Preps Talk

New No. 1 in NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

New No. 1 in NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

The NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings have some massive changes this week. The Public League Playoffs and plenty of conference drama saw a lot of shakeups thanks to clashes between top-25 teams.

In the end, Bloom is back in the No. 1 spot while Public League Playoff champion Simeon climbs to the No. 3 spot after winning another city title under Rob Smith.

With the Class 3A and 4A IHSA State Playoffs closing in, we should start to get a feel for the postseason soon. 

1. Bloom (23-5, 12-1) (4) -- The Blazing Trojans ran past Crete-Monee for a big Southland win. Two games for Bloom this week in conference play when they play Rich East and Rich Central. With a deep starting rotation, Bloom has the most balance and consistent firepower of any team in the state.
2. Thornton (26-1, 13-1) (5) -- A light week for the Wildcats with a win over Rich East to keep pace with Bloom. Thornton faces Thornridge during the week in Southland play. Thornton has still only lost to No. 1 Bloom this season. 
3. Simeon (22-8, 7-2) (9) -- Impressive climb for the Wolverines who claim a city championship with wins over Kenwood, Curie and Morgan Park. Jeremiah Williams is staking a serious All-Area claim while junior Ahamad Bynum is a lethal scorer capable of taking over a game. Suddenly, Simeon is peaking at the right time entering the Class 4A playoffs.
4. Curie (24-2, 8-0) (1) -- The Condors lost to Simeon in the semifinals in their quest to repeat as city champions. It was Curie's first loss to an Illinois opponent this season. The Condors have an intriguing matchup against a ranked Oak Forest team on the schedule for next week. 
5. Morgan Park (19-9, 6-2) (12) -- Falling to rival Simeon in the Public League Playoff finals, the Mustangs ended a strong run that included a road win at Whitney Young and a win over Bogan this week. Adam Miller, Marcus Watson and Brandon Weston are a dangerous trio to contend with as they're starting to gel over the past few weeks.
6. Bogan (23-3, 8-1) (2) -- The Bengals lost to old Red-South rival Morgan Park in the Public League Playoff semifinals as they don't have a game on the schedule for this week. Bogan will still be a very tough out in Class 3A in a few weeks.
7. Evanston (24-3, 8-1) (7) -- Keeping pace with Glenbrook South with a win over Niles West, the Wildkits get their rematch hosting the Titans this week. Evanston's rematch with Glenbrook South will have major CSL South implications. The Wildkits will also play Kenwood during the week. 
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (22-3, 6-0) (8) -- Two Southwest Suburban Blue wins for the Vikings as they held off Lockport and Lincoln-Way East. It's a light week for Homewood-Flossmoor when they play at Sandburg in conference play.
9. Whitney Young (18-9, 8-1) (3) -- Losing to Morgan Park for the second time this season, Whitney Young fell in the Public League Playoff quarterfinals. But the Dolphins have won state titles in the past after losing in the city playoffs as the focus turns to Class 4A. Whitney Young has this week off from games.
10. Notre Dame (25-4, 7-1) (6) -- The Dons fell to Benet in ESCC play with a surprising road loss. Notre Dame will attempt to close out conference play with a win when they host Carmel next week. 
11. Marian Catholic (21-7, 7-1) (11) -- Marian Catholic stayed in the ESCC race with a quality win over St. Viator. The Spartans have a final conference game against Joliet Catholic this week. 
12. Stevenson (21-4, 10-1) (14) -- Stevenson claimed a season sweep with another tight win over Mundelein as they have control of the North Suburban. The Patriots also defeated Prospect and Lake Zurich during the week. Stevenson stays active this week with matchups against Waukegan, Warren and Benet. 
13. Glenbrook South (25-3, 9-0) (13) -- The Titans claimed two more wins thanks to a CSL South win over Maine South and a win over Highland Park. The conference is up for grabs when Glenbrook South travels to Evanston next week in a huge rematch. 
14. DePaul Prep (21-4, 11-2) (10) -- The Rams dropped a Catholic League Blue home game to Fenwick as they fall a few spots. DePaul Prep has another big week of conference play with Loyola and St. Ignatius on the schedule. 
15. Bolingbrook (23-5, 4-1) (17) -- Picking up two wins over Lincoln-Way East and Leo, the Raiders kept pace with H-F in conference play. Bolingbrook faces Lockport and Sandburg this week.
16.  Oak Forest (24-1, 12-0) (18) -- The Bengals had a close call on the road during the week with an overtime win at Lemont. Oak Forest has home games against Manteno and a major test against Curie next weekend. The game against the Condors will be Oak Forest's first game against a ranked team all season.  
17. Joliet West (23-4, 14-0) (20) -- Earning a double-digit win over rival Joliet Central, the Tigers are still undefeated in Southwest Prairie league play. Joliet West takes the road to face Plainfield South during the week.
18. Mundelein (23-4, 9-2) (15) -- Losing a close North Suburban game to Stevenson, the Mustangs got swept by the Patriots in the season series. Mundelein bounced back with a blowout win over Elgin and also beat Zion-Benton during the week. Mundelein will host Libertyville and Lake Zurich this week.
19. Fenwick (22-6, 11-2) (19) -- The Friars dropped a Catholic League Blue game to St. Ignatius but bounced back with a strong road win at DePaul Prep and win over Yorkville Christian. Fenwick is more balanced than given credit for and is much-improved defensively since the start of the season. The Friars battle St. Joseph and Loyola during a busy week.
20. Loyola (24-4, 12-1) (16) -- Dropping a Catholic League game for the first time this season against Brother Rice, the Ramblers fall a few spots. Loyola shut down Providence the next game to stay atop the league standings. Huge week ahead for the Ramblers with games against DePaul Prep and Fenwick.
21. Orr (17-7, 7-2) (NR) -- The Spartans lost by a point to Curie in the Public League Playoff quarterfinals. Orr has this week off from games as they remain a Class 2A favorite when the IHSA Playoffs tip.
22. York (25-3, 9-1) (23) -- Solid week for the Dukes with West Suburban Silver wins over Downers North and OPRF. York plays two more conference games this week when they face Proviso West and Hinsdale Central. 
23. Niles North (24-4, 9-0) (24) -- Three double-digit wins for the Vikings as they stayed undefeated in the CSL North with a good win over Highland Park. Niles North heads to Maine East for a game this week.
24. Cary-Grove (25-3, 15-1) (25) -- The Trojans won two in the Fox Valley with a blowout win over McHenry and solid win over Hampshire. This will prove to be an interesting week for Cary-Grove when they face Schaumburg. 
25. Benet (20-8, 6-2) (NR) -- Back in the Power Rankings for the first time since December, Benet is back in following a win over Notre Dame and strong loss to nationally-ranked La Lumiere. Senior Colin Crothers is one of the area's most productive centers and the high-IQ perimeter of the Redwings gives them a chance against anybody.

