo Gallery)​

Keon Richardson at Ridgewood Live 2021

Ridgewood Live Notebook: Tinley Park, Kenwood and Others (+Photo Gallery)

Ridgewood hosted a live event and tournament June 25 to June 27. More than 80 boys teams from the Chicagoland participated, and many of the top players in the state were on display.

Kaleb Carter stopped by the event Friday and caught a number of games and got a chance to chat with some of the standouts.

Tinley Park's Keon Richardson Eyes the Future

Keon Richardson at Ridgewood Live 2021
Tinley Park's Keon Richardson at the Ridgewood Live event. (Photo: Kaleb Carter)

Keon Richardson said that Tinley Park is starting to put the pieces together that could lead to a successful winter season. While some of his teammates have missed action thus far in the summer period, the senior point guard and the Titans showed flashes of excellence.

“Summer been good, got a lot of competition,” Richardson. “Good up and down. The Hillcrest tournament was good.”

At Ridgewood, Richardson showed off a pass-first mindset and distinct court vision that has led to college contact from Tulsa and IUPUI. He’s due for a July 1 visit to Tulsa.

“I’m looking for a school that lets the guards be free, lets the guards coach on the floor,” Richardson said.

Kenwood's Davius Loury Does It All

Kenwood Davius Loury
Kenwood's Davius Loury (0) and JJ Taylor (1) guard a St. Charles East ball-handler. (Photo: Kaleb Carter)

Kenwood assistant coach PJ Jones said that rising junior Davis Loury, a 6-7 wing with more than a handful of Division I offers, is the Broncos’ “Mr. do-it-all.”

Quite a compliment for a program that has some of most talented players in the state of Illinois. 

“He’s kind of what makes our team go, especially (since) he’s a mismatch for most teams,” Jones said. “Some of our other guys really take up the other team’s best defender, so that usually leaves Davius with someone smaller on him … just getting him to crash the boards, post up when he’s got a little guy and shoot over top of them.”

Loury received an offer Friday from Appalachian State while at the event. He also holds offers from DePaul, Illinois, LSU, Miami (OH), Nebraska and Western Illinois.

This summer alongside his talented teammates, Loury is working on several simple aspects of his game. He emphasized his need to become a better ball-handler.

“My shot, dribbling, passing the ball, drive-and-kick and more athleticism,” Loury said. 

According to Jones, Loury’s versatility gives Kenwood more options, especially on the offensive end. 

“He’s another option to bring the ball up and run the offense through, that’s great,” Jones said. “It relieves some pressure off the other guys. For him as a player, being able to do multiple things, he played great defense today, being able to defend all five spots is something we want to see out of him.”

In addition to a flock of major Division I coaches being in attendance for 5-star recruit JJ Taylor (Class of 2023), the Broncos showcased Darrin Ames (2023) and recently returned and highly recruited Trey Pettigrew, a senior, on the floor. 

“He left Illinois when he was ranked the the No. 2 player in the state,” Jones said of Pettigrew. “With the COVID season in limbo, he moved out to Arizona. He was ranked the No. 5 player out in Arizona. With him, getting acclimated with the guys, he’s played in the same AAU program as some of the younger guys, different teams though, 16U teams, 17U teams. Getting him acclimated and letting him know that college coaches know that you can score the ball, but we want to see you facilitate a little more, personal that’s what I want to see him down.”

With rising freshmen Bryce Heard and Rob Walls contributing as well, the Broncos’ lone loss at the three-day event came to Glenbard West, a team loaded with senior, college-level talent.

