Preps Talk

28 Days to Kickoff: Crete-Monee

28 Days to Kickoff: Crete-Monee

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Crete-Monee

Head coach: John Konecki

Assistant coaches: Greg Murray, Kathy Siefert, Trace Capps, Keith McMaster, Greg Barksdale Jr., Ray Arebalo and Matt Slusher

How they fared in 2018: 10-4 (5-0 Southland Conference). Crete-Monee made the Class 6A state playoff field and defeated Bloomington, Glenwood, Washington and Richards. They advanced to state and lost to Cary-Grove in the title game.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Rich Central
Sept. 6 @ Kankakee
Sept. 13 vs Rich South
Sept. 20 vs Thornton Township
Sept. 27 @ Harper Woods, Mich.
Oct. 4 @ Rich East
Oct. 11 @ Thornwood
Oct. 18 vs Bloom
Oct. 25 vs Thornridge

Biggest storyline: Never count the Warriors out. They started 0-3 last year and advanced to the 6A title game. Can the Warriors maintain their stranglehold on the expanded Southland conference? Is another deep playoff run in the mix?

Names to watch this season: QB Trayvon Randolph (Sr.) and OL Sayveon Henderson (Jr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will need to replace nine graduated starters on defense from their state title runner-up squad.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Konecki and his staff have built the Crete-Monee program into one of the best and most consistent programs in the south suburbs. The Warriors will get to face Thornton, Thornwood and Thornridge in the new Southland conference this season—nice positive for all schools; that said, Crete-Monee won't be able to load up their schedule with strong nonconference opponents. Look for the Warriors to win a lot of games in 2019. They will be a force in the Class 6A state playoff field.

 

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 7 Simeon

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NBC Sports Chicago

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 7 Simeon

School: Simeon

2018-19 record: 20-15 (5-4 Public League Red North/West)

Postseason results: Lost to Curie in Class 4A Supersectionals.

Players to watch: Jeremiah Williams transferred into Simeon from St. Laurence and he's one of the state's top seniors. The 6-foot-4 Williams is a major All-Area candidate this season. Junior guard Ahamad Bynum is a high-major prospect and deluxe scorer who is one of the area's top perimeter shooters. Bynum recently committed to DePaul. 

Why they're in the power rankings: Annually one of best teams in the state, Simeon has go-to scorers, an up-and-coming point guard in Jaylen Drane and intriguing big men like Sincere Callwood. Even though Simeon "struggled" to a 20-15 mark last season, they still came incredibly close to making a Peoria trip and knocking off Curie. It doesn't matter the record or personnel: Simeon is always a major threat. 

Did you know? After winning six IHSA state titles in an eight year span between 2006 and 2013, Simeon has gone six years without a state title.   

Who made the NBC Sports Chicago Preseason All-Area Team?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Who made the NBC Sports Chicago Preseason All-Area Team?

The boys basketball star power in the Chicagoland area is on the rise.

After a bad stretch of a few seasons with a talent drop-off and a lack of high-major players, this year the area has plenty of talent.

Our Preseason All-Area team -- modeled after the collegiate Preseason All-American teams -- features 15 players split into three teams. The first time has five high-major prospects and four top-100 national prospects -- including Player of the Year frontrunners Adam Miller and D.J. Steward,

And the second and third team is littered with productive players from all over the area as this should be a fun season of high school hoops. Here's a look at the individuals to keep track of early in this season. Although the postseason All-Area team will surely look different in some cases, many of these names should make the end-of-season list as well.

First Team

Adam Miller, Morgan Park -- After a blistering junior season that saw him dominate and become a highly-coveted national recruit, Miller returns for his final season with the Mustangs. Averaging 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game last season, Miller took the city by storm in becoming the area's top offensive player. There isn't a player in Illinois who can go on scoring runs like Miller can when he gets hot. Making his college decision this week, Miller is deciding between Arizona, Illinois, Louisville and a late push from Michigan.

D.J. Steward, Whitney Young -- Already a prolific performer in his three varsity seasons between Fenwick and Whitney Young, the 6-foot-2 Steward looks to close out his high school career with a memorable senior season. A Duke commit coming off of a huge summer, Steward averaged 24.3 points and 3.2 assists per game as he's already a two-time All-Area selection. Steward remains a Player of the Year frontrunner along with Adam Miller as both players have a serious chance of making the McDonald's All-American Game.

Max Christie, Rolling Meadows -- The area's best junior is compiling a monster career with the Mustangs. Over 1,000 career points in his first two years of high school, Christie averaged 25.2 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a sophomore. Christie is one of the rare high school players capable of scoring 50 in a game -- he went for 51 in a win over Elk Grove last season -- or going for a tripe-double thanks to his vision. Christie is viewed as a consensus top-15 recruit in the Class of 2021.

