Preps Talk

NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings: Ranked teams dominating IHSA Playoffs

NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings: Ranked teams dominating IHSA Playoffs

The NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings didn't feature too many changes this week.

An astounding 23 out of 25 teams from last week's rankings claimed a regional (or sectional) title with wins during the week. Only Bolingbrook and Waubonsie Valley were eliminated from the IHSA State Playoffs, and subsequently, dropped from the Power Rankings.

We should see quite a bit of movement next week when many of these top-25 teams will play for sectional titles. 

1. Bloom (28-5, 15-1) (1) -- Easy win for Bloom as the Blazing Trojans went on the road and ran past Thornwood in the regional finals. The next game gets difficult for Bloom when they host No. 17 Marian Catholic on Tuesday night in the sectional semifinals. The Blazing Trojans beat the Spartans twice during the regular season with both wins coming by 17 points. 
2. Thornton (31-1, 15-1) (2) -- Impressive road win for Thornton as they had a blowout win over Lincoln-Way East. The Bloom Sectional comes next for the Wildcats as they'll play No. 13 Homewood-Flossmoor in the sectional semifinals on Wednesday. 
3. Simeon (24-8, 8-2) (3) -- Running past Lane for a road win, the Wolverines continue to peak at the right time. Sectional semifinal play will be difficult for Simeon and Robert Smith's team will have to get past No. 7 Whitney Young on Wednesday night to advance. 
4. Curie (28-2, 8-0) (4) -- Another balanced outing helped Curie beat Lyons by double-digits as Ramean Hinton led with 16 points. The Condors will face an underdog in the next round when they play Morton in the Lyons Sectional. 
5. Morgan Park (21-9, 6-2) (5) (3A) -- The Mustangs claimed a regional title with ease in rolling past Tinley Park with an impressive win. The No. 1 seed in the Thornridge Sectional will get a major test against No. 19 Hillcrest in the sectional semifinals on Tuesday. 
6. Bogan (27-3, 8-1) (6) (3A) -- Antione Bloxton continues to put up big numbers as the senior's 23 points lifted the Bengals by St. Laurence for a regional title road win. The No. 1 seed in the Hinsdale South Sectional will play Riverside-Brookfield on Tuesday.
7. Whitney Young (20-9, 8-1) (7) -- Rallying for a regional final win over St. Rita at Proviso West, the Dolphins earned regional title hardware. The Lyons Sectional comes next for Whitney Young and they'll play city rival No. 3 Simeon on Wednesday night.
8. Notre Dame (28-5, 8-1) (8) (3A) -- A balanced effort led by 16 points from Anthony Sayles placed Notre Dame into the sectional semifinals as they ran past Vernon Hills. Untested so far in the playoffs, the Dons have an enticing battle with Deerfield in the Grayslake North Sectional on Tuesday. 
9. Evanston (28-4, 9-1) (9) -- It was a battle, but Evanston eventually outlasted rival New Trier to win a regional title. Another rival awaits the Wildkits in the next round as they face Glenbrook South in Tuesday's sectional semifinals. Evanston split the season series and won the latest matchup at home with a close overtime win.
10. Stevenson (27-4, 13-1) (10) -- It wasn't pretty but Stevenson outlasted Highland Park to win a regional title in its own gym. The top seed in the Prospect Sectional gets a strong test against an athletic and talented Zion-Benton team on Tuesday night. 
11. Loyola (29-4, 14-1) (11) -- Smothering Maine South for a regional title home win, Loyola continued its strong season on the defensive end. The Ramblers advance in the Elk Grove Sectional and they'll play Niles North in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday.
12. Glenbrook South (29-4, 9-1) (12) -- The dream season for the Titans continued with a double-digit win over Maine West. Glenbrook South gets a third battle with CSL South rival Evanston on Tuesday night in the sectional semifinals. The two teams split the regular-season series. 
