Preps Talk

Top 50 High School Basketball Players to Watch in Illinois

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Top 50 High School Basketball Players to Watch in Illinois

There isn't a bonafide superstar in the Chicagoland area entering the 2015-16 high school basketball season but there are still plenty of talented players you should be aware of. With the season starting in Illinois this week, here is a list of 50 local players you need to watch play during some point this season.

Seniors

Mike Ballard, Guard, Fenwick

Bryce Barnes, Guard, Bogan

Barret Benson, Center, Hinsdale South (Northwestern)

Micah Bradford, Guard, Bradley-Bourbonnais (Valparaiso)

Jamal Burton, Guard, Morgan Park

Jacob Cushing, Forward, Neuqua Valley (Cal Poly)

Chris Duff, Guard, Carmel (Western Illinois)

Lorenzo Edwards, Forward, Lake Forest

Devin Gage, Guard, Curie (DePaul)

James Gordon, Forward, Simeon (Toledo)

Elyjah Goss, Forward, Plainfield East (IUPUI)

Rodney Herenton, Guard, Stevenson

Evan Hines, Guard, Niles West

Zach Hollywood, Center, Bradley-Bourbonnais (James Madison)

Daniko Jackson, Guard, Riverside-Brookfield

Brandon Johnson, Forward, TF South (Western Michigan)

James Jones, Guard, Bogan (Buffalo)

Kevin Krieger, Forward, Plainfield North

Jon Marotta, Center, Lincoln-Way West

Charlie Moore, Guard, Morgan Park (Memphis)

Zion Morgan, Guard, Kenwood

Zach Norvell, Guard, Simeon (Gonzaga)

Justin Pierce, Forward, Glenbard West (William & Mary)

Nick Rakocevic, Center, St. Joseph

Jarrin Randall, Guard, Morgan Park (Western Michigan)

Nick Robinson, Forward, Kenwood (Indiana State)

Matty Smith, Guard, South Elgin (Central Michigan)

Mike Smith, Guard, Fenwick

Josh Thomas, Guard, Simeon

Antonio Williams, Guard, Proviso East

Chris Williams, Guard, St. Rita

[POWER RANKINGS: No. 1 Morgan Park]

Juniors

Nana Akenton, Forward, Bolingbrook

Denis Alibegovic, Guard, Downers South

Trevian Bell, Forward, Joliet West

Craig Beaudion, Guard, Whitney Young

Tai Bibbs, Guard, West Chicago

Tyler Chisom, Forward, Proviso East

TJ Clifford, Forward, Downers South

Nojel Eastern, Guard, Evanston

Evan Gilyard, Guard, Simeon

Demarius Jacobs, Guard, Uplift

Elijah Joiner, Guard, Curie

Cameron Krutwig, Jacobs

Christian Negron, Forward, Larkin

Manny Patterson, Center, Kenwood

Justin Smith, Forward, Stevenson

[POWER RANKINGS: No. 2 Simeon]

Sophomores

Chase Adams, Guard, Marian Catholic

Xavier Castenada, Guard, Whitney Young

Camron Donatlan, Guard, West Aurora

Raekwon Drake, Guard, Orr

Rolling Meadows' Max Christie on the verge of national breakout

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USA TODAY

Rolling Meadows' Max Christie on the verge of national breakout

EMERSON, Ga. -- Rolling Meadows rising sophomore guard Max Christie is having a strong spring and summer on the grassroots circuit as he's emerged as one of the area's newest breakout stars.
 
At 6-foot-5 with an ability to play both on and off the ball, Christie is a versatile perimeter player who can be either a big point guard or a smooth wing. Even though he's only finished one year of high school, Christie already has earned some major college scholarship offers as Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Loyola, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin have all been involved. Playing up an age group with the Illinois Wolves U16 team, Christie is starting to generate a lot of buzz among college coaches and national scouts.
 
"I think I've played well. I've been growing. I have a huge target on my back. So I'm just confident and humble and playing my game," Christie said. "College coaches are coming in everywhere, but I'm just playing my game and not worrying about them. I'm just having fun."
 
Christie is coming off of a positive freshman season at Rolling Meadows in which he had some big games as a freshman while playing on varsity. Although Christie is still very skinny and trying to add strength, he has started to adjust to opponents trying to play physical against him. As he starts to get older, Christie is adjusting to how certain opponents will handle him.
 
"On the court, it's physical. So I have to get used to that. I have encouraging teammates so that's good for me. But everybody is double-teaming me and face-guarding me, so I just have to use screens and everything," Christie said.
 
"I've been in the weight room working. The strength is there. I'm always using it against other teams. I just have to get used to it. I feel like [the physicality] is not as much of a factor as I get stronger."
 
Christie will be one of the marked men in the area this season as he'll draw a lot of attention at Rolling Meadows. He has the potential to be an all-area player. With multiple high-major scholarship offers and national recruiting profiles, Christie is just trying to maintain his focus on staying a versatile player. Playing both on and off the ball, Christie is trying to improve the consistency on his perimeter jumper while also trying to grow his basketball IQ.
 
"Both of them are fine. Off the ball, I like to set screens and get teammates open. I like to get open. On the ball, I like to create, passes, all that stuff," Christie said. "So I'm just trying to make plays, get my teammates open, set better screens."
 
"Leadership is something I need to work on, so it's something I need to accept for this season. So, since I've built this reputation, I'm trying to be more of a leader and encourage. Just being a better teammate."
 
Christie averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a freshman at Rolling Meadows, as he has the ability to put up monster numbers as a sophomore. Underclass players don't typically compete for awards in the Chicagoland area, but Christie is a potentially special talent at the high school level as he attempts to ascend into a national-level recruit. 

37 Days to Kickoff: Schaumburg

37 Days to Kickoff: Schaumburg

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Schaumburg

Head coach: Mark Stilling

Assistant coaches: Anthony Belmont, Fran Cassidy, Adam Strauch, Nick Torresso, Nick Anselmo, Juwaan Richard, Leo Clark, Joe Kowalski, Chris Rafah, Jake Hughes, Justin Teschner and John Fidler

How they fared in 2017: 5-5 (2-3 Mid-Suburban West Conference). Schaumburg made the Class 8A state playoff field and lost to Lake Zurich in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ St. Charles North
Sept. 1 @ Wheeling
Sept. 7 @ Niles North
Sept. 14 vs Highland Park
Sept. 21 vs Hoffman Estates
Sept. 28 vs Conant
Oct. 5 @ Palatine
Oct. 12 vs Barrington
Oct. 19 @ Fremd

Biggest storyline: After three seasons of hovering around the .500 mark, are the Saxons ready to make a strong run to win the Mid-Suburban West in 2018?

Names to watch this season: WR/DB Heze Trotter and RB Mike Digiola

Biggest holes to fill: The Saxons will need to replace four starting offensive linemen lost to graduation from last season.

EDGY's Early Take: The Saxons will welcome back several returning starters (especially in the offensive skills department) from last year's state playoff team (five offense, seven defense) and could very well be the conference's most experienced team this fall. If the Saxons can find some answers up front on the offensive line they have a very good shot at getting back to the 8A state playoffs along with challenging for a conference title this season.