Preps Talk

Chicago Recruiting Focus: DePaul basketball

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Chicago Recruiting Focus: DePaul basketball

It's been an uphill battle for DePaul the last decade as the once-proud city basketball powerhouse tries to finish out seasons with consistent winning records. Former head coach Dave Leitao was re-hired last spring after last coaching the Blue Demons during the 2004-05 season and he's faced with a tough rebuild after the Oliver Purnell era.

These next few recruiting classes will be vital to Leitao's immediate fortunes and he has a lot of potential scholarships to work with in the next few classes.

The Class of 2016 will likely see the Blue Demons take four-to-five new players and they've already secured a commitment from Curie point guard Devin Gage. The three-star point guard has been successful playing for one of the best programs in the city and Leitao has a hard-nosed guard to help build the class around.

From there, DePaul is looking into a few local players like Morgan Park point guard Charlie Moore and St. Joseph forward Nick Rakocevic as they still remain uncommitted heading into next week's early signing period. Sticking in the Midwest, DePaul had La Lumiere teammates Al Eichelberger and Brandon Cyrus on campus for official visits last weekend.

[RELATED: Chicago Recruiting Focus: Illinois basketball]

With DePaul looking for a variety of pieces, they could also go to the junior college ranks to break up the class a bit as former Orr forward Marlon Jones, now at South Plains Community College, is a target as well.

Much like Illinois to the south, the Class of 2017 is a huge one for DePaul. Leitao and his staff will once again have four to five scholarships to work with as they try to nab some commitments out of some players from the Chicagoland area.

Evanston's Nojel Eastern, Curie's Elijah Joiner and former Willowbrook guard Alonzo Verge were all prominent players at the DePaul elite camp this past August and they were joined by talented out-of-state targets like point guard Markell Johnson from Ohio.

Other Illinois targets for DePaul in the Class of 2017 include Belleville Althoff's Jordan Goodwin, Bolingbrook's Nana Akenten, Marian Catholic's T.J. Smith and Larkin's Christian Negron. 

The Class of 2018 and beyond isn't as much of a focus for DePaul right now, particularly since the class has limited scholarships compared to the two preceding it, but Simeon guard Kezo Brown remains an early point of interest and the Blue Demons staff will work to try to get involved with him.

Leitao has to bring in talent in order to turn things around in a tough Big East and securing some players from the area will be very important to the turnaround efforts. With a new stadium on the horizon and the Big East looking more stable after six teams made the NCAA tournament last season, there are plenty of positive recruiting attributes for the program going forward.

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title

Five ranked matchups lead a loaded edition of High School Lites

Five ranked matchups lead a loaded edition of High School Lites

High School Lites has a huge lineup in place for this week's show as we'll feature five matchups between top-25 teams. With the Public League Playoff semifinals, Catholic League Blue, CSL South and SouthWest Suburban Blue. 

Catch the newest edition of High School Lites this Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. 

Public League Semifinals at Chicago State

No. 2 Orr vs. No. 3 Curie, 5 p.m. -- A huge rematch in the first semifinal puts these two top-3 teams against each other. Curie (23-3, 8-1) won the first matchup between the two teams early in the season as they were playing without senior guard Maurice Commander. Junior guard Marquise Walker and senior big men Traevon and Tyree Martin stepped up in that one. Orr (22-3, 9-0) has been on a roll lately as seniors Raekwon Drake, Dannie Smith, Ty Mosley and Chase Adams are playing at a high level. 

No. 1 Simeon vs. No. 4 Whitney Young, 7 p.m. -- The second semifinal puts two Public League titans against each other. The Wolverines (23-3, 9-0) will be the favorite as they're still unbeaten against Illinois competition. Senior Talen Horton-Tucker is the leading Player of the Year candidate and he's surrounded by talented teammates. Whitney Young (22-6, 7-2) earned a huge quarterfinal win over Morgan Park earlier this week as the Dolphins are playing with a lot of confidence. Seniors Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda are experienced while sophomore Tyler Beard has elevated his play.

Friday's Other Games

No. 9 New Trier at No. 6 Evanston, 7:00 p.m. -- A huge rematch in the CSL South that could ultimately decide a tight conference race. Evanston (20-4, 8-1) won the first matchup in overtime on the road on Jan. 12 as they've won six straight games. New Trier (20-3, 7-1) has won 10 straight games since that loss to the Wildkits as they picked up an important overtime win over Maine South earlier this week.  

No. 8 Fenwick at No. 10 Loyola, 7:00 p.m. -- Two Catholic League powers battle here. Fenwick (17-7, 7-0) is trying to stay unbeaten in the conference as they picked up a win over Marmion earlier this week. Loyola (21-5, 5-2) has dropped two straight games on the road but the Ramblers are still trying to gain some momentum before the postseason starts. 

No. 18 Bolingbrook at No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the top teams in the SouthWest Suburban Blue face in this one. The Vikings (15-6, 5-1) have recent wins over Hillcrest and Lincoln-Way East as they've been playing better basketball the past few weeks. The Raiders (17-5, 5-2) won the first matchup between these two teams on Jan. 19 as they beat Sandburg in their last game. After a 10-day layoff, it'll be interesting to see how Bolingbrook looks in such an important game. 

Lockport at Sandburg, 6:00 p.m. -- We stay in the SouthWest Suburban Blue in this one as Sandburg look to get back on track. The Eagles (15-8, 2-5) have dropped two straight games, including a recent loss to Bolingbrook. Lockport (7-14, 1-6) recently knocked off Bolingbrook but they've also lost two straight heading into this one. Sandburg won the first matchup between these two teams with an overtime win on Jan. 19. 

Thornridge at Andrew, 6:30 p.m. --  Heading over into the SouthWest Suburban Red, Andrew tries to stay ahead of the pack for the league title. The Thunderbolts (16-8, 8-2) have won three straight games as they won on the road at Thornridge on Jan. 12. Thornridge (14-9, 3-6) has gone on a lot of runs this season as they've won two straight on the road after a five-game losing streak. 

Richards at Shepard, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the best teams in the South Suburban Red matchup here. Shepard (15-7, 7-4) lost to Oak Lawn last week to snap a seven-game winning streak. Richards (11-12, 8-3) has played significantly better lately after a slow start. Both of these teams are battling with Oak Lawn for league supremacy. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

No. 20 Joliet Central at Oswego East, 6:30 p.m. -- Our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week heads to the Southwest Prairie. Joliet Central (19-4, 11-0) is trying to go unbeaten in league play as they've won three straight games. Oswego East (16-7, 8-3) is coming off a big win over Romeoville earlier this week. The Steelmen won this first matchup between these two teams on Dec. 15.