Preps Talk

Whitney Young, Montverde rematch next year?


Whitney Young, Montverde rematch next year?

Montverde (Florida) Academy is the top-ranked high school basketball team in the nation. And coach Kevin Boyle's team showed why by defeating Whitney Young 68-63 in overtime and Simeon 82-53 in the last two weeks.

Boyle, who is paid 130,000 annually, was impressed by the two Chicago Public League powers. In fact, he hopes to schedule a rematch with Whitney Young next season, maybe in Chicago.

"I would like to play Whitney Young some place next year because they will be one of the two or three teams in the nation--us, them and Oak Hill or Fendlay (Henderson, Nevada) or Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia). I would like to play a best-of-seven in Orlando and Chicago and split the money between the schools."

Here are Boyle's evaluations of the two Chicago teams:

- "I haven't seen Fendlay (Montverde and Fendlay will meet on Jan. 21 on ESPNU) but Whitney Young is the second best team in the country, the best team we have played."

- "We were the better team but they hung around to force overtime. We thought we could rattle their guards but they handled our pressure and we couldn't break the game open."

- In comparing Whitney Young's 6-foot-11 junior Jahlil Okafor and Montverde's 6-foot-10 Kentucky-bound Dakari Johnson, Boyle predicted both will have long NBA careers if they stay motivated and focused.

- "They must have drive to be great and grow their games over the next five years to achieve their potential. If they are totally committed, in the next five or six years, they will be two of the top five centers in the NBA."

- "Okafor is ahead of Johnson offensively. Dakari is a Moses Malone type. He relies on his (265-pound) body to get position. Okafor offset that and forced Johnson to shoot farther from the basket. He pushed him outside. Dakari had 17 rebounds but Okafor (16 points, 13 rebounds) was better offensively."

- "Okafor is a terrific player. He has great size, nice touch and good post moves. He has a go-to move that many high school players don't have yet."

- Boyle also was impressed with 6-foot-9 junior Paul White, 6-foot-4 junior L.G. Peak and 6-foot-2 guard Miles Reynolds.

- "We had a poor scouting report on Reynolds. He was better than we thought he would be. He hurt us. He scored 18 points (before fouling out in overtime along with White)."

- But Boyle was most impressed with point guard Ausar Madison, who did a good job of handling pressure and defending Montverde's Florida-bound Kasey Hill, perhaps the best point guard in the country.

- "Madison did a good job of playing his role. He kept them in the game. He did a good job of handling the ball. He did a better job than we thought. We expected to rattle Madison more than we did. But Whitney Young didn't rattle under Hill's pressure. Madison gets high grades for his ability to handle pressure. He is a key guy for them."

- "Whitney Young's guards handled our pressure better than Simeon's guards. Simeon's guards (Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate) are good. But they didn't have good games. When we shut down Jabari Parker, they didn't have anyone else to step up and make plays."

- "I wouldn't trade Dakari Johnson for Jabari Parker. But how do you rate a player? Who will be the best in the NBA? Who is the most effective player in high school? Or who is the best player for his team? If I'm an NBA scout, I'm excited about Parker. I can see why he is the No. 2 player in the country. But I can see why people would rate Johnson ahead of him."

- "Parker reminds me of Carmelo Anthony, a good perimeter shooter, good at putting the ball on the floor one dribble to his right. But he doesn't like a lot of contact in the post at this time. He will be a good pro because he is such a good shooter and athletic. The next step for him is to expand his game and put the ball on the floor and beat someone off the
dribble and move to the basket."

- "In the pros, Parker will be a small forward, Johnson a center. Dakari is a center who likes to be a center, an old-school center who will average 15 points and 12 rebounds and three blocks and be an excellent passer. He is all about winning. I'm very impressed with him as an NBA player."

- "I could see Parker as a better scorer than Michael Kidd-Gilcrist (whom Boyle coached at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey, before moving to Montverde) at a higher level. But will he be able to fill a statistics sheet in other areas? I didn't know he could shoot that well."

Montverde fell behind Simeon 12-4 early, then outscored the Wolverines by 37 points the rest of the way. Parker had eight points in the first quarter to lead Simeon's surge but Boyle made a strategic personnel change that limited Parker to nine points in the last three periods.

"Devin Williams (a 6-foot-8, 235-pounder who is committed to West Virginia) guarded him early," Boyle said. "Then I put Kasey Hill (a 6-foot guard) on him. He was too quick and denied him the ball. He didn't have the ability to put the ball on the floor against Hill. When we shut him down, Simeon didn't have anybody else to step up and make plays."

Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage


Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area basketball fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSPreps) crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week, we're profiling teams who are jostling for position near the top of their respective conference. Speaking of battling, did we mention three of the team mascots in this week's poll are named "Warriors?" Which game should we attend Friday night?

Bloom at Rich Central, 6:30 p.m.

Crystal Lake South at McHenry, 7:00 p.m.

Maine West at Deerfield, 7:30 p.m.

Poll opens Monday at 12:00 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

While many top Chicagoland underclassmen took part in the third annual EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase powered by EFT Football Academy last week, several others from outside the area participated and made waves of their own. Athletes from Central and Southern Illinois made statements, while others from a dozen states and Canada turned heads as well. 

East St. Louis sophomore safety Antonio Johnson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was one of several Flyers who made a very positive impression and made the most of his experience. 

Johnson, who started at wide receiver and safety for the Flyers (10-2 in 2017), is already appearing on several college radar screens. Johnson remains one of several underclassmen to watch for head coach Darren Sunkett over the next few years. 

I caught up with East St. Louis sophomore safety prospect Antonio AJ Johnson at the showcase and discussed his winter plans, his recruiting and why he made the nearly-300 mile trek in the dead of winter to compete at this event.