Girls Underclassmen to Watch: Black Diamond Conference

AMIAH HARGROVE | CHRISTOPHER

POWER FORWARD | Fr. | 6-2

23.1 PPG | 11.2 RPG | 1.5 APG | 3.0 BPG 

  • First Team All-State: AP 
  • First Team All-State: IBCA
  • First Team and MVP: Black Diamond West Division
  • All-South Team: Southern Illinois Coaches Association
  • Led Christopher turnaround from 5-24 in 2019-20 to 10-1 overall, 9-1 conference record in 2020-21 as outright Black Diamond West champs
  • Offers: Illinois, Missouri State, Arkansas State

AWARDS

OFFERS

COACH'S COMMENTS

“For most of the year, we started four sophomores and a freshman. We are only graduating two of the fourteen players on the roster this year. Our entire starting lineup will be back next year. I was proud of the way the girls competed this year. After going 5-24 last year, it was a major turnaround. Part of that turnaround was adding a phenomenal freshman in Amiah Hargorve. The other part was the experience that the now sophomores gained as freshman at the varsity level last year. We held teams to 35 points a game on defense.” – Coach Seiger Shurtz

MAKAYLA DEJEAR | CHRISTOPHER

GUARD | So. | 5-4

7.9 PPG | 2.5 RPG | 1.5 SPG 

  • All-Conference: Black Diamond West Division
  • Team-high 21 three-pointers made
  • Hudl Profile

AWARDS

CARSON BELANGEE | HAMILTON COUNTY

GUARD | So. | 5-7

8.7 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 2.1 APG | 1.1 SPG 

  • All-Conference: Black Diamond East Division

AWARDS

KAELEE KARCHER | HAMILTON COUNTY

FORWARD | So. | 5-8

8.1 PPG | 3.1 RPG | 1.4 APG  | 1.6 SPG

  • All-Conference: Black Diamond East Division

  • Scored career-high 19 points against Fairfield

  • Also all-conference volleyball player

AWARDS

KATE BOOK | FAIRFIELD

GUARD | So. | 5-7

4.6 PPG | 56.8 FG% 

  • All Conference: Black Diamond East Division
  • 4.6 points, shot 56.8% from the floor

AWARDS

ISABEL SHEPHARD | EDWARDS COUNTY

FORWARD | So. | 5-8

  • All-Conference: Black Diamond East Division 
  • Scored 20 points twice as a freshman
  • Hudl profile

AWARDS

Girls Underclassmen to Watch: Big Twelve Conference

With the shortened 2020-21 hoops season in the books, Illinois-Basketball.com is on a mission this offseason to make note of some of the best returning players in the state.

We’ve been tracking all-conference honors and other awards since the season ended, and have reached out to every coach in the conference for statistics and other info.

Below are the top-performing underclassmen from the Big Twelve Conference.

Big Twelve Conference Girls Underclassmen

DENALI CRAIG-EDWARDS | PEORIA

WING | So. | 6-0

17.5 PPG | 11 RPG | 3 APG | 2 SPG 

COACH'S COMMENTS

“Exceptional understanding for the game, athletic, strong, creates numerous mismatches with her versatility, size, and tremendous 3-point shooting.  She is also an Exceptional Student with a 4.0 GPA.” – Coach Meeche Edwards

AWARDS

AALIYAH GUYTON | PEORIA

GUARD | FR. | 5-7

17 PPG | 3 RPG | 4 APG | 3 SPG 

COACH'S COMMENTS

“Point guard/Shooting guard with phenomenal understanding for the game.  Ability to finish around the bucket and create opportunities for her players.  An excellent shooter and slasher, with tremendous work ethic on and off the floor.  She is another exceptional student with a 3.9 GPA.” – Coach Meechie Edwards

AWARDS

COLLEGE OFFERS

Vanderbilt

JA'KIYA JORDAN | PEORIA

GUARD | Fr. | 5-10

6 PPG | 2 RPG 

COACH'S COMMENTS

“Exceptional ability to finish around the bucket, and create mismatches as well with her ability to shoot from beyond the 3-point line and standing at a strong 5’10”.  Great room for growth and the hunger to get better everyday. For her age, understands the game well, works hard, and is another exceptional student with a 4.0 GPA. – Coach Meechie Edwards

MYA WARDLE | PEORIA NOTRE DAME

GUARD | Fr. | 5-7

12.6 PPG 

  • IBCA Class 3A All-State Special Mention

  • First team All-Big Twelve

AWARDS

COLLEGE OFFERS

Eastern Illinois

ELIZABETH DALY | PEORIA NOTRE DAME

FORWARD | So. | 6-0

5.6 RPG 

  • First team All-Big Twelve

AWARDS

SOPHIA FEENEY | NORMAL COMMUNITY

GUARD | So. | 5-4

14.8 PPG | 5.3 RPG 

  • First team All-Big Twelve

AWARDS

KAMRYN HEIDER | RICHWOODS

GUARD | Fr. | 5-7

  • First team all-Big Twelve

  • Had a 22-point, 6 3-pointer, 6-steal, 8-assist game

AWARDS

ASHLEY WILCOX | NORMAL WEST

GUARD | So. | 5-8

  • First team All-Big Twelve

AWARDS

KATIE BARGER | BLOOMINGTON

POINT GUARD | So. | 5-8

  • Honorable mention All-Big Twelve
  • 12-points, 13-rebound, 4-assist game vs. Manual
  • 16-point, 8-rebound game against Champaign Central.
  • Hudl profile

AWARDS

AVERY LOSCHEN | CENTENNIAL

GUARD | So. | 5-6

AWARDS

ADDY MCLEOD | CENTRAL

GUARD | So. | 5-5

  • Honorable mention All-Big Twelve

  • Champaign News-Gazette honorable mention

  • Scored 19 in a win over Manual, 16 in a loss to Peoria Notre Dame

AWARDS

MCKENZIE SPRAGUE | URBANA

GUARD | So.

  • Honorable mention All-Big Twelve

AWARDS

‘The Missing Piece:’ Okaw Valley grad wins National Player of the Year

From tiny Bethany, Illinois (population 1,216), Drury University junior Paige Robinson seemed destined for big things from the outset of her basketball career. 