Ahron Ulis, Marian Catholic -- Following in the footsteps of his older brother Tyler, Ahron has become one of the state's top point guards for the Spartans. A varsity starter the past few seasons, the Iowa commit has already helped Marian Catholic make a trip to Peoria during his career. Averaging 18.3 points, 4.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds a game as a junior, Ulis will be the leader of a top-ten team with huge expectations this season.

Bryce Hopkins, Fenwick -- Hopkins emerged as a top-100 national prospect during the summer as the junior recently made a verbal commitment to Louisville. Putting up 23 points per game as a sophomore, the 6-foot-6 Hopkins had six 30-point games last season while also coming on strong at the end of the year. A polished three-level scorer who can also crash the glass, Hopkins is a sleeper Player of the Year pick because of his ability to put up big numbers against strong competition.

Second Team

Keshawn Williams, Bloom -- On a balanced Bloom team that features four Division I signees (and possibly five by season's end), the 6-foot-3 Williams is the team's most dynamic offensive threat. Putting up 14 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, Williams is an electric player with the ball in his hands. Not many in the state have the ability to get to the rim like Williams can. Following a heated recruiting battle, Williams signed with Tulsa.

Jeremiah Williams, Simeon -- A do-it-all wing who transferred into Simeon from St. Laurence this offseason, Williams gives the Wolverines some senior star power. One of the Catholic League's best players a season ago, Williams averaged 18.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, three steals and 2.5 blocks per game as a junior. Now with even more weapons around him than last season, Williams could be in for a huge senior season. Williams remains uncommitted.

Connor Kochera, St. Viator -- One of the summer's breakout players, Kochera went from third option on last season's Lions to one of the area's best players in a few months. Committed to William & Mary, Kochera is a deadly three-level scorer who averaged 15 points, five rebounds and three assists per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range. The 6-foot-4 guard is capable of playing multiple perimeter positions, although he's at his best as an off-the-ball scorer.

Ramean Hinton, Curie -- The senior wing had a strong summer after a promising junior season that saw him average 15 points and seven rebounds per game. One of the key players on Curie's nationally-ranked team last season, the 6-foot-4 Hinton will be looked to as the go-to guy on the Condors this year. Hinton brings a unique mix of scoring ability and defensive intensity that makes him fun to watch. Hinton signed with SEMO as the Redhawks got a major recruiting coup by landing him.

Dom Martinelli, Glenbrook South -- Ultra-productive as a junior on a 24-win team, the 6-foot-5 Martinelli puts up monster numbers. At 24.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season, Martinelli was unstoppable at times despite facing defenses that were trying to slow him down. The lefty has a natural feel for how to play as he can knock down jumpers, attack the rim and hit the glass. Martinelli remains uncommitted as his senior-year recruitment should be fascinating.

Third Team

Kyndall Davis, Bogan -- The latest in a long line of rugged and talented Bogan guards, the 6-foot-5 Davis should have a much bigger role this season. Already a key player for Bogan's Class 3A runner-up team last season, Davis showed he could be the Bengals' go-to scorer with his play in June. The LIU commit knocked down three-pointers, played above the rim and showed a defensive tenacity seen by very few in the area.

Aquan Smart, Niles North -- An electric offensive talent, the 6-foot-3 Smart is one of the most athletic perimeter players in the area. An East Tennessee State commit who was a coveted mid-major recruit, Smart was the catalyst on a Niles North team that won 20 games last season. Smart's above-the-rim play and improved lead guard abilities make him a must-see attraction this season.

Marcus Watson, Morgan Park -- The Mustangs have one of the best backcourts in the country this season as the 5-foot-10 Watson is paired with fellow senior Adam Miller. Leading the Nike EYBL in assists this spring, Watson earned high-major scholarship offers and eventually committed to Wake Forest. Unafraid to play fast, Watson is a two-way guard who can handle, distribute, score and defend on the perimeter.

Martice Mitchell, Bloom -- The Minnesota commit should be one of the area's better big men this season -- although Mitchell is perhaps most comfortable playing on the wing. The 6-foot-10 senior became a high-major prospect this summer thanks to his massive upside and unique skill level for his size. Averaging 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks per game as a junior, Mitchell's impact is felt all over the floor for a Bloom squad with state title aspirations.

Darius Burford, Bolingbrook -- Taking over a talented Bolingbrook backcourt that included Tyler Cochran and Joseph Yesufu last season, this will be Burford's team his senior year. The Elon commit was a first-team All-Tournament selection in the Decatur Turkey Tournament and the Kingdom of the Sun Holiday Classic last season as he was one of the area's more unsung juniors. Now that Burford has the ball, he could put up big numbers this season.