Preps Talk

CSN Preps Preseason Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

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CSN Preps Preseason Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

On Monday, boys basketball teams from all over the state of Illinois will open their seasons as we begin another exciting few months of high school basketball. But unlike the past few seasons, there is no consensus No. 1 player or No. 1 team.

Gone are the guaranteed McDonald's All-Americans like Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander, Tyler Ulis and Jalen Brunson. There are no can't-miss studs in the younger classes, either.

Illinois still has plenty of basketball talent, but this is the biggest year of uncertainty for individual star players in over a decade. So that makes this season's race for the CSN Preps Basketball Player of the Year award that much more interesting.

[RELATED: CSN Preps Basketball Power Rankings - No. 4 Fenwick]

There is a clear front-runner entering the first edition of the Power Rankings for this award, but that could certainly change if others step up this season. We'll examine the Power Rankings for this award every few weeks during the season, but for now, here's a look at the five names you need to know for the race this season.

1. Charlie Moore (PG), Morgan Park

The 5-foot-11 point guard is already the most decorated current senior in the state as the Memphis commit owns two state championships and has been to Peoria in each of his first three seasons with the Mustangs. A starter for the last two seasons, Moore is a deadly perimeter shooter who averaged 18 points per game as a junior. Capable of a big scoring night, Moore opened his junior season with a 49-point performance against Urban Prep/Englewood and also had 28 points in a sectional title win over rival Bogan. Now with former backcourt running mate Marcus LoVett at St. John's, it's Moore's time to shine. Moore was a second-team CSN All-Area selection at the end of last season and he's the current favorite for Player of the Year.

2. Zach Norvell (G), Simeon

Simeon's new senior leader will be the 6-foot-5 Norvell, who is coming off of a very good summer and a commitment to Gonzaga. The lefty guard is a tenacious defender and played multiple spots on the floor for the Wolverines as a junior while averaging 13 points, four rebounds and three assists per game last season. Over the summer, Norvell made national headlines with a ridiculous 53-point game in a Las Vegas AAU tournament in which he made 14 3-pointers — 11 of which came in the first half. Now that Simeon's trio of high-major seniors are gone, this is Norvell's team and he could be in line for a huge senior season.

3. Nick Rakocevic (C), St. Joseph

After winning a state championship in Class 3A last season, the spotlight will be on Rakocevic after the departure of senior guards Glynn Watson (Nebraska) and Jordan Ash (Northwestern). The 6-foot-10 big man averaged 13.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season and seemed to shine in some of the biggest moments of the season. Rakocevic made third-team CSN All-Area honors last season as he had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the state championship game win over Belleville Althoff. The best uncommitted senior in Illinois, Rakocevic's recruitment could explode with a big senior season.

[RELATED: CSN Preps Basketball Power Rankings - No. 5 Bogan]

4. Barret Benson (C), Hinsdale South

The Northwestern commit hasn't had as much team success as the names listed above him, but the 6-foot-10 center is one of the area's most productive players. As a junior, Benson averaged 19.3 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. Unlike the three names above him, Benson has already been the go-to guy at Hinsdale South for a full season. Over the summer, Benson competed in prestigious national events like the NBPA Top 100 Camp and the Under Armour All-American Camp.

5. Nojel Eastern (G), Evanston

One of the breakout players in the area last season, the 6-foot-5 Eastern might be the most talented long-term prospect on this initial list of Player of the Year candidates. The question for the junior becomes how he looks after recovering from offseason ankle surgery to repair a dislocated ankle and two broken bones? Evanston is hoping Eastern is up to speed because he averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and three assists per game as a sophomore and showed that he's capable of taking over a game in many different ways. College from coast-to-coast have kept tabs on Eastern, who is regarded as a consensus top-100 national prospect.

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

High School Lites had a busy show as it was the final week of the regular season for IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A. The Class 1A and 2A playoffs also tipped in boys basketball as the show has some thrilling regional titles that were decided in the final minute. And finally, the girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals were played on Friday as the state's top teams played in Bloomington.

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

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Richards wrestler Mia Palumbo

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Simeon boys basketball

Highlights

Marshall shocks Leo in Class 2A regional final

Aurora Christian runs past Harvert Christian for 1A regional title

Buzzer-beater lifts Monticello over Gibson City for regional title

Jacobs goes unbeaten in Fox Valley with win over Dundee-Crown

West Aurora gets by rival East Aurora

Yorkville completes season sweep of DeKalb

Lemont escapes past T.F. North

Marshall needs OT to get past Teutopolis in girls 2A semifinals

Harlan takes down Eureka in 2A semifinals

Stockton runs by Okaw Valley in 1A

Schlarman races by Lebanon

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

High School Lites is down to the final week of the regular season in local high school hoops as the Class 3A and 4A schools finish up conference play. The boys basketball playoffs have also started as the Class 1A and Class 2A regional championships will be played on Friday night.

The girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals will also be featured. You can catch all of those games on NBC Sports Chicago on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. with the 1A semifinals. High School Lites will air Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago

East Aurora at No. 11 West Aurora, 7:00 p.m. -- These two rivals meet for the 225th time. The Blackhawks (20-4, 9-0) won the first matchup by 22 points as they try to finish the season on a 12-game winning streak. 

Jacobs at Dundee-Crown, 7:00 p.m. -- Fox Valley rivals match up as Jacobs tries to go unbeaten in the conference. The Eagles (23-3, 15-0) has been playing very well as they've won 20 of 21 games heading into this one -- including an earlier win against Dundee-Crown. The Chargers (14-11, 10-4) has won seven consecutive games since dropping to the Golden Eagles as they're second in the Fox Valley heading into this one. 

Yorkville at DeKalb, 7:00 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East play in this one. DeKalb (16-11, 11-1) has already clinched a share of the conference title as the team's only league loss has come against Yorkville. The Foxes (17-8, 10-2) knocked off DeKalb at their place on Feb. 3 as they try to win again to get a piece of the division title. 

T.F. North at Lemont, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the better teams in the South Suburban Blue battle on the eve of the playoffs. Lemont (17-8, 9-3) has picked up three straight wins entering this one. T.F. North (11-9, 9-3) is trying to build some momentum after recent close losses to Hillcrest and T.F. South.

Carmel at No. 10 Benet, 7:30 p.m. -- The ESCC closes out its season with this one. Benet (22-4, 7-1) is coming off a nice road win at Marian Catholic earlier this week. Carmel (17-10, 4-4) knocked off Joliet Catholic during the week as they've been a dangerous team in the ESCC. 

Class 2A Boys Basketball Regional Championships

Leo vs. Marshall, 6 p.m. -- The Lions are the favorites but the Commandos are the host of this regional title game. Leo (20-5, 8-0) has a 13-game winning streak as they won the Catholic League White. Marshall (8-17, 4-5) struggled in the win column but they were a competitive 4-5 in a very deep Public League Red-South. 

Uplift vs. Northridge, 7 p.m. -- This should be an interesting battle as Uplift is playing on the road at Northridge. Uplift (17-9, 6-3) has played an extremely competitive schedule that includes a recent close loss to No. 1 Simeon as Kansas commit Markese Jacobs and senior forward Toraze Dobbs are one of the best combinations in the Class 2A field. Northridge (22-5, 12-0) went unbeaten in the Independent School League this season as they're riding a 13-game winning streak.

Class 1A Boys Basketball Regional Championships 

Aurora Christian vs. Harvest Christian, 7 p.m. -- These two teams play for the third time this season in what should be an interesting regional title game. Aurora Christian (23-1, 10-0) is the host as they only lost to Winnebago this season. The Eagles beat Harvest Christian twice in a six-day span in December. Harvest Christian (18-8, 8-2) finished third in the Northeastern Athletic as they played the second game within two points. 

Class 1A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Okaw Valley vs. Stockton, 11 a.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Okaw Valley (29-5) is making its first state appearance after winning its first regional title in school history. Stockton (31-2) finished under .500 last season (13-15) and had an amazing turnaround that includes a current 15-game winning streak. 

Lebanon vs. Schlarman, 12:45 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- These two teams have combined for two losses this season as this should be a good one. Lebanon (31-1) just won its first sectional title in school history as they've now moved on to state. Schlarman (31-1) is led by junior Anaya Peoples, a Notre Dame commit and five-star prospect in the Class of 2019. 

Class 2A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Harlan vs. Eureka, 5:30 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two red-hot teams play in the first semifinal in Class 2A. Harlan (25-6) is riding a 12-game winning streak as this is its first appearance at state for girls basketball. Eureka (28-3) has a 19-game winning streak as they make their first state appearance since 1988.

Marshall vs. Teutopolis, 7:15 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two storied programs in the state match up in this one. Marshall (20-7) will be making its 21st state appearance as head coach Dorothy Gaters is one of the most storied coaches in Illinois. Teutopolis is making its 17th appearance at state as the Lady Shoes (28-6) seek their first title since 1995.