Preps Talk

How Iowa State landed Simeon's Talen Horton-Tucker to finish a huge Chicagoland recruiting haul

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How Iowa State landed Simeon's Talen Horton-Tucker to finish a huge Chicagoland recruiting haul

Iowa State capped off a tremendous year recruiting the Chicagoland area on Thursday night as Simeon senior wing Talen Horton-Tucker committed to the Cyclones during a press conference in the Simeon auditorium.

The 6-foot-5 Horton-Tucker is the third player from the area to commit to Iowa State in the senior class, joining Corliss big man George Conditt and Hinsdale South wing forward Zion Griffin. Horton-Tucker selected the Cyclones over his other finalists of Illinois and Xavier. The senior took official visits to all three schools during the recruiting process.

The Chicagoland trio is an impressive coup for head coach Steve Prohm on the recruiting trail as Iowa State has recruited the state better than any other program in the country this fall.

Jumping on all three recruits with earlier scholarship offers than most other high-major programs, Prohm and the Iowa State staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit for formulating a plan to recruit three of the state's four best talents and get them to leave the Land of Lincoln. Iowa State assistant coach Daniyal Robinson also deserves credit as the Illinois native has a lot of recruiting ties in the state that also helped form lasting connections.

For a versatile wing like Horton-Tucker, he saw how Prohm and the Cyclones used another versatile wing in Deonte Burton last season as a comparison for how Iowa State might use him over the next few years. Much like Horton-Tucker, the 6-foot-4 Burton was undersized playing as a small-ball four, but he was able to break down opposing defenses by taking bigger players off the dribble and extending the floor with shooting range that he developed over time at Iowa State.

"I feel like they can use me the same way Deonte Burton was used. Actually, I feel like I can do more," Horton-Tucker said. "That's one of the great things that Coach Prohm is good at. I can't wait to see what he'll use me as."

Horton-Tucker also felt comfortable knowing that other Chicago players were coming with him and that Chicago-area players had succeeded playing for Prohm in the past. Taking his official visit to Ames on the same weekend as Conditt and Griffin earlier this fall, the already-committed duo spent the weekend working Horton-Tucker to get him to join them at Iowa State. The trio even decided to partake in a Fab Five-style photo shoot with Prohm during the visit. Horton-Tucker left the Iowa State official visit comfortable knowing that he'd fit in if he decided to go there. 

"I was comfortable with every school on my list," Horton-Tucker said. "I cut it to three for a reason. Those were the schools I felt most comfortable with."

The recent success of former Niles North and Iowa State star Abdel Nader with another clear selling point. Growing up on Chicago's North Side in the Uptown neighborhood, Horton-Tucker has formed a relationship with Nader and spoke to him during the recruiting process. With Nader now on the Boston Celtics after a successful run at Iowa State, Horton-Tucker had an easier time visualizing his own success there.

"I talked to him myself, I'm actually cool with him. Being with him a lot, it was nice. Being around him, learning," Horton-Tucker said of Nader. "He's in the NBA now so it helps me prepare myself to try and reach that goal to get to the NBA."

Iowa State made the major splash by landing Horton-Tucker's verbal commitment on Thursday, but much of the buzz in the auditorium leading up to the announcement centered on the in-state school that missed out.

Illinois made a late push with an official visit from Horton-Tucker last weekend and the Illini were a perceived favorite for his commitment as recently as earlier this week. Things dramatically changed in the final days leading up to Thursday's commitmen as multiple sources confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago that a rift emerged between the camps of Horton-Tucker and Morgan Park senior guard Ayo Dosunmu, who pledged to the Illini last week. 

Much of the rift centers on Dosunmu and Horton-Tucker playing together for the Mac Irvin Fire in the Nike EYBL this spring. After playing together for three sessions and starting with a promising 3-2 record, the Fire lost seven consecutive games and Horton-Tucker left the Fire before the EYBL's final spring session over Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles. 

Horton-Tucker then spent his July live evaluation period playing with Meanstreets and Team Rose as the move away from the Fire rubbed some the wrong way. Nick Irvin, the head coach of Morgan Park, is apart of the Mac Irvin Fire program that is run by his brother Mike. Once it became apparent that Dosunmu and Horton-Tucker might play together in college at Illinois, the former issues became a talking point that bubbled onto Twitter.

Dosunmu and Horton-Tucker spoke to one another on Wednesday as Horton-Tucker was finalizing his college decision. When asked about an alleged rift with Dosunmu, Horton-Tucker downplayed any kind of perceived beef that lies between the two Public League stars as the drama may be more between the adults involved.

"I’ve played with [Ayo] since I was 13, I didn’t have a problem with it,” Horton-Tucker said when asked about the situation. “We could have done something at Illinois, I just chose a different spot.”

Regardless of what actually happened with Horton-Tucker and Illinois, he plans on signing with Iowa State during the early signing period as the Cyclones should be thrilled to get another versatile piece.

Helping Simeon to a city title and second-place finish in Class 4A last season, Horton-Tucker is one of the area’s most unique players. An impact defender with a long wingspan who can guard multiple positions, Horton-Tucker is also skilled with the ball in his hands. Horton-Tucker spent the summer working to improve his perimeter jumper as he's hoping it will be a more reliable weapon during his senior season.

