Preps Talk

College coaches flock to Illinois as state benefits from new June live evaluation period

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

College coaches flock to Illinois as state benefits from new June live evaluation period

College basketball's renovated recruiting calendar had a lot of people skeptical. 

The newly-appointed June live evaluation period would theoretically allow college coaches to evaluate high school prospects with their high school teams instead of their AAU teams. The period also limited the number of players who could even be seen.

Which left Illinois in a unique position entering the first June scholastic evaluation period of the modern recruiting era this past weekend.  

With only 29 total events in 20 different states -- plus select teams from surrounding states -- over two weekends, there weren't a lot of events for college coaches to choose from. The NCAA's hastily-appointed June period also imposed limitations bounded by its rulebook and association with the NFHS. 

However, the new rules didn't hinder anything for high school players from Illinois. With an astounding six of the 29 June-period events for the month, Illinois high school basketball players will be seen by more college coaches than any other state during this month's live evaluation period.   

Since the IHSA already allowed (and encouraged) summer basketball during the month of June, Illinois high school players are accustomed to being with their scholastic teams in shootouts, college team camps and summer leagues during the month. The infrastructure was also in place for well-run events -- some already going for decades -- to easily allow for college coaches to come in and watch competitive high school events.

Most-importantly, it generated dozens of scholarship offers for the state's high school players as Riverside-Brookfield, Zion-Benton and other schools hosted hundreds of Illinois high school games during the first of two live-period weekends this past weekend.   

Other states scrambled to put together camps or tournaments for college coaches to watch their high school players. For some, football or baseball is the focus for June while basketball isn't even an option during the summer in certain states.  

California, New York, Florida and Texas all chose not to host June basketball events for college coaches. North Carolina is among a group of states where public and private schools operate under different state associations. So only certain schools could participate in June events.

While other states like Georgia and the West Coast's Section 7 in Arizona also created positive reviews for quality June events, the well-known Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, along with the newly-created Illinois/Wisconsin Border Battle event at Zion-Benton, drove hundreds of Division I college coaches to Illinois.

And those college coaches saw some very competitive games at Riverside-Brookfield that gave them a unique evaluation perspective. 

Illinois high school teams have been playing together most of the month, the games were more crisp at certain times than other places as college coaches had good things to say about the level of play here compared to other events. The Riverside-Brookfield final day, in particular, drew positive reviews for the level of competition as teams went hard during bracket play.

Star senior talents like Whitney Young's D.J Steward and Tyler Beard helped entice high-major coaches to attend the event which led to junior talents like Fenwick's Bryce Hopkins and Notre Dame's Louis Lesmond earning high-major scholarship offers. Mid- and low-major coaches also descended on Illinois from all over the country as senior standouts picked up waves of scholarship offers. 

College coaches at all levels also got to evaluate and get early looks at younger players in the state -- some of them rising freshmen who just joined the team this month. Some freshmen and sophomores created strong future impressions for later recruiting classes as college coaches follow up with them in the future.

All of these same players will still have an opportunity to play in front of college coaches next weekend when Ridgewood and Rockford both host additional Illinois high school events. More offers should be handed out by then as certain colleges will make Illinois players a priority to watch the rest of the summer.  

June also gives Illinois players a head start for the July evaluation period since college coaches can see who is worth keeping an eye on while also adding new recruitable players to their lists.

Overall, Illinois benefits from the new NCAA June period more than any other state this summer. The opening weekend was attended by hundreds of college coaches and was a huge success. Only nine total events will be played during the second weekend as Illinois should get many more coaches inside the state in the coming days.  

38 Days to Kickoff: Niles West

38 Days to Kickoff: Niles West

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: Niles West

Head coach: Matt Hohs

How they fared in 2018: 0-9 (0-5 Central Suburban South). Niles West failed to reach the IHSA playoffs.
 
2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ De La Salle
Sept. 6 @ Niles North
Sept. 13 @ Prospect
Sept. 20 vs Rolling Meadows
Sept. 27 vs Maine South
Oct. 4 @ New Trier
Oct. 11 @ Glenbrook South
Oct. 18 vs Evanston
Oct. 25 @ Glenbrook North

[MORE: 40 Days to Kickoff - De La Salle] 

Biggest storyline: Longtime assistant coach --and Niles West alum-- Matt Hohs takes the reins of the Wolves program. Can he lead the team to a winning season?

Names to watch this season: TE/DE Zachary "Alex" Kubit (Sr.) and OL/DL Hayden Ferrigno (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolves welcome back 11 returning starters (five offense, six defense) but will need to replace some players at key spots (QB/OL/DB) this summer.

EDGY's Early Take: The Wolves tabbed Hohs as their head coach in late June after Jesse Pierce stepped down. Hohs is a 2005 Niles West alum who also shared the field in Skokie with famed running back Rashard Mendenhall. He faces three road games to start the season (including the Skokie Skirmish on Sept. 6) and a loaded middle portion of the schedule. That said, if the Wolves can get off to a good start, they could be a nice surprise story to watch as the season unfolds.  

39 Days to Kickoff: Providence

39 Days to Kickoff: Providence

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: Providence Catholic

Head coach: Mark Coglianese

Assistant coaches: Mike Hryn (D-Coordinator), Matt Hunniford O-Coordinator)

How they fared in 2018: 5-5 (1-3 CCL Blue Conference). Providence made the Class 6A state playoff field and lost to Washington in first round action.
 
2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Willowbrook
Sept. 6 vs Morgan Park
Sept. 13 @ Brother Rice
Sept. 20 vs Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 27 vs Carmel
Oct. 4 vs St. Rita
Oct. 11 @ DePaul Prep
Oct. 18 vs St Laurence
Oct. 25 @ Montini Catholic

[MORE: 68 Days to Kickoff - St. Laurence] 

Biggest storyline: Feeling green. How will the Celtics fare in the new CCL/ESCC Green conference in 2019?

Names to watch this season: OL Jake Renfro (Senior, Cincinnati) and TE Jameson Geers (Junior)

Biggest holes to fill: The Celtics played several underclassmen in 2018 and welcome back 16 starters (nine offense, seven defense); that said, overall numbers and depth can always be better.
 
EDGY's Early Take: The Celtics suffered through various injuries last season and found themselves playing several underclassmen. Coule that pay off come August? Look for the Celtics to challenge for the CCL/ESCC Green title. Keep an eye on the Providence offense, which features four starters on the offensive line. The overall group is stacked in the skills department and they boast an experienced backfield. The opener against Willowbrook should be one of the more-interesting games in the state, as Willowbrook is coming off a 7A quarterfinal appearance.