It's time to hand out some awards for the 2018-19 boys basketball team as we unveil the three-team All-Area team and our NBC Sports Chicago Preps Player of the Year.
Our All-Area team is more of the college-style All-American team, featuring three teams of five players in a tiered format. Players must be from our Chicagoland coverage area and individual accomplishments and team success is factored into the equation. We also wait until after the season is fully complete so that state titles are also factored in.
This season featured the toughest Player of the Year race in recent memory as four players had a credible claim for the award. In the end, it comes down to a dominant double-double machine who helped take his team to the state-title game while continually performing against the area's best teams.
Rashaun Agee, Bogan (Player of the Year) -- The area's best big man this season, Agee helped put Bogan on the statewide map by helping the Bengals earn second place in Class 3A. Agee went from All-Area candidate to Player of the Year this season thanks to a ridiculous campaign filled with huge dunks and eye-opening double-doubles. Averaging 19.2 points, 13 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, Agee shot 63 percent from the floor for the Bengals.
During the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, Agee helped Bogan win the title by averaging an astounding 19.3 points and 17.8 rebounds over four games while shooting 60 percent from the field -- earning MVP honors in the process. Against elite competition, Agee thrived this season. He had 18 and 18 against Orr, 25 and 14 in a loss to Morgan Park, 27 and 15 against Simeon and 11 and 21 in a win over Whitney Young. Agee put up 24 points and 14 rebounds in the Class 3A state title game while also going head-to-head against Saint Louis commit Terrence Hargrove Jr.
In a year in which there were no local Class 3A and 4A state champions, Agee wins the tightest Player of the Year race we've ever had by a slim margin over Morgan Park's Adam Miller.
Signature Performance: While Agee had a number of big games against great competition, the 40-point, 18-rebound effort against North Lawndale in the City Playoffs was his biggest individual game of the season.
Adam Miller, Morgan Park -- The area's most talented player and best college prospect this season, Miller was an electric scorer for the Mustangs. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game on the season while often facing defenses built to stop him. The MVP of the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament, which Morgan Park won, Miller had games of 48 points and 45 points as he set the single-tournament scoring record with 133 total points.
Miller also put together great games against Bloom (31 in a loss), Bogan (28 in both games), Curie (27 and 24 in two games), Zion-Benton (32 points) and Bolingbrook (27 points and a game-winner) -- to name a few. The small thing separating Miller from Agee in the Player of the Year race is Agee's trip to Peoria and dominating performance in a much stronger holiday tournament. Miller should be a heavy favorite to win Player of the Year as a senior next season.
Signature Performance: Pouring in huge scoring numbers was the norm for Miller but 30 points in a win over Simeon, with 26 points coming in the second half, was a gigantic performance in the Public League Playoff semifinals. Miller stepped up his play in that one and almost single-handedly won that game for the Mustangs.
DaJuan Gordon, Curie -- Playing for the area's best team this season, Gordon was one of the most unselfish stars in recent memory. Putting up 17.6 points, eight rebounds and two assists per game, Gordon shot 52 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range on the season. Fordon helped the Condors win a Pontiac Holiday Tournament title (unanimous all-tournament team) a Public League Playoff title and a third-place finish in Class 4A. Helping Curie become nationally-ranked this season, the Condors only lost to one Illinois opponent (Class 4A champion Belleville West) all season. Curie beat 10 IHSA sectional champions during the season as Gordon's two-way play was a huge reason why. The Kansas State commit is considered by many to be a top-150 national recruit in the senior class.
Signature Performance: In the Public League Playoff finals against Morgan Park, Gordon put together a monster performance as he had 31 points -- out-dueling Adam Miller (24 points) in the process -- to help the Condors capture a city title. Gordon also had six rebounds in the contest.