Getting emotional after making his public decision on Thursday, Horton-Tucker took a moment to bury his head in his hands as he quickly composed himself to finish his special moment. Now that recruiting is out of the way, Horton-Tucker is hoping to end his final season with a state championship.

"I figured like, 'I did it, man.' I kind of feel like I made my family proud. In my family we don't have the basketball pedigree that everybody has; a father that played," Horton-Tucker said. "My father, he passed away. I just feel like I did it for everybody here that didn't make it or whoever was in my life at that point in time."

High School Lites Preview: Plenty of girls playoff highlights while boys regular season finishes

High School Lites Preview: Plenty of girls playoff highlights while boys regular season finishes

High School Lites has tons of boys and girls basketball highlights this week. The regular season concludes for boys basketball in Class 3A and 4A. For the rest of the state, the playoffs are in full swing.

We'll check in on the Class 1A and Class 2A girls basketball state semifinals from Redbird Arena while the Class 1A and 2A boys basketball regional finals will also be a focus.

High School Lites airs at 11 p.m. on Friday on NBC Sports Chicago with replays coming Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

BOYS BASKETBALL

St. Francis de Sales 1A Regional Championship, Leo vs. Grant Park, 7:00 p.m. -- We check on a Class 1A favorite in this one. Leo (18-14, 10-5) has won three straight games after being one of the Catholic League White's better teams this season. The Lions are a major contender in Class 1A as one of the No. 1 seeds in the Marquette Sectional. Grant Park (13-18, 7-5) is a No. 4 seed as they held off St. Francis de Sales for a road quarterfinal win. 

2A Regional Championship, Timothy Christian at St. Joseph, 7:00 p.m. -- An interesting clash for a regional title in Class 2A. Timothy Christian (24-5, 12-0) raced past Montini in the regional quarterfinals as they've won five straight games. The Metro Suburban Red champions are a deep and balanced team as they're the No. 1 seed in the Genoa-Kingston Sectional. St. Joseph (14-17, 7-8), the No. 4 seed, ran past Westmont in the quarterfinals to secure the home game here. Sophomore Kyle Thomas is a lot to handle on the inside as he'll be one to watch for the Chargers.

Christ The King 2A Regional Championship, Clark vs. Crane, 7:00 p.m. -- Clark (20-6, 8-1) advanced with a blowout win over Phoenix in the regional semifinals. The No. 2 seed Eagles won at Crane on Jan. 17 during conference season as these two teams battled before. Crane (22-5, 7-2) had to hold off No. 5 seed Marshall in the quarterfinals. The No. 3 seed is the only Class 2A team to beat Orr during the season as they try to get past their conference rival. 

2A Regional Championship, Longwood at Corliss, 7:00 p.m. -- Corliss (15-10, 5-4) made Peoria last season as they try to make another run as the No. 2 seed in the Carver Sectional. The Trojans were respectable in the Red South/Central this season and recently lost to Orr in the Public League Playoffs. Longwood (18-8, 8-1) won the Public League White-South with a strong season as they held off No. 5 seed Harlan in the regional semifinals. The No. 3 seed Panthers have been tested during the season with losses to Curie, Bogan and Oak Lawn. 

No. 25 Hillcrest at No. 20 Oak Forest, 6:30 p.m. -- The South Suburban Blue has one more regular season battle to monitor. Hillcrest (20-8, 11-1) is one of the most dangerous teams entering the Class 3A playoffs behind a loaded junior class that includes Jakobi Heady and Julius Rollins. Oak Forest (26-2, 12-0) is trying to win the conference with an unbeaten record behind seniors Jayson Kent and Juan Avila as well as super sophomore Robbie Avila. 

Benet at St. Charles North, 7:00 p.m. -- An interesting non-conference clash to close the regular season. Benet (21-9, 7-2) just fell out of the Preps Power Rankings but the Redwings have been impressive lately. Senior big man Colin Crothers is ton to handle on the interior. St. Charles North (21-7, 12-1) counters with senior big man Connor Linke (Bradley) and a talented backcourt that includes Luke Scheffers and Christian Czerniak. 

Sycamore at Plano, 7:00 p.m. -- The two best in the Interstate Eight meet for a final time here. Sycamore (21-8, 10-3) has won eight of their last nine games as they had a blowout win over Plano on Jan. 21. The Reapers have won four out of five with their only loss coming to Class 1A powerhouse Indian Creek. 

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Class 1A: Eastland vs. Shiloh Coop, 11:00 a.m. -- A rematch of last season's Class 1A state semifinals in this one. Eastland came out the winner last season in a 64-63 thriller. Eastland (32-3) ended up a second-place finisher in Class 1A after falling in the title game. Senior Erin Henze leads the Cougars at 20.1 points per game this season. Shiloh Coop (28-5) is riding an 18-game winning streak as they haven't lost in 2020. Junior Tayler Barry leads the Lady Titans in scoring at 18.6 points per game this season.