Former coach at LaSalle-Peru, Joliet West takes head coaching job at UIC

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USA Today

Former coach at LaSalle-Peru, Joliet West takes head coaching job at UIC

UIC hired its next head coach this week as Luke Yaklich returns home to Illinois to take over the Flames.

There's a lot to like about the 43-year-old Yaklich when it comes to this hire for UIC. A native of Illinois who spent time here as a high school coach at LaSalle-Peru and Joliet West, Yaklich's basketball journey makes him the perfect candidate for UIC at this particular point in time.

Being familiar with the area as a former high school coach and assistant coach at Illinois State will certainly help with recruiting and other facets of the job. But it's Yaklich's ability to take UIC to the next level defensively that makes him the perfect hire.

Yaklich turned into a star assistant coach over the past four seasons. He was often utilized as a defensive coordinator at his various stops. Going from Illinois State, to Michigan, to Texas over the past four seasons, Yaklich was responsible for four consecutive top-25 defenses, according to KenPom.

Although Steve McClain won at least 16 games in each of the past four seasons, the Flames could never reach their ultimate goal of the NCAA tournament. UIC hasn't reached March Madness since 2004. The past four seasons, UIC's best defensive team was only No. 107 in the country. 

McClain's teams had plenty of scoring pop and talent. Getting crucial stops could be difficult for the Flames.