Marquise Kennedy, Brother Rice -- Kennedy burst on the local scene after a strong summer that saw him go from zero scholarship offers to 14 within a matter of weeks. The 6-foot-1 senior guard eventually decided to stay in Chicago and attend Loyola as he put together a monster senior season for the Crusaders. Kennedy averaged 25 points, 6.5 rebounds, four assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 60 percent from the field on the season. An All-Conference selection in the Catholic League, Kennedy was also MVP of the Joliet West Thanksgiving Tournament. While most players on this list played on top programs surrounded by other college prospects, Kennedy had to elevate Brother Rice into a top-25 team.
Signature Performance: In the Class 4A regional semifinals against T.F. South, Kennedy carried the Crusaders with 32 points and a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the win. Kennedy scored 15 of Brother Rice's 22 points in the fourth quarter as he was 8-for-13 from the field and 14-for-18 from the free-throw line.
D.J. Steward, Whitney Young -- In his first season with the Dolphins after transferring from Fenwick, Steward had another terrific season. The 6-foot-4 junior put up 24.3 points and 3.2 assists per game for Whitney Young as the Dolphins once again played one of the area's most difficult schedules. Playing national competition and many of the state's best teams, Steward consistently dazzled with his efficient and productive play. A consensus national four-star prospect in the Class of 2020, Steward will be a major factor for Player of the Year as a senior.
Signature Performance: It's tough to pick just one great game for Steward, but putting up 33 points and nine rebounds in an overtime win over Uplift in one of the season's best games stands out. In a battle of stars with Uplift's Markese Jacobs, Steward and the Dolphins got the win
Antonio Reeves, Simeon -- Returning to Chicago after spending a season in Arizona, the 6-foot-5 senior made a huge impact at Simeon. Averaging 21.7 points, six rebounds and three assists per game, Reeves helped a young Wolverines team win a Class 4A sectional title. All-Tournament at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, Reeves was a natural scorer who filled it up from all three levels. Reeves is uncommitted as he took unofficial visits to Illinois and Wisconsin during the season. Illinois State also stepped up with a recent scholarship offer.
Signature Performance: Reeves had a 40-point outing against Ag. Science during the regular season but a Class 4A regional title performance against Brother Rice was on a far bigger stage. Battling with another elite guard in Marquise Kennedy, Reeves had 26 points and seven rebounds to help lead the Wolverines past the Crusaders for the road win and the regional title.
RayJ Dennis, Oswego East -- The Boise State commit was outstanding for Oswego East this season. The ultra-smooth 6-foot-2 guard averaged 23.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.8 steals per game. Dennis also shot 50.6 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range during the season. Dennis scored 1,193 points in two seasons at Oswego East as he finishes his high school career with over 1,600 points.
Signature Performance: Oswego East was on the brink of elimination in the Class 4A state playoffs against Neuqua Valley when Dennis took over late. Knocking down two late three-pointers -- including the game-winner at the buzzer -- Dennis single-handedly lifted the Wolves in the regional finals. Dennis finished with 30 points for the game -- 13 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Perry Cowan, DePaul Prep -- Another four-year varsity player, the 6-foot-4 Cowan helped the Rams to a third-place finish in Class 3A. Becoming DePaul Prep's all-time leading scorer this season, Cowan averaged 18.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 54 percent from the field, 45 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the free-throw line. The Catholic League MVP this season, Cowan is a four-time all-conference selection. Head coach Tom Kleinschmidt said Cowan is a top-five player in DePaul Prep/Gordon Tech's storied basketball history. Cowan will play his college basketball at Brown.
Signature Performance: In a late November win over Class 1A state champion Providence-St. Mel, Cowan went for 29 points and seven rebounds, shooting an ultra-efficient 12-for-15 from the floor in the win.
Tom Welch, Naperville North -- Also a state-champion goalie for the Naperville North soccer team, Welch was fantastic on the hardwood as well. Putting up 22.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, Welch showed a high level of skill for a 6-foot-8 forward. The only returning starter from the previous season, Welch led the Huskies to the DuPage Valley Conference title while being named the league's MVP. A Loyola commit, Welch shot 60 percent from the field on the season.
