First day of practice: Leo kept its stars, so sky is the limit

Leo's DaChaun Anderson goes up for a dunk. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Leo's DaChaun Anderson goes up for a dunk. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

The past few seasons there has been a rash of talented athletes transferring from Catholic schools to Public League schools. There is even a proposed by-law currently working its way through the Illinois High School Association that may change the process of determining eligibility after a transfer.

It’s happened at Catholic schools all over the area, even the largest, the richest and the most historically successful: Fenwick, St. Patrick, Marist, St. Joseph and more.

But it hasn’t happened at Leo. Monday was the first day of practice around the state and an extra special day for the Lions. None of Leo’s stars transferred to a Public League powerhouse.

“There were rumors that people might leave but we didn’t want that to happen,” DaChaun Anderson said. “We bonded together. A lot of people left Leo over the years but we stayed. We are here to keep the tradition at Leo.”

Anderson, a 6-7 senior, may be the area’s best rebounder. His brother Kendale, a 6-5 junior, is also terrific on the boards and has added a perimeter game recently.

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“We stayed because we wanted to win a championship for Leo,” Kendale Anderson said. “Leo gave me a chance to come here so I’m doing my best in classes and I want to give back to the school and represent Leo.”

The size, strength and athleticism of the Anderson brothers is one of the reasons the Lions are a favorite to win Class 2A and expected to compete with the area’s best teams regardless of class.

The major