Preps Talk

Chicagoland High School Players to Watch In College Hoops This Season

Chicagoland High School Players to Watch In College Hoops This Season

College basketball tips off its season on Tuesday night. As is the case every season, the Chicagoland area has plenty of former players to watch all over the country. 

There are potential NBA draft prospects like Ayo Dosunmu at Illinois and mid-major stars like Loyola's Cameron Krutwig while local players will also play key roles for programs from the ACC to the Pac-12.

Here's a look at some key names to know from the area this season across college basketball. If you have more names to add, be sure to let us know on our Twitter @NBCSPreps

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois (Morgan Park) -- Returning to school for his sophomore season, the former Morgan Park star has a chance to be a star this season for the Illini. Putting up 13.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, the 6-foot-5 Dosunmu was one of the nation's most productive freshmen as his return gives Illinois a legitimate chance to return to the NCAA tournament. It wouldn't be a surprise at all if Dosunmu pushes All-American status and draws the buzz of NBA draft gurus by the end of the season. 

Nojel Eastern, Purdue (Evanston) -- Now that NCAA tournament hero Carsen Edwards has moved on to the Boston Celtics, the 6-foot-7 Eastern will assume even more responsibilities after a breakout sophomore season with the Boilermakers. Averaging 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game, the former Evanston star blends a unique mix of ball handling and defensive versatility to form a productive two-way player. He'll be one of Purdue's most important players this season.

Javon Freeman-Liberty, Valparaiso (Whitney Young) -- Making a seamless transition from Whitney Young to the Missouri Valley, Freeman was a double-figure scorer for the Crusaders last season. The attacking guard impressed with 11.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game last season. Freeman could be a breakout player in the Missouri Valley this season as his natural scoring acumen is tough to stop. 

Rapolas Ivanauskas, Colgate (Barrington) -- The former Barrington standout is the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year and helped the Raiders to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996. The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season while shooting 43 percent from three-point range. Ivanauskas is one of college basketball's most well-rounded offensive players in the frontcourt thanks to his perimeter scoring.

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola (Jacobs) -- The Ramblers still feature plenty of local stars, including a dynamic freshman class that includes Marquise Kennedy (Brother Rice) and Tom Welch (Naperville North). But Kurtwig is the interior presence and tremendous passer that acts as the heart of Loyola's offense. Krutwig has worked hard to become more mobile on defense this offseason. The junior should push for Missouri Valley Player of the Year honors after putting up 14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

Loudon Love, Wright State (Geneva) -- One of the best players in the Horizon League, the 6-foot-8 junior was outstanding last season, averaging 15.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. After helping put Geneva on the state map with his play in high school, Love is hoping to take Wright State to the NCAA tournament as they are one of the favorites in the Horizon. Love is one of the best mid-major big men in the country.

Charlie Moore, DePaul (Morgan Park) -- Transferring closer to home after stops at Cal and Kansas, Moore should be DePaul's premier offensive threat this season. The junior guard is a capable playmaker with the ball in his hands as he'll get to run the Blue Demon offense on a deeper and more athletic team. The 5-foot-11 Moore had a tough time finding consistent minutes at Kansas but had a promising freshman season at Cal when he put up 12.2 points and 3.5 assists per game as a starting guard of an NCAA tournament team.

Isaiah Moss, Kansas (Simeon) -- A graduate transfer from Iowa spending his final season with the Jayhawks, Moss gives one of the nation's best teams a perimeter shooter they needed to add. Moss was a steady offensive presence for the Hawkeyes for three seasons, peaking at 11.1 points per game as a sophomore. Last season saw Moss shoot 42 percent from three-point range as his spacing will help the Kansas offense.

Prentiss Nixon, Iowa State (Bolingbrook) -- After a transfer from Colorado State, the 6-foot-2 Bolingbrook product should become a key piece for the Cyclones. A senior, Nixon was a high-scoring force with the Rams, averaging double-figures his final two seasons -- peaking at 16.8 ppg as a junior. Nixon should be a scoring option in an Iowa State rotation that could feature multiple Chicago products this season as George Conditt (Corliss) and Zion Griffin (Hinsdale South) are also on the roster.

