Preps Talk

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 5 Evanston

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NBC Sports Chicago

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 5 Evanston

Evanston

2017-18 record: 27-6, 8-2 in Central Suburban South

Postseason results: Finished in third place in Class 4A.

Players to watch: Senior guards Lance Jones, Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost all return and give the Wildkits one of the best perimeter groups in the state. Jones is committed to Southern Illinois while Holden is a big-time scorer. Bost is the underrated member of the trio who makes a lot of winning plays. Sophomore Blake Peters is also back after acting as one of the team's premier perimeter options a season ago. 

Why they're in the power rankings: On a team with mostly non-seniors last season, the Wildkits exceeded expectations by making a run to Peoria. Now, with a team loaded with perimeter firepower, Evanston is hoping for another potential deep run in Class 4A. Finding stability on the interior will be a key for this team.

Did you know? Evanston was a state finals qualifier for the 11th time last season as the Wildkits are one of the most tradition-rich programs in the state.

 

High School Lites Preview: Week 13

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

High School Lites Preview: Week 13

High School Lites has a lot of playoff action and the final week of the boys basketball regular season on this week's show. The girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals will be aired on NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago + during Friday as we'll have highlights on the show.

The girls basketball Class 4A sectional finals will be represented as well, and we'll also have plenty of boys basketball coverage. We'll feature multiple Class 2A regional finals while also hitting some regular season games to close out the season.

Girls Basketball Class 1A and 2A State Semifinals

1A: Eastland vs. Shiloh Coop, 11 a.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- A pair of strong teams matchup here in the opening semifinal. Eastland (30-4) has won 16 straight as junior guard Erin Henze is their playmaker. Shiloh Coop (29-4) has a sophomore to watch in Tayler Berry as they've won 12 straight in this one. 

1A: Lewistown vs. Danville Schlarman, 12:45 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Defending Class 1A champion Schlarman takes the floor against another 30-win opponent in the second semifinal. Schlarman (31-2) is led by Notre Dame commit and senior Anaya Peoples as she's averaging 20.1 points per game. Lewistown (31-1) is making its second appearance at state as junior Anna Heffren leads the charge.   

2A: Marshall vs. Hillsboro, 5:30 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago + -- Defending Class 2A champion Marshall defends its title in the first Class 2A semifinal. The Commandos (25-8) are making their third straight trip to state under legendary head coach Dorothy Gaters as senior Brandi Hudson is having a strong season. Hillsboro (29-5) is making a second state appearance (2006) as senior and prolific scorer Sammi Matoush was the leading vote-getter for the Class 2A all-state team.  

2A: St. Joseph-Ogden vs. Teutopolis, 7:15 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago + -- Two more strong teams play in this one. Teutopolis (32-4) is back at state for the second straight year after falling to Marshall in double overtime last season. The Lady Shoes are a balanced team led in scoring by sophomore guard Lexie Niebrugge. St. Joseph-Ogden (28-4) counters with senior guard Bree Trimble as they've won 15 in a row.

Girls Basketball Class 3A and 4A Sectional Finals

4A Sectional: Maine West at Evanston, 7:00 p.m. -- Unbeaten Maine West tries to advance past a tough No. 3 seed. The Warriors (31-0) have been one of the state's best teams this season as junior Angela Dugalic just passed the 1,000-point mark. Evanston (24-7) knocked off No. 2 seed Loyola earlier in the week as they've won six straight games. These two teams met during Thanksgiving time with Maine West winning 58-34. 

4A Sectional: Mother McAuley vs. Homewood-Flossmoor (Thurs) -- Can upset-minded Homewood-Flossmoor keep its great run alive against top-seeded Mother McAuley? The Vikings (21-8) were the No. 6 seed as they've upset No. 3 seed Marist and No. 2 seed Thornwood along the way. Mother McAuley (32-2) has a 14-game winning streak, as they dismantled No. 5 seed Lincoln-Way West in the previous round.

Boys Basketball Regular Season

Eisenhower at Shepard, 7:00 p.m. -- Two South Suburban Red teams face in this game. Eisenhower (17-10, 6-6) has played back-to-back overtime games against Oak Lawn and Schurz -- splitting a loss and a win, respectively. Shepard (20-7, 7-5) has won 10 of their last 11 as they've been one of the hotter teams in the area recently. 

Payton at St. Joseph, 7:00 p.m. -- A non-conference clash as both teams prepare for the playoffs. Payton (16-10) tied for the best mark in the White-North as the Grizzlies have played a tough schedule. St. Joseph (12-18) has been playing well down the stretch with wins over Boylan, Fenwick and De La Salle in the last few weeks.

Granite City at Belleville West, 7:30 p.m. -- We get a glimpse of a St. Louis-metro area power and the defending Class 4A champions in this one. Belleville West (26-4) is coming off of a close loss to Alton as senior E.J. Liddell is an Ohio State commit and the reigning Mr. Basketball in Illinois. Granite City (14-14) has dropped two straight entering this one as they try to hang with one of the state's best.

