Preps Talk

NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball All-Decade Team

NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball All-Decade Team

With a memorable decade of IHSA high school basketball finishing up last season, it is time to take a look back on some of the memorable players, teams and games that occurred over the past 10 years. 

For the first part of an ongoing series, I'm going to give my three-team All-Decade team of Chicagoland area high school basketball players. This list was incredibly difficult to decide from as I factored in personal numbers, team accomplishments, star power and stepping up in big moments. 

Only players from the Chicagoland area were included -- meaning other great players in the state like Rockford Auburn's Fred Van Vleet and Belleville West's E.J. Liddell were not considered. It should also be noted that only players from the Class of 2010 through the Class of 2019 were considered since they graduated during this decade. That means current high school players for this season in the Class of 2020 and beyond will be considered for the next decade. 

These teams will surely draw plenty of opinions as there are dozens of high school stars, high-major players and even some pros who were left off this list. If you have your own All-Decade Teams be sure to give us your take on Twitter @NBCSPreps. 

FIRST TEAM

Jabari Parker, Simeon, Class of 2013 -- Only one area player during the decade made the cover of Sports Illustrated and became the first non-senior to win Mr. Basketball. Parker helping the Wolverines win four state championships and a city title will leave that kind of legacy as Parker lived up to the hype surrounding him from the moment he entered high school. The first freshman varsity starter in Simeon history, Parker was an impact player from the opening game he took the floor at Chicago State against Thornton. From there, Parker turned into a national recruit who fought for No. 1 in his class. With advanced feel, a ridiculous scoring package and good size for the wing, Parker was nearly unstoppable one-on-one as a high school scorer. Drawing large national crowds wherever he played, Parker was also a McDonald's All-American and played in the Jordan Brand Classic as he was the state's first two-time Mr. Basketball winner. 

Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young, Class of 2014 -- The area's most gifted big man of the decade, Okafor was a known prospect before ever taking the floor for the Dolphins thanks to a scholarship offer from DePaul during middle school. Eventually growing to 7-feet tall, Okafor's footwork, touch and ability to finish in the post were nearly impossible to defend at the high school level as he led Whitney Young to national prominence along with a Class 4A state title and city title. Also a huge part of USA Basketball's success during his high school career, Okafor won three gold medals with the program from the summers of 2011 through 2013. Co-MVP of both the McDonald's All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, Okafor left a gigantic imprint on the area, making for a memorable 2013-14 season when coupled with Curie's Cliff Alexander.

Jalen Brunson, Stevenson, Class of 2015 -- One of the most decorated players in the state's history, Brunson turned in a historic four-year run at Stevenson. Becoming Lake County's all-time leading scorer, Brunson took the Patriots to Peoria three times during his career and won a state title his senior season in 2015. An accomplished and prolific scorer who was capable of exceptional scoring runs, Brunson set an IHSA state playoff single-game record with 56 points in a loss to Whitney Young in the state semifinals as a junior. With an advanced feel for the game, Brunson also made others around him better. Brunson also earned a gold medal with the USA Basketball U18 team the summer before his senior year and went on to win another gold medal with the U19 team right after high school.

Cliff Alexander, Curie, Class of 2014 -- A bulldozer of a big man for four seasons at Curie, Alexander had a memorable senior season to cap an epic career. Capturing Naismith Boys Player of the Year honors, Alexander was nationally-recognized for destroying rims and running over opposing big men at the basket. Big Cliff helped Curie to a city championship that was later forfeited while the team also had a memorable upset of Ben Simmons and No. 1 nationally-ranked Montverde Academy at the HoopHall Classic. More than anything, it was infectious to watch Alexander's play with maximum energy in every setting. Always playing with a high motor, Alexander was a man amongst boys at the high school level.

