Preps Talk

High School Lites Basketball Preview: Week 1

High School Lites Basketball Preview: Week 1

High School Lites shifts to basketball for the first time this week as the Chicago Elite Classic and a Public League battle between top-five teams highlights a packed weekend of highlights. Catch High School Lites on Friday at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming on the NBC Sports app.

Thursday's Games

No. 4 Orr vs. No. 5 Curie, 7 p.m. — This clash of Public League superpowers should be a fun one. Defending Class 2A champion Orr (1-0) is one of the most balanced and unselfish teams in the state as they return key pieces like Raekwon Drake, Dannie Smith and Ty Mosley from last season's team. With the addition of point guard Chase Adams, a transfer from Marian Catholic, the Spartans have a ton of offensive firepower. Curie (0-0) counters with some transfers of their own as Marquise Walker and Jayden Gasby are key additions. Senior big men Traevon and Tyree Martin are also back for the Condors while other transfers like Marquise Walker and Jayden Gasby should play a factor.

Friday's Games

No. 8 Romeoville at Plainfield South, 6:30 p.m. — Romeoville is living up to early expectations as they try to remain unbeaten against Plainfield South. The Wildcats (4-0) are off to an unbeaten start as they go on the road in the Southwest Prairie. Seniors DeAndre Heckard, Dontia Johnson and Eddie Creal are all players to keep an eye on. Plainfield South (1-3) played in the Joliet West Thanksgiving tournament and has already faced some quality teams in Lincoln-Way East and Brother Rice so they should be prepared for another top opponent.

Waukegan at No. 22 Lake Zurich, 7:00 p.m. — Quality matchup in the North Suburban as Waukegan tries to bounce back against Lake Zurich. The Bulldogs (2-2) fell out of the top 25 after starting the season in the top 10. Junior Bryant Brown has had some big-time performances but Waukegan has played some tough early competition. Lake Zurich (4-0) hasn't faced very good competition so far but they'll get a real test in this one. The Bears have a lot of flood spacing, led by senior Ryan Kutsor while junior J.R. Cison is a very solid point guard.

No. 17 St. Joseph at St. Laurence, 7:00 p.m. — Two unbeaten teams go head-to-head in this one. St. Joseph (5-0) had a great opening week taking the title at St. Charles East as head coach Gene Pingatore has a lot of returning experience. St. Laurence (4-0) is one of two Catholic League White teams to start 4-0 on the season as they try to prove they are for real against one of the area's better teams.

Hinsdale Central at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m. — Hinsdale South (4-1) tries to fight their way back into the Power Rankings when they battle Hinsdale Central. The Hornets have a star player in senior Zion Griffin, an Iowa State commit who is one of the area's most productive players. Hinsdale Central (1-3) has played a tough early schedule against ranked teams like Naperville North and West Aurora while also playing Oswego and Oswego East to close finishes.

Chicago Elite Classic at UIC

Bloomington vs. No. 15 St. Rita, 6:00 p.m. — Bloomington travels from downstate to face Catholic League power St. Rita. The Purple Raiders (4-0) are off to a strong start as junior wing Chris Payton is committed to Illinois State. St. Rita (4-1) has already faced some quality competition as they lost to Rockford Jefferson. The Mustangs had some solid weeks from senior Jordan Matthews and junior Jeremiah Oden.

Lyons vs. Riverside-Brookfield, 7:30 p.m. — After slow starts to the season both of these teams will be looking to rebound. Lyons (1-3) lost its first three games by single digits before running past Glenbard North. Riverside-Brookfield (1-3) has a very talented senior in Ryan Cicenas but the Bulldogs haven't found much success yet.

No. 11 OPRF vs. No. 9 Fenwick, 9:00 p.m. — This battle for Oak Park should be a good one as two top-12 teams collide. The Huskies (4-0) are off to a hot start as they are led by a strong backcourt in Isaiah Fuller and Dashaun Enoch. Their press could be an issue for a Fenwick team that had some difficulties with Whitney Young's press last week. The Friars (3-2) counter with sophomore D.J. Steward as he's playing like an early Player of the Year candidate. Fenwick also has some solid players around him in Damari Nixon and Billy Bruce while Mike O'Laughlin is tough in the post.

Viewers’ Choice

Rolling Meadows at Buffalo Grove, 7:30 p.m. — This week's Viewers' Choice Game of the Week is an intriguing battle in the MSL East. Rolling Meadows (1-3) is off to a sluggish start but they have the potential to be dangerous. Freshman Max Christie has generated some early buzz while senior Gio Carillo is a solid scorer. Buffalo Grove (3-1) has a deep and experienced team with five returning starters. The Bison are led by senior guard Jack Vaselaney as he has plenty of options around him.

Recruiting news and notes: Nazareth Academy's Devin Blakley verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Recruiting news and notes: Nazareth Academy's Devin Blakley verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

Nazareth Academy junior three star ranked defensive back Devin Blakley (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) decided to give Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment earlier this week.

