Preps Talk

Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

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Recruiting News and Notes: Justin Hall commits to NIU

Justin Hall (ATH), Homewood-Flossmoor

Northern Illinois University landed its ninth in-state verbal commitment when Homewood-Flossmoor senior athlete Justin Hall (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) decided to stay closer to home and commit to the Huskies.

"I just really interacted well with the coaches as well as the players at NIU," Hall said. "It's really a family feeling in the football program at NIU and I just always have felt comfortable there. I was looking to also stay closer to home and it all just came together for me at NIU. I can stay closer to home and play for a team that has had a lot of success. NIU also offers a good education and it just feels like the best fit for me so I committed."

Hall, who was recruited by NIU head coach Rod Carey as a defensive back, can also return kicks and punts and plans to contribute to the Huskies return teams. Hall joins his Homewood-Flossmoor teammate in defensive linemen Jeff Griffin, Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Decatur MacArthur wide receiver Amir Brummett, Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison, Palatine outside linebacker Cortez Hogans, Simeon wide receiver Leon Payne, Rich Central athlete Jyran Mitchell and Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis in the NIU in-state Class of 2018. 

Brett Groves (OT), Cary-Grove

Cary-Grove senior offensive tackle Brett Groves (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) decided last week to end his recruiting process and give Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill his verbal commitment.

"It was ready to make my decision so I called up coach Hill and gave SIU my verbal commitment," Groves aid. "I never had any set date to make my decision but with the start of practices I wanted to make my decision so I can focus on my team and my season."

Groves, who also was drawing recruiting looks from FBS schools such as Iowa State and NIU, decided he didn't want to pass up his opportunity at Southern Illinois.

"SIU just has a lot to offer. I really get a long great with the coach. Both coach Hill and coach (Trevor) Olson are good people and also very good coaches. I like the direction that the football program is headed. SIU also has a great looking campus and I just really like the surrounding area. SIU is a bit of a smaller school but still has that bigger school feel. I was also impressed with the facilities at SIU along with the academic support for athletes. I know that I'll get a good education at SIU. It's just the best for me."

Josh Shodipo (DB), Oswego

Oswego senior defensive back Josh Shodipo (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) also decided to make his college decision before the opening of team practice and give Western Illinois University his verbal commitment.

"My recent visit was a big reason why I decided to commit to WIU," Shodipo said. "WIU is a good school and I already know some people going to school there. I really like the coaches at WIU along with the players. I'm also a good fit into the WIU defense. They recruited me as a corner back but the coaches also feel I could also play some safety for them. The visit to WIU just made me feel really comfortable with the school along with the coaches and the team. WIU feels like home to me."

Jayleen Fitzpatrick (LB), Glenbard North

No one was as happy to see the official start of IHSA football practices last Monday than Glenbard North senior linebacker Jayleen Fitzpatrick (6-foot-0, 205 pounds). Fitzpatrick, who suffered an 2016 early season-ending injury, is back and 100 percent ready to go.

"I am so ready to go," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm like overly excited for the season. It's been a lot of work and rehab to get back but now I'm back."

Fitzpatrick, who will be one of the leaders for the Panthers defense this fall, will draw several college coaches attention and serious looks at his early senior year game video.

"This month I've been in touch with a lot of different schools and they all want to know when I was cleared and back with the team. I've been talking to some DII schools like Grand Valley State and the University of Indianapolis, plus some smaller schools like UW Whitewater. They all want to see some of my senior tape."

1-on-1 with Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis

1-on-1 with Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis

Need proof that the college football recruiting process is evaluating and offering players younger than ever before? All you need to do is ask Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis (6-foot-3, 185 pounds).

Kaliakmanis, who as a freshman was Carmel's starting quarterback before transferring to his home school district after the fall semester, recently landed his first verbal scholarship from Syracuse. Kaliakmanis, who is also on several college recruiting radar screens this winter, was easily one of the stronger performers in a loaded quarterback field at the recently held EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy. 

I caught up with Kaliakmanis and discussed how Syracuse gave him his first scholarship, his recent transfer to Antioch and much more. 

The latest AP preps boys and girls basketball poll

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The latest AP preps boys and girls basketball poll

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

BOYS

Class 4A

School                                        W-L       PTS               PRV

1. Simeon (12)                          17-3      128              1

2. Curie  (1)                              17-2       118               2

3. Whitney Young                     17-4       96                 4

4. Belleville West                     17-2       94                 3

5. Danville                               15-2       79                  5

6. Bolingbrook                         15-2       48                  10

7. Niles North                          18-2       34                  T7

8. Moline                                 16-4       33                  9

9. Normal Community            16-4       18                  6

(tie) Bloomington                    14-6       18                  NR

Others receiving votes: Evanston Township 14, Marist 10, Normal West 7, Loyola 6, Rockford Jefferson 4, Quincy 3, Benet Academy 3, Fenwick 1, New Trier 1

Class 3A

School                                                               W-L        PTS       PRV

1. Morgan Park (10)                                       15-7        117       1

2. Springfield Southeast (1)                            14-2        96         5

(tie) Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights)        14-3        96         3

4. Hillcrest                                                       16-4        76         4

5. Springfield Lanphier (1)                              14-2        75         2

6. DePaul College Prep                                   18-4        65         7

7. Alton Marquette                                         20-0        58         6

8. Centralia                                                     14-2        36         8

9. North Lawndale                                          13-7        15         9

10. Burlington Central                                    17-2        11         NR

Others receiving votes: Champaign Central 3, Bogan 3, Lincoln 2, Mahomet-Seymour 2, Carbondale 2, Benton 2, Tolono Unity 1

Class 2A

School                                                     W-L        PTS       PRV

1. Orr (12)                                             16-3       120       1

2. Winnebago                                        16-1       103       4

3. Pinckneyville                                    19-2        88         2

4. Eldorado                                           20-0        75         6

5. Warsaw West Hancock                    20-1       72          3

6. Williamsville                                    15-1        56         7

7. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley                18-2       50          5

8. Leo                                                   13-5       34          8

9. Monticello                                        12-1       21          9

10. Bureau Valley                                18-2       15          10

Others receiving votes: Bloomington Central Catholic 8, St. Joseph-Ogden 6, Farmington 5, Teutopolis 4, Momence 3

Class 1A

School                                                   W-L       PTS        PRV

1. Aurora Christian (10)                       16-0     118         1

2. Colfax Ridgeview (2)                       18-2      110         2

3. Annawan                                          16-2      83          T4

4. East Dubuque                                   16-2      77          3

5. DePue                                               18-1      76          T4

6. Sterling Newman                             17-3      65          6

7. Payson Seymour                              17-1      53           7

8. Quest Academy                               17-4      35           8

9. Milford                                             14-3      20          10

10. New Berlin                                     16-4      9            NR

Others receiving votes: Winchester-West Central 8, Cissna Park 3, Newark 2, Cairo 1

GIRLS

Class 4A

School                                                      W-L              PTS    PRV

1. Edwardsville (9)                                  19-0             99     1 

2. Rockford Boylan (1)                            21-0             88     2 

3. Montini                                               23-2             78     3 

4. Rock Island                                          17-7             67     T4

5. Maine West                                        21-1             66     T4

6. Geneva                                                17-3             44     7 

7. Lincoln-Way East                                21-3             32     6 

8. Benet                                                   19-3             26     8 

9. Normal Community                            18-5             11     9 

10. Marist                                               16-4             10     NR

Others receiving votes: Mother McAuley 8, Springfield 6, Bolingbrook 5, Whitney Young 4, Bradley-Bourbonnais 3, Danville 2, Loyola 1

Class 3A

School                                                  W-L     PTS    PRV

1. Morton (6)                                      23-1     96     1 

2. Richwoods (4)                                 22-1     94     2 

3. Glenbard South                               18-2     67     4 

4. Kaneland                                         19-2     61     5 

5. Bethalto Civic Memorial                19-2     55     3 

6. Nazareth                                         20-2     51     6 

7. Effingham                                       17-1     35     7 

8. Charleston                                       18-1     30     9 

9. Breese Central                                19-3     24     NR

10. Bloomington Central Catholic      18-4     22     10

Others receiving votes: Evergreen Park 11, Burlington Central 3, Bishop McNamara 1

Class 2A

School                                                   W-L     PTS   PRV

1. Harrisburg  (11)                              23-0    110   1 

2. Illini West (Carthage)                     23-2     95    2 

3. Watseka                                          23-1     85    3 

4. Eureka                                             19-3     77    T6

5. Oakwood                                         22-2     50    T6

6. Pleasant Plains                                19-2     45    8 

7. Monticello                                       15-2     43    5 

8. Teutopolis                                       20-3     39    4 

9. Payson Western                              20-4     29    10

10. Chicago Marshall                          14-6     11    NR

Others receiving votes: Harvest Christian Academy 8, Sesser-Valier 7, Tuscola 2, St. Joseph-Ogden 2, Farmington 1, Paxton-Buckley-Loda 1

Class 1A

School                                                  W-L     PTS   PRV

1. Annawan (9)                                    25-0     96    1 

2. Danville Schlarman                         22-1     81    2 

3. Lebanon                                         20-0     72    3 

4. Jacksonville Routt                           19-4     58    6 

5. Shiloh                                              20-4     43    7 

6. Lewistown                                       21-4     41    5 

7. Lanark Eastland                              19-4     39    4 

8. Stockton                                          19-2     34    10

9. East Dubuque                                  18-3     15    NR

10. Princeville                                     23-4     11    8 

Others receiving votes: Aurora Christian 10, Colfax Ridgeview 9, DePue 7, Newark 5, Winchester 5, Walther Lutheran 4, Milford 4, Sterling Newman 3, Altamont 3, Bushnell-Prairie City 2, Cissna Park 2, Centralia Christ Our Rock 2, Aquin 2, Galena 1, Okawville 1