Justin Pierce, North Carolina (Glenbard West) -- The William & Mary graduate transfer gets to finish out his career with the Tar Heels. After a successful career and strong junior season with the Tribe, Pierce becomes a potential rotation player for one of the top programs in the country. Pierce averaged a little over 14 points and 8 rebounds per game over the past two seasons. 

Luwane Pipkins, Providence (Bogan) -- Putting up monster scoring numbers at UMass the past three seasons, Pipkins will close out his collegiate career on a promising Friars team. Pipkins at one point averaged 21.2 points and 4.0 assists per game as a sophomore for the Minutemen as he can come in and play a key role at lead guard for a team hoping to make the NCAA tournament. Pipkins should be fun to watch in the Big East.

Nick Rakocevic, USC (St. Joseph) -- The senior center should be one of college basketball's most productive big men this season after nearly averaging a double-double last season. Putting up 14.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, Rakocevic was one of the Pac-12's best big men last season. USC has high hopes of returning to the NCAA tournament after missing last year as Rakocevic should play a key role.

Justin Smith, Indiana (Stevenson) -- Earning steady minutes his first two seasons in Bloomington, the 6-foot-7 Smith could see heavy minutes on the wing for the Hoosiers. On a team trying to find scoring pop, Smith could be asked to score more this season after being a role player as an underclassmen. The athletic wing put up 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season as his minutes should increase as a junior.

Alonzo Verge, Arizona State (Thornton) -- Playing at the junior college level the past two seasons, Verge was one of the nation's best players at that level last season. A two-time JUCO All-American (including first-team honors as a sophomore) Verge averaged 30.9 points per game last season. Verge joins a veteran Sun Devil backcourt that should be a ton of fun to watch as they should be a Pac-12 team pushing for an NCAA tournament bid. 

High School Lites Week 1 basketball roundup

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NBCSCH

High School Lites Week 1 basketball roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great basketball action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @CSNPreps for all of the latest IHSA basketball scores and highlights.

Midweek Mixtape: Bogan 73, Vocational 42

Team of the Week: Mount Carmel and Lincoln-Way East football

Athlete of the Week: Marian Catholic's Ahron Ulis

Friday's Scores

Evanston 62, Notre Dame 53

Fenwick 55, Oak Park-River Forest 48

York 51, Lyons 41

 Brother Rice 61, St. Rita 58

Hillcrest 72, Oak Lawn 65

Richards 72, Tinley Park 59

Lake Park 58, Batavia 48

Leo 49, St. Joseph 46

(Girls): Hersey 71,  Prospect 46

Rolling Meadows 70, Elk Grove 37

High School Lites: Basketball season tips with the Chicago Elite Classic

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

High School Lites: Basketball season tips with the Chicago Elite Classic

High School Lites transitions to basketball season with a loaded first Friday of games for the show. 

The annual Chicago Elite Classic remains a huge early-season event at DePaul’s Wintrust Arena as we’ll have highlights from two marquee matchups there. 

We’ll also cover games from all over the Chicagoland area, including some intriguing South Suburban crossovers. 

High School Lites begins at 11 p.m. this Friday night on NBC Sports Chicago. 

GIRLS: Prospect at Hersey, 6:00 p.m. -- We get a rivalry matchup in the Mid-Suburban East in this one. Hersey (5-2) won four straight games to take home the Bison Classic after a sluggish start. Prospect (4-2) earned a road win at Conant earlier this week as they try to earn two away from home this week. 

No. 20 Hillcrest at Oak Lawn, 6:30 p.m. -- A fascinating South Suburban crossover between two talented teams. The No. 20 Hawks are trying to earn a tough win as they've played a difficult early schedule. The junior class for Hillcrest is special, led by wing Julius Rollins. Oak Lawn (5-0) has a high-scoring senior in guard Sami Osmani as he gets scoring help from senior lead guard Trey Ward. They're a team just outside of the Power Rankings who can get in with a win. With a number of scorers on the floor in this one, it could be an up-and-down contest. 