Boys Basketball Class 2A Regional Finals

Chicago Christian Regional: Harlan vs. Corliss -- A matchup of Public League Red-South/Central foes for a regional title in this one. Harlan (8-20) went 0-9 in league play before knocking off Julian and stunning 20-win Chicago Christian in the regional semifinals. Corliss (16-8) knocked off Harlan during conference play with a double-digit win on Jan. 10 as the Trojans are a sleeper to make a run.  

Orr Regional: Orr vs. Clark -- The back-to-back defending Class 2A champion Spartans host a regional title. Clark (16-10) was one of the Public League White-West's best teams this season as they lost to Orr in the Public League Playoffs. Orr (20-11) appears to be peaking at the right time as they're led by Greg Outlaw and Sharif Kenney. 

Timothy Christian Regional: Timothy Christian vs. St. Edward -- A pair of familiar Metro Suburban Red teams battle here. St. Edward (14-17) split the season series against Timothy Christian as they knocked off IC Catholic earlier this week. Timothy Christian (19-10) has won five of their last six games, including a blowout win over St. Edward on February 12. 

Northridge Prep Regional: Aurora Christian vs. Northridge Prep -- A pair of 20-win teams battle in this one. Aurora Christian (24-7) is led by junior Will Wolfe as he's a Division I prospect who can take over a game. Northridge Prep (21-9) has won six of their last seven as they're entering this game on a bit of a hot streak.

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Dunbar Regional: Dunbar vs. Phoenix -- Two Public League teams face here. Dunbar (19-5) had a strong season in the White-Central as they're coming off a Public League Playoff loss to Bogan recently. Phoenix (18-6) tied for the league's best mark in the Blue-West as they scored a tight win over No. 4 seed Wells in the regional semifinals.

Edgy Tim recruiting news and notes: Rolling Meadows linebacker Nate Pedraza verbally commits to Ball State

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USA TODAY

Edgy Tim recruiting news and notes: Rolling Meadows linebacker Nate Pedraza verbally commits to Ball State

Rolling Meadows junior outside linebacker/defensive end recruit Nate Pedraza (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) made a Presidents Day visit to Ball State. He later announced that he was giving the Cardinals his verbal commitment. 

"Once I was able to walk onto campus, I knew that Ball State was a pretty special place," Pedraza said. "I had such a great visit on Monday and after talking it over with my coaches and my family I decided to commit to Ball State."

Pedraza filled us in on why he decided to play football in Muncie.

"I just felt at home at Ball State and just fit in so well on my visit. Ball State has a lot to offer. But the main reason for me committing is that I just feel comfortable and at home there. From the coaching staff to the campus, the surrounding area and also from the academics side, everything is just a great fit for me at Ball State."

Homewood-Flossmoor junior offensive guard recruit Marcus Harper II (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) has seen his overall recruiting stock trend upward in February. Harper II was able to add eight FBS-level scholarship offers, four of which came on Friday.

"I had an amazing week and quite the day last Friday," Harper II said. "I was able to add offers last week from Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, Duke, Nebraska, Bowling Green, Boston College and NIU. On Friday alone I added offers from Oregon, Illinois, Indiana and Duke."

Harper II admitted that he was still trying to get his head around adding some many offers in a short amount of time.

"It really hasn't all set in yet to be honest. It just seemed like one offer would come in and then I would have a text or a DM from another school wanting me to call them. Friday was just crazy and I added three of my four offers that day in like a two hour span. Duke was the first school to offer me early on Friday morning and then I started getting text and DM's from the other schools and I would call back those coaches and they all offered."

Marist junior four star-ranked wide receiver Jadon Thompson (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) announced his top six schools back in December (Illinois/Purdue/Michigan/Missouri/Michigan State/Minnesota); however, he stated that he's already "rethinking" that list. 

"I released a top six schools list back in December and at the time that was a solid list for me," Thompson said. "Yet I've also added some really good offers from great schools and I'm definitely revisiting that top schools list these days."

Thompson is also planning to make some on campus unofficial visits soon. 

"I'm planning to get down to LSU sometime in March for a visit. I would also like to visit Penn State, Kansas State and Michigan State this spring but I don't have any other dates set yet. I'm also considering whether I'll take any spring official visits. I might take one in the spring and then take more official visits during the season but I haven't sorted that out yet."

Curie junior three star-ranked offensive tackle recruit Kevo Wesley (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) has also seen his recruiting stock take off so far this winter. Wesley, who finished his first season of organized football last fall, currently holds 16 FBS-level scholarship offers. The two latest ones come from a pair of Big Ten schools in Rutgers and Iowa. Wesley, who played basketball at Curie up until this winter, looked back at his 2018 season and discussed his transition from playing basketball to football.

"It was a big transition at first and the overall speed of the game was the hardest thing to get used to for me," Wesley said. "Once we got to around Week 5-6 the game definitely started to slow down and it started to come easier to me. I'm just working hard on getting back in the weight room and I just want to keep learning and knowing the game better this off season."