Preps Talk

Preps Talk

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.