Preps Talk

Phillips Final Thoughts: Tuesday's IHSA Things to Know

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Phillips Final Thoughts: Tuesday's IHSA Things to Know

Tuesday lacked the major top-25 matchup we saw to open the season. There were still plenty of local IHSA storylines to keep tabs on, however, as Thanksgiving events continued.

Here's a look at some Tuesday storylines, and a brief look at three top-25 matchups on the schedule for Wednesday.

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.

THINGS TO KNOW FROM TUESDAY (11/26)

1. Fenwick junior Bryce Hopkins puts up huge game against Westinghouse

It didn't take long for Fenwick star junior forward Bryce Hopkins to make headlines this season. Following an opening-night win for the Friars, Hopkins added 44 points in an 87-74 Tuesday night win over Westinghouse.

The Louisville commit is clearly showing that he's a serious force to contend with this season -- and it's a big reason why Fenwick is in the preseason Preps Power Rankings despite being a rather young team. Hopkins has a rare combination of size and skill that is tough to contain at the high school level -- particularly if teams don't have frontcourt size. 

Fenwick gets a major test against Benet on Wednesday night, a defense that should at least have a proper scheme that Hopkins will have to attack.

2. No. 3 Bloom gets huge lift from new starter Christian Shumate in win over Thornwood

The addition of Plainfield East transfer Christian Shumate should make a major difference for the Blazing Trojans this season. The ultra-athletic wing gives Bloom yet another Division I-caliber weapon to use on a team that already had four returning Division I starters.

But for Shumate to get 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazing Trojans in a win over Thornwood is a great sign. It shows that a chemistry and trust is already starting to develop between the familiar starters and Shumate. The double-double also confirms that Shumate can more than hold his own if asked to take over in some games. 

I'm still interested to see who ultimately becomes the closer at the end of tight games for Bloom. Will it be a committee approach or will someone step up? That's an early-season storyline to follow when they play in close games.

3. Freshman Jabe Haith's buzzer-beater lifts Elgin Academy over Elgin

Perhaps our first buzzer-beater of the season! And a fun David-vs.-Goliath angle to boot.

Elgin Academy, with an enrollment of just over 100, toppled crosstown school Elgin, with an enrollment of over 2,500, with a 73-70 win in the Westminster Christian Thanksgiving event.

Freshman Jabe Haith is the hero for the Hilltoppers, as he not only buried the game-winning three-pointer, but he scored 13 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. Elgin Academy found itself down by 10 in the fourth quarter before clawing back for the win.

It's tough to project how Elgin Academy might fare after this. But Haith is certainly a freshman to monitor with a gutsy performance like that. And this is a potential program-changing win for a school that has a minimal basketball presence in the area.

 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR WEDNESDAY (11/27) 

No. 17 Homewood-Flossmoor at No. 8 Marian Catholic, 6:00 p.m.  -- Things really start to get interesting in the Chicago Heights Classic with this matchup of top-20 teams. Both teams are already 2-0 -- although H-F scraped by with a close one against Rich East on opening night. 

No. 11 Hillcrest at No. 3 Bloom, 6:30 p.m. -- Another awesome game as part of the Chicago Heights Classic. Bloom gets to face an intriguing Hillcrest team that features a lot of talented juniors. Can the Hawks prove that they can compete with the area's best this season? Looking forward to seeing how Julius Rollins and company battle the Blazing Trojans in an early-season, high-stakes game.

No. 20 Niles North at No. 15 DePaul Prep, 7:00 p.m. -- I haven't mentioned the annual Battle of the Bridge Thanksgiving event between hosts Lane and DePaul Prep but this will be a great one on the North side. DePaul Prep is starting mostly non-seniors, so I'm interested to see how they fare against an All-Area candidate in Niles North senior Aquan Smart. 

FINAL THOUGHT

What's the IHSA free-throw record for makes and highest percentage in one season? 

Because based on Glenbrook South senior Dom Martinelli's Harden-like production early this season we might need to keep an eye on this throughout the year. 

After 37 points and 18-for-19 free-throw shooting in a win on Monday over Uplift, Martinelli had another ridiculous game on Tuesday in a win over Zion-Benton. Martinelli went 18-for-18 from the free-throw line to finish with 29 points.

