Preps Talk

2016 CSN Preps Boys Basketball All-Area Team


2016 CSN Preps Boys Basketball All-Area Team

With the conclusion of the 2015-16 IHSA boys basketball season, it's time to hand out the third annual @CSNPreps All-Area Team.

This year's 15-man, three-team group is led by Player of the Year Charlie Moore, as the Morgan Park senior point guard was the easy choice after his outstanding season. Moore is joined on the first team by four other seniors, including three players who recently went to Peoria for the Class 3A and Class 4A state tournament.

The other two teams of players in the All-Area team were much tougher to decide, as the list of viable candidates was longer than ever this season. Selections for the @CSNPreps All-Area team are based both on regular season and postseason accomplishments, since many players are remembered by what they did in the playoffs.


Antonio Williams, Proviso East senior guard: After missing the first part of the season while dealing with eligibility issues, the 6-foot-0 Williams burst into the season with a strong performance at Proviso West. Williams ended up as an All-Conference selection in the West Suburban as he put up 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. 
Sam Taylor III, Thornton senior guard: The most surprising inclusion on this year's All-Area team, the 5-foot-11 Taylor was a first-year starter with minimal fanfare entering the season. Taylor emerged into a force for one of the area's best teams, averaging 19 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. 
Nojel Eastern, Evanston junior guard: One of the area's best juniors, Eastern returned from an offseason ankle injury to average 14.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. The 6-foot-5 Eastern can play both guard spots and has multiple Division I high-major scholarship offers. 
[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Basketball Final Power Rankings]
Micah Bradford, Bradley-Bourbonnais senior guard: A Valparaiso commit, the 6-foot-0 guard averaged 19.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3 steals per game. Bradley-Bourbonnais' all-time leading scorer, Bradford was a two-time SouthWest Suburban All-Conference selection.
Justin Smith, Stevenson junior forward: Taking over for Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw as the go-to guy at Stevenson wasn't easy, but the high-flying 6-foot-6 junior made a smooth transition into the spotlight. Smith came on strong at the end of the season as he averaged 17 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on 52.2 percent shooting.

Barret Benson, Hinsdale South senior center: A 6-foot-10 center heading to Northwestern, Benson has been one of the area's best post players the last three seasons. Benson averaged 20.1 points, 11 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 59 percent from the floor. Hinsdale South's career leader in scoring, rebounding and blocks, Benson was an All-Tournament selection at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic.
Lorenzo Edwards, Lake Forest senior forward: After playing in the shadow of former CSN All-Area selection Evan Boudreaux, the 6-foot-7 Edwards had a monster senior season. The unsigned forward put up 19.1 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game while shooting 56 percent from the field. In Lake Forest's 26 games this season, Edwards had double-doubles in 20 of them.
Justin Pierce, Glenbard West senior forward: Pierce was one of the area's breakout stars as a senior as he averaged 24.7 points, 11 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game on 50 percent shooting. The 6-foot-6 William & Mary commit helped Glenbard West win their first conference title in 43 years as he became Glenbard West's all-time leading scorer. 
James Jones, Bogan senior guard: One of the area's most electric players, the 6-foot-3 Jones is headed to Buffalo next season. As a senior, Jones averaged 19.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as he's been one of the city's best players the last two seasons. Jones helped Bogan capture the Public League Playoffs as a junior when he teamed with former CSN All-Area selection Luwane Pipkins. 
Nick Robinson, Kenwood senior forward: Over the past few years the 6-foot-6 Robinson has helped put Kenwood on the city basketball map as he averaged 17 points, 9.3 rebounds and three assists as a senior. One of the area's best unsigned seniors, Robinson was previously committed to Indiana State and will be a big target for colleges this spring. 
Player of the Year: Charlie Moore, Morgan Park senior guard: The Memphis commit averaged 28 points, seven assists and five steals per game for one of the area's best teams. A four-year varsity player, the 5-foot-11 Moore reached Peoria three times and won two state titles during his career. Moore earned the MVP of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament this season and was the area's toughest player to stop. Two-time CSN All-Area selection after making the second team last season.
Mike Smith, Fenwick senior guard: A recent commit for Columbia, the 5-foot-9 Smith was sensational in his senior season for the Friars, averaging 19 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game while shooting 43 percent from 3-point range. The Chicago Catholic League Player of the Year, Smith was an All-Tournament selection at Proviso West. Smith was at his best against the area's best as he had 38 in a win over Simeon as his signature performance.
Devin Gage, Curie senior guard: A strong postseason and Class 4A state title catapulted the DePaul commit onto the first team as the 6-foot-2 Gage averaged 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game for the Condors. Also the A.C. Williamson Award winner at Pontiac, Gage was one the area's most clutch players this season, making multiple game-winning shots. 
Zach Norvell, Simeon senior guard: Headed to Gonzaga next season, the 6-foot-5 Norvell was one of the toughest covers in the area as he put up 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game. Norvell helped Simeon make it down to Peoria this March and he was an All-Tournament selection at Pontiac in December. Also won the Public League Playoffs as a senior and a Class 4A state title as a freshman.
Nick Rakocevic, St. Joseph senior center: The only senior on St. Joseph this season, Rakocevic and the Chargers returned to Peoria this season after last season's Class 3A state title. Uncommitted for next season, the 6-foot-11 Rakocevic averaged 19.8 points, 15.1 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game this season. Rakocevic is now a two-time CSN All-Area selection after making the third team last season.