No. 25 St. Rita at Brother Rice, 7:00 p.m. -- The unbeaten Mustangs take the road in this Catholic League crossover. St. Rita (5-0, 1-0) beat St. Ignatius while also winning the Riverside-Brookfield title last week. Christian Henry is off to a strong start for the Mustangs. Brother Rice (3-2, 1-0) is coming off of two straight wins, including a road win at Montini earlier this week. 

Leo at St. Joseph, 7:00 p.m. -- We head to the Catholic League as St. Joe's plays its first home game without legendary head coach Gene Pingatore -- who passed away over the summer. The night will honor the legacy of Pingatore in-part. On the floor, Leo (1-3, 0-1) tries to bounce back from a loss to Loyola earlier this week. The Chargers (1-3) couldn't find their footing at St. Charles East during Thanksgiving week.

Batavia at No. 12 Lake Park, 7:15 p.m. -- The DuKane Conference features a really intriguing early-season showdown in this one. Batavia (3-1) is led by high-scoring senior Jayden Johnson as he's coming off of a strong opening week to the season. The No. 12 Lancers (4-0) took the crown at Wheaton Academy as they're undefeated. Senior Luke Sgarbossa leads a balanced group.

Lyons at York, 7:30 p.m. -- The West Suburban Silver opens play in this one. Lyons (3-0) is quietly off to an unbeaten start by winning their own event, beating Maine South, Fenger and Plainfield North. York (3-1) opened some eyes with a week-one win over previously-ranked Cary-Grove before falling to top-five Stevenson in the finals at Palatine. Senior guard Nate Shockey (North Dakota) is a potential All-Area candidate.

Rolling Meadows at Elk Grove, 7:30 p.m. -- An early look at star junior Max Christie and the Mustangs in a Mid-Suburban East battle. Rolling Meadows (4-0) won the title at Fenton to open the season. Christie, one of the best juniors in the country, dropped 51 points on Elk Grove in an overtime win last season. Elk Grove (0-4) is trying to build after a tough opening week at Palatine that saw them go winless. 

(13) Evanston vs. (8) Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. -- The second Friday matchup at Wintrust Arena has two top-15 teams with a ton of talented juniors battling. The No. 13 Wildkits (4-0) are led by some college prospects in the junior class as wing Jaylin Gibson and guard Blake Peters are a strong combination. The No. 8 Dons (5-0) have been one of the season's major early storylines. Notre Dame beat DePaul Prep for the Battle of the Bridge title and looks like a major contender. The junior group of Anthony Sayles, Troy D'Amico and Louis Lesmond (who played for the Wildkits last season) is strong while senior Jason Bergstrom is another talented option as a scorer.

No. 24 Fenwick vs. OPRF, approx 9:00 p.m. -- Tipping after the Evanston and Notre Dame clash is this inner-town rivalry of Oak Park schools. The annual Friday night closer of the Chicago Elite Classic, this matchup has a lot of talent on the floor once again. The No. 24 Friars (3-1, 1-0) are led by star junior forward and Louisville commit Bryce Hopkins. Sophomore guard Trey Pettigrew is another talented weapon to watch for Fenwick. OPRF (2-2) is trying to figure things out after a sluggish start at Riverside-Brookfield last week. Senior forward Justin Cross was solid this summer and the junior group of Isaiah Barnes and Joshua Smith has a lot of promise. 

VIEWER'S CHOICE GAME OF THE WEEK

Tinley Park at Richards, 7 p.m. -- Our first Viewer's Choice matchup goes to a South Suburban crossover. Tinley Park (3-2) has the state's top sophomore in forward A.J. Casey. The high-major prospect is off to a solid start this season for the Titans. Richards (3-1) only has an overtime loss to Marist against them with a solid start at their own event.