Jereme Richmond, Waukegan, Class of 2010 -- It gets forgotten now since he is no longer in the spotlight, but there was a time when Richmond generated headlines for nearly everything he did for four seasons. Committing to Illinois and Bruce Weber before even taking the floor for North Shore Country Day as a freshman, Richmond became a local sensation when he started dominating his conference's weak competition. After transferring to basketball-crazy Waukegan for his final three seasons, Richmond blew up into an area superstar as he eventually became a McDonald's All-American. Richmond buried memorable buzzer-beaters, put up huge double-double performances and was an underrated threat as a rim protector. Leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back appearances in Peoria, Richmond narrowly missed winning back-to-back Mr. Basketball awards -- capturing the honors his senior season after just missing as a junior. 

SECOND TEAM

Ryan Boatright, East Aurora, Class of 2011 -- The storied high school career of Ryan Boatright started when he committed to USC as an Eighth Grader. Although that commitment wouldn't last, Boatright's status as an Illinois icon did. The scoring guard's senior season, in which he split Mr. Basketball honors with Rock Island's Chasson Randle, was a memorable one. Boatright had scoring games of 63 and 50 and amassed seven 40-plus point games his senior season. Boatright was also a showman with a flair for the dramatic as the sectional semifinal win over previously-unbeaten No. 1 Benet was an incredible upset. 

Wayne Blackshear, Curie/Morgan Park, Class of 2011 -- It was during his junior season that Wayne Blackshear transformed from high-major prospect into area superstar. Following a controversial transfer from Curie to Morgan Park, Wayne blossomed into one of the city's first must-see attractions since Derrick Rose. People in the city flocked to see Blackshear play. The high-scoring wing delivered on most nights as the Mustangs won a city title behind Blackshear's game-winning bucket when he was a junior. Blackshear became a McDonald's All-American and consensus five-star prospect thanks to monster double-doubles and a penchant for stepping up in big games.  

Anthony Davis, Perspectives, Class of 2011 -- Although Davis didn't have quite the longevity or success of his peers on this list, his meteoric rise from unknown and unranked junior to No. 1 senior in the country remains one of the most shocking underdog stories of the decade. A growth spurt propelled Davis into a must-have high-major recruit as Davis had every college in the country after him the July before his senior season. Although Perspectives toiled away in obscurity in the Blue Division of the Public League, Davis made a huge imprint on the national high school scene. He capped off a stellar year of basketball by dominating the best players in the class at McDonald's All-American practices. 

Tyler Ulis, Marian Catholic, Class of 2014 -- Moving to the area from Ohio before high school, Ulis was tiny but had a big reputation. The point guard delivered in every way. The 5-foot-9 Ulis took Marian Catholic to two supersectionals and helped establish the program as an area power thanks to his stellar ability to run an offense. Equal parts scorer and unselfish floor general, Ulis controlled the tempo of every game he played in high school. Ulis finished his career as Marian Catholic's all-time leader in points, assists and steals as he elevated himself into a consensus five-star prospect and McDonald's All-American. An underdog story compared to some on this list, Ulis didn't establish himself as a national recruit until very late in the process. 

Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park, Class of 2018 -- A two-time Class 3A state champion in which he was the team's go-to player, Dosunmu had an outstanding career in which he won a lot of games. Putting up a huge senior season, Dosunmu finished with games of 60 and 52 points during his final campaign as he was unstoppable if his jumper was falling. Also a tenacious defender with an ability to play on the ball, Dosunmu was one of the most versatile perimeter threats of the players on this list. Dosunmu closed out high school with a gold medal with Team USA in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships. 

THIRD TEAM

Charlie Moore, Morgan Park, Class of 2016 -- A two-time Class 3A state champion as a freshman and sophomore, Moore became Mr. Basketball in Illinois by the time he was a senior. Despite being only 5-foot-11, Moore was one of the deadliest offensive forces the area saw over the decade. Capable of hitting three-pointers from crazy distances or attacking the basket using his quickness and tight handle, Moore put up 28 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game as a senior as he was a decorated four-year player. 

Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon, Class of 2018 -- Horton-Tucker helped guide Simeon to three straight city championships and was NBC Sports Chicago Player of the Year in 2018 with a magnificent senior season. Averaging 21 points per game against nationally-ranked opponents as a senior, THT helped Simeon become a top-ranked powerhouse that could play with anyone in the country. Horton-Tucker's unique offensive game and three-level scoring package made him a memorable player capable of numerous big moments. 

Frank Kaminsky, Benet, Class of 2011 -- Although the 7-footer didn't put up the jaw-dropping numbers of some of the others on this list, Kaminsky was one of the best overall big men -- and consistent winners -- of the last decade. Kaminsky was the ESCC Player of the Year as a senior as Benet started 29-0 and was ranked in the top ten nationally by USA Today before a stunning loss to Ryan Boatright at East Aurora in the Class 4A sectional semifinals. Benet also won a sectional during Kaminsky's junior season as he put up a double-double that season as well.  

Alonzo Verge, Willowbrook/Thornton, Class of 2017 -- Putting together two huge seasons at two different schools was Verge. As a sophomore at Willowbrook, Verge put the program back on the map with electrifying scoring performances as he averaged over 23 points per game and became an All-Area Player. After a year away in Florida, Verge returned to Thornton and became NBC Sports Chicago Player of the Year in 2017. Leading the Wildcats to a Class 4A sectional title, Verge had a memorable postseason run his senior season that included a 40-point near triple-double in a win over Bloom. 

Billy Garrett Jr., Morgan Park, Class of 2013 -- A four-year starter at Morgan Park, Garrett helped the Mustangs claim a city title as a freshman and a state title as a senior. A big guard who could knock down threes and set up others, Garrett contributed in every facet of the game as he helped the Mustangs to a national ranking by the end of senior season. When he left Morgan Park as the school's all-time leader in points and assists, Garrett helped set a trend for great guards at the school in the years to come. 

Mount Carmel head coach Jordan Lynch discusses football program during pandemic

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NBC Sports Chicago

Mount Carmel head coach Jordan Lynch discusses football program during pandemic

The latest guest on my weekly 20 Minutes podcast is Mount Carmel head football coach Jordan Lynch. Lynch, who was an All-State quarterback at Mount Carmel and then starred as a Heisman Trophy candidate at Northern Illinois University, has led his alma mater to an impressive 25-2 record in two seasons including a 14-0 record last fall and the 2019 Class 7A state title. Lynch and I cover several different subjects from the coronavirus pandemic to an impressive 2019 Caravan season and much more.

EDGYTIM: So as an educator and a coach, what has been the game plan as far as the whole coronavirus is concerned for Mount Carmel as a school as well as for your team?

Jordan Lynch: Educationally it's been a lot to take in, especially for a 16-17 year old kid and in the bigger picture this can all be a lot. At first I thought a lot of kids looked at this as a couple-week vacation, but we've really locked down here as coaches and teachers and administrators and we are all on an eLearning platform. A lot of our kids have fully bought in and they aren't treating this as a vacation. At first I think the whole vacation mentality was the mindset of a lot of kids, but that's all changed very quickly. Everyone is hitting the books and doing eLearning five days a week and getting after it. We've had our challenges because we have kids who come from different backgrounds, and some might not have a device or proper WiFi, but everyone is helping each other out and it's been a success so far. Personally, I do miss being around the kids. I miss getting to see them and getting to check up on them individually. That's been my focus this week and I'm sending out texts along with sending them messages on Hudl. We've been sending them workouts, different motivation quotes and just trying to keep the kids as engaged as possible. But the most important thing right now is that they are keeping up with their education and staying on top of their school work.

EDGYTIM: Your program has been well known for your 6 AM workouts for years now. They have been such a big part of the whole team bonding aspect at Mount Carmel, but that's being lost for now. When you eventually are allowed to get back with the team, is that team bonding maybe as important to recapture as any other work this time of the year?