Other Notable Teams and Players

  • St. Charles East’s Trent Warren (class of 2022) had a hot shooting weekend, putting up double-digits in three straight games, including 20 against Kenwood and 25 versus Fenton. He also used our photo (we see you, Trent) for his new Twitter profile avatar. 
  • Lots of coaches were in attendance, including Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Illinois’ Brad Underwood, Wisconsin’s Greg Hard, Bradley’s Brian Wardle, UIC’s Luke Yaklich and plenty of others. Former NBA superstar Shawn Marion was even there watching Kenwood. 
  • DePaul College Prep has reloaded, and perhaps most intriguing is Dylan Arnett (2022), a 6-9 forward who walked away from the event with a Western Michigan offer. He showed himself capable of replacing some of the production lost down low from North Dakota signee Brian Matthews. 
  • Hillcrest and Tinley Park both showcased potential in the form of talented guards and springy forwards, but both will need the extra time leading up to the season to put things together. Matthew Moore (2023) and Bryce Tillery (2023) of Hillcrest showed flashes of what could make Hillcrest nearly as good as it was in 2021
  • I don’t have much to say about Glenbard West that hasn’t been said. They look like state championship material. They’re downright huge. The 1-3-1 zone they trot out covers more space than any other zone that comes to mind at the high school level. GBW did finish the event undefeated, including a close win over Kenwood. A couple spurts from senior transfer Bobby Durkin (Hinsdale South), including a deep 3-pointer and a two-handed slam in rapid succession, opened eyes. 
  • I was witness at the end of my day to a close affair between Whitney Young and Lake Forest. Asa Thomas is no joke and is dangerous from wherever and in creating. Whitney Young’s length and athleticism plus clutch plays late from D-I recruits A.J. Casey (offered by Florida Saturday), Xavier Amos (2022) and Daniel Johnson (2023) led to the win over a charged up Lake Forest squad. Casey is so smooth and improving in his all-around game. 
  • DeKalb’s Martez Jackson (2022) is a scrappy guard who defends just the way DeKalb teams have been taught to over the last handful of years by head coaches Al Biancalana and Mike Reynolds (both of whom I covered previously at the DeKalb Daily Chronicle). 
  • Simeon’s  Rubin twins, Miles and Wesley (recent transfers from Homewood-Flossmoor) have tremendous upside as incoming juniors. They are going to be ridiculous to try and stop as a tandem in the coming years.
  • Bolingbrook has some fearless guards and lots of size. Beware of coach Robert Brost’s perennially reliable bunch. 
  • The way Batavia guard Trent Tousana carries himself showcases his confidence, and I’m excited to hear how often he scores in bunches this year. 

Girls Notebook: Butler College Prep trio picking up major college interest; Kenwood and Whitney Young opening eyes

Butler College Prep’s triumphant trio of Camille Jackson, Xamiya Walton and Christin Brewer are helping the Lynx take on all comers this summer, showcasing talent that has had Division I colleges calling steadily.

Class of 2022 guard Camille Jackson returns for one last go around after leading her squad to consecutive Noble League championships. 

At Morton College’s summer league, the Lynx played tough against one of the better programs in the state in Kenwood, and then ran past St. Ignatius Thursday. The scores mattered less than the chemistry displayed on the floor for one of Chicago’s better small class programs. 

Camille Jackson takes a jumper.

“We’re on a roll and we have a lot to accomplish, but it also means we’re getting better as a program,” Jackson said. 

With collegiate offers rolling in at the Division I level, Jackson has expressed the most interest in DePaul and Illinois. 

“So far, I’m narrowing it down, getting closer to making an announcement, but it’s been DePaul and Illinois so far,” Jackson said.

Jackson isn’t the only one drawing interest from big midwest programs.

Walton (class of 2024), has wowed due to her handles and shooting ability. Loyola, Illinois, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Western Michigan, Memphis and Xavier have all extended offers. 

“It feels really great with these colleges showing interest because it’s what we work for,” Walton said. “Seeing the hard work pay off, it’s showing that you should be where you are and deserve everything. It’s really nice talking to these colleges, staying in touch and stuff and talking to new schools every week.”

All three of the Lynx expressed that competing against the state’s best teams helps prepare them for the regular season. For Butler, that means continuing its dominance of the Noble League.

“I feel like it’s a big accomplishment,” Brewer said of winning a second consecutive Noble title last season. “We didn’t have that much time to practice and have a season so to win it as a team, it was really good.”

Butler’s Christin Brewer drives into the paint against St. Igantius

“Once they said we’d have a Noble championship, we said we’d win it,” Walton said. “So I think that was nice to get us going for the summer league and we’re hoping to let this roll into next season.”

Lynx coach Xaver Walton, Xamiya Walton’s father, expressed that he felt Brewer would have drawn more attention from strong college programs if given the chance with a full season last year. 