Signature Performance: Welch had six 30-point games on the season but the 30-point performance against Rich East was special. The caliber of competition wasn't the toughest Welch faced during the season, but the huge game came less than 72 hours after Welch had to go to the emergency room for a dislocated right middle finger.
Jeremiah Hernandez, St. Viator -- The two-time ESCC Player of the Year, Hernandez had another outstanding season for the Lions. A varsity starter since sophomore year, Hernandez averaged 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 52 percent from the field. The Kent State commit is second in St.Viator history with over 1,300 career points.
Signature performance: Hernandez had multiple 30-point games on the season, but a 36-point effort against Oswego East and RayJ Dennis in the Team Rose Shootout was a huge game against a great opponent on a big stage.
Markese Jacobs, Uplift -- The senior guard would have placed higher on this list had he not missed the final month of the season after having knee surgery. One of the city's most electric athletes of the past few years, Jacobs will be remembered for his above-the-rim play and ability to score in bunches. Jacobs averaged 30.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a senior. A Class 2A All-State selection, Jacobs will continue his basketball career at DePaul.
Signature Performance: Jacobs had a ridiculous 46 points, six rebounds and eight steals in an overtime loss to Whitney Young in January. Going 25-for-26 from the free-throw line, Jacobs tied an IHSA record by making 22 straight while the 25 total free throws are fourth most in state history.
Max Christie, Rolling Meadows -- Only a sophomore, Christie fought through illness and injury to still earn Player of the Year honors in the MSL East. Putting up 25.2 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, Christie has already surpassed 1,000 career points and finds himself top-ten on the Rolling Meadows all-time scoring list with two more seasons to go. One of the state's top college prospects, Christie is a potent enough scorer to drop 50 in a game and skilled enough to have a triple-double in others.
Signature Performance: Dropping 51 points in a win over Elk Grove, Christie had one of the best individual scoring performances in the state of Illinois this season.
Bryant Brown, Waukegan -- Capping off a historic career at Waukegan, the 6-foot-5 senior ends his Bulldogs career as the team's all-time leading scorer with 2,034 career points. Putting up 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game, Brown shot 52 percent from the floor. The North Suburban Conference Player of the Year, Brown was a three-time all-conference selection during his high school career. Brown also made the All-Tournament team at the Quincy Thanksgiving Tournament and the Wheeling Hardwood Classic. Brown is uncommitted.
Signature Performance: Brown dropped 40 points and added nine rebounds during a December road win at Libertyville. The career-high for Brown was also enhanced by a unique alley-oop from teammate Andre White Jr.
Lance Jones, Evanston -- One of the state's biggest winners the past few years, Jones helped the Wildkits to two appearances in Peoria. Part of a memorable senior perimeter group that includes Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost, Jones averaged 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals per game. A Central Suburban All-Conference selection and All-Tournament at Centralia, Jones is also one of the better perimeter defenders in the state. Jones is committed to Southern Illinois.
Signature performance: Putting together a great all-around performance in a Class 4A state semifinal win over Rockford East, Jones showed why he was one of the area's best all-around players. Jones had 24 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals while going 7-for-11 from the field and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line.
Joseph Yesufu, Bolingbrook -- The all-time winningest player in Bolingbrook boys basketball history, the 6-foot senior guard had another outstanding season. The SouthWest Suburban Blue Player of the Year, Yesufu averaged 17.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range. The MVP of the Decatur Thanksgiving Tournament, Yesufu scored more than 1,300 points in his career. Yesufu is committed to Drake.
Signature Performance: Early in the season, Yesufu dropped 32 points on Springfield Southeast, one of the state's top teams this season. Yesufu's monster game helped Bolingbrook rally from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to win the Decatur Thanksgiving Tournament.