Beware of the Attack of the Lower Seeds

Beware of the Attack of the Lower Seeds

With the upcoming IHSA football playoff pairings announcement on Saturday night, here are some teams with modest win-loss records who opponents probably wouldn’t want to see in the early rounds of the postseason.

Loyola Academy (5-3): The Ramblers have struggled this season. But head coach John Holocek has, once again, led his team to the state playoff field. So what gives? Loyola has been inconsistent on offense and has turned the football over way too often. The team has also been dealing with various injuries. But the defense (minus a 35-3 loss to Brother Rice) has generally played well this season. If the Ramblers can clean up the turnovers and find a way to get their offense back in a rhythm, this team can undoubtedly surprise some teams along the way in Class 8A. 

Neuqua Valley (5-3): The Wildcats and head coach Bill Ellinghaus have dropped three tight games this season including a last possession, 21-14 decision to DuPage Valley Conference champion Naperville Central two weeks ago. If the Wildcats can continue to get steady production from a balanced offense, led by RB Will Cheviliar and QB John Gronowski, the defense is capable of keeping Neuqua Valley in every game this postseason.

Aurora Christian (5-3): Coach Dave Beebe’s Eagles have lost to three playoff-bound teams this season with a combined 21-3 record (IC Prep, St. Francis and Bishop McNamara). They have a potent spread-passing attack led by sophomore QB Ethan Hampton. Aurora Christian is also slated to wind up in the Class 1A bracket on pairings night. Their dynamic offense and passing game in general could be a tough matchup for opponents in, what usually is, Class 1A North bracket with teams that generally run the ball.

Barrington (5-3): The Broncos, under head coach Joe Sanchez, have also been dealing with a rash of mid-season injuries; that said, it looks like Barrington is getting healthy at the right time. Junior QB Tommy Fitzpatrick is back from injury and is a key catalyst for any Barrington postseason run. Fitzpatrick has weapons in junior WR EJ Darlington and senior RB Michael Curran. 

Lake Zurich (5-3): The Bears made a starting quarterback change last week as Jack Moses took the reins. He promptly led the Bears to a 42-0 win over Mundelein. If the Bears can limit turnovers and continue to get strong production from their offense, the L-Z defense is more than capable of making life very difficult for any higher seeds that they could draw in the 7A state playoff field. 

Edwardsville (5-3): The Tigers hit a rough patch starting the season with a 1-3 record. But they currently boast a four-game winnings streak heading into Friday night’s tilt at Collinsville. Edwardsville is led by senior QB Kendall Abdur Rahman (Notre Dame) and is a gamebreaker every time he touches the football. Sophomore RB Justin Johnson (and the team in general) possesses a ton of speed. There are athletes and playmakers on both sides of the football. 

Here are some more lower seeds who could wreak havoc:

Providence Catholic (5-3): If the Celtics can get their running game going, beware. 

Raby (5-3): The Raiders could be a handful in 4A.

St. Charles East (4-4): The Saints’ power-option game is always tough to defend. 

Joliet Catholic (4-4): IF the Hilltoppers can beat Notre Dame on Friday, they could be a very tough out in 5A.

Crystal Lake South (5-3): A huge offensive line leads the way for the Gators. 

Zion-Benton (4-4): The Zee-Bees can put as much talent on the field than most of their opponents. 

Lemont (4-4): Needs a win Friday over rival Oak Forest. If the offense can keep the chains moving, the Indians’ defense can do the rest. 

Crete-Monee (5-3): They are the Southland conference champs. Their first two losses in 2018? Lincoln-Way East (8-0) and Brother Rice (8-0).

Thornton (4-4): The Wildcats will need to upset Lincoln Way Central Friday. Thornton always has talent.

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

Bloomington, IL/Chicago, IL (October 17, 2018) -- The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to NBC Sports Chicago for its eighth season in 2018. NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – will air the show live on NBC Sports Chicago+ on Saturday, October 20 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CT. Viewers are urged to visit NBC Sports Chicago’s “Channel Finder” page ( for exact NBC Sports Chicago+ channel locations in their area.

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via Live stream beginning at 8:00 PM on Saturday at, on Facebook Live (, and will also be accessible for viewing to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers via the brand new MyTeams by NBC Sports app (NOTE: MyTeams is available on iOS and Android devices, at no cost, to fans anywhere in the U.S. and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage across all platforms on Saturday night," said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago.  

NBC Sports Chicago anchor Leila Rahimi hosts the show and will be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran Camron Smith will breakdown each class with media members from around the state, including NBC Sports Chicago prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran. Viewers are encouraged to interact with the show and ask questions to be answered during the program by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #IHSAbrackets

The program will once again feature highlights, coaches interviews and media analysis from all over the state. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will be gathering teams & fan reaction moments throughout the “Land of Lincoln” on Saturday from numerous school playoff pairing parties taking place that evening.

“This is one of the most anticipated nights of the year on the IHSA calendar,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Student-athletes, coaches and communities around the state have put their hearts into the last nine weeks, and for 256 teams, it’s an amazing chance to celebrate their accomplishments, while looking ahead to the path to the IHSA Football State Finals. We appreciate the time and effort that our partners at NBC Sports Chicago put into making this night so special.”

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show kicks off NBC Sports Chicago’s playoff coverage of IHSA Football, which culminates with all eight state title games being televised and streamed by NBC Sports Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23-24), live from Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.