Preps Talk

Phillips Final Thoughts: Monday's IHSA Basketball Things to Know

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Phillips Final Thoughts: Monday's IHSA Basketball Things to Know

The IHSA high school boys basketball season tipped off on Monday. 

While the calendar this time of year is generally filled with underwhelming Thanksgiving events -- or teams opting not to play at all -- Monday saw the area's top two teams face off as No. 1 Morgan Park outlasted No. 2 Whitney Young with a 61-59 win.

We have more on that game, and some more things to keep an eye on, as we get into more Thanksgiving tournament action on Tuesday. 

If you have scores, stories, highlights or updates, don't be shy to hit us up on Twitter @NBCSPreps or @Phillipshoops. Coaches, players, ADs, parents and fans are also encouraged to email me (phillipshoops@gmail.com) with any stories we should be tracking this season. 

Be sure to catch High School Lites this Saturday at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago as we'll have highlights and reactions from the eight football state title games as well as some basketball happenings from the first week of the season. 

THREE THINGS TO KNOW FROM MONDAY (11/25)

1. Brandon Weston gives Morgan Park another potential star

While Monday's matchup of Public League superpowers had plenty of subplots, the emergence of Mustangs junior Brandon Weston was the major takeaway from Morgan Park's win over Whitney Young.

I have much more on Weston's journey from missing all of last season to opening eyes in his Public League debut here.  

2. No. 17 Homewood-Flossmoor survives scare from Rich East

Coming off of a sectional title last season, it was tough to project the Vikings this season. Senior RJ Ogom returned in the frontcourt. He's a Division I signee who blossomed into a go-to player this summer. And H-F wasn't the type of team to rely on any one star to be a top-25 presence last season. This is a program that generally has many talented pieces at their disposal.

But uncertainty looms about some of the Homewood-Flossmoor rotation compared to some others in the preseason Preps Power Rankings. That showed Monday night at the Chicago Heights Classic as H-F needed double overtime, and foul trouble from Rich East, to escape with a 69-63 double overtime win.

This could be a case of early-season jitters and the Vikings trying to find themselves with many new faces. It's also certainly feasible that the Rockets are also a sleeper team for this season. I saw Rich East give Bloom some trouble last season on the road as they were a scrappy team with a handful of promising players. 

One thing is for sure: the Chicago Heights Classic is the area's best Thanksgiving event by a mile this week. I'll be checking out the event's final day of action on Friday.

  

3. Glenbrook South senior Dom Martinelli states his early case

Admittedly, I was aggressive in ranking Glenbrook South this preseason. The Titans lost a lot of senior firepower from last season's breakthrough season.

But Glenbrook South returned leading scorer and senior star Dom Martinelli. That was good enough for me to rank the Titans this preseason.

Martinelli started his sleeper Player of the Year campaign Monday with a blistering 37 points as the Titans outlasted Uplift at Buffalo Grove. As long as he stays healthy, this will likely be the first of many big games from Martinelli this season. There just aren't many at the local high school level who can pour it in like the senior wing forward can.

Again, college coaches, what more do you need to see out of this guy? It's not like the Dukes and Kentuckys of the world should be keeping track of Martinelli. But he's a bonafide stud at this level and the type of gym rat who will figure it out as a scholarship player at the next level. Division II and low-major Division I programs beware. 

  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR TUESDAY (11/26)

Rich East at No. 8 Marian Catholic, 6:30 p.m. -- We get to see if Rich East is for real as they battle another top-25 team to begin the season. It'll also be nice to see Ahron Ulis and company get a better test on Tuesday after an easy win over Rich Central on Monday. 

No. 22 Glenbrook South vs. Zion-Benton (at Buffalo Grove) 6:00 p.m. --  The individual matchup between the Titans's Martinelli and Zion-Benton stud junior Amar Augillard should be a good one. Both have a shot at 30-point games in this one. It's also another chance for Glenbrook South to establish themselves as a credible top-25 team.