That makes Martinelli an absurd 36-for-37 from the free-throw line this season. The sheer number of makes, and the percentage, likely leads the state through two nights of the season.  

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 8

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NBC Sports Chicago

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 8

Check out our high school hoops highlights from some of the best games around the state, and be sure to follow @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest scores, highlights, and analysis

Windy City Legends: Jimmy Garoppolo

Athlete of the Week: Lincoln-Way West's Taylor Gugliuzza

Team of the Week: Hinsdale South boys basketball

Highlights: Oak Lawn 61, Richards 60

Highlights: No. 10 DePaul Prep 78, St. Laurence 57

Highlights: Deerfield 33, Highland Park 29

Highlights: No. 2 Evanston 49, New Trier 43

Midweek Mixtape: Zion-Benton 90, No. 2 Evanston 71

Highlights: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 64, Lincoln-Way East 43

Highlights: Austin 76, Prosser 43

Highlights: DeKalb 53, Naperville Central 51

Highlights: No. 24 Joliet West 59, West Aurora 54

Highlights: Simeon 88, No. 14 Morgan Park 86

Whitney Young's DJ Steward, Maine West's Angela Dugalic named to McDonald's All-American games

Whitney Young's D.J. Steward ends the Illinois McDonald's All-American drought

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NBC Sports Chicago

Whitney Young's D.J. Steward ends the Illinois McDonald's All-American drought

Whitney Young senior guard D.J. Steward became the latest Burger Boy from the Land of Lincoln with his selection into the game on Thursday afternoon. The Duke commit is the first Illinois boys basketball player to be selected for high school basketball's most prestigious game since Stevenson's Jalen Brunson in 2015.

Maine West girls basketball star and Oregon commit Angela Dugalic was selected for the girls McDonald's game. Illinois native and former Morgan Park standout Nimari Burnett was also selected for the boys game. Burnett helped the Mustangs to a Class 3A state title as a freshman before moving to California for his last three seasons of high school basketball at Prolific Prep. 

While Illinois will have multiple local storylines in both McDonald's game, the 6-foot-2 Steward being included on the boys team is a big deal for a number of reasons.

For starters, Illinois has been without a boys McDonald's All-American since 2015. From the game's debut in 1978 until 2009, Illinois had at least one McDonald's All-American every year. In the past 11 years, Illinois has been held out of the McDonald's six times -- including the past four classes. The talent drought has been noticeable over the past several years. 

More importantly, the McDonald's distinction caps off an already stellar high school basketball career for Steward. His accomplishments already include a state finals appearance and two All-Area selections (with a third almost assuredly coming later this season). 

Starting his career at Fenwick the first two seasons, Steward earned Catholic League Player of the Year honors as only a sophomore. Now dominating in the Public League this season, Steward could also own the unique distinction of being perhaps the best player in both the Chicago Catholic League AND Public League during his four-year high school career.

By making the McDonald's game, Steward also follows in the footsteps of other Whitney Young legends like Jahlil Okafor (2014) and Quentin Richardson (1998). Steward will now forever be linked to those two first-round NBA Draft picks for the rest of his career. The only thing missing from Steward's profile at this point is an elusive IHSA state title -- something the other two captured their senior season.

While Steward's selection into the McDonald's game is an important personal accomplishment, it's also huge for the rest of the local high school season. It's no secret that Illinois high school basketball has been starving for big-name talent. The buzz for the state tournament has continued to die down in recent seasons. 

Star power like Steward, and Illinois commit Adam Miller, should draw more casual interest in the local high school basketball season down the stretch. Steward making the McDonald's game makes him an even bigger draw locally for casual fans. It's likely Whitney Young will play in front of a lot of fans as they travel in the state tournament in-part because of Steward's high-profile career. 

There is still plenty of basketball to be played the rest of the 2019-20 season. Steward has time to add to his legacy as Whitney Young prepares to play for a city and state championship. Even if Steward falls short of some personal goals, he'll always be remembered among the state's greats now that he's playing in the McDonald's game.