Preps Talk

CSN Preps Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

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CSN Preps Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

Since the last time we checked into the CSN Player of the Year Power Rankings in the middle of January, there's been a change near the top, as Fenwick senior point guard Mike Smith has vaulted himself squarely into the race with Morgan Park's Charlie Moore.

In fact, it's looking like a two-man race as the season wears on, but there is still plenty of time in the state playoffs for important things to happen in the Player of the Year race. Here are five names in the discussion right now.

5. Justin Pierce, Glenbard West senior — The dream season for Pierce and his teammates continues as the Hilltoppers won their first conference title in 43 years. Pierce also passed Matthew Mache and John Shurna as Glenbard West's all-time leading scorer. Pierce has helped lead Glenbard West to a 23-3 record and expectations are high as the No. 2 seed in the East Aurora Sectional. Pierce is averaging 24.8 points and 11 rebounds per game on 60 percent shooting this season.

4. Zach Norvell, Simeon senior — The numbers haven't been huge for Norvell, but he's been remarkably consistent as a scorer and rebounder against the best competition this season. Norvell has also improved his ability to find others with assists as he's starting to get a better feel for breaking down defenses off the dribble. Norvell helped lead Simeon to the Public League Playoff title and they're No. 1 in the area right now.

3. Nick Rakocevic, St. Joseph senior — The best unsigned senior in Illinois is continuing to put up big numbers for a young Chargers team. The 6-foot-11 Rakocevic had 21 points and 18 rebounds against a top-five team in Fenwick and also had 18 points and 16 rebounds against Morgan Park earlier in the year. Already a state champion, can Rakocevic help lead the Chargers to a state title again?

2. Mike Smith, Fenwick senior — In a close second spot for Player of the Year is the 5-foot-10 Smith, who continues to put up big scoring numbers against great competition. Fenwick is 25-2 and Smith had 27 against St. Joseph, 38 against Simeon, 32 against Riverside-Brookfield and 21 against Whitney Young — all wins. Smith is a big-game player who usually steps up his scoring in the second half.

1. Charlie Moore, Morgan Park senior — The top spot still goes to the Morgan Park guard, who is continually a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Although Morgan Park fell short of the Public League Playoff championship, Moore had big games of 32 points against North Lawndale and 26 points against Simeon. Moore also had 31 points — including 12 in overtime — in an overtime win over Riverside-Brookfield. Moore has been the most consistent player all season long and owns a head-to-head win over players two-through-four on this list. 

36 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard North

36 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard North

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: Glenbard North

Head coach: Ryan Wilkens

Assistant coaches: Rich Smelko, John Cassidy, Bruce Donash, John Pullia, Tom Gudella, Kudret Kamabari and Matt Ng

How they fared in 2017: 5-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Glenbard North made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost to Batavia in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Neuqua Valley

Aug. 31 vs Warren Township

Sept. 7 @ St. Charles East

Sept. 14 vs Batavia

Sept. 21 @ Wheaton North

Sept. 28 @ Lake Park

Oct. 5 vs St. Charles North

Oct. 12 vs Wheaton Warrenville South

Oct. 19 @ Geneva

[MORE: 50 Days to Kickoff - Neuqua Valley]

Biggest storyline: The Panthers have a new conference home. Can the Panthers reload and fare well in the DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: LB Michael Wellman and FB Jake Wilson

Biggest holes to fill: The Panthers will need several players to step up on offense with just one returning starter back from a season ago-- senior FB Jake Wilson.

EDGY's Early Take: Glenbard North says farewell to the DuPage Valley conference and says hello to all things DuKane. The Panthers will undoubtedly be a younger team in 2018. While some of the star power has graduated, head coach Ryan Wilkins will once again focus on establishing a strong, fast and physical running game. Getting off to a good start against a loaded schedule will be a big key for Glenbard North this season. 

Rolling Meadows' Max Christie on the verge of national breakout

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USA TODAY

Rolling Meadows' Max Christie on the verge of national breakout

EMERSON, Ga. -- Rolling Meadows rising sophomore guard Max Christie is having a strong spring and summer on the grassroots circuit as he's emerged as one of the area's newest breakout stars.
 
At 6-foot-5 with an ability to play both on and off the ball, Christie is a versatile perimeter player who can be either a big point guard or a smooth wing. Even though he's only finished one year of high school, Christie already has earned some major college scholarship offers as Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Loyola, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin have all been involved. Playing up an age group with the Illinois Wolves U16 team, Christie is starting to generate a lot of buzz among college coaches and national scouts.
 
"I think I've played well. I've been growing. I have a huge target on my back. So I'm just confident and humble and playing my game," Christie said. "College coaches are coming in everywhere, but I'm just playing my game and not worrying about them. I'm just having fun."
 
Christie is coming off of a positive freshman season at Rolling Meadows in which he had some big games as a freshman while playing on varsity. Although Christie is still very skinny and trying to add strength, he has started to adjust to opponents trying to play physical against him. As he starts to get older, Christie is adjusting to how certain opponents will handle him.
 
"On the court, it's physical. So I have to get used to that. I have encouraging teammates so that's good for me. But everybody is double-teaming me and face-guarding me, so I just have to use screens and everything," Christie said.
 
"I've been in the weight room working. The strength is there. I'm always using it against other teams. I just have to get used to it. I feel like [the physicality] is not as much of a factor as I get stronger."
 
Christie will be one of the marked men in the area this season as he'll draw a lot of attention at Rolling Meadows. He has the potential to be an all-area player. With multiple high-major scholarship offers and national recruiting profiles, Christie is just trying to maintain his focus on staying a versatile player. Playing both on and off the ball, Christie is trying to improve the consistency on his perimeter jumper while also trying to grow his basketball IQ.
 
"Both of them are fine. Off the ball, I like to set screens and get teammates open. I like to get open. On the ball, I like to create, passes, all that stuff," Christie said. "So I'm just trying to make plays, get my teammates open, set better screens."
 
"Leadership is something I need to work on, so it's something I need to accept for this season. So, since I've built this reputation, I'm trying to be more of a leader and encourage. Just being a better teammate."
 
Christie averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a freshman at Rolling Meadows, as he has the ability to put up monster numbers as a sophomore. Underclass players don't typically compete for awards in the Chicagoland area, but Christie is a potentially special talent at the high school level as he attempts to ascend into a national-level recruit.