Preps Talk

East St. Louis QB Tyler Macon named 2019 EDGYTim/Rivals.com Illinois Player of Year

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

East St. Louis QB Tyler Macon named 2019 EDGYTim/Rivals.com Illinois Player of Year

What was the defining moment in the development of East St. Louis junior quarterback Tyler Macon, who was named the 2019 EDGYTIM/Rivals.com Illinois Player of the Year?

According to longtime East St. Louis assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Harith Mitchom, you need to go back to end of the 2018 season.

"The defining moment came late in the third quarter in last year's quarterfinal game against Mount Carmel," Mitchom said. "On the first play of the game…they just rocked Tyler with some major hits. After that, Tyler was playing like Mount Carmel had 30 guys chasing after him. For the first time all season last year, he was just a sophomore doing sophomore things. A great defense will expose you, and Mount Carmel exposed him, yet a great defense can also help you develop and get better along the way.

"Tyler ended up throwing a couple of late touchdown passes to end that game and he was just so relaxed from that point forward. Ever since then, he's been lights out. The consistency came back and we stopped seeing errand throws. We knew this season could be special for him."

Macon's leadership and overall play this fall was jaw-dropping. It helped propel the Flyers to a perfect 14-0 season and a ninth IHSA football state title — the winningest high school football program in the Land of Lincoln.

Macon, in his second season as the starting varsity quarterback for the 6A champs, passed for 4,241 yards and 39 touchdowns while also completing 70 percent of his passes. Macon also ran for 879 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The East St. Louis offense scored an astonishing 715 points on the season. They also posting five “running clock” results in the regular season, where Macon saw limited playing time as a result. That same running clock streak also stretched into the postseason as the Flyers put up running clock scores in the first three rounds of action.

But if you truly want to get a better feel for just how good Macon was in 2019, ask a few of the opposing head coaches who had to try to stop him and the Flyers offense — a unit that ESL head coach Darren Sunkett called the best offense in the history of the program.

"He's a terrific player for them (East St. Louis) and that team was on a mission from the opening game," Batavia head coach Dennis Piron said. "What impressed me about [Macon] was just how relaxed and patient he was running the offense. He made great decisions and reads, he never seemed to panic or get rattled whatsoever."

Oak Lawn Richards head coach Tony Sheehan also raved about Macon's abilities.

"What really impressed me about [Macon] was his patience and just the way he ran that offense," Sheehan said. "He definitely had a great grasp of the offense, made the right calls and made the right decisions. He also just never panics and knew when to stay in the pocket and also could just feel pressure and knew when to tuck it and run. His running ability is really impressive along with his throwing ability."

Several players from across the state received serious consideration for the Player of the Year award. Yet from wire-to-wire, no one in my opinion was as valuable, made as many improvements along with just embraced the spotlight more than East St. Louis quarterback Tyler Macon.

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 8

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NBC Sports Chicago

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 8

Check out our high school hoops highlights from some of the best games around the state, and be sure to follow @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest scores, highlights, and analysis

Windy City Legends: Jimmy Garoppolo

Athlete of the Week: Lincoln-Way West's Taylor Gugliuzza

Team of the Week: Hinsdale South boys basketball

Highlights: Oak Lawn 61, Richards 60

Highlights: No. 10 DePaul Prep 78, St. Laurence 57

Highlights: Deerfield 33, Highland Park 29

Highlights: No. 2 Evanston 49, New Trier 43

Midweek Mixtape: Zion-Benton 90, No. 2 Evanston 71

Highlights: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 64, Lincoln-Way East 43

Highlights: Austin 76, Prosser 43

Highlights: DeKalb 53, Naperville Central 51

Highlights: No. 24 Joliet West 59, West Aurora 54

Highlights: Simeon 88, No. 14 Morgan Park 86

Whitney Young's DJ Steward, Maine West's Angela Dugalic named to McDonald's All-American games

Whitney Young's D.J. Steward ends the Illinois McDonald's All-American drought

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NBC Sports Chicago

Whitney Young's D.J. Steward ends the Illinois McDonald's All-American drought

Whitney Young senior guard D.J. Steward became the latest Burger Boy from the Land of Lincoln with his selection into the game on Thursday afternoon. The Duke commit is the first Illinois boys basketball player to be selected for high school basketball's most prestigious game since Stevenson's Jalen Brunson in 2015.

Maine West girls basketball star and Oregon commit Angela Dugalic was selected for the girls McDonald's game. Illinois native and former Morgan Park standout Nimari Burnett was also selected for the boys game. Burnett helped the Mustangs to a Class 3A state title as a freshman before moving to California for his last three seasons of high school basketball at Prolific Prep. 

While Illinois will have multiple local storylines in both McDonald's game, the 6-foot-2 Steward being included on the boys team is a big deal for a number of reasons.

For starters, Illinois has been without a boys McDonald's All-American since 2015. From the game's debut in 1978 until 2009, Illinois had at least one McDonald's All-American every year. In the past 11 years, Illinois has been held out of the McDonald's six times -- including the past four classes. The talent drought has been noticeable over the past several years. 

More importantly, the McDonald's distinction caps off an already stellar high school basketball career for Steward. His accomplishments already include a state finals appearance and two All-Area selections (with a third almost assuredly coming later this season). 

Starting his career at Fenwick the first two seasons, Steward earned Catholic League Player of the Year honors as only a sophomore. Now dominating in the Public League this season, Steward could also own the unique distinction of being perhaps the best player in both the Chicago Catholic League AND Public League during his four-year high school career.

By making the McDonald's game, Steward also follows in the footsteps of other Whitney Young legends like Jahlil Okafor (2014) and Quentin Richardson (1998). Steward will now forever be linked to those two first-round NBA Draft picks for the rest of his career. The only thing missing from Steward's profile at this point is an elusive IHSA state title -- something the other two captured their senior season.

While Steward's selection into the McDonald's game is an important personal accomplishment, it's also huge for the rest of the local high school season. It's no secret that Illinois high school basketball has been starving for big-name talent. The buzz for the state tournament has continued to die down in recent seasons. 

Star power like Steward, and Illinois commit Adam Miller, should draw more casual interest in the local high school basketball season down the stretch. Steward making the McDonald's game makes him an even bigger draw locally for casual fans. It's likely Whitney Young will play in front of a lot of fans as they travel in the state tournament in-part because of Steward's high-profile career. 

There is still plenty of basketball to be played the rest of the 2019-20 season. Steward has time to add to his legacy as Whitney Young prepares to play for a city and state championship. Even if Steward falls short of some personal goals, he'll always be remembered among the state's greats now that he's playing in the McDonald's game.