Lynch: Absolutely.  Every team in the state and every kid that plays football is part of an offseason program. The big thing that I think separates us is how we run our 6 AM workouts. Every kid is dressed head to toe the same. You aren't allowed to work out even if you don't have the right socks, everyone is dressed the same. At this time of the year we have no seniors in the workouts, just juniors and younger, so we have juniors that want to take over the leadership roles and who want to lead and want to be a captain. This is the biggest time of the year where they grow the most in that aspect. As an example Justin (Lynch, Jordan's younger brother and starting QB) is more of a quiet kid, and he is going to need to be more vocal this year. This is that time of the year where he can be building upon that over the next few months so when it comes to August hopefully he's already taken over that leadership role. That's a big aspect that we are missing right now.

EDGYTIM: So after two seasons as a high school head coach now, what's been the biggest surprise or the biggest challenge for you so far?

Lynch: I'm still learning and I'm still growing every day. When I was the running backs coach at Northern Illinois you are working on football constantly 24/7, 365 days a year.  It's really all you do and you are just grinding it out. I got to Mount Carmel and got hired in late December, early January and there isn't a whole lot of football activity going on from January 'til July. So during that time you are building up relationships with the kids and that's when I realized that mattered the most. At the end of the day it's not all about the X's and O's and winning a game. It's about the kids trusting you and trusting your staff and having them buy into what you're trying to preach. So delivering that message day in and day out is the most important part of being a head coach and winning games. If the kids don't believe in you, even if you have the greatest schemes, it doesn't matter. In Year 2 we really minimized everything and we only had a few different plays. But we know what we are good at and we make sure the kids buy in and know their assignments and really trust us as a coaching staff.  In high school you need to have great mentors regardless of all the X's and O's.

EDGYTIM: We've talked before about the new on campus Barda-Dowling Stadium at Mount Carmel and everything that went into that new facility, but did it go maybe above and beyond even your expectations last season?

Lynch: It really did go above my expectations last year to be honest and I'm someone who played at Gately Stadium and who played on the old AstroTurf. I sound really old but that was just 10 years or so ago. I Ioved Gately Stadium and I loved playing there, but that was 10-11 years ago and times have changed. The thing I always noticed playing at Gately was our student section never really traveled to Gately and we never had a great student section. When we moved our games to Mount Carmel our student section really came alive. They came up with different themes each week and different chants and they really bought in. The student section in the end zone was packed every single time and that was really the first time as a player and now as a coach I felt a home atmosphere and we finally had an advantage playing at home now. For the people who haven't been out yet to see a game it reminds me of a Division 2 or Division 3 atmosphere. It's compact and it's tight. It seats 2,200 I believe and we make sure we pack it. It has an old school feeling too where sometimes people don't like to sit in the stands and instead just stand around the field. It was just great and a big reason why we went undefeated at home last season.

EDGYTIM: What stood out to me about last season's 14-0 state title run was that you didn't exactly blow anyone out of games week in and week out. You had a lot of tight games, yet it never felt for the most part that you were ever out of any games and even though the scores were close, they really didn't feel that close. Is that by design or was that just me?

Lynch:  Kind of how I felt the season played out when I look back on it is that when you think of Mount Carmel, the first thing that comes to mind is defense and you think of Dave Lenti (defensive coordinator). That guy doesn't get enough credit for a lot of things, but there is a reason why Mount Carmel has been super successful over the years and Dave has a lot to do with it. We pride ourselves on defense and we pride ourselves on grinding teams out. The scores in those games doesn't indicate the game necessarily and for three quarters there will be some teams with our schedule, some high powered teams who are going to be in the game with us. We really pride ourselves and why we train like we do in the off season is that come the fourth quarter we wear teams out. We will stick to the run game, we will eat some clock up and we are going to rely on our defense. We have some great play makers on offense who can do some special things, but I'm not going to drop back and throw the ball 50 times a game. I'm going to run the ball 50 times a game and grind you out for three quarters and when it comes to the fourth quarter, who wants it the most? A lot of the games were close bit in the fourth quarter you saw the clock management, the run game and upfront we just seemed to get stronger and stronger as the game wore on. That's Mount Carmel kind of football in a nutshell and how we play.