Okay Valley girls basketball coach Brad Ackers saw it from the beginning of her time on the team there. Ackers calls Robinson a gym rat and said he’s not all that surprised by her success.

“Paige’s IQ is off the charts in terms of the game of basketball and her instinct,” Ackers said. “She’s as skilled as any player I’ve ever been around in terms of ball-handling and shooting. That’s been apparent pretty much from the get-go.”

The junior for the NCAA Division II national runner-up Drury Panthers received a phone call recently that may not have shocked her high school coach, but certainly took her aback.  

Robinson had been named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division II National Player of The Year. 

“I got a random phone call from my head coach (Amy Eagan),” Robinson said. “Didn’t expect it whatsoever and I started bawling my eyes out. It just proves my hard work paid off.”

Robinson, boasted averages per game of 21.1 points, 4.8 assists, 2 steals and 2.4 3-pointers, and sank 39.6% of her three-point shots this season. Robinson said it was her defense that perhaps had improved the most.

“I was always known as a scorer in high school, and even in my freshman and sophomore year (of college),” Robinson said. “I think I’ve matured as a player and as a person on and off the court.”

The award was handed down just before the Panthers played in the Division II national semifinals in Columbus, Ohio. Robinson had already collected Great Lakes Valley Conference regular season and conference tournament MVP for the Panthers, who went on to fall in the national championship game to defending champs Lubbock Christian 69-59.

When Robinson was being recruited by Drury, while also drawing Division I interest simultaneously, a piece of confidence in Robinson’s abilities from the Drury staff stuck with her. As the 2017-18 Mattoon Journal Gazette & Charleston Times-Courier Player of The Year, Robinson had put many excellent pieces of her game together.

“When I was getting recruited my coach was telling me you’re the missing piece to a national championship and that just really stuck with me,” Robinson said. “That was a huge part in me coming to Drury and I’m glad I’m here.”

Drury was undefeated in 2019-20 before the pandemic brought a premature end to the campaign. Getting as far as Drury has this season, after losing several important seniors from that group, fell largely on the shoulders of the Okaw Valley graduate. 

“We had a lot of people thinking we weren’t going to make it as far as we did,” Robinson said. “We had a few seniors graduate. We had a girl before me, Hailey Diestelkamp, she was the national player of the year and everyone thought that since she was leaving and Daejah Bernard was leaving they thought that we weren’t going to make it all the way. So we just used that as a chip on our shoulders and carried that with us throughout the season.”

The Panthers won by single-digits in the national quarterfinals and semifinals in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. That came after a round of 16 home victory over national power Ashland (OH). 

The game being played at the convention center is the latest in a line of slights that women’s basketball advocates have highlighted toward the end of this past season most notably. 

Robinson said each team at the championship game was allotted 36 tickets apiece, and the game was played in a ballroom. 

By comparison, the men’s Division II title game was played at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, an arena with a seating capacity of 11,000 with seemingly several hundred in attendance (official attendance listed as 1,080). 

“I think when people think of D-II, they think of those kids who couldn’t have made it D-I, but a lot of us had D-I offers and we could easily go up to D-I and compete with those kids,” Robinson said. “I think if people watch us, they can see how high of a level we play at and how much we deserve as athletes. It was disappointing like I said to play at an arena like that, but I think if people give us more support, they’ll see why we think we deserve more.”

The Panthers came from behind multiple times in the tournament to get to the final, and even came from down 20 to within four points in the title game. 

Robinson, who is currently treating some nagging injuries while entering offseason mode, is already thinking of what it’ll take to elevate things to another level next season for the Panthers. 

Paige Robinson dribbles down the court in an NCAA tournament game against Ashland. (Credit -Terry Griffin, DU sports communications)

Not that Robinson isn’t used to playing through trouble. As a high schooler, Robinson fought through what she didn’t know was a torn labrum sustained in Okaw Valley’s conference tournament, and played through the pain to the state semifinals. Ackers also mentioned other injuries Robinson has gutted out. 

“She’s a killer,” Achers said. “She just is.”  

It takes more than nagging injuries to keep her off the floor. 

“We take away It takes a lot of hard work to get there,” Robinson said. “We’re not just going to walk in to the season next year and just expect to get that far. We took a tough loss in the middle of the season, and I think that shaped us into then team we were at the end of the season.”

Next season, Robinson will see how a storybook season fits in the puzzle of the Division II landscape. 

“Losing it last year due to COVID and then actually getting all the way this year, it was a huge stride for us,” Robinson said. “Hopefully we’ll be back there next year.

Girls Underclassmen to Watch: Big Northern Conference

With the shortened 2020-21 hoops season in the books, Illinois-Basketball.com is on a mission this offseason to make note of some of the best returning players in the state.

We’ve been tracking all-conference honors and other awards since the season ended, and have reached out to every coach in the conference for statistics and other info.

Below are the top-performing underclassmen from the Big Northern Conference.

ELLA GOVIG | DIXON

FORWARD | So. | 5-11

10.1 PPG | 7.8 RPG | 1.5 APG | 1.1 BPG 

  • Second team all-BNC
  • Sauk Valley media honorable mention all-area
  • Eight double-doubles in sophomore season

AWARDS

COACH'S COMMENTS

“Ella is a gifted post scorer and finisher but is also incredibly smart and plays with amazing heart, competes hard on every play. Even as a sophomore she was a tremendous leader for us and brought energy to everything she did, and she did that while guarding everyone’s top option in the post. Had big scoring games in several big wins, including at Byron (17) and vs Bago (12).” – Luke Ravlin

AVA KULTGEN | BYRON

WING | So.

CAMPBELL SCHRANK | WINNEBAGO

GUARD | So. | 5-9

AWARDS

ELLA GRUNDSTROM | BYRON

GUARD | So.

AWARDS

SYDNEY CARLSON | ROCKFORD LUTHERAN

So.

  • Honorable mention All-BNC

AWARDS

HADLEY LUTZ | OREGON

WING | So.