"Miami of Ohio is just a great fit for me so I decided to commit," Blakley said. "I've known for a while now that Miami was the place for me. I just didn't see any reason to keep waiting so I called up the coaches and committed."

Blakley, who had offers from the likes of Iowa State and Air Force long with multiple Mid American Conference schools is the second State of Illinois pledge for the Redhawks Class of 2019. Blakley joins Simeon QB Alante Brown who earlier this month gave Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment. 

New Trier junior three star ranked athlete recruit Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) has been looking harder at his multiple college offers and options. Olges, who has been playing baseball for the Trevians this spring will make two unofficial visits this weekend then will begin to narrow down his favorite schools.

"My plan is to go see Duke and Virginia this weekend and see how everything goes with those visits," according to Olges. "After that I'm either going to narrow things down to a top schools list or I might even make a decision. I just feel that I have some great offers right now and don't want to wait too long in making a decision. Playing the waiting game is a risk because kids are already starting to make decisions. I don't want to miss out and lose some great offers."

Stevenson junior inside linebacker recruit Maema Njongmeta (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) has continued to add scholarship offers this spring including recent offers from both NIU and Toledo. Njongmeta was also able to head out east over his recent spring break and made a handful of college visits.

"I was able to go out to visit Princeton, Army and Penn over my spring break then we headed up to Canada to visit with some family," Njongmeta said. "All three visits I felt went very well and overall it was a fun trip. I thought it was very beneficial to see all three schools in person. Army has the whole military stigma but it was good to see the academy in person. It was great to see what West Point and academy life is all about in person and it was super cool. Every school brings something different to the table. I was able to definitely get a better feel for each school I visited."

Njongmeta has reached also out to someone very familiar with the recruiting process in former Stevenson and current Northwestern super back Cameron Green.

"We have a wonderful lady who works at our school who was able to get me in touch with Cameron Green. I knew of Cameron since I was in eight grade but didn't know him at all. He's a great guy and has been a big help for me. He's given me some good advice and is someone who's been through the process and knows what I'm going through with the recruiting process."

Urban Prep Bronzeville junior defensive back Jeremiah Webb (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) was able to add his first scholarship offer earlier this week from Northern Illinois University. 

"I'm still really excited (about adding his first offer from NIU) and my phone has been blowing up," Webb said. "I've been working hard for a long time now and it just feels good to add my first offer from NIU."

Webb has been eyeing the NIU Huskies program for some time now.

"I've been looking into NIU for a long time. They have a great, winning program and have been to multiple bowl games over the years. NIU is also close to home and I've been to NIU for a camp last summer and I also went to the NIU spring game. It's great to get my first offer from such a good program like NIU."

Webb has also drawn recruiting attention from Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Cornell and Holy Cross so far this spring. 

Recruiting news and notes: Simeon's Alante Brown verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Recruiting news and notes: Simeon's Alante Brown verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

Simeon junior quarterback Alante Brown (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) earlier this week decided to give Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment. Brown, who narrowed down his Top 4 schools to the Redhawks along with NIU, Western Michigan and Toledo pointed towards a few key reasons he gave Miami of Ohio his commitment.

"I was able to see everything that Miami has to offer," Brown said. "They offer a great education and very strong overall academics. The football program is heading in the right direction plus they already have a younger team. I'm hoping to help bring in even more kids in my class and I've already started to work on a few guys from here about Miami."

West Aurora sophomore defensive tackle Denver Warren (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) has been one of the top recruit names to watch in the Class of 202 in Illinois. Warren, who has scholarship offers from the likes of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa State made a recent visit to Illinois.

"I had a good visit to Illinois," according to Warren. "They have a great overall energy and I just liked it. Illinois also has a strong brotherhood between the players and the coaches. The coaching staff at Illinois is pretty amazing. It was my first time ever at Illinois and I liked the facilities and the stadium. Illinois is also pretty close to home. I just came away impressed with the bond between the players and the coaches at Illinois."

Warren is also planning to transfer at the end of the spring semester to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

"It's a great opportunity and I want to go and get better and take my game to the highest level. My Mom and I have looked really hard at everything and I made my final decision and talked to my coaches about it. I'm going to visit IMG Academy on May 10th and 11th and I'll go back to register for school on July 14th."

St. Charles North junior three-star ranked defensive back Tyler Nubin (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Thursday morning.

"I had a really good visit to Minnesota," Nubin said. "I spent the day with Coach (PJ) Fleck and the defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae. Their coaching staff is just unbelievable and the facilities are top notch."

Nubin held 16 scholarship offers this spring, including six offers from the Big Ten conference.  

Momence junior three-star ranked athlete Jason Bargy (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) has drawn nine Power 5 scholarship offers so far this spring and made a recent visit to Illinois.

"I wanted to see the tempo and how the coaches get after the players," Bargy told Orange and BlueNews.com's Doug Buschon. "How the guys interact with each other. "

Bargy, who doesn't plan to announce any Top schools list is planning to make a college decision "over the next few months."