EDGYTIM: So who are your nonconference games for next season and have you realized that the CCL/ESCC will be even more stacked with loaded teams in 2020 who all bring back a ton of experience from last season?

Lynch:  From what I've heard alot of kids are coming back from last season and a lot of the teams are returning a lot of starters. It's the Catholic League Blue and I wouldn't want it any other way. We open up at home against Calumet High who we played last year as well. The only thing that really changes in our schedule this year from last year is that we play Phillips in Week 2 then after that it leads right into another grinder. It really comes down to who can stay the healthiest and who can have the most momentum heading into Week 10.

EDGYTIM: So let's say we finally get past this whole coronavirus ordeal. I decided to take you out for dinner and I'm buying...so where are you taking me?

Lynch:  Man that's tough. One of my go-to spots is I'm a big pizza guy. I would say that over the last 15 years or so my parents have always been going to Roseangla's Pizza in Evergreen Park. That's a spot on almost every Thursday you can catch me eating there.  So that's a spot where me and you could sit down and have a nice little hangout. That's where we would go.    

Edgy Tim's recruiting News and Notes

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USA Today

Edgy Tim's recruiting News and Notes

Marist junior three-star ranked offensive tackle Pat Coogan (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) added an offer from Notre Dame last week. Since then, Coogan has picked up new offers from Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU all within a week's time frame. 

"It feels amazing," Coogan said. "I never could have imagined I would get offers from three out of four CFB playoff teams. It's been a wild week."

Coogan admitted that the offer from Notre Dame is special. 

"It's a big one for sure," Coogan said. "It's an offer I wanted for a long time now. I've been a Notre Dame fan my whole life, and when they offered me, it was a surreal moment."

Batavia (IL) junior inside linebacker recruit Matt "Mojo" Weerts (6-foot-2, 217 pounds) added his latest scholarship offer on Monday from the University of Arizona. 

"I'm really excited and pumped about getting an offer from Arizona," Weerts said. "Coach (Evan) DeVan from Arizona recruited my brother when he was coaching at Ball State, so I know him already, and Arizona is a great school and program."

"I know that Arizona plays in the PAC 12 conference, which is one of the top conferences in the nation. I also know that Arizona offers great academics, and I'm just proud to add an offer from the Wildcats. I have family that lives in Phoenix, and I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to visit Arizona later this spring or this summer."

Fremd junior offensive guard recruit Jack Walsh (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) had a good week, too. 

"It was great to get all of those offers over the past week," Walsh said. "I was able to add offers from Missouri State, Illinois State, SIU, EIU and also South Dakota, plus Southeast Missouri State."

Walsh has also drawn increased recruiting attention from several schools.

"Besides the schools who have offered me, I've also been in contact with the coaches from NIU, Ball State, Purdue, Wyoming and also Kent State. The coaches want me to stay in touch with them, and, hopefully, we will be able to get out to make some college visits sometime soon."

Hersey junior offensive guard recruit Ryan Gudaitis (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) recently added his first two scholarship offers when both Illinois State and Southern Illinois decided to extend him a scholarship offer.

"I was able to add my first two offers from Illinois State and Southern Illinois," Gudaitis said. "I was hoping that I would eventually draw some scholarship offers but getting them this early is really a nice surprise."

Gudaitis, who is a three sport athlete at Hersey (football, basketball and baseball), has also seen more recruiting interest early this spring. 

"I've also been hearing from several other schools, including South Dakota, NIU, North Dakota, EIU, plus some of the Minnesota D2 schools like Winona State and Minnesota Duluth. I was able to make a junior day visit to NIU back in February, and that went well, but it was my only visit for now. I was also planning to visit ISU later this spring, but that's been cancelled."