Larkin senior big man Jalen Shaw is riding a huge wave of confidence entering this summer.
Ever since leading the Royals to a sectional title game appearance in Class 4A in March, the 6-foot-10 big man has been generating a lot of buzz for his play on the grassroots circuit.
With an emerging offensive skill level, Shaw has a chance to be an All-Area candidate this season as he might be the most talented post player in the area next season. A gifted passer for his size, Shaw is starting to adjust to constant double teams and additional attention from opposing defenses.
Shaw will get a major opportunity to test his skills against some of the nation's elite this week when he goes to Virginia to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp. Between the national camps and a July playing in front of college coaches, it'll be intriguing to see how Shaw plays over the next few weeks.
Larkin also has a chance to be a top-25 staple next season thanks to a solid group of returning players. Between Shaw and aggressive attacking guard Anthony Lynch, Larkin has a lot of potential scoring pop in its starting lineup and they're coming off of a surprise season in which they had a great run in the postseason.
Chicago De La Salle senior linebacker Joe Bonds (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and soon-to-be NIU Huskie will have zero problems fitting into the "The Hard Way" mantra once he reports to DeKalb this summer.
I had a chance to catch up with Bonds and his teammates at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School.
Bonds, a three-star inside linebacker is one of several Chicagoland headline names who comprised of a very strong NIU recruiting 2018 class.
Bonds, who signed with the Huskies over offers from multiple FBS level schools, looks ahead and discusses his soon to be transition from De La Salle to college football and more.
A state champion will be crowned Saturday at the United Center, when Loyola Academy Gold plays Stevenson for the Boys Red Division State Championship.
Here are some of the storylines we’re watching ahead of the game.
1. Coaching connection: These two coaches have known each other for more than 20 years. Loyola head coach D.J. LaVarre coached against Stevenson head coach Tom Wood when Wood played youth hockey. LaVarre also knows Tom’s dad, Jim, who is the former head coach at Stevenson. Currently the coach Stevenson’s JV 2 team, Jim won the AHAI high school coach of the year in 2007.
2. Fun rewards for players of the game: At Stevenson, the player of the game is awarded a hard hat. At Loyola, it’s a championship belt.
3. International influence: Stevenson’s goalie, Elias Sandholm, is a transfer student from Sweden and has the highest save percentage in school history, .951. He made the all-state team and the Chicago Showcase team.
4. Next man up: In net for Loyola will most likely be Hugh Brady, a senior who stepped up when Thomas Moran went down with a hip injury. Brady has played 47 games and has a .945 save percentage.
5. A drought will be snapped: Stevenson has never won a state championship. Loyola is looking for its first since 1996.
Puck drop is at 3 p.m., with the girls’ state championship game, Glenbrook vs. New Trier, starting at 11:30 a.m.
One more fun note: Team USA gold medalist and Palos Heights native Kendall Coyne will drop the ceremonial puck prior to both games.