Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Edwardsville's AJ Epenesa visits Missouri


Recruiting News and Notes: Edwardsville's AJ Epenesa visits Missouri

AJ Epenesa (DE), Edwardsville

The junior four-star defensive end made an unofficial gameday visit to Missouri.

"It was exciting," Epenesa told's Brian Austin. "I was really looking forward to going to check out Mizzou and see what they're all about on game day. It was fun being there. The fans were definitely loud and crazy. It was fun to be around. They're a good team, but they had a rough game. Other then the loss it was a really enjoyable visit. I had a good time."

Epenesa (6-foot-5, 255 pounds), the 23rd ranked player in the nation according to's Class of 2017 Top 100 recruit rankings, has 20 scholarship offers so far. 

Jake Marwede (TE), Loyola

The junior tight end was able to add his first offer from Central Michigan last week.

"It's pretty exciting," Marwede said. "I went to a Central Michigan satellite camp last summer in Paw Paw and I was able to get to know the coaches a bit better. I felt I had a pretty good camp and I've been staying in touch with the CMU coaches ever since. I haven't had a chance to make it on campus just yet but I'm planning to visit Central Michigan soon."

Marwede is also drawing recruiting interest from the likes of Penn State, Michigan, Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Power Rankings - Week 9]

Matt Norton (TE), Stevenson

Norton (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) was beginning to draw more recruiting looks from DI level colleges this fall, but decided to accept a roster spot invite from Penn last week.

"I just loved it at Penn on my visit," the senior tight end said. "It's more of an urban campus in Philadelphia and it's exactly what I was looking for in a school. I was able to get to know the coaches and the players and everyone was great. I'm planning to to major in business and Penn offers a world class education and an amazing business program. I narrowed it down to Penn or Princeton and in the end it was just the feeling I had at Penn that sealed it for me."

Justin Blake (QB), Montini

One Class of 2016 name to keep an eye on from a recruiting standpoint is Blake (6-foot-0, 180 pounds). Blake, who is playing quarterback for the Broncos this season, has amassed nearly 2,000 yards of total offense heading into this week's game at Marmion Academy.

"I'm still staying in touch with the coaches from NIU, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Western Michigan and Toledo," Blake said. "I was able to go visit NIU, along with Western Illinois already, and I'm trying to find a way to get down to Eastern Illinois soon. The coaches either call or text me once a week and I also keep sending them my updated film each week."

Blake, who played wide receiver last season, is also a high-level caliber athlete who could draw offers at various positions at the college level.

Under Armour All-American Game Fan Vote

Both Lake Park senior defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk (Michigan State) and Nazareth Academy senior defensive back Julian Love (Notre Dame) need your vote. Panasiuk and Love have been added to the Under Armour All-American Game first ever fan vote. The fans will decide the final two roster spots in the Under Armour All-American Game held on Jan. 2 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl televised live on ESPN2. Round 1 voting is underway and you can cast your votes here.

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


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.