10.3 PPG | 4.9 RPG  | 2.6 APG | 1.9 SPG

AWARDS

COURTNEY PARK | ROCKFORD CHRISTIAN

FORWARD | So. | 5-11

7.2 PPG | 5.1 RPG | 1.2 BPG | 1.1 SPG

  • Honorable mention All-BNC
  • Shot 53-of-112 from the field (47.3%)

AWARDS

KAITLYN PARK | ROCKFORD CHRISTIAN

FORWARD | Fr.

7.4 PPG | 3.3 RPG | 1.2 SPG

  • Team-high 18 3-pointers on 36.7% shooting

Girls Underclassmen to watch: Apollo Conference

With the shortened 2020-21 hoops season in the books, Illinois-Basketball.com is on a mission this offseason to make note of some of the best returning players in the state.

We’ve been tracking all-conference honors and other awards since the season ended, and have reached out to every coach in the conference for statistics and other info.

Below are the top-performing underclassmen from the Apollo Conference.

KLOE FROEBE | LINCOLN

POINT GUARD | Fr. | 5-9

26.4 PPG 

  • One of the best class of 2024 players in the state
  • IBCA all-state honoree; only freshman on the 3A team
  • AP First Team All-State
  • Holds scholarship offers from Illinois, Harvard
  • Broke program freshman scoring record, averaged 26.3 points per game
  • First team all-Apollo

OFFERS

AWARDS

DENVER ANDERSON | MT. ZION

GUARD | Fr. | 5-11

17 PPG | 9 RPG 

  • IBCA 3A Honorable Mention
  • First-team All-Apollo
  • Averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds

AWARDS

SAVANNAH ORGERON | MAHOMET-SEYMOUR

FORWARD | So. | 5-11

14.8 PPG | 5.3 RPG 

AWARDS

DURBIN THOMAS | MAHOMET-SEYMOUR

GUARD | So. | 5-5

8.2 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 3.6 APG | 1.9 SPG

  • Special Mention All-Champaign News-Gazette
  • Averaged 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.9 steals; shot 71% from the free-throw line

AWARDS

ALYCIA TRIPLETT | CHARLESTON

FORWARD | So. | 5-11

10.2 PPG | 10.1 RPG | 1.4 BPG | 2.5 SPG

  • Second-team All-Apollo
  • Had a 16-point, 21-rebound game
  • Averaged 10.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.4 blocks (per MaxPreps)

AWARDS

ANNIE FROST | EFFINGHAM

FORWARD | So. | 5-10

  • Second-team All-Apollo

AWARDS

AUBREY KIETZMAN | TAYLORVILLE

GUARD | Fr. | 5-5

8.4 PPG | 1.1 SPG

  • Averaged 8.4 points; 1.1 steals

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

Unsigned Senior Boys 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.

Update: Players who have made a college commitment since the release of this list:

  • Nathan Hall, big man, Collinsville (Briar Cliff)
  • Devon Vanderheydt, forward, Washington (Quincy)
  • Noah Reynolds, point guard, Peoria Notre Dame (Wyoming)
  • Cooper Schmid, guard, Plainfield South (North Central)
  • Nathan Thompson, wing, Effingham (Illinois College)
  • Isaiah Holden, point guard, Evanston (Missouri Southern State)

Updated List of Illinois Unsigned Senior Basketball Players

Unsigned Guards

Cullen Cosme: PG, Brother Rice

Senior Statistics:
  • 10.1 points
  • 5.4 rebounds
  • 3.6 assists
  • 1.3 steals

Isaiah Donnell: PG, Richwoods

Senior Statistics
  • 17.3 ppg
  • 5.2 rpg
  • 4.0 apg
  • 1.0 spg
  • Shot 42% fom 3, 53% from 2
  • Coach comments: “Can get to the basket with ease. He is a complete player on both ends. He is a Division 1 Juco ball player who will be an instant impact on any program he joins.”

Highlights

Rashard Harris: PG, Kankakee

  • 6-4
Senior Statistics
  • 15.1 ppg
  • 6.2 rpg
  • 4.1 apg
  • Coach’s comments: “High IQ, big body, strong rebounder, part of two groups that went a combined 39-5.”

Highlights

Gabe Metzger: G, St. Laurence

Senior Statistics
  • 10.0 ppg
  • 4.0 rpg
  • 2.0 apg
  • 52% from 3
  • Coach’s comments: “Can really shoot the ball with the best of them. Rebounds well for a shooter. A competitor wants to win and will do whatever it takes. High character kid that will be a good small college basketball player.”
  • Contact coach: 312-493-9459

Don Williams: G, HSA Southwest

Senior Statistics
  • 21 ppg
  • 12 rpg
  • 4 apg
  • Coach’s comments: “He is 6’3 and can play all positions. He’s very athletic and very coachable.”
  • Contact Romel Bryant: bryant@hsaswchicago.org    708-990-7379

Highlights

Joseph Perkins, G, HSA Southwest

Senior Statistics
  • 20 ppg
  • 5 rpg
  • 5 apg
  • Coach’s comments: “He’s only played varsity one year, but his impact is tremendous. He is 6 feet tall, very fast, and a consistent scorer. He can facilitate your offense and is very coachable. As a point guard he is leading his school to its 1st division and conference championship.” 
  • Contact Romel Bryant: bryant@hsaswchicago.org    708-990-7379

George Betevis, G, Bartlett

Senior Statistics
  • 7 ppg
  • 5.4 rpg
  • 4.3 apg
  • 1.9 spg
  • Awards: 2-time all-conference honorable mention
  • Coach’s comments: “George is an excellent defender with great energy and grit. George can score off the bounce around the basket, and is a solid 3-pt shooter. He led the team in steals and charges. Contact: jimwolfsmith@u-46.org

Brandon Bryant, G, Brother Rice

Senior Statistics

Coltin Quagliano, G, Wethersfield

Senior Statistics
  • All-State: 2019, 2018 First AP and IBCA-
  • 2,219 career points: Wethersfield leader as well as Lincoln Trail Conference leader.
  • Coach’s comments: “Program difference-maker.  He’s going to make a college team a lot better.”
  • Contact coach Jeff Parsons 309-221-5204

