As if the state wasn’t already void of high-level prep talent, this past weekend Illinois high school basketball took another hit.
Reports surfaced that sophomore star guard Markese Jacobs of Uplift, the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 2 ranked prospect in the Class of 2019, has decided to leave for a prep school in Arizona. Jacobs will be attending Hillcrest Prep, which is where 7-footer DeAndre Ayton, currently the No. 2 ranked player in the country, played this past season.
The ultra-explosive and athletic Jacobs, who committed to Kansas last fall, helped lead Uplift to a 22-6 record this past season. While he still plays with a rawness to his game and will need to take steps forward with his overall basketball I.Q., the 5-10 Jacobs was clearly one of the top talents in the state regardless of class.
He will be joining his brother, all-stater Demarius Jacobs, at Hillcrest Prep. Demarius Jacobs, a top 10 prospect in the Class of 2017, put together a sensational senior season, averaging 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game. Look for Demarius Jacobs’ recruitment to skyrocket after a year of post-graduate prep school basketball.
Columbia out of the Ivy League has done some major work recruiting Illinois in the past 12 months.
Last spring coach Jim Engles landed a steal in Fenwick point guard Mike Smith, who went on to average 13.6 points and 3.5 assists a game as a freshman this past season. Now Columbia has added another one –– West Chicago’s Tai Bibbs.
The 6-2 combo guard committed to Columbia this past weekend amid growing interest and offers from many mid-major programs. Bibbs, who visited Columbia last week, is among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 prospects in the senior class in Illinois.
Bibbs signed with Drake last fall. Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti abruptly resigned in December and Bibbs was given his release soon after and re-opened his recruitment.
Bibbs is a scoring guard with untapped upside as he continues to polish up his overall game. He put up huge numbers this past season, averaging 26 points and 4.7 rebounds while knocking down 74 three-pointers for the Wildcats.
While the coveted Mark Smith of Edwardsville remains one of the nation’s top uncommitted prospects –– Michigan State has jumped heavily into the picture, joining a lengthy list of high-major pursuers –– Joliet West’s Teyvion Kirk and Young’s Lucas Williamson are two Chicago area prospects still sorting out their respective recruitments.
Williamson, fresh off leading Young to a Class 4A state championship, continues to be an under-appreciated player in the senior class. A couple of local schools, UIC and Northern Illinois, remain front and center in the recruitment of the 6-4 wing who averaged 19 points a game this past season.
Middle Tennessee State, fresh off back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, St. Bonaventure and Ohio are deeply involved in the Kirk recruitment. The 6-3 point guard led Joliet West with 19 points a game and to 25 wins on the season. Since the completion of the season, Kirk visited St. Bonaventure last week and has visits set up with both MTSU and Ohio in mid-April.
Another previously unsigned prospect, 6-7 Manny Patterson of Kenwood, recently committed to Wisconsin-Green Bay. Patterson is one of three Illinois players headed to UWGB, joining Lemont’s P.J. Pipes and Joliet West’s Trevian Bell.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreportTags: Uplift