A St. Ignatius player and Butler’s Camille Jackson battle for the ball.

And while Brewer, a 6-1 forward with improving ball-handling skills, is hoping that she is playing college ball next year while studying business administration, she’s fine focusing on the now. 

“This summer we’ve got out of this (Morton) tournament [becoming] more conditioned working as a team, bonding, [learning] how to play together,” Brewer said.

That doesn’t mean the Lynx don’t have big goals.

“We’ve been stressing we want to be state champions for our (class), Jackson said, with her teammates in agreement 

Young’s Jones and Jackson drawing attention  

Whitney Young’s lengthy class of 2023 forward Skylar Jones showcased the athleticism and skill on the block that showed why schools like DePaul, Syracuse and Miami have felt the need to extend an offer. Tanila Marshall, a now-senior, combines with Jones to give the Dolphins an improving and athletic presence around the rim. 

Jones was part of a Dolphins group that went undefeated in 12 games over the course of the summer league. 

“Skylar just got back from Louisville camp,” Whitney Young coach Krissy Harper said. “She is definitely a player to watch and everybody should know about her.”

Harper added about complementary guard Olivia Vick (class of 2023), who combos with Lily Montalvo (2023) for a swift and skilled backcourt: “Dead eye shooter. She’s actually working now on her mid-range and putting the ball on the floor and expanding her game. But if you leave her open for the three, she will knock it down.”

On top of all that returning talent, Young adds freshman point guard Destiny Jackson who already holds offers from Illinois and Ohio State.

“Our freshman is so good,” Harper said. “She came in with confidence. As a point guard you need that. She’s leading the team and she’s doing an excellent job.”

Broncos finding form

Kenwood’s Whitney Dunn (2022) has led the way in the absence of injured top prospect Brianna McDaniel (2022) while getting help from a supporting cast that’s finding its way. Freshman Ariella Hennigan showed talent in bursts, while Ayanna Jackson (2023), Jazelle Young (2023) and Ariana Williams (2024) proved exciting, especially so against Butler. Jackson in particular was a playmaker of note, scoring in the post, making timely passes and more.

It will be exciting to see DonYeil Bolton, a senior forward with multiple college offers, and McDaniel this winter when they return to the floor. 

Camille Jackson of butler tries to drive past Whitney Young of Kenwood while Jazelle Young (32) readies defensively.

First look at Example Academy

Example Academy, perhaps the most talented program in the summer league, is a newly founded prep program with players carried over from Example Sports’ AAU program. With a boatload of Division I and other collegiate-level talent, the likes of Jasmine Brown, Kennise Johnson-Etienne, Madisyn Saracco, Nakiyah Mays-Prince among others will be highly coveted and written about aplenty in the coming years. 

More shots from the Morton College Summer League

Whitney Young 2022 Forward Xavier Amos Raises Stock at RB Shootout

Xavier Amos Recruiting

Whitney Young 2022 forward Xavier Amos boosted his stock tremendously during the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, with one of the top performances of the weekend in front of coaches from colleges such as Loyola, Michigan and Illinois. 

The multi-faceted 6-8 forward held one offer from Mount St. Mary’s before the event and left with three other college offers. The first offer of the weekend came from Loyola-Chicago, which he had been in contact with before the event.

“I went to a visit with them on Monday the 15th,” Amos said in an interview at the shootout. ”The campus was great. And the coach called me on the way home yesterday and told me he wants to tell me [about the offer] before I got home.” 

Amos has the size and skill to play as a modern power forward at the next level. He has a good handle and moves fluidly for a player of his size. Amos showed the ability to score down low or take his defender off the dribble. He and his teammate, AJ Casey, the top-ranked 2022 prospect in Illinois, have a good connection on high-low plays.  Defensively, Amos uses his length to protect the rim. 

Amos plays with Team Rose on the summer circuit, which has helped prepare him in terms of the competition he’s facing and getting exposure from college coaches. 

“Oh, It’s been really good, alking, getting more interesting from coaches,” Amos said. “Yeah, we are going to carry it into July. Hopefully, that goes well.” 

Amos is using the summer to fine-tune every aspect of his game. 

“Shooting, dribbling, defense, everything, he said. “I’m trying to get better at everything.” 

