Preps Talk

Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Phillips' Chris Elmore

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Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Phillips' Chris Elmore

Whenever you mention winning the 2015 Class 4A IHSA state title, even the toughest kid on the Phillips roster can't help but break into a smile.

[RELATED - Edgy Tim goes 1-on-1 with Nazareth Academy's Devonte Dunn]

Phillips junior defensive tackle prospect Chris Elmore (6-foot-1, 270 pounds) was one of the top performers at last Monday's EDGYTIM Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy, in Lake Barrington. Elmore was part of a very deep and impressive group of defensive tackles and he recaps his latest recruiting news while also looking forward to his upcoming senior season for the Wildcats.

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

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: Brother Rice

Head coach: Brian Badke

Assistant coaches: Dan O'Brien (OC/QB), Anthony Malopsy (DC/LB), Bob Wilcox (DL), Tim McAplin (DB) and Dan Nicholson (WR)

How they fared in 2018: 13-1 (4-0 CCL Blue Conference). Brother Rice made the Class 8A state playoff field and defeated Zion-Benton, Oak Park-River Forest, Warren Township and Marist. They advanced to the state title game and lost to Loyola Academy.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Hillcrest
Sept. 6 vs Perspectives
Sept. 13 vs Providence Catholic
Sept. 20 vs Marist
Sept. 27 @ Joliet Catholic Academy
Oct. 5 @ Loyola Academy
Oct. 11 vs St. Laurence
Oct. 18 @ Carmel
Oct. 25 @ Mount Carmel

[MORE: 10 Days to Kickoff: Mount Carmel] 

Biggest storyline: What will Brother Rice will do for an encore? Can the Crusaders, who sprinted past a rough 2017 season (2-7 record) to a 13-1 mark in 2018, reload on offense and make another run toward the 8A title game?

Names to watch this season: DT Justin Jefferson (Sr.), S Giacomo Iraci (Sr., Western Michigan)

Biggest holes to fill: The Crusaders will need to replace 10 graduated starters on the offensive side of the football. Senior RB Jahlil Pettis is the lone starter back on 'O this season.
  
EDGY's Early Take: Brother Rice had a terrific run in 2018-- one of the best seasons in school history. While the graduation losses are a big issue, the Crusaders also have plenty of talent waiting in the wings. The defense will feature six returning starters including DT Justin Jefferson and S Giacomo Iraci. Incoming transfer DT Denver Warren (West Aurora) has a chance to become another impact player. On offense, senior QB Colin Smyth and junior RB Willie Shaw will make waves. Shaw has already added FBS-level scholarship offers this summer and has a chance to have a big breakout season. Developing a young offensive line was a top priority this summer. They'll have an intriguing battle against a good Hillcrest program in the opener. 
 

Big summer pays off as Morgan Park's Marcus Watson Jr. commits to Wake Forest

Big summer pays off as Morgan Park's Marcus Watson Jr. commits to Wake Forest

Entering the offseason, Morgan Park senior point guard Marcus Watson Jr. didn’t have a lot of national recruiting attention. 

Although the 6-foot-1 lefty was one of the city’s best floor generals, he wasn’t getting the scholarship offers to back it up. Watson's hard work over the summer paid off on Tuesday night as the Class of 2020 point guard committed to Wake Forest with an announcement on Twitter.

The recruiting outlook for Watson changed once he took the floor with the Mac Irvin Fire in the Nike EYBL. Playing with high-caliber teammates — including Morgan Park backcourt running mate Adam Miller — Watson thrived with the Fire this spring and summer on the national grassroots landscape as his pass-first style looked great in an open-floor setting. 

Putting up 11.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and a league-leading 8.9 assists per contest, in 18 games this spring and summer, Watson's play in the EYBL helped him draw the high-major attention he was seeking. Illinois jumped in with a scholarship offer after the April Live Period. Numerous other high-majors tracked Watson’s play in June with Morgan Park and during July at the Nike Peach Jam.

In the end, the Demon Deacons came away with the pledge as Watson becomes the second senior point guard in the area to commit to a high-major program. Marian Catholic's Ahron Ulis made his decision to attend Iowa earlier this month.

Watson excels at setting up others while running an offense as the talent around him should ultimately dictate his success in the ACC. Although Watson is a talented player on both ends, improving on an inconsistent perimeter jumper will be a key to Watson becoming a dynamic threat in the nation's toughest conference. A solid mid-range shooter, Watson only shot 21 percent (5-for-23) from three-point range in EYBL play. If Watson can improve that number, then he could turn into a complete offensive weapon at the college level.

The commitment for Watson also signifies that Wake Forest will remain aggressive in Chicago after building a recent pipeline with Morgan Park and the Mac Irvin Fire. Although Watson is the first high school commitment to go to Wake Forest from Chicago (and the Fire), Demon Deacon senior guard Torry Johnson is a former Morgan Park standout who transferred into Wake Forest before last season.

Thanks in-part to Johnson's commitment, the Wake Forest coaching staff has been active with Chicago-area players, offering scholarships to Watson's Morgan Park teammates Adam Miller and junior guard Brandon Weston as well as Neuqua Valley junior wing John Poulakidas. Milwaukee-area standout Michael Foster Jr., a Class of 2021 standout who plays with Watson on the Fire, has also received a Wake Forest scholarship offer.

By landing Watson, the catalyst for the Fire's successful uptempo offense, the Demon Deacons are hoping that others might follow. While Wake Forest struggled in the ACC last season, they have a recent under-the-radar recruit turned NBA first-round pick in Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins. So it's interesting to see head coach Danny Manning and his staff target Watson, a player not many high-majors took a chance with. Wake Forest is hoping Watson can become the program's next three-star prospect that they turn into an all-league player.

Although the area's Class of 2020 has been slower to commit than some recent groups, the recent commitments of Ulis and Watson show that point guards are still a huge national storyline this fall as teams are trying to lock up floor leaders early.