Preps Talk

Best of the best: NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball Preseason All-Area Team

Best of the best: NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball Preseason All-Area Team

Since the IHSA boys basketball season is right around the corner, it's time to take a look at the main players you need to know for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

While this preseason all-area team will likely be very different than the one we see at the end of the season, the Chicagoland area is once again stocked with a host of talented players this season. The preseason all-area team has a lot of high-end college prospects on this list, but high school accomplishments are the most important factor in determining these teams.

First Team

Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park. The only player on this list to make our all-area team last season, the Illinois commit is the frontrunner for Player of the Year honors. The 6-foot-3 Dosunmu is a potential McDonald's All-American after he averaged 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals per game last season. Dosunmu was injured the final two games of last season, but he helped Morgan Park capture a Class 3A state title and Public League Red-South title.

Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon. The versatile wing forward was one of the area's best two-way players last season while helping Simeon capture its second consecutive city championship. Horton-Tucker averaged 18.2 points and seven rebounds per game last season and is signed with Iowa State.

Zion Griffin, Hinsdale South. Though many fans were unaware of the 6-foot-6 forward until he became a high-major recruit this summer, Griffin put up great numbers for Hinsdale South as a junior last season. Helping the Hornets win a Class 4A regional title as a double-digit seed, Griffin averaged 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. The Iowa State commit is one of the area's best athletes.

Javon Freeman, Whitney Young. Helping Whitney Young to a Class 4A state championship last season, Freeman was one of the best guards in the state. Putting up 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the Dolphins as a junior, Freeman could have a monster senior season now that Lucas Williamson is gone. Freeman is signed with Valparaiso.

Xavier Castaneda, Whitney Young. Consistent floor generals can be tough to find at the high school level, which is why the 6-foot Castaneda is so special. The USF commit put up 10.1 points and 4.0 assists per game last season for the Class 4A champion Dolphins, doing a great job limiting turnovers and finding open teammates.

Second Team

Raekwon Drake, Orr. A huge presence at Orr the past few seasons, the 6-foot-5 Drake is known for his ridiculous above-the-rim play on both ends of the floor. Capable of throwing down huge dunks or erasing shots on the defensive end, Drake helped the Spartans capture a Class 2A state championship.

Drew Peterson, Libertyville. Perhaps the state's best uncommitted senior, the 6-foot-7 Peterson has been a consistent performer for the Wildcats the past few seasons. As a junior, Peterson averaged 19.5 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game. Capable of big scoring numbers, Peterson had three 30-point games last season.

Dannie Smith, Orr. Dominant at times during Orr's Class 2A state-title run last season, the 6-foot-5 Smith is perhaps the Spartans' best player despite not being the top college prospect on the team. Adept at scoring and rebounding, Smith averaged 11.1 points and seven rebounds per contest in his first full season of high school basketball.

Maurice Commander, Curie. The reigning East Suburban Catholic Conference Player of the Year transferred to Public League power Curie this offseason after starting for three years at Marist. The UT-Chattanooga commit averaged 13.7 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals per game last season.

Xavier Pinson, Simeon. Another transfer coming from the ESCC to the Public League, the 6-foot-2 Pinson was stellar at St. Patrick as a junior. After averaging 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds per game last season, Pinson joins a loaded Simeon squad that has city- and state-title aspirations. After briefly committing to Kent State in the fall, Pinson opted to open up his recruitment and is currently uncommitted.

Third Team

Camron Donatlan, West Aurora. Possibly the best multi-sport athlete in the area, the 6-foot-3 Donatlan was tremendous for the Blackhawks last season. Also a solid football player, Donatlan averaged 15.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season.

George Conditt, Corliss. Coming out of relative obscurity to become a high-major recruit, the 6-foot-10 Conditt is committed to Iowa State, following in the footsteps of his father, who played football for the Cyclones. Conditt averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game as a junior.

Sam Shafer, Lincoln-Way East. One of the area's premier sharpshooters, the 6-foot-6 Shafer is committed to Southern Illinois. Helping Lincoln-Way East to a school-record 20 wins last season, Schaefer put up 15.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as a junior.

D.J. Steward, Fenwick. Bursting on the local scene as the area's best freshman last season, expectations are high for the 6-foot-1 sophomore. As a starter for the Class 3A runner-up last season, Steward averaged 15 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range.

Justin Hardy, St. Charles East. Last season saw the 6-foot-5 Hardy put up big numbers for the Saints, as he averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Shooting 56 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range last season, Hardy showed he can be a lethal perimeter threat while also doing a lot of damage on the interior. The senior remains uncommitted.

Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage


Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area basketball fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSPreps) crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week, we're profiling teams who are jostling for position near the top of their respective conference. Speaking of battling, did we mention three of the team mascots in this week's poll are named "Warriors?" Which game should we attend Friday night?

Bloom at Rich Central, 6:30 p.m.

Crystal Lake South at McHenry, 7:00 p.m.

Maine West at Deerfield, 7:30 p.m.

Poll opens Monday at 12:00 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

While many top Chicagoland underclassmen took part in the third annual EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase powered by EFT Football Academy last week, several others from outside the area participated and made waves of their own. Athletes from Central and Southern Illinois made statements, while others from a dozen states and Canada turned heads as well. 

East St. Louis sophomore safety Antonio Johnson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was one of several Flyers who made a very positive impression and made the most of his experience. 

Johnson, who started at wide receiver and safety for the Flyers (10-2 in 2017), is already appearing on several college radar screens. Johnson remains one of several underclassmen to watch for head coach Darren Sunkett over the next few years. 

I caught up with East St. Louis sophomore safety prospect Antonio AJ Johnson at the showcase and discussed his winter plans, his recruiting and why he made the nearly-300 mile trek in the dead of winter to compete at this event.