Westinghouse at No. 16 Fenwick, 7 p.m. -- An enticing matchup in Oak Park. The Friars are young -- led by standout junior and Louisville commit Bryce Hopkins and sophomore lead guard Trey Pettigrew. But they are talented enough to make some serious noise in the area this season. Westinghouse is coming off of a shocking loss to Benet in which the Redwings were without all-conference senior center Colin Crothers. For a team that some had in the preseason top-25 mix, not the start Westinghouse was looking for. Can the Warriors bounce back against another tough opponent? 

FINAL THOUGHT

Don't sleep on Whitney Young. 

The talk of Tuesday is going to center around Morgan Park and Brandon Weston stepping up to give the Mustangs the season-opening win.

It would also be very silly to forget about the Dolphins and what they're capable of. Senior DJ Steward showed supreme skill and toughness playing through a bloody lip to deliver 20 points while also contributing all over the box score.

Inconsistent at times this spring and summer, senior Tyler Beard had some eye-opening stretches, including the end of the third quarter that saw him throw down a big dunk and bury a buzzer-beating three-pointer. And transfer guard Jaeshawn Thomas proved he belonged in the Public League while looking like a tough third guard to contend with.

Whitney Young might have lost this season-opening clash, but they're still arguably the best Class 4A team in the state this season. 

IHSA moves football, boys soccer and girls volleyball to Spring 2021

IHSA moves football, boys soccer and girls volleyball to Spring 2021

February football will not just be limited to the Super Bowl. It’ll be coming to many Illinois high school football fields in 2021.

The IHSA Board announced Wednesday that the 2020-2021 sports calendar will be significantly altered, with football, boys soccer and girls volleyball moving to the Spring 2021 season, in conjunction with Governor J.B. Pritzker's guidelines on COVID-19 safety protocol.

Boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming and diving will play this fall. The season gets underway Aug. 10.

The winter sports schedule, which begins Nov. 16 and runs to Feb. 13, includes boys and girls basketball, wrestling, boys swimming and diving, competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics. Contests can begin on Nov. 30.

In spring season, which begins Feb. 15, football, boys soccer, girls volleyball, girls badminton, boys gymnastics and boys and girls water polo. Contests begin Mar. 1

The summer sports season, which starts May 3 and goes to June 26, includes baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, boys and girls lacrosse and boys tennis. Contests begin May 17.

“I applaud our Board of Directors for choosing a model that allows every student-athlete the opportunity for a modified season,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid. Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first.”

Pritzker announced a series of restrictions on high school sports, travel clubs, park district leagues and other adult recreational sports programs earlier this afternoon.

The guidelines, which go into effect on Aug. 15, will place sports into three risk levels: low, medium and high based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during practices and game competition.

Lower-risk sports include badminton, baseball (if players can be at least six feet apart in dugouts or in bleachers; otherwise considered medium-risk), bass fishing (if room on boat permits social distancing), bowling, cross country (if teams are limited), golf, gymnastics, softball (same rules as baseball), swimming and diving (single lanes/single diving, no relays; otherwise it’s medium-risk), tennis and track and field (if delayed starts, every other lane and cleaning of equipment between usage otherwise medium-rosh).

Medium-risk sports include basketball, flag football/7-on-7 football, soccer, volleyball, water polo and wheelchair basketball.

High-risk sports include competitive cheerleading, competitive dance, football, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling.

In tandem with those guidelines, the measures also dictate four additional levels by which these sports can be played based on current public health statue, with level 1 allowing only no-contact outdoor practices and level 2 allowing intra-team scrimmages (but not competitive play). In level 3, intra-conference and intra-league play is allowed, with the possibility of state championship games for low-risk sports. Level 4 is with the least amount of restrictions, where inter-conference and interstate competition can occur, along with the other state championship games.

Lower risk sports are currently allowed to play in the first three levels, medium-risk sports are allowed to play in the first two levels and the high-risk sports are first-level only.

The 2019-20 IHSA calendar was thrust into uncertainty back on March 12 when the 1A and 2A boys basketball state finals were called off, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was soon followed by the cancellation of the 3A and 4A boys hoops and the rest of the IHSA spring sports calendar.

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.

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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.