Highlights

Braden Finch, G, Mahomet-Seymour

Senior Statistics
  • 10 ppg
  • 3.5 rpg
  • 3.0 apg
  • 3.0 G.P.A.
  • Coach’s comments: “Braden is a strong combo guard with ability to guard multiple positions. He has great vision, shot close to 40% from 3FG range over final 10 games of ’21 season. He is very coachable, can score at all 3 levels, passes well and has great work ethic on defensive side of the ball. He is a D-III/NAIA/Ju-Co candidate.” Contact coach Ryan Bosch  (217) 649-2036   rbosch@ms.k12.il.us

Maurice Evans, G, Tinley Park

Senior Statistics
  • 15.4 ppg
  • 6.4 rpg
  • 4.5 apg
  • 2.4 spg
  • Contact coach Brown: 708-567-0549

Dwight Newsome, G, Belleville West

Senior Statistics
  • 11.1 ppg
  • 3.1 rpg
  • 1.0 apg
  • 36% from 3 (29 of 82)
  • 3.3 G.P.A
  • Awards: all-Southwestern Conference
  • Coach’s comments: “Dwight is a very good outside shooter and is very skilled offensively. 6-2 guard who stepped up for us this year He is an exceptional student as well.”
  • Contact: aschobert@bths201.org, 618-570-9380

Brennan Weller, SG, Edwardsville

Senior Statistics
  • 4.0 G.P.A.
  • 19 ppg
  • 10.1 rpg
  • Led Southwestern Conference in scoring and rebounding
  • Awards: 1st team all-SWC two years consecutively.
  • Coach’s comments: “Great scorer and teammate. Can shoot and finish at the rim. Gifted at reading screens and scoring. Very hard worker, leader, winner.” Contact: Dustin Battas dbattas@ecusg7.org

Gabe Calhoun, G, Dunlap

Senior Statistics
  • Surpassed 1,000 points
  • 4-year varsity starter
  • Led conference in scoring twice

Carson Brozenec, G, Fisher

  • Height: 6-2
  • Weight:
Senior Statistics
  • Led conference in scoring, 25 ppg

Highlights

Drew Taggert, PG,Limestone

  • Height: 5-10
Senior Statistics
  • 8.5 ppg
  • 4 rpg
  • 4 apg
  • Coach’s comments: “Drew is looking for a JUCO. He is a quick PG that can handle the rock.  Can lock down defensively and will give you everything he’s got.”
  • Contact: Tony4421@gmail.com

Highlights

Film

Jovon White, G, Perspectives Leadership Academy

Senior Statistics
  • 15 ppg
  • 13 rpg
  • 5 apg
  • 2.3 G.P.A
  • Coach’s comments: “Great rebounder, big body, move well around the floor know how to use his size to advantage. Great on the glass/scoring.”
  • Contact: Mike smith, +1 (773) 732-9775

Highlights

Jadyn Benson, G, Mount Carmel

  • Height: 6-4
Senior Statistics
  • 15 ppg
  • 9 rpg
  • 3 apg
  • 3 spg
  • 3.1 G.P.A
  • Contact (312) 509-5488

Highlights

Dorien Little, G, Holy Trinity

  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 180
Senior Statistics
  • 20 ppg
  • 7 rpg
  • 2 bpg
  • Shot 56% from floor, 48% from 3
  • 2.6 G.P.A
  • Coach’s comments: “Athletic guard. Above-average shooter from distance. Good slasher and finisher at the rim. Great motor and very coachable.”
  • Coach: Larry Coats (coach) 312-213-0013

Highlights

Angelo Vassilakis, PG, Lockport

  • Height: 6-0
  • Weight: 155
Senior Statistics
  • 6.9 ppg
  • 5.0 apg
  • 2.2 spg
  • 2.7 rpg
  • Coach’s comments: “College- ready strength, great on-ball defender, lives in the paint, pass-first PG.”
  • Contact: 815-871-0520, Andrew Weber, Lockport HS Assistant Coach

Highlights

Austin Kohley, G, Harvard

Senior Statistics
  • Coach’s comments: “Austin is being overlooked due to playing at a small school in a weaker conference but he is the real deal.  He is a 6’2” Guard who can play the 1, 2 or 3.  Solid ball handler who attacks the basket hard and finishes.  Good shooter who can hit the 3 though he can be streaky at times.  Good defender and his mom played college basketball so he knows the game very well.
  • Contact coach Dan Krauser (815) 519-6042 dkrauser@cusd50.org

Highlights

Film

Trenton Kyler, G, DeKalb

Senior Statistics
  • 20.4 ppg
  • 4 rpg
  • 3.0 apg
  • 53% fom 3
  • 2.8 G.P.A.
  • Awards: 2-time DuPage Valley Conference POTY. 2021 DeKalb Daily Chronicle Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
  • Coach’s comments: “He is the ultimate competitor. He is a fearless shooter and creator on the offensive end. He is willing to take the challenge of defending guards and bigs. I would 100% want him on my team.”
  • Contact Mike Reynolds: 217-260-4420 cell michael.reynolds@d428.org

Semaj Greer, G, Rich Township

  • Height: 5-9
Senior Statistics
  • 10.5 ppg
  • 4.7 rpg
  • 3.5 apg

Highlights

Gary Clay Jr., G, Rich Township

  • Height: 6-4
Senior Statistics
  • 4.0 G.P.A
  • Coach’s comments: Combo Guard athletic with a high I.Q and can get to the basket.
  • Contact: (708) 549-9094

Highlights

Donovan Johnson, G, Rich Township

Senior Statistics

Highlights

B.J. Denton, G, Lindblom

  • Height: 5-10
Senior Statistics
  • 9.1 ppg
  • 3.2 apg
  • 3.1 rpg
  • 1.7 spg
  • 3.3 G.P.A.
  • Coach’s comments: “Pass-first point guard . Tremendous Perimeter shooter. Great work ethic – and team first mentality true leader at the PG position.” Contact: @basketball_lmsa on twitter

