Preps Talk

Evanston's Nojel Eastern named a finalist for USA Basketball U17 team

Evanston's Nojel Eastern named a finalist for USA Basketball U17 team

COLORADO SPRINGS -- Evanston senior guard Nojel Eastern has made the first cut and is a finalist for the USA Basketball U17 World Championship team.

The 6-foot-5 Eastern is currently one of 18 players fighting for 12 roster spots on the team that will compete in Zaragoza, Spain, from June 23 to July 3. Making any USA Basketball team is considered one of the biggest honors an American high school basketball player can achieve, and Eastern is hoping to stick with the roster by competing and finding his role.

"I just have to try to do the little things to outwork others," Eastern said. "I know everybody on this court that has USA across their chest is a great basketball player. And I consider myself also to be a great basketball player, and I have to continue to develop. I just have to do the little things that stand out to the coaches."

Eastern has been in Colorado Springs since Friday, as he competed in the first part of the tryout over the weekend. Originally starting with 36 players, USA Basketball cut down the tryout group to 18 players on Sunday afternoon. Simeon's Kezo Brown, the only other player from Illinois to attend the tryout for the U17 team, did not make the first cut for the team.

From here, Eastern will compete in two-a-days with the rest of his potential USA teammates as they will cut down the final roster on Tuesday. After recovering from a broken ankle and only being able to shoot around at last October's USA Basketball mini-camp, Eastern is thrilled to finally be fully healthy and able to compete in such a prestigious tryout.

Many of Eastern's peers that are still left have already won gold medals with USA Basketball. Eastern is hoping for his own opportunity to help with the U17 team.

"It's been great. We've been competing really hard against each other," Eastern said. "I've been competing trying to earn a spot on the team and I've been learning a lot from the coaching staff. Being here is a great feeling. A true blessing."

Regardless of what happens the rest of the tryout, a fully healthy Eastern is going to be a major candidate for Player of the Year this upcoming season and Evanston will likely find itself among the area's best teams.

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

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: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers. 

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture.