The last time the Whitney Young Dolphins played in a game, they defeated Simeon in the IHSA state playoffs. The long layoff is over as Whitney Young squared off against Taft on the road Friday, Feb. 19.
Gone are DJ Steward (Duke) and Tyler Beard (prep school before Georgetown) for Young.
The cupboard is far from empty.
Seniors Grant Newell and Jaeshon Thomas, both with college-level talent, return along with sophomore Dalen Davis, who holds an offer from Illinois.
But the star will be AJ Casey, who scored the first points of the season with a thunderous two-handed slam. The junior forward, who played freshman year at Simeon and sophomore year at Tinley Park, is regarded as the best prospect in Illinois in the junior class.
The first points of the season came from transfer forward AJ Casey with a thunderous two-hand slam. The junior forward is regarded as the best player in his class in the state of Illinois according to 247 Sports.
With Casey, Thomas, Newell and junior Xavier Amos, have numerous 6-4-plus forwards with plus wingspans, and junior Marcus Overstreet provides the same off the bench.Their length and defensive activity was the difference in the game. The Dolphins were bigger and also played with a sense of urgency. Their defensive activity led to many deflections and difficult shots for taft.
At halftime the Dolphins led 36-19. For the game Whitney Young had seven players hit a three pointer, shooting over the Taft zone defense. Junior forward Daniel Johnson came off the bench and led Young with 13 points, knocking down multiple three when he came into the game.
For Young, Thomas had 10 points and knocked down three triples. Davis added nine points and knocked down a pair of shots from long range. Senior forward Tyson Leitao came off the bench and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Young’s debut was impressive, dominating from the opening tip and not letting up.
For Taft junior point guard Jonathan Martinez impressed, showcasing an ability to drill threes, and sophomore guard Jewgrante Abraham led Taft with 11 points. Taft plays against Niles North on Monday. Whitney Young has a test against Thornton on the road Saturday.
This was an impressive debut for the Dolphins after the long layoff. The players wore masks and were socially distanced when they weren’t in the game. Illinois basketball wasn’t the same without the Chicago Public League..