Highlights

Michael Ousley, G, Lanphier

  • Height: 6-0
Senior Statistics
  • 9.9 ppg
  • 3.2 rpg
  • 1.1 apg
  • 0.9 spg
  • Honor roll, two quarters
  • Contact: (217) 502-6204

Highlights

Nick Janega, G, Glenbard East

Senior Statistics
  • 7.2 ppg
  • 38% from 3
  • 4.7 G.P.A.
  • Coaches’ comments: High ceiling, just finding himself, solid D3 player / average athlete but smart positional player, good skill-set.
  • Contact Al Biancalana: 630-388-9380

Highlights

Jayden Williams, SG, East Peoria

Senior Statistics
  • 9.6 ppg
  • 4.1 rpg
  • 1.6 apg
  • 245 Bench, 385 Squat
  • Awards: Mid-Illini second-team all-conference
  • Contact: jgrzanich@ep309.org

Highlights

Trey Selman, SG, Milledgeville

Senior Statistics
  • 27.5 ppg
  • 11 rpg
  • 2.5 apg
  • Awards: Sauk Valley boys basketball player of the year

Highlights

Unsigned Wings

Gary Johns, Wing, Westinghouse

Senior Statistics
  • 17 ppg
  • 11 rpg
  • 3 bpg
  • 3.3 G.P.A.
  • Coach’s comments: Very versatile wing that can handle the ball, knock down the 3, & protect the rim.
  • Contact coach Rafie Fields- 773-3987373

Highlights

Matas Deksnys, Wing, Lockport

  • Height: 6-7
Senior Statistics
  • 15 ppg
  • 4.3 rpg
  • 1.6 apg
  • 1 spg
  • 87.5% Free throws
  • 48 3’s (16 games), 42% from 3
  • Hit 7 3’s in one game, hit 75 3’s as junior.
  • 3.86 G.P.A.
  • Awards: SWSC all-conference, Team MVP
  • Coach’s comments: “Matt is an elite shooter who has great length at 6’7″ tall.  He has grown as a scorer off the dribble as well as a rebounder this season.  He was the focal point of every team’s defensive game plan this year and still produced at a high level.  The sky is the limit for him because he is still maturing physically and will be a very, very dangerous player when he is 20, 21, 22 years old.”
  • Contact coach Brett Hespell – 708-912-1739  bhespell@lths.org

Highlights

Taijon Barry: Wing, Eisenhower

Senior Statistics

Eric Wade, Wing, Belleville East

Senior Statistics
  • 14.3 ppg
  • 10.3 rpg
  • 3.2 apg
  • 2.3 spg
  • 1.4 bpg
  • Coach’s comments: “Great finisher at the rim, leader mentality on and off the court, never gives up and is an amazing rebounder and scorer.”
  • Contact: (618)-3105459, Email- ericwade1324@gmail.com

Ty Lampley, Wing, Belleville West

Senior Statistics
  • 13.3 ppg
  • 7.8 rpg
  • 1.6 spg
  • Shot 38% from 3
  • 2.5 G.P.A
  • Awards: 2nd team all-Southwestern Conference 
  • Coach’s comments: “Ty’s best basketball is ahead of him. He is a 6’4 wing who is a good leaper and shoots it well from the outside. After being sidelined for the majority of last season with an injury, he played very well for an 11-5 team this year in the ultra-competitive Southwestern Conference.”
  • Contact: aschobert@bths201.org, 618-570-9380

Josh Garner, Wing, Limestone

  • Height: 6-0
Senior Statistics
  • 18.1 ppg
  • 7.1 rpg
  • 36% from 3
  • Coach’s comments: “Josh is looking for a JUCO. Josh can straight out score the ball, long and athletic, and loves the game.” 
  • Contact: Tony4421gmail.com

Highlights

Film

Devonta Blevins, Wing, Rich Township

Senior Statistics
  • 3.5 G.P.A
  • Coach’s comments: Explosive, athletic, and can shoot the 3 ball.
  • Contact: (708)-631-5901 

Unsigned Bigs

Willie Strickland: F, Kankakee

  • 6-5
Senior Statistics
  • 10.2 ppg
  • 6.8 rpg
  • 3.1 bpg
  • Coach’s comments: “Willie is a 6’5” forward who plays well in the paint and along the baseline. Long arms allow him to play the passing lanes well and block shots. High motor.”

Joe Melton: F, NCOE

Senior Statistics
  • 21.0 ppg
  • 13.0 rpg
  • 7.0 bpg
  • Coach’s comments: “6’7 athlete who has great touch around the basket but also knocks down the 3 with ease. He is comfortable putting the ball on the floor and is willing to take and make big shots. He ended his senior season with 3 straight triple-doubles in the conference tournament, leading his team to back-to-back conference tournament titles.
  • Coach contact info: Jordan Johnson, 618-925-0328, jordanjohnson@ncoeschools.org

Damarcies Moore, W, CICS Longwood

  • 3.5 G.P.A.

Highlights

Instagram23chinnoo

Qati Dalipi, Forward, Westmont

  • Height: 6-6
Senior Statistics
  • 20.5 ppg
  • 8.5 rpg
  • Team MVP
  • All-Conference
  • All-Area Honorable Mention
  • 2.9 GPA
  • Coach Email: cethridge@g.cusd201.org 
  • Coach Phone Number: (630)-272-3683

Highlights

Illinois HS Basketball Top Performers (March 15-21)

Illinois High School Basketball Players Honored

The abbreviated, frantic high school basketball season is complete in the state of Illinois. One last time, we’re here to highlight top performers in Illinois.

Each week, Illinois-Basketball.com sends emails to the vast majority of coaches in the state of Illinois looking for the some of the top performances from players in the state.

An email was sent to every coach with an email listed on the IHSA website. Any emails omitted can be pointed out to the writer at kalebcarter4256@gmail.com to be added to our database for the future.

We’ve identified 22 deserving athletes between boys and girls basketball from the last week of the season, with a few milestones and accomplishments from the past week. 

Check out who we recognized last week. 

