Preps Talk

Chicago Recruiting Focus: UIC basketball

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Chicago Recruiting Focus: UIC basketball

UIC and new head coach Steve McClain are working hard to bring in talent to a program that is in desperate need of a talent infusion.

The Flames are hoping that six new freshman can help with the rebuild, but they've also started to add some key pieces in the Class of 2016.

McClain, a former assistant at Indiana, made some smart moves in regards to his staff as he hired former Bradley assistant Ron "Chin" Coleman and former Wright State assistant Brendan Mullins to his staff while assistant Deon Thomas and director of operations Jeremy Buttell were retained.

[RELATED: Chicago Recruiting Focus - DePaul basketball]

Coleman is a former coach at Whitney Young and the Mac Irvin Fire with strong ties to the city while Mullins is the son of Illinois Wolves director Mike Mullins. Both the Mac Irvin Fire and Illinois Wolves annually produce a lot of Division I players, so having ties to both programs certainly doesn't hurt in local recruiting.

So far in the Class of 2016, the Flames own commitments from Belleville Althoff guard Tarkus Ferguson and wing Jordan Blount -- a native of Ireland.

The 6-foot-4 Ferguson helped lead Belleville Althoff to a Class 3A runner-up finish in Illinois last season while the 6-foot-7 Blount was the leading scorer in the FIBA European Championships this summer.

Both players should give the Flames a boost on the perimeter and now the coaching staff is looking for another player or two to fill out the class. It's likely UIC looks into big men and another potential ball handler to finish out this class and they've looked at some local players like former Geneva forward K.J. Santos and St. Joseph big man Nick Rakocevic.

[ALSO: Chicago Recruiting Focus - Loyola basketball]

Much like the rest of the college programs in Illinois, the deep Class of 2017 is a key for UIC as the in-state crop of talent features a lot of potential mid-major targets.

UIC has been active recruiting local players like Curie's Elijah Joiner, West Chicago's Tai Bibbs, Simeon's Evan Gilyard, Kenwood's Manny Patterson, Bolingbrook's Nana Akenten, Marian Catholic's T.J. Smith, Waukegan's Carson Newsome, Larkin's Christian Negron, Fenwick's Jamal Nixon, Joliet West's Trevian Bell and the Downers South duo of T.J. Clifford and Denis Albegovic.

While the Flames have been aggressive pursing local juniors, UIC will likely take two-to-three players in the Class of 2017 -- depending on transfers and how the roster looks at that time.

With McClain going to an uptempo system that is reminiscent of what he coached at Indiana, UIC should be attractive to local recruits who want to play a faster pace. The Flames have already recruited some nice local pieces for this season, including former St. Rita guard Dominique Matthews and former Bolingbrook center Julian Torres, so the foundation is in place for a brighter future. 

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers. 

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture.