Preps Talk

New Bears tight end Cole Kmet had a ‘Gronk’ moment at Saint Viator High School

New Bears tight end Cole Kmet had a ‘Gronk’ moment at Saint Viator High School

Meet the new Gronk. Same as the old Gronk?

Well, not really.

Lake Barrington native Cole Kmet was selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round (No. 43 overall) of the NFL Draft Friday night. He first made headlines on the football field and baseball diamond at Saint Viator High School before becoming a go-to target as a tight end for Brian Kelly’s offense at Notre Dame.

His star potential was noticed by several college coaches in his prep career at the Arlington Heights school. But there was an amusing moment during a 2016 7-on-7 tournament that gave his head coach, Dave Archibald, a reason to think that the upcoming senior could have NFL potential.

“Our offense was on the sidelines during one of the games and this assistant coach from another school comes over,” Archibald said. He goes up to Kmet and says, ‘Man…what do they call you, Gronk?’ Cole answered, ‘No…my friends call me Cole.’”

Call it an ‘aw-shucks’ moment. Call it a moment of unintentional comedy. But to have Kmet earn the comparison to former Patriots —and now, current Buccaneers— tight end Rob Gronkowski at an early age gave Archibald all the reason to think he had someone special on his team. It was his leadership skills, though, that cemented Kmet’s legacy in the East Suburban Catholic Conference— and beyond.

“He works hard, he is coachable and cares about everyone around him and always put the team first, Archibald said. “He will represent the franchise and the McCaskey family with the utmost integrity. The Bears made the right pick.”

[MORE: Cole Kmet as the “Wintrust Athlete of the Week” on High School Lites in 2016]

Kmet racked up 773 receiving yards on 48 catches with four touchdowns his senior year at Saint Viator. He was the No. 3-ranked player in Illinois according to several publications including, and 247Sports.

In South Bend, Kmet played all 13 games on the gridiron as a freshman while also spending time as a relief pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team.

After contributing 15 catches for 162 yards as a sophomore, he broke out his junior season. Kmet tallied 43 receptions for 515 receiving yards and six trips to the end zone.

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.


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

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.

[MORE: Derrick Rose Week podcast]

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.