Simeon is always loaded with talent. Wolverines coach Robert Smith regularly trots out starting lineups packed with high-major college players. It can be difficult for anyone that isn’t Derrick Rose or Jabari Parker to really stand out.
That has never been a problem for senior Evan Gilyard. He’s been a spark plug since his sophomore year and is the unquestioned leader of the season’s team.
“It’s his team,” Smith said. “I have the confidence in him to let him make decision.”
Gilyard, a UTEP recruit, has stepped up in crunch time in dozens of games over the past three seasons. He’s won two city titles and has a chance at the Class 4A state championship this weekend.
His leadership is the major factor the Wolverines are in Peoria. As talented as Simeon is this season, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 2014 team. But this year’s group is the one that advanced to the state finals.
“We play more as a team,” Gilyard said. “My sophomore year we were broken up in parts and people went to play hero ball. Now we just have teammates that want to play together.”
Gilyard joins Sun-Times Player of the Year Alonzo Verge, Jacobs’ Cameron Krutwig, Evanston’s Nojel Eastern and Edwardsville’s Mark Smith as First Team All-State selections.
Smith was this season’s breakout star. The 6-5 guard averaged 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Edwardsville. The Wolverines held him to just 12 points at the ISU Supersectional on Tuesday, but Gilyard was impressed.
“He’s a good basketball player,” Gilyard said. “He can shoot the ball, he can drive and he can feed his teammates. He’s an all-around player.”
Krutwig averaged 16 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and three assists. The Golden Eagles lost to Fremd in the supersectional on Tuesday, but the Loyola-bound big man has a permanent spot in IHSA history. Krutwig finished his career in the state’s top ten for career rebounds.
Eastern also fell short of Peoria, but he ended his high school career with two huge games. He had 29 points and 17 rebounds in the sectional win against Waukegan and 31 points, 10 rebounds and six steals in the Wildkits’ season-ending loss to Young on Tuesday.
2017 Chicago-Sun Times All-State basketball team
Player, School, Position, Height, Year
Nojel Eastern, Evanston, G, 6-6, Sr.
Evan Gilyard, Simeon, G, 5-10, Sr.
Cameron Krutwig, Jacobs, C, 6-9, Sr.
Mark Smith, Edwardsville, G, 6-5, Sr.
Alonzo Verge, Thornton, G, 6-3, Sr.
Nana Akenten, Bolingbrook, G, 6-6, Sr.
Elijah Joiner, Curie, G, 6-3, Sr.
EJ Liddell, Belleville West, F, 6-7 So.
Javon Pickett, Belleville East, G, 6-4, Sr.
Justin Smith, Stevenson, F, 6-7, Sr.
Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park, G, 6-3, Jr.
Tim Finke, Champaign Central, F, 6-6, Jr.
Marcus Garrett, Hillcrest, G, 6-1, Sr.
Coreyoun Rushin, Westinghouse, F, 6-6, Sr.
Kawanise Wilkins, Farragut, G, 6-5, Sr.
Thomas Bell, Cahokia, F, 6-5, Sr.
Armon Brummett, Decatur MacArthur, G, 6-4, Jr.
Brett Czerak, Aurora Central, G, 6-1, Sr.
Yaakema Rose, Lanphier, G, 5-9, Sr.
Zac Rzewnicki, Ridgewood, G, 6-4, Sr.
Taylor Bruninga, Illini Bluffs, F, 6-8, Sr.
Raekwon Drake, Orr, F, 6-5, Jr.
Justin Fox, Dwight, F, 6-5, Sr.
Demarius Jacobs, Uplift, G, 6-3, Sr.
Charles Payton, Stanford Olympia, F, 6-7, Sr.
Toraze Dobbs, Uplift, F, 6-5, Jr.
Jackson Marcotte, Mt. Carmel, C, 6-7, Jr.
Dannie Smith, Orr, F, 6-5, Jr.
Brandon Trimble, St. Joseph-Ogden, G, 6-3, Sr.
Gentry Whiteman, Rockridge, G, 5-11, Sr.
Garrett Belcher, Patoka, F, 6-7, Sr.
Jordan Doss, Hope Academy, G, 6-6, Sr.
Noah Frederking, Okawville, G, 6-4, Sr.
Drew Gibson, St. Anthony, G, 6-3, Sr.
Brennen Woods, Harvest Christian, G, 6-4, Sr.
Jered Cain, Patoka, G, 6-2, Sr.
Will Clausel, Newark, G, 6-4, Sr.
Tyler McCormick, Colfax Ridgeview, G, 5-10, Sr.
Cory Miller, Mendon Unity, G, 6-3, Sr.
Jake Wolfe, Aurora Christian, G, 6-4, Sr.