Before the end of the weekend, Amos received offers from Kent State and Northern Illinois. That momentum carried into the week, with offers from Indiana State and Cal State Fullerton as well.

Wisconsin Coaching Staff Key to Tessa Towers Commitment

Batavia girls basketball coach Kevin Jensen has had his fair share of athletes go on to collegiate athletics, but Monday may have been the first time he was yelping for joy after hearing a college decision.

Tessa Towers, a 6-5 rising senior, made official her commitment to the Wisconsin Badgers after a visit and offer on June 16. Towers met with prospective future teammates and picked up good vibes immediately. 

Towers

“I just have a feeling this is it,” Jensen recalls Towers telling him.

Jensen’s response: Why wait or prolong what seems to be a natural fit?

“It’s a dream come true,” Towers said. 

“I could just see how they treat their players there and it’s just amazing,” Towers said. “I just wanted to go to a school where there’s a good coaching staff and there’s coaches who care about their players … all their players told me that that they do deeply care.”

Towers shared the thrill of her decision with those closest to her.

“My family, they’re all so excited for me,” Towers said. “My mom, she was so excited as well. She loves Wisconsin. She was so excited for me to get the next chapter of my life done.” 

The Badgers women’s basketball program, featuring multiple Illinois natives already, is heading into its first season under coach Marisa Moseley. Brooke Schramek of Naperville (Benet Academy) and former Lake Forest star Halle Douglass will be sophomores. Both Illinois natives played over 17 minutes per game as freshmen as the Badgers went 5-19. 

A unanimous all-conference player in the DuKane Conference this past season, Towers is a double-double machine with top-level strength on the block. Jensen said that there are things about her game that would surprise observers who just see Towers for her size, citing her ability to run the floor, improving leadership qualities and overall athleticism.

Jensen believes Towers has plenty of untapped potential and certainly has high hopes for what she can do for the Badgers. But for now, he has reason to be thrilled about a Batavia Bulldogs team that has as much talent as any in his decade-plus tenure in the role. Towers is central to that.

“She has the capability to be utterly dominant,” Jensen said. “She could put up a 20-rebound game like nothing. She could get six blocks like nothing. She’s not going to do it every night, but you might see a 30- or 40-point night this season. Even if he doesn’t have those things, she affects the game in so many ways.”

In a 5-11 season, Batavia found itself in close games with some of the Chicagoland suburbs’ stronger area programs like Burlington Central (a 63-60 loss), South Elgin (56-49 win), Lake Park (losses by 59-55 and 72-69), Geneva (a 60-57 loss) and St. Charles North (a 49-46 win).

The Bulldogs will face another tough schedule in 2021-22, but with a fellow Division I recruit Brooke Carlson — a rising sophomore — back to lead the way at point guard, Batavia has plenty of reason to be optimistic about the upside of this squad. Jensen said Carlson is one of the toughest and most explosive players he’s ever coached. 

“I think we’re pretty good as a pair,” Towers said. “Me and her, we work so well together. She is such a great passer … She can move the ball around so well. I feel like me and her this year are going to be unstoppable.” 

With the Bulldogs competing with a renewed hunger at the Geneva and Morton College summer leagues, Jensen can’t help but have a certain ring to his voice as he anticipates what’s to come.  

“I can see in a lot of their eyes, even what we’ve done in the summer, the level of focus and the level of seriousness in which they’re taking even the little things, from my standpoint,” Jensen said. “It’s really fun to see.”

Towers wants to expand her shooting range and level of comfort further from the basket this season. She’s just fine taking her time before ultimately taking her quiet, but growing confidence to Madison.

“I want to help my team as much as I can,” Towers said. “I just want to have a great senior year this year and play our hardest and make it as far as we can.”

Unsigned Senior Girls Looking For A College Program

With the season completed and a boatload of talent still making moves trying to find the right college to land at, we’ve done some soliciting.

Jakub Rudnik and Kaleb Carter have been asking you to fill out a google form for seniors trying to play at the next level.

This will be an ongoing list on the site this offseason. We’ll be adding to and subtracting from it as players sign, and we hope you’ll help us keep folks informed as to the players who commit and sign with college programs. 
If you want to add to the list, fill out this form.

