The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s weekly Three-Pointer touches on a variety of topics from a busy week of holiday basketball, including St. Rita rising from the ashes, Orr’s expected dominance in Class 2A and the continued star-like play from Conant’s Ryan Davis.
There isn’t a team in the state that resurrected its season more over the holidays than St. Rita.
The Mustangs were a consensus top 25 team when the season began. But coach Gary DeCesare’s team headed into the Hinsdale Central Holiday Tournament in a tailspin with a 4-7 mark and having lost seven of its last eight.
Now St. Rita struts out of Hinsdale Central with a fresh basketball life after winning the tournament championship and beating two ranked teams, DePaul Prep and Bolingbrook, along the way.
“I thought we had hit rock bottom,” DeCesare said of his team’s six-game losing streak earlier this season. “But we were defending in every game and we were in every game. We just couldn’t ever get into any offensive flow.”
Although St. Rita didn’t have a single player average in double figures in scoring during the four-win run at Hinsdale Central, the Mustangs did have six different players hit for double figures.
“I knew we had a bunch of parts, but we had to put those parts together, get everyone on the same page,” says DeCesare.
Senior guard Jordan Matthews is the backbone and sophomore guards Joel Watts and Alec Millender continue to show promise. Those three provide a perimeter threat for St. Rita.
However, it was the play of Javon Cooley at Hinsdale Central and the size and length that the 6-5 Cooley, 6-5 Landen Gladney, 6-7 Jeremiah Oden, 6-5 Stedmon Ihejirika and 6-8 Cameron Bartmann provide that has the arrow pointing up.
“Cooley really stepped up,” DeCesare said of the junior who averaged 9.5 points a game in tournament play.
St. Rita will host DePaul Prep in a key Catholic League battle this Friday.
Orr won a Class 2A state championship last season. The Spartans beat their final three state tournament opponents by 38, 18 and 20 points.
Here is some distressing news for any Class 2A team this March: After watching Orr win the Proviso West Holiday Tournament last week, this Orr team is bigger, stronger, deeper, more athletic and clearly better than last year’s team.
The mighty Chicago Public League is going to have its hands full trying to handle the physical and athletic punch the 6-5 tandem of Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake provides coach Lou Adams. In the title game win over Young, the two combined for a whopping 44 points, 23 rebounds and six blocks.
Class 2A schools simply don’t have an answer for this two-headed monster. Smith and Drake, who are two of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 20 prospects in the senior class, bring a combination of size, physically and athleticism no Class 2A team possesses.
In four tournament games Drake averaged 15.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and three blocks while Smith averaged 14.8 points, 10 rebounds and 2.4 asssts a game.
The Ryan Davis Player of the Year talk is picking up steam.
Simeon’s Talen Horton-Tucker made a significant statement with his play during the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, and Morgan Park’s Ayo Dosunmu and Young’s Javon Freeman are very much in the picture. But the play of Davis, who led Conant to five wins and a championship at the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York, was eye-opening.
Davis has dropped weight, re-shaped his body and is playing more athletic and confident. If college coaches who evaluated the senior big man all spring and summer saw this Ryan Davis, the tenor of his recruitment would be completely different.
Davis began making a case to be included in player of the year conversations with a strong start to the season. Now the 6-8 senior has a tournament title and head-turning numbers to go with it. The Vermont-bound big man averaged 24.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and four assists per game while shooting 58 percent from the field and added four three-pointers in the five wins at York.