We’re always looking to update information on our website, be it missing players on the commitment lists, former Illinois preps players competing at the college levels that we omitted, or all-conference teams for the 2021 season that aren’t on the website yet. You can send any of this info and more to kalebcarter4256@gmail.com, nudnik.jakub@gmail.com or on Twitter at @ILL_HS_Hoops.

Illinois Girls Player of the Week Nominees

  • Whitney Dunn, Kenwood (3A): Scored 26, had 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in leading a fourth-quarter comeback at Simeon in a 73-66 victory; Had 21 points, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds in a 63-16 victory over Brooks Prep; 14 points, 4 steals in a 69-43 vs. Lindblom.
  • Timia Ware, Whitney Young (4A): Scored 34 in a win to end the season.
  • Xamiya Walton, Butler College Prep (2A): Led her team to a Noble League Tournament championship, had 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals vs. Pritzker; 29 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals vs. UICCP; 28 points, 6 rebounds, 9 steals, 6 assists vs. Speer; had 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals in the conference championship win over Comer; Also, Camille Jackson reached 1,000 points, including a 13-point, 10-rebound, 3-steal effort in the final; The 5-11 junior post scored 20, had 8 steals and 6 assists in the semis win over Speer; 18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists vs. UICCP and 8 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists and 2 steals against Pritzker. 
  • Reina Grunfeld, Amundsen (3A): Scored 13 points in a 40-31 win over Schurz; Put up a team-high 10 in a 42-17 win against Mather; Dropped 14 points in a 52-45 loss to Westinghouse; pushed team to 12-5 overall record, 9-0 in conference play. 
  • Desiree Bryant, Austin College and Career (1A): 34 points, 24 rebounds, 5 blocks on the week.

Illinois Boys Player of the Week Nominees

  • Phillip Taylor, Lindblom (3A): Scored 20 points and hauled in a school-record 19 rebounds in a 54-51 win vs. Urban Prep-Englewood; Coach Zack Linderman won his 200th game
  • William Bates, Bremen (3A): Finished up a strong season in which he posted 20.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.5 apg and hit 28 3-pointers; Also, DeMarco Mason averaged 10.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.0 spg.
  • Davius Loury, Kenwood (3A): In wins over Lincoln Park (87-64), Corliss (74) and Lindblom, had points/rebounds/assists totals of 19/10/3,  22/10/4 and 15/7/3 respectively; Averaged 16.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.0 bpg and 1.2 spg on the season. 
  • Jovon White, Perspectives Leadership Academy (1A): Scored 14, added 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals, 2 assists in a 73-63 win over MSA/Joslin; had 16 rebounds, 3 assists vs. CHSAS; Had 28 points, 7 rebounds, 8 steals, 6 assist and 2 blocks; Posted 12 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals; Had 14 points, 18 rebounds in 59-48 loss to Fenger;  Also, JaQuwan Payton scored 28 points, had 5 steals, 3 assists, 2 rebounds vs. MSA/Joslin; scored 18 points vs. Fenger. 
  • Keyonta Ellis, Ogden (3A): Eclipsed 1,000 points in a 52-38 win in his final game; had scoring totals of 32 and 23.
  • Terrell Taylor, Clemente (2A): Scored 18 and had 5 rebounds, 4 assists in a 53-51 win over Wells; Scored 38 vs. Crane and 26 in a 62-52 loss to Curie;  Also, Trey Spires had 23 points, 16 assists, 7 steals and 6 rebounds in an 82-66 win over Crane; put up 19 vs. Curie.
  • Jerell Edwards, Dunbar (2A): Had 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals in a 61-47 victory against Lindblom; 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals vs. Catalyst Maria; 31 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks in 52-38 win over Kennedy.
  • Ahmad Bynum, Simeon (3A): Scored 15, had 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals in 65-37 win over Phillips; Had 10 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals in 61-57 win over Brooks; 14 points, 6 rebounds as Simeon beat Morgan Park 56-46.
  • Darrion Jones, Bogan (3A): The final points of his high school career made the different in a 61-57 win over Morgan Park in which he had 29 points and 6 rebounds; Produced 22 points, 5 rebounds in 53-47 overtime win against Hyde Park; Had 16 points as Bogan defeated Phillips 52-26.

Fearless Whitney Dunn has Kenwood feeling mighty at end of season

Dunn

It doesn’t seem right to say that an undefeated team is the future of girls basketball in the state of Illinois, but that accurately portrays the Kenwood Broncos right now.

A year removed from a 27-7 season and a regional title,  Andre Lewis’ crew at Kenwood Academy raced through a pandemic-shortened season to a 13-0 mark — 9-0 in the Chicago Public League Red-South Central division. The Broncos also won the closest thing to a city championship that was possible in 2021.

On Saturday, March 20, Whitney Dunn led the Broncos to a 13-point fourth-quarter comeback on the road against Simeon, winning 73-66 in a redemptive moment against the defending 3A state champion.

“Just realizing this is close to the end of the season, end of the game, and we felt how we were feeling during city last year where we lost and all of those emotions and stuff… I feel like we recognized that this is important and that we can’t just give up and stop just because it looks bad now,” Dunn said. “At the end of the day, it’s basketball. Anything can happen. I feel like us thinking about that allowed us to play better, pick it up and start making shots.”

The junior guard’s 26-point, 5-assist effort helped bookend a rapid-fire season, a year in which Dunn further engraved herself into the conscience of girls hoop heads, who now know just how much the Broncos are not to be messed with.

“She’s fearless, she never backs down,” Lewis said. “Whitney plays her game no matter who we play against. It never changes.”

Against Simeon, it was more of the same, but with a missing piece that had to be accounted for.

When Brianna McDaniel, the top-ranked Illinois junior, went down with an ACL and meniscus tear against Evanston on March 7 the Broncos still had  half of their games remaining in a two-week span. 

“The fourth quarter versus Simeon was a testament to everything we preached all year about defending and rebounding and it generated our offense,” Lewis said.

Dunn admitted that playing without the team’s star was awkward at first, but the loaded Broncos were up for the task. 

“Brianna is obviously a really big piece for us, but at the end of the day we know how to play together and we know how to play with each other,” Dunn said. “So just playing without her, I feel like that is what pumped us at more, because I feel like we were at a disadvantage and just wanting to make up for that.”

