Michael O’Brien’s notebook: Mar. 31, 2017

Morgan Park's Ayo Dosunmu (11) watches his team play with out him. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

The drought is real. For the second consecutive year Illinois didn’t have a player selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game. That’s incredibly rare. The state had been a reliable producer of elite talent for each of the game’s 40 years before the recent down spell.

So when will it end? Here’s a look at some of the players that could become burger boys.

CLASS OF 2018: Morgan Park junior Ayo Dosunmu has a good chance. Earning a spot in the game is as much about pedigree as it is junior summer and senior year performance. Dosunmu has been a notable name around the country for a solid year now. He’s ranked No. 21 by Scout, No. 22 by Rivals, and No. 40 by ESPN.

Dosunmu bruised his foot in the Class 3A state semifinals two weeks ago, that injury was expected to sideline him for four to six weeks. But Mustangs coach Nick Irvin now expects him back sometime next week.

CLASS OF 2019: The highest nationally-ranked local player is Uplift sophomore Markese Jacobs. He’s No. 50 in Rivals and No. 53 in Scout. A lot of that is due to his commitment to Kansas. Jacobs had a decent but not sensational sophomore season. He will need to show a lot of improvement over the spring and summer to rise to McDonald’s All-American status.

The state’s best chance at a burger boy in 2019 is Normal West’s Francis Okoro. The 6-9 center is a consensus top 30 national player.

CLASS OF 2020: Things start to brighten up a bit when you get to the freshmen. Fenwick’s DJ Steward was tremendous in Peoria two weeks ago and led the Friars in scoring all season. National rankings aren’t available for the 2020’s yet, but Steward has an excellent chance at cracking the top 50 he has a productive spring and summer.

Morgan Park freshman Nimari Burnett is one of the best young shooters in recent memory. He also has a high profile thanks to the Lifetime reality show his mother is starring in. Burnett’s play on the club circuit will determine his fate.

Peoria Manual freshman Adam Miller is the most well-known freshman in the state. If he stays on track the has a real chance at playing in the McDonald’s game in three years.


So far so good for new Illinois coach Brad Underwood. Three of the four class of 2017 recruits have announced they are staying with the Illini through the coaching change. Florida’s Trent Frazier, Belleville East’s Javon Picket and Peoria Manual’s Da’Monte Williams all announced their intentions publicly over the last two weeks. No word yet from the final member of the group, East St. Louis center Jeremiah Tilmon.


Morgan Park is having difficulty coming up with the money to buy state championship rings. Athletic Director Michael Berger posted a plea on Twitter this week.

“In the past, Chicago Public Schools and Morgan Park High School would help in the purchase,” Berger wrote. “However in the severe budge crisis times we are living in no financial help is available from these sources this year.”

Morgan Park is hoping the community will help out. Email Berger at msberger@cps.edu for information.



  • Sammy

    Whitney Young finished 25th in the USA Today National H.S. Rankings.

    On the rings: It was Calvin Davis and banker/board member Norm Bobbins who started the tradition of rings for CPS state champs. They actually bought the first bunch of rings for the Morgan Park Prep Bowl (football) Champions. I spoke to Cal and he told me when he ran sports administration, he purchased rings for state champions with funds that were raised throughout the school year and used as discretionary monies. He related this allowed him to help CPS schools in many ways. He is willing to share information with CPS administration.

  • Dump Mike Madigan

    To the Morgan Park coach: Your unbelievable comeback in the state championship should be more than enough to remember. Forget about a silly ring. What a great game.

  • Coach B

    Jacobs brothers are gone to Hillcrest Prep (AZ).

  • Casey

    I would think a CPS school would have bigger fish to fry than to fret over rings.
    Why does not Nick Irvin hit up the shoe companies that he shills his AAU program for (Nike/Adidas)?
    And why won’t Morgan Park man up and play 4A ? Staying in 3A is their choice and it is like shooting fish in a barrel for a school that recruits the entire City for players.

    • Craig S. Siller

      Casey the rings are for the kids to have something positive to look at. Something to say they’ve accomplished​ something special together. And really, do you really think Morgan Park can’t play 4A basketball? I would say they can compete on any level against any team in the state of Illinois easily.

      • tom

        Classy gesture by Fenwick community in stepping up for the rings. But don’t the players receive a medal as a commemorative?

  • Norm

    Although there were 5 Illinois teams that at one point were in the Maxpreps excellent 25, there were none in the final rankings. Our 4A State Champs weren’t deemed worthy while the state of Tennessee had 2 in the top 10. Shows you where we are. As the population continues to stagnate or fall in our area it will become even more difficult to be dominant nationally, in my opinion

  • mikenike

    Frank Cusumano‏Verified account @Frank_Cusumano Mar 25
    I am told by people close to Jeremiah Tilmon family that Underwood visit went well and Tilmon will be in Champaign. Underwood is impressive

    Other sources have verified this also.

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