13. Homewood-Flossmoor (25-4, 7-1) (14) -- The Vikings cruised past Oak Lawn to win another regional title. The next round sees Homewood-Flossmoor get a crack at No. 2 Thornton -- a team that beat them back in January. That rematch goes down at Bloom on Wednesday night.
14. Joliet West (28-4, 16-0) (15) -- Getting past Romeoville on the road, Joliet West advanced to sectionals. The No. 1 seed in the Lockport Sectional will face Neuqua Valley on Tuesday.
15. Mundelein (29-4, 12-2) (16) -- Not much of a test for Mundelein when the Mustangs blew out Fremd by 21 points for a regional crown. Upset-minded Prospect hosts the sectional semifinals in the next round as the Mustangs play on Tuesday night. 
16. DePaul Prep (26-5, 12-3) (17) (3A) -- Easy win for DePaul Prep as the Rams cruised past Farragut at home. Wednesday will be tough for DePaul Prep when they face St. Ignatius on the road in the sectional semifinals.
17. Marian Catholic (24-8, 8-1) (18) -- Strong games from Ahron Ulis (24 points) and Elijah Jones (19 points) lifted the Spartans past Brother Rice for a regional title home win. Marian Catholic has a major test on Tuesday when they play No. 1 Bloom in the sectional semifinals in a tough road game.
18. Fenwick (26-7, 12-3) (19) (3A) -- Making quick work of Payton, the Friars captured a regional title at home behind a big game from junior Bryce Hopkins. Advancing to the St. Ignatius Sectional, Fenwick will take on Westinghouse on Tuesday.
19. Hillcrest (23-8, 12-1) (20) (3A) -- Hillcrest won a regional on its home floor with a win over Rich Central as Mar'Keise Irving and Julius Rollins both had solid games. The intensity picks up for Hillcrest in the next matchup when they face Thornridge Sectional No. 1 seed Morgan Park on Tuesday.
20. Orr (21-7, 7-2) (21) (2A) -- The Spartans claimed another Class 2A sectional title with a notable win over Clark. Orr will try to advance to Peoria once again as they face another Public League team in Corliss on Tuesday at Joliet Central.
21. Hinsdale South (30-3, 11-1) (22) (3A) -- Aaron Tims dropped 28 points to lift the Hornets to 30 wins and a regional title win over Kenwood. Now on its home floor for sectionals, Hinsdale South hosts No. 23 Benet on Wednesday.
22. Cary-Grove (30-3, 17-1) (23) -- It wasn't easy, but Cary-Grove finally put away a familiar Fox Valley foe in Jacobs to win win the second boys basketball regional title in school history. The second 30-win team in Fox Valley history, the Trojans play Huntley in the sectional semifinals at McHenry. The two teams split the regular-season series.
23. Benet (24-9, 7-2) (25) (3A) -- A double-digit home win over De La Salle gave Benet a regional title. The Redwings have to go on the road in the next round when they play No. 21 Hinsdale South on Wednesday night in the sectional semifinals.
24. Niles North (27-5, 10-0) (NR) -- Impressive win for the Vikings on the road as they eliminated Schaumburg with a double-digit win. Difficult game in the next round for Aquan Smart and company as they face No. 11 Loyola Academy on Tuesday at the Elk Grove Sectional.  
25. Oak Forest (28-3, 12-1) (NR) (3A) -- The Bengals find themselves back in the Power Rankings with a victory over T.F. North. Sophomore Robbie Avila had a triple-double with 25 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks in the win. Major test for Oak Forest in the Thornridge Sectional when they play a talented Kankakee squad on Wednesday. 

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

There’s country strong. And then there’s Jerry Sloan.

The NBA Hall of Fame player and coach, a tenacious defender and steady offensive threat, became a household name with the Chicago Bulls in the 1970s. Four-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. Two-time NBA-All-Star.

Sloan died Friday after a courageous battle against Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. He was 78.