Winning the Evanston game by a convincing 18 points (56-38), and snagging comfortable wins over the likes of Hyde Park (77-42) and Lindblom (69-43) was further evidence of how Kenwood could operate even without the mightily talented McDaniel.

Dunn averaged 22 points and 4 assists per game after McDaniel’s injury.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Lewis said. “They persevered though: one, dealing with all these new protocols and the pandemic and the new normal we have deal with, in addition to one of our best players unfortunately getting injured. And they still stuck together, stayed focused as a unit and prioritized being the best teammates to each other that they could be.”

Lewis, who just finished his ninth season as head coach of the Broncos, has five regional titles and six 20-win seasons to his name, and likely would have added to both totals with a full season. 

Dunn has seen her role grow rapidly with the Broncos, from a lockdown defender to a player who can score in bunches (17.8 points in under 20 minutes of play per game). The stopper identity still stands, however: She also averaged 3.3 steals per game.

Colleges have taken notice as she holds Division I offers from the likes of Valparaiso, Central Michigan, Cleveland State, UIC, Coppin State, Chicago State, Indiana State, UMKC, SIU, Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

Lewis says Dunn is one of the best players he’s ever coached.

“I think a lot of schools are sleeping on how good she is,” Lewis said. “Whitney has a real unique job every night. Whitney’s job is to score the basketball and stop the other team’s best perimeter player from scoring the basketball. So, Whitney accepts the challenge and she actually enjoys that. She’s a two-way player, always has been.”

One player quickly came to mind for Lewis that demonstrated how Dunn has shown herself capable of shutting down excellent offensive players. 

Dunn held eventual Girls Catholic Athletic Conference player of the year and Air Force women’s basketball commit Lauren McDonald of St. Ignatius in-check as Kenwood raced to a 42-15 halftime lead in a 64-39 win. That same game, Dunn coupled the defensive effort with a game-high 19 points (all in first half) on 7-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc.

“McDonald struggled the first half [with Dunn guarding her],” Lewis said. “(McDaniel) started guarding her and then in the fourth quarter she (Dunn) guarded her some more, but she’s given problems to a lot of players. Because Whitney is long, she moves her feet extremely well and again, she has no back-down. The same confidence and aggressiveness that she plays on offense, she plays with defense as well.”

That attitude in part comes from her brother 

“I feel like whoever I’m guarding … they shouldn’t score on me at all, period,” Dunn said. “ I feel like I developed that from my brother because he’s a really good defensive player and just him guarding me and me guarding him, he really made me better.”

With younger players like sophomore Ayanna Jackson and freshman Ariana Williams buying in on the defensive end and contributing steadily most games, Lewis felt like Kenwood had a successful year.

“We basically accomplished everything that we could have this season,” Lewis said. “To defeat a ranked St. Ignatius, who’s a very good team by the way, but to beat them the way that we did was awesome. To defeat Evanston after Bri [McDaniel] gets hurt at the end of the first quarter was great. And to be able to beat the No. 1 team in the state, what more can you ask of your kids, especially when your best player wasn’t available and gutted their way through it?”

But the Broncos — with two to-be seniors among the best in 2022 class in Illinois plus fellow returners Zoe Belcher, DonYeil Bolton, Jazelle Young and other talented younger Broncos — expect to be No. 1 on many pundits’ preseason rankings come next season, no matter where McDaniels’ recovery stands.

What does Dunn want next season? It’s simple.

“Dominate everything.”

Nick Martinelli’s inner fighter has shaped who he has become as a basketball player

In middle school Nick Martinelli was a huge UFC fan. 

He grew so fond of the sport that at one point he even thought his interest would turn into a profession.

“I wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter,” Martinelli said. “Everything was UFC. I was a huge Connor McGregor fan. In eighth grade, I got sick during the (basketball) season, and that’s when I would go in my basement and punch this little dummy guy that I had.” 

Even though Martinelli never pursued his mixed martial arts aspirations, that fighter’s mentality has stayed with him. 

His competitiveness needed to materialize early in his basketball career because he was always competing with his two older brothers, Jimmy and Dom Martinelli. Both had successful careers at Glenbrook South and went on to play collegiate basketball. 

Jimmy — the oldest — was two-time all-conference and named the team MVP his senior year at Glenbrook South and went on to be a four-year starter at New York University. Dom finished as the Titans’ all-time leading scorer and just wrapped up his freshman season at Northwestern. 

For Nick Martinelli, seeing his older brothers’ accomplishments was sometimes difficult to deal with. 

“To be honest, I felt a little bit in his shadow (Dom’s) and Jimmy’s too when I was younger,” Martinelli said. “It’s just hard when you have older brothers that were as successful as they were.”

But now, the youngest Martinelli is making a name for himself. As a full-time starter in his junior season, the 6-foot-7 wing averaged 21.8 points and 5.9 rebounds and shot 57.7% from 3-point range in 18 games. Martinelli was also named to the Central Suburban League All-Conference Team.

In his first game as a starter, Martinelli scored 28 points in a 69-49 victory against Hersey. It begin an 11-game win streak to start the season for Glenbrook South. In the ninth game of the season, against New Trier, Martinelli dropped 34 points in a 60-53 win. 

On offense, Martinelli’s left-handed jumper and ability to secure rebounds for second-chance points made him difficult to defend for any team. Often in opposing team huddles coaches can be heard saying, “We have to do a better job against Martinelli.”

Defensively, Martinelli’s length forced players to take tough shots and required them to make precise passes. He finished the season with 10 blocks and 15 steals. 

Although Martinelli has quickly emerged as one of the better upperclassmen in Illinois, it didn’t come without him having to overcome obstacles. 

Heading into Martinelli’s sophomore year, he thought he made the necessary improvements in the offseason to earn a varsity spot. But Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston started Martinelli on the sophomore team.

“It just lit a fire up in me to be honest,” Martinelli said. “When he (Ralston) told me I was on sophomore, I felt a little confused.” 

After playing five games on the sophomore team, Martinelli was moved up.

