Preps Talk

Simeon's Talen Horton-Tucker draws strong reviews despite getting cut at USA Basketball

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NBC Sports Chicago

Simeon's Talen Horton-Tucker draws strong reviews despite getting cut at USA Basketball

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Before Talen Horton-Tucker heads to Iowa State to start a promising college basketball career, the former Simeon star participated in the USA Basketball U18 national team tryouts in Colorado Springs.

One of 33 players in his age group vying for only 12 spots on the U18 national team, Horton-Tucker was cut from the competitive tryouts over the weekend. The 6-foot-4 Horton-Tucker won't be traveling to Canada to represent the United States this summer. But even though Horton-Tucker was cut from the team, he made a strong impression on many of the scouts and coaches in attendance.

Registering a startling 7-foot-1 wingspan and showing his unique versatility on the wing, Horton-Tucker showed flashes of strong play during his time at the tryout. USA Basketball is often searching for specific skills to fill out its roster, however, as Horton-Tucker was ultimately left off the team.

"He's one of the guys who stood out the most to me at USA in Colorado Springs," Mike Schmitz of ESPN's Draft Express said of Horton-Tucker.

"I think he's going to be an instant impact guy [at Iowa State] just because of his feel, his physicality. Obviously, he's long. I just think with his maturity and his ability to think the game with those physical tools, he'll have an impact, I would imagine, as a big-time starter right away."

"It's crazy. Just being able to do something like this before college, it's a blessing," Horton-Tucker said of his USA experience.

"Just seeing myself as a college basketball player. Competing against the best guys every day and just preparing myself for every situation."

Although Horton-Tucker drew some strong reviews for his play, there were also some things he'll need to work on before he arrives in Ames for freshman year.

The thin air of Colorado Springs can quickly make life difficult on participating players. This was something scouts noticed, in particular, with Horton-Tucker. Getting in even better shape for college is likely the next step for Horton-Tucker before he begins at Iowa State.

"I think he has to get himself in better shape. I think he weighted around 240 pounds. So, probably just trimming down 10-to-20 pounds," Schmitz said. "I was surprised though. I thought he was one of the better players there. Just trimming down, finishing around the rim a little better. And for a guy who can pass as well as he can, sometimes he has a tendency to just jack a quick three. So just picking his spots a little bit better."

During a busy few weeks of basketball in Chicago, Horton-Tucker has been putting in workouts all over town. A gym rat who can often be found watching basketball when others are working out — Schmitz said Horton-Tucker was watching NBA Draft workouts at UIC in May — Horton-Tucker is doing everything he can to improve his game. Sometimes, Horton-Tucker will work out at Simeon. During other times, he'll get a workout in with his uncle at anywhere an open gym can be found in Chicago.

Since the NBA offseason is also in full effect for most of the league, Horton-Tucker has worked out some with former Simeon star and Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker.

"I'm really close with Jabari. We just worked out. I was just at his house and we were playing in the city right before I left for here. It's always been great playing with guys like that," Horton-Tucker said.

Working out with a local legend like Parker gives Horton-Tucker a measuring stick for the next levels of basketball as he's hoping to come in and compete for heavy minutes right away at Iowa State.

"His steps were a lot bigger because he was the No. 1 player in the country and did all of these great things. He won two gold medals. But just being able to look up to somebody that I can call on a regular basis, giving me info on things I need to do to get better for college and the next level is big," Horton-Tucker said of Parker's influence.

Horton-Tucker is planning on getting to school later this summer as he continues to build a relationship with his fellow local Cyclone incoming freshmen — Corliss big man George Conditt and Hinsdale South wing Zion Griffin. The Chicagoland trio are all hoping to make an impact at Iowa State as early as next season as the Cyclones are trying to be more competitive in the always-loaded Big 12.

"They just want me to come in ready. They already think I'm ready to play college basketball skill-wise. But as my body gets better, and I mature more, things will come easier," Horton-Tucker said.

"Obviously everybody wants to start but just coming in and working is my focus."