But it was Sloan’s perseverance as a child and his dedication to the game of basketball —and his home town— 300 miles south of the Windy City that made him a real star.

[MORE: Remember ‘Original Bull’ Jerry Sloan as he lived: tough, humble and honest]

The former Bull, who went on to lead the Utah Jazz to the playoffs in 15 of his 23 seasons there as a head coach, grew up on a farm near McLeansboro, Illinois. The youngest of 10 children, Sloan would routinely wake up in the wee hours to do family chores. He’d then walk two miles to the town’s high school for basketball practice.

The foundation of a hard work ethic and a ferocious competitive nature paved the way for Sloan’s rise to stardom.

Sloan played on several great McLeansboro teams in the late-50s. In his junior season, he helped guide his squad to a 19-6 record for coach Gene Haile. He followed that up with a senior season most kids would dream of: 26 wins, 3 losses. He was named to the All-State team.

He would later guide the Evansville Purple Aces to two Division II national championships. He became known as “the Original Bull” shortly after the startup Bulls franchise drafted him in the 1966 expansion draft. The rest was history—a brilliant 10-year career in Chicago as a player and nearly three more as a head coach on West Madison before becoming a legend in Salt Lake City.

But it was his small-town roots that made Jerry Sloan all the more genuine.

He would return to McLeansboro several times in 1984 —the year he became an assistant with the Utah Jazz— to watch his high school team play. His son, Brian, led the Foxes to the Class A state championship that year, going 35-0 in the process. Brian went on to play for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

Sloan would return frequently to this Southern Illinois town many times during his run with the Jazz— a run where he only finished below .500 once and racked up an astonishing career 1,221 wins. Hamilton County High School, formerly known as McLeansboro, dedicated its gym in Sloan’s honor in Dec. 2012. A road in McLeansboro is now called Jerry Sloan Avenue.

In a statement, a representative from McLeansboro High School said the following:

“Today is a sad day for Hamilton County and the Foxes. Coach Jerry Sloan has passed away. Coach Sloan graduated from McLeansboro High School in 1960 and was always a hometown boy. Whenever he returned he was just one of us. He will be greatly missed. RIP Coach Sloan.”

McLeansboro will always be Sloan Country.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Michigan recruit J.J. McCarthy to transfer from Nazareth to Florida's IMG Academy

Michigan recruit J.J. McCarthy to transfer from Nazareth to Florida's IMG Academy

J.J. McCarthy, the state’s top-ranked high school quarterback and overall player according to Rivals, is transferring from Nazareth Academy to IMG Academy in Florida.

McCarthy made the announcement on his Twitter page Monday afternoon.

The news sent shock waves throughout the national prep football landscape. McCarthy, committed to play at Michigan, led the Roadrunners to an IHSA 7A second place finish back in November. As a sophomore in 2018, he threw for over 3,200 yards and 36 touchdowns. It culminated in a state title win and a 13-1 season.

The move makes sense for McCarthy, as he will team up with offensive lineman Greg Crippen, a fellow Michigan commit. According to Rivals, McCarthy (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is ranked as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback and No. 33 overall recruit in the country.

The loss is a huge one for head coach Tim Racki and company at the La Grange Park school. That said, the Roadrunners are one of the dominant programs in IHSA football, compiling a 38-4 record the past three seasons with three state titles in the previous six campaigns.

The big questions: Will other high-caliber Illinois high school athletes follow McCarthy? When will the IHSA commit to a fall sports schedule? What will Illinois high school football look like in the fall? What guidelines will be in place? There are many uncertainties.

What is known: The IHSA chose to cancel the state basketball tournament and all 2020 spring sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois is currently in a phased reopening of businesses and other institutions. Florida is ahead of Illinois in respect to some of those aforementioned facilities.

The risk, or perhaps the unknown, was worth it for McCarthy and his family. Will Florida —or other states, including Illinois— even be cleared to play football come August? Will his move be a productive one in retrospect?

Time will tell.