“Nick had to earn everything and he did so admirably,” Ralston said. “When we lost Joe Shapiro last year, Nick was the first guy off the bench and was getting what I would term ‘starter’s minutes’ in many respects. That was something he had to earn.” 

Martinelli embraced his new role and helped the team anyway he could. Glenbrook South finished the 2019-20 season 29-5 and split the Central Suburban League South title with Evanston. The Wildkits did eliminate the Titans in the Class 4A Elk Grove semifinals.

Still, Martinelli gained valuable experience in his sophomore year. And a lot of those lessons can be attributed to the one season he played with his brother Dom. 

“He wanted to win at every single drill,” Nick Martinelli said. “If you want to be great, you can’t take off drills, you can’t take off days, you always have to be the last one in the gym. I learned a ton of characteristics and good habits from him that are obviously going to benefit me in the future. I owe a ton of my success, which hasn’t been much, to Dom. 

“The way that he constantly fought,” Martinelli continued. “He played when he was sick. He played when he was hurting. And how much he wanted to win obviously showed me what I needed to do to take the next step.”

Though Dom Martinelli graduated, everything was looking promising for Glenbrook South moving forward. Nick Martinelli and point guard Cooper Noard — who started as a sophomore on varsity — would be back to help lead the Titans the following season.  

Then COVID-19 hit. And everything changed. 

“The unusual aspect of having to deal with COVID is that we didn’t have our normal summer routine where we were able to work with kids in a team atmosphere and an individual’s environment,” Ralston said. 

Despite the coronavirus’ impact on and off the basketball court, Martinelli still saw an opportunity for himself to improve his game over the summer so he would be ready for his junior season. 

Every morning Martinelli and Dom would shoot for roughly two hours at their friend’s gym, which features a shooting gun, a three-quarter basketball court and a weight room. Throughout the summer, it was common for the Martinelli brothers to be at their friend’s house for 4-to-6 hours. After a long day of doing basketball drills and working out on the turf field, the two would jump in the hot tub to recover. 

Dom also invited some of his teammates from Northwestern to train. 

“Something that I think got Nick to another level to where he is playing at now was being able to play with some of my teammates from Northwestern,” Dom Martinelli said. “Being able to compete with Big Ten players, I think that is one of the reasons why Nick has gotten so much better this offseason.”

Along with the workouts, Martinelli watched a lot of film over the summer.

From Dom’s senior season at Glenbrook South to Florida Gulf Coast and several Big Ten teams, to NBA players Luka Doncic and Doug McDermott, Martinelli dissected different basketball styles and tried to pick up bits and pieces from everything he watched. 

All the hard work Martinelli put in during the offseason translated on the basketball court. And Dom Martinelli, who was able to catch some of his brother’s games in person, could see the progress his brother made. 

“I think his confidence has skyrocketed since last season,” Dom Martinelli said. “I think that’s just due to all the work he has put in … I think he has gained confidence in that aspect. I see it in every single game.” 

And for Nick Martinelli — who has had to work for everything he has accomplished — he, Noard and senior big man Justin Lesynski were the leaders for the Titans this past season.

“I think Nick is very much a leader by example,” Ralston said. “I want Nick, Cooper and Justin to assert themselves as leaders on the team … It’s kind of hard for me to not say to guys like Nick and Coop, ‘You guys are the ones that have put in as much time as anyone in this offseason,’ so it’s hard for me as coach to not go back and say, ‘Hey, this is your team. You guys are the leaders of this team. We are going to go where you take us.’” 

The 2020-21 Glenbrook South team finished with a 16-2 record and as back-to-back CSL champions. In the condensed season, the Titans also set a school record for winning percentage at 89 percent.

Nick Martinelli at the free-throw line. (Photo: Braeden Schmidt)

At the end of the season, eight teams had the opportunity to participate in the Chipotle League of Champions tournament. Evanston was initially selected as the Central Suburban League representative for the tournament, but the school offered it to winner of the division. Glenbrook South overtook that spot when Evanston lost to New Trier on March 6. 

Two days later, Glenbrook South traveled to face the Trevians, with an opportunity to extend its half-game lead on Evanston. The Titans dominated for the majority of the first two quarters and at one point had a 22-point lead. Martinelli led all scorers with 12 points at the half. But the Trevians made a miraculous comeback and had a 63-61 lead with 47.8 seconds remaining in the game.  

After a 10-second violation, Martinelli was fouled under the basket with 10.8 seconds remaining on the clock. The junior stepped up to the free-throw line with an opportunity to tie the game.

Martinelli took his one dribble and shot. The ball hit the front of the rim and bounced left. Martinelli’s second shot hit the rim and bounced right. 

“That’s definitely one of my worst moments in basketball,” Martinelli said. “Honestly, the worst part about it was I trained for moments like that. I don’t train for making easy layups against bad teams. I train for making big shots against good teams and in important moments … But it’s a learning experience. Everyone misses shots. Michael Jordan has missed shots. Big shots. I have to work harder and patch up some things.”

The Titans lost 64-63 to the Trevians. Glenbrook South rebounded with back-to-back wins against Glenbrook North to end the season. However, it was Evanston that went on to play in the end-of-the-year tournament. 

Martinelli acknowledged that it was “painful to watch” the teams competing in the Chipotle Classic. But he does believe Glenbrook South has the players to do something special next season — as long as the team has the right mentality. 

“I think that we are going to be really deep and really skilled next season,” Martinelli said. “It all comes down to if we really want to put in the work to become state champions, and if we want to buy into what coach wants us to do.”

Martinelli’s routine now involves waking up before school to shoot at his friend’s house to reach his daily “300 makes each morning,” then getting a workout in once school is over.

With the high school season finished, that doesn’t mean Martinelli gets to take a break. In April, his AAU season will begin and Martinelli will compete against some of the best players in the country. 

Martinelli does all this because he is a competitor, a fighter. He has been this way since day one.

“I want to become a high-major player,” Martinelli said. “That’s my goal. My goal used to be to become a Division I player, but now it’s moved to something bigger because I want to strive to be the best player, the best person that I can be.”


Main image courtesy of Braeden Schmidt

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