As Horton-Tucker embarks on the next step of his basketball journey, he also can look back fondly at his memorable career at Simeon. Although he has a chip on his shoulder after not winning Mr. Basketball or a state title, Horton-Tucker has taken comfort in his legacy for being on one of the better Illinois high school teams of the past decade.

"I feel like I had the best senior year. Even though I didn't win a state championship, I won three city championships. I think I left a really good legacy at Simeon. I'm just happy for my teammates. I think there's like seven of us going to college [for basketball]," Horton-Tucker said.

"You know, even though we came up short we were still great."

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

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USA TODAY

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

Lincoln-Way East junior kicker Dominic Dzioban (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) added a recent scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio and has since given the Redhawks and head coach Chuck Martin his verbal commitment. 

"I just had a great visit on Saturday to Miami of Ohio and I was able to get every question I had about the school and the program answered on Saturday," Dzioban said. "When I was first offered by Miami (Ohio) I had no idea what they had to offer or what they are all about. Miami (Ohio) has a historic campus and they also offer an amazing education. It seems like every facility at Miami (Ohio) is brand new and Oxford is just a great small college town. Miami (Ohio) really offers everything I was looking for in a school and having a chance to go to Miami on a full scholarship is a huge opportunity I couldn't pass by at all."

Lake Forest sophomore linebacker Cal Uihlein (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) was able to add his first offer recently from the Wisconsin Badgers, and Uihlein also made a visit to the University of Wisconsin this past Saturday. 

"I had a great visit to Wisconsin on Saturday," Uihlein said. "It wasn't a usual recruiting type of visit, it was much more low key and I was able to just see everything behind the scenes including seeing the team scrimmage. I was able to get a good feel for the team and the coaches after the scrimmage. I was also able to talk with some of the coaches at Wisconsin including head coach Paul Chryst and linebacker coaches. Everyone at Wisconsin seems very excited about me and it was just good to get to know them a bit better. I was able to just basically see the stadium and I didn't get to see too much of the facilities or the campus. I'll definitely head back again to Wisconsin soon and see more of the school and the facilities and overall it was a great visit."

Warren Township junior three star ranked defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer from the University of Illinois last Saturday while on a visit to watch the Fighting Illini's spring game. 

"I was hoping that an offer (from Illinois) was coming but I still had no idea," Singleton Jr. said. "I know that Illinois is on the rise and have added some really strong players from my recruiting class. My Dad also went to Illinois and just telling him over the phone that Illinois had offered me was an amazing felling and experience."

Singleton Jr. also said that "Illinois is definitely on the top of the spectrum. My recruitment is open, but there are definitely one of the top schools because of how they went about things with me on the visit."

Bolingbrook sophomore safety Justin Walters (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) has also seen more and more schools take notice of him this spring. Walters is currently holding six FBS level offers and growing by the day. 

"I have six scholarship offers now," Walters said. "I have offers from Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Army, Iowa, Iowa State and now Minnesota. Minnesota is my latest offer and they offered me a few weeks ago."

Walters has also been hitting the road and visiting a few schools this spring and plans to see even more soon.

"I've made visits already to Iowa and Iowa St and Wisconsin. I also visited Northwestern awhile ago. I'm also planning to visit Michigan State sometime this spring."

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

It didn't take Wheaton North junior outside linebacker Xander Mueller (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) long to give the Northwestern coaching staff his verbal commitment today. Mueller — whose older brother (junior linebacker Erik Mueller) is already on the Wildcats roster — attended the Wildcats final spring practice today. He picked up a scholarship offer and then gave head coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment on the spot. 

"I didn't expect it (adding a Northwestern offer) and I was very surprised," Mueller said. "Northwestern is the place for me because of the incredible academics, the location, having my brother already on the team and the amazing coaching staff and football program. I'm super happy."

Mueller is the second in-state name for the Wildcats and the seventh known verbal commitment for the Northwestern Class of 2020. Mueller joins Lake Zurich tight end Hunter Welcing (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) as the Wildcats in state commitments so far in the 2020 class. 

Mueller was also the Wildcats second overall verbal commitment today as Groveport (Ohio) Madison three star ranked offensive guard TeRah Edwards (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) also committed to the Wildcats after today's final spring practice.