While it may take some time for UIC to jump into the nation's top 50 in defensive efficiency, Yaklich has a successful defensive track record at the mid- and high-major levels.

Illinois State's dominant defense in 2016-17 was No. 19 in the country as the Redbirds just missed the NCAA tournament. Yaklich was then hired away to Michigan. In Ann Arbor, Yaklich helped an offensive-minded program under John Beilein become elite defensively.

The Wolverines advanced to the national title game and Sweet 16 in Yaklich's two seasons. Michigan had the No. 3 defense and No. 2 defense, respectively. 

At Texas, the Longhorns maintained the No. 24 defense in the country this season despite a talent drain that saw freshman center Jaxson Hayes leave for the NBA Draft to be picked in the top ten by the New Orleans Pelicans. 

UIC will need to figure out some other areas if they are to make it back to the NCAA tournament. Yaklich will need to hire a staff familiar with the local recruiting landscape. A sound offensive mind or two wouldn't hurt either.

But the defensive pedigree and player development track record has been there for Yaklich at multiple stops over the past four seasons. Now with a chance to run his own program, Yaklich is an exciting hire for UIC during an offseason in which college basketball's coach carousel isn't seeing a lot of movement. 

Edgy Tim's Recruiting News and Notes

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USA Today

Edgy Tim's Recruiting News and Notes

Oak Park-River Forest junior three star-ranked ATH Jaden McGill (6-foot-0. 185 pounds) added an offer last week from one of his team schools when Michigan State extended him a scholarship offer. 

"The offer from them (Michigan State) means a lot," McGill said. "When I was younger they were a school that me and my friends would always dream about playing for."

McGill was set to make a spring  visit to Michigan State before the Coronavirus pandemic struck and is hoping to make up that planned visit later this spring or early this summer. 

McGill is now holding scholarship offers from Michigan State, Kansas State, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo, Toledo and Kent State.

Oswego junior three star-ranked offensive tackle Otto Hess (6-foot-7, 285 pounds) was able to add his latest offer earlier this week from Arizona. 

"The offer from Arizona is great," Hess said. "It was pretty much unexpected but great since I've always wanted to play and go to school out West."

Hess, who also added an offer from the University of Illinois on Tuesday night, discussed his thoughts from adding an offer from the Arizona Wildcats. 

"I know that Arizona has a great business school. Coach (Kevin) Sumlin has accomplished some great things in his career. I had some limited contact with Arizona but it hasn't been a crazy amount of attention that made me feel like an offer was coming right away."

Marist sophomore offensive tackle recruit Danny "Deuce" McGuire (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer on Tuesday from Michigan State. 

"I was surprised to get an offer from Michigan State," McGuire said. "I have had a few Michigan State coaches following me on Twitter for a week or so but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary."

McGuire, who is now holding early scholarship offers from Michigan State along with Illinois and Western Michigan is well aware of the Spartans program. 

"Michigan State is one of the top programs in the Big 10 conference. They also send a lot of offensive linemen to the NFL and they have a lot of new coaches from Colorado."

McGuire is now waiting and hoping to make college visits later this spring or early this summer, depending upon when the Corona virus pandemic comes to an end. 

"I'm just hoping that this all gets resolved soon and we can get back to school and hopefully I'll get a chance to visit some colleges in person again soon."

Ottawa Marquette junior tight end recruit Victor Mullen (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) is a name on the rise this early spring. Mullen, who is holding early scholarship offers from Iowa State, Central Florida, Louisville, Appalachian State and Central Michigan has been trying to stay busy during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. 

"It's been boring so far,"Mullen said. "I have a workout program I got from my trainer and I'm working out along with just watching TV. We started online classes and it's been going well so far."

Mullen has also remained in contact with several college coaches during the NCAA mandated dead period.

"I've stayed in touch with all of the schools who have offered me like Iowa State, Louisville, Appalachian State, Central Michigan and Central Florida. I was planning to make spring visits to Miami of Ohio, Illinois, Toledo and Bowling Green but those have all been canceled. I'm hoping to get back to visit those schools later this spring but for now who knows. I've made visits already to Iowa State, Louisville, Appalachian State, Central Michigan plus Toledo and Iowa."