Class 1A: Aurora Christian vs. Lewistown, 1:00 p.m. -- Two 30-win teams clash in this one. Lewistown (32-1) has only lost to Class 2A semifinalist Pleasant Plains this season as they try to improve on last year's third-place finish. Senior Anna Heffren (20.0 ppg) and senior Sydney Schaeffer (16.1 ppg) form a high-scoring duro for the Lady Indians. Aurora Christian (30-4) is making its first state appearance. Junior Anna Griffin (17.6 ppg), sophomore Thaya Luse (13.4 ppg) and freshman Aspen Weeks (10.4 ppg) are all double-figure scorers for the Eagles.

Class 2A: Pleasant Plains vs. Riverdale, 5:30 p.m. -- Two teams making their first state appearance battle in this one. Pleasant Plains (26-3) started the season 2-2 but has only lost to O'Fallon since Nov. 23. A balanced team, the Lady Cardinals are led by junior guard Asya Smith (11.4 ppg). Riverdale (28-3) is led by senior Sidney Garrett (13.1 ppg) as she's the only double-figure scorer for the Rams. 

Class 2A: Marshall vs. Carterville, 7:15 p.m. -- One of the state's most storied girls programs faces another newcomer at state. Marshall (21-10) is making its fourth straight trip to state as the Commandos try for their 11th state title under legendary head coach Dorothy Gaters. Junior guard Jayonna Smith leads the Commandos at 15.0 points per game. Carterville (30-2) has four double-figure scorers in its lineup led by senior Jeniah Thompson (14.4 ppg). The Lady Lions are riding a 10-game winning streak entering this one. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Class 3A Hampshire Sectional Championship, Sycamore vs. Montini, 7:00 p.m. -- Two No. 1 seeds clash for a sectional title in Class 3A. Sycamore held off Burlington Central to advance earlier this week to advance. Spartans senior Kylie Feuerbach has been featured as a Wintrust Athlete of the Week earlier this season as the Iowa State commit is a major factor. Montini got past Boylan with a double-digit win in the sectional semifinals. The Broncos have been a consistent presence in the AP top 5 Class 3A poll this season. Montini hasn't lost to an Illinois opponent since Benet on Dec. 30. 

Spring recruiting will reveal more 2022 names to watch

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USA TODAY

Spring recruiting will reveal more 2022 names to watch

With the ink still drying on the recently signed Letters of Intent from the Class of 2020, it must be time to refocus on the Class of 2021, right? 

While we still have nearly 10 months before the Class of 2021 can sign an early Letter of Intent, many Power 5 football powers have already extended early scholarship offers to many of its 2021 targets. Next up? The Class of 2022 has already begun to see more recruiting attention and draw more and more early scholarship offers. Here are the Top 5 names from the Class of 2022 on multiple Power 5 recruiting radar screens this winter:

Nazareth Academy sophomore WR Tyler Morris (5-foot-11, 180 pounds)- Morris, who has been a varsity starter for the Road Runners and head coach Tim Racki since his freshman season, is already holding 13 FBS scholarship offers including early offers from the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern plus Notre Dame, Penn State and Wisconsin. Morris has also drawn recruiting attention from programs across the country. Expect more offers to flow again this spring once college coaches are allowed back into schools starting on April 15th. 

St. Rita wide receiver Kaleb Brown (5-foot-11, 185 pounds)- Brown, who was a huge part of the Mustangs 2019 Class 5A state title runner up offense is being recruited as a wide receiver. Brown is also holding multiple FBS level offers from the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Duke, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Notre Dame. Much like Tyler Morris, look for Kaleb Brown to add more Power 5 offers from outside of the Midwest beginning this spring. 

Naperville Central wide receiver Reggie Fluerima (6-foot-2, 200 pounds)- Fleurima, who is the son of former Notre Dame DL  Reggie Fleurima Sr. in the early 1990's, is also holding double digit offers this winter from the likes of Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Syracuse. Fluerima made a late January unofficial visit to Iowa and is certain to draw plenty of traffic in school this spring from schools from across the county. 

Evanston running back Sebastian Cheeks (6-foot-2, 205 pounds)- Cheeks is a versatile athlete who no question passes the all important eyeball test. Cheeks has early offers so far from Wisconsin, Syracuse, Iowa State and Central Michigan and is drawing recruiting attention from FBS level nationwide. Cheeks is also an athlete recruit who can play several different positions at the college level. 

DB Ahmad Robinson East St. Louis (6-foot-0, 177 pounds)- Robinson, who transferred into East St. Louis this semester after playing his 2019 sophomore season at Cardinal Ritter in St. Louis, has all the tools to develop into a high level name in the Class of 2022. Robinson, who has been impressive this winter at various showcase event, has already added an early offer from Indiana and is one of multiple Flyer underclassmen that will draw college coaches into school this spring by the busload. 

Other Class of 2022 names on the rise?

Loyola Academy TE James Kyle (6-foot-5, 220 pounds)

Marist OL Deuce McGuire (6-foot-5, 280 pounds)

St. Rita OL Valen Erickson (6-foot-6, 280 pounds)