Preps Talk

Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

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Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

As a junior, quarterback Matt Alviti led Maine South to the Class 8A championship.

As a senior, quarterback Aaron Bailey led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship.

Alviti is a better passer.

Bailey is a better runner.

Alviti is smarter.

Bailey is bigger, faster and a better all-around athlete.

Alviti is committed to Northwestern.

Bailey is committed to Illinois.

Both run a spread offense.

Who is better? Who will have a better college career?

"It's like comparing apples and oranges," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. "The one who will excel is the one who gets a chance to play at his own pace, who is able to utilize his talents more."

For example, will Northwestern allow Alviti to be Alviti? Will Illinois allow Bailey to be Bailey.

"Remember Juice Williams at Illinois?" Lemming said. "He had the strongest arm in the country. Williams played right away but he wasn't ready. He had a rocket for an arm but he didn't improve over four years because he was put into the fire too early. There was always pressure to perform. He wasn't fully developed when he was thrown into the fire. He was asked to do to much too early."

Lemming also reminds that Williams came out of Chicago Vocational at the same time that the more highly touted Demetrius Jones came out of Morgan Park. Jones was 6-foot-4 with great potential. He needed time to develop as a passer in a pro-style offense but, like Williams, he had no patience. He committed to Notre Dame but wanted to play right away. He transferred to Cincinnati and was switched to linebacker, then transferred to Division II Central State and became a wide receiver and tight end. He is still hoping to play in the NFL.

"Alviti already is a passer," Lemming said. "But the best thing for any freshman quarterback is to red-shirt and get acclimated to the program and the campus, not thrown into the mix right away.

"But sometimes egos get in the way. Some kids want to start right away. Peyton Manning was ready. But not too many others are. They need a year or two to develop. Terrelle Pryor was thrown into the mix at Ohio State because he insisted on it and he never got better. But Cam Newton was given time to develop."

Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss said Alviti is the best passer he has produced in nearly 20 years, better than John Schnake, Tony Wnek, Shawn Kain, Sean Price, Tyler Knight, Charlie Goro and Tyler Benz.

Schnake led Maine South to a state championship in 1995. Price set several state passing records. Price and Goro were All-Staters. But none of them stood out at the college level.

Illinois has never been known as a state that produces outstanding high school quarterbacks. In the last 50 years, dating to Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke and Alex Agase and George Connor and Dave Butz and Mike Kenn and Clay Matthews, it has built a reputation for developing offensive linemen and linebackers.

Oh, there have been some gifted running backs along the way...Red Grange, Tony Canadeo, Buddy Young, Johnny Karras, Jim Grabowski, Billy Marek, Mike Alstott and Rashard Mendenhall to name a few. And who can forget Pete Pihos, Fritz Pollard and Kellen Winslow, all NFL Hall of Famers?

But quarterback? Otto Graham was the gold standard, of course, one of the best of all time.

Some of the best were Wheaton North's Chuck Long, a three-time All-Big 10 selection at Iowa who was runnerup to Bo Jackson for the 1985 Heisman Trophy and has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; Mount Carmel's Donovan McNabb; and Mike Tomczak, who went from Thornton Fractional North to Ohio State to the Chicago Bears. Ironically, Tomczak edged Long for Player of the Year recognition in the Chicago area in 1980.

Some had good college careers...Tim Brasic, Brett Basanez, Kent Graham, Mark Carlson, Rich Weiss. Others disappeared...Ken Ferguson, Jeff Stewart, Jeff Lesniewicz, Tim Lavery, Mark Floersch, Jordan Tassio, Brad Bower, Quincy Woods, Mike Kerrigan, Corey and Casey Paus, Russ Rein, Jim Bennett.

Finally, Sean Payton, who was an All-Chicago Area quarterback at Naperville Central in 1981, might not have gone on to stardom as a college and professional athlete. But he has done very well as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.

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

Highlights

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

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.