Preps Talk

Edgy Tim's Recruiting News and Notes

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USA Today

Edgy Tim's Recruiting News and Notes

Naperville Central junior three star-ranked athlete recruit Sam Jackson (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) decided Wednesday to give Minnesota his verbal commitment. Jackson, who originally committed to head coach P.J. Fleck and company last February, backed off that decision last summer and reopened his recruiting process. 

Jackson was able to add several additional Power 5 offers after reopening his recruiting, including picking up an offer last month from Notre Dame. Jackson was hoping to make a few official visits before making his final decision, yet He decided to pledge to the Gophers again without making any official visits. 

Homewood-Flossmoor junior three star-ranked wide receiver Will Pauling (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) decided to wrap up his recruiting process and gave the University of Cincinnati his verbal commitment.

"Cincinnati was really my leader looking back from the moment they offered me a scholarship," Pauling said. "They had faith in me early on and that loyalty was really important to me. I looked at some other schools but Cincinnati was really the team to beat for me and in the end they won me over."

Pauling also admitted that making two early visits to Cincinnati along with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic played a role in the timing of his decision. 

"I was able to make two unofficial visits to Cincinnati and they ended up being a pretty big factor in my decision for sure,” he said.  “I was able to see everything that Cincinnati has to offer and I also was able to get a much better feel for everything. With this pandemic going on longer and longer, I just felt very good and very comfortable making my decision because of those early visits. I looked hard at Syracuse, Buffalo, Bowling Green and Air Force, but I wasn't able to get out to visit those schools at all."

Glenbrook North junior offensive guard Jackson Carsello (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) is now holding over 20 scholarship offers so far this spring. He added his first Big Ten offer earlier this week from the University of Illinois. 

"I know that Lovie Smith is the head coach at Illinois and I was a big fan of his when he was the Bears coach," Carsello said. "I'm a huge Bears fan and also an NFL fan. Illinois has a lot to offer and they have also developed a lot of great linemen over the years. Illinois is my first Big Ten offer and it's a great honor. I've never visited Illinois so once all of this pandemic settles down and we are allowed back on visits, I'm definitely planning to visit Illinois."

Carsello is still amazed at how quickly his recruiting stock has taken off this spring.

"I'm still sort of in shock to be honest,” he said. “It's always been my dream to play football in college and it's truly a dream come true. At this time last year I was around 195 pounds and now I'm up to 265-270 pounds. It's been just an amazing feeling and it makes me just want to keep working hard and getting better every day."

Joliet West three star-ranked junior running back Trenton Howland (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) has been looking harder at his recruiting process these days and has set up his first official visit.

"I have been looking harder at my recruiting," Howland said. "I also just set up my first official visit to Nebraska on June 12. I'm in touch with a handful of the schools who have offered me and I'm trying to stay busy under this pandemic."

Howland, who was a starter on the Tigers‘ Class 4A state ranked basketball team, is also hoping to make a few additional official visits before making his college choice and has no current time frame for making his decision. 

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Sparty Nation got another reason to flex. And it may have Coach K seeing green.

Max Christie, a five-star shooting guard (Rivals) and the top Illinois player in the Class of 2021, is headed to play for Michigan State and legendary head coach Tom Izzo. The Rolling Meadows High School product made his decision Tuesday in an interview with Fox’s Andy Katz.

“It just felt like it was a place that I was needed and a place I wanted to go to,” Christie said. “I think Coach Izzo and his staff and all my teammates there can push me to be the person I want to be, not just on, but off the court.”

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Christie selected Michigan State —his only official visit— over, namely, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Also on his list of potential choices were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois and several others. While Christie is excited for Izzo to help improve his game, he also prides himself on his versatility and making an immediate impact.

“I think I can be a great facilitator and a great scorer,” Christie said. “I feel like I can do anything that Coach Izzo or the players need be to do if that means rebounding, pushing the ball, setting up an offense or coming off screens, I feel like I am versatile enough of anything that is asked of me.”

The 6-foot-6 Christie may get another boost on the court a few years down the line, as Class of 2022 phenom Emoni Bates, the top player in the current junior class, committed to play for MSU on June 30. All of this assumes Bates keeps his commitment to East Lansing and doesn’t hop the NBA. Christie remains steadfast in his committed to Michigan State and is not exploring any G-League options at the moment.

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Christie has grabbed headlines in Chicagoland since his freshman year. He has tallied a 50-point game and a triple double and had several clutch moments during his junior season. He is coming off the first 20-win campaign at ‘Meadows in nearly 30 years.

And there’s more Christie magic in the pipeline. Cameron, his younger brother, is one of the quickly-rising sophomores in the area.

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

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USA Today

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

It’s time to party like it’s 1995 —especially if you’re a high school basketball fan who likes watching the game in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors voted Monday to move the host venue for the boys state basketball finals from Peoria to Champaign’s renovated State Farm Center for the next three seasons.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion from high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021."

The boys tournament will run on March 11-13, 2021, March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.

The boys tournament, which had been located in Champaign for 77 years, moved to Peoria’s Civic Center (Carver Arena) starting in 1996. The girls tournament was also in Champaign until 1992 before moving to Redbird Arena. The girls tournament will remain in Normal.

The Champaign area was steeped in prep basketball glory for generations. The first televised championship came in 1952 when Hebron, a school of 98 students defeated a Quincy school boasting an enrollment over 1,000. Six years later, the first Chicago school —Marshall— won state. In 1972, the tournament was split into Class A (small schools) and AA (large schools). The late Ben Wilson helped Simeon win in a title in Champaign in 1984 while future NBA stars (Kevin Garnett, Melvin Ely) and NFL receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Tai Streets) graced the floor at Assembly Hall during the 1995 tournament.

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The next year was a perfect one for the city of Peoria to grab the reins for the boys tournament. Hometown Manual High School won their third and fourth consecutive state titles in 1996 and 1997. Later, Derrick Rose guided Simeon to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. A four-class system was instituted for the 2007-08 season. Simeon dominated again from 2010-13 with Jabari Parker in the spotlight.

This year’s basketball tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.