Updated List of Illinois Unsigned Senior Basketball Players

Kamryn Grice: F, Clifton Central

Senior Statistics:
  • 11 ppg 10 rpg
  • Comments: “Athletic build forward. Plays inside but can also shoot outside.”
  • Contact: rswigert@cusd4.org

Niamh Gardner: F, Maine South

Senior Statistics:

  • 10.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.0 spg
  • Awards: CSL South Conference Player of the Year (2021 season), Two-Time CSL South All-Conference (2019-2020 and 2021 seasons), Multiple All-Tournament Teams in 2019-2020 season, IBCA All-State Special Recognition 2019-2020 season, Daily Herald 1st Team All-Area 2019-2020 season
  • Coach comments: “Niamh is this season’s CSL South Conference Player of the Year. The CSL South is one of the best conferences in the state in girls basketball. I am very surprised that Niamh has not had more offers. Throughout her entire career, Niamh has been a special player for our team. She has done so much for us. At 5’11”, she can score from multiple areas on the floor, she rebounds, she can defend multiple positions, she shares the ball and she is mentally and physically tough. If there were a defensive player of the year in our conference, I am confident that Niamh would also earn that recognition. She was always assigned to the opposing team’s best player, no matter what position she played. Her combination of athleticism, speed and skill, makes her a special player. “
  • Contact coach Jeff Hamann, jhamann@maine207.org, (630)975-1987

Nicole Gardner: F, Maine South

  • Height: 5-11

Senior Statistics

  • Awards: Two-Time CSL South All-Conference (2019-2020 and 2021 seasons), Multiple All-Tournament Teams in 2019-2020 season, IBCA All-State Special Recognition 2019-2020 season, Daily Herald 1st Team All-Area 2019-2020 season.
  • Coaches’ comments: “An elite 3-point shooter. Last season, she made 77 3-pointers, which is second all-time in program history for a single season. If this season were a full season, she would have ended up second all-time for her career in made 3-pointers. She is in the top 10 all-time in program history in steals and would have eclipsed the 1000-point mark if this season was a full season. Nicole, like her sister Niamh, is an extremely versatile player. She can score from multiple areas on the floor, she can defend multiple positions, she rebounds and she is willing to share the ball and is very mentally and physically tough. The combination of her speed, strength, athleticism and skill really enables her to be a special basketball player. In addition, Nicole is an extremely smart basketball player. She understands the game and is a student of the game.”
  • Contact: Jeff Hamann, jhamann@maine207.org, 630-975-1987

Samara Swire: PG, Lincoln-Way East

  • Height: 5-5

Senior statistics

  • 10 ppg; 5 rpg; 3 spg; 4 apg
  • Honor Roll all four years
  • Comments: “Good defender, attacks the glass, plays fast.”
  • Contact: High school coach: 708-705-7693 – AAU Coach: 708-785-4667

Highlights

Lauren Huber: G, Glenbard East

Height: 5-8

Senior Statistics

  • 20.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.2 spg, 45.6% FG
  • Awards: Team MVP for third straight year, All-Area Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs First team, Upstate Eight All-Conference for third straight season, program all-time leader in points, Class 4 All-state pick in 2019-2020, 1st team all-state 2021
  • 5.4 G.P.A., 1,300 SAT
  • Coaches’ comments: “Lauren Huber is an amazing leader, teammate ad person She has through her hard work and dedication lifted her high school team to its highest level She is an incredible athlete. Her speed, stamina and vertical is uncanny. Her skill development has grown so much over the last year and a half. Her ceiling is very high/ She is an impact payer, coachable and the best basketball player to take the floor in the history of cour school. She is a joy to coach.”
  • Contact: Coach Nicole Miller 630-404-7140

Highlights

Emma Rush: G, Vienna

  • Height: 5-8

Senior statistics

  • Reached 1,000 points

Highlights

Tyler Butler, F, Belleville East

Senior Statistics

  • 19.5 ppg, 15.7 rpg through March 3
  • Awards: First team All-Southwestern Conference

Rhema Ogele: F, St. Ignatius

Senior statistics

  • 12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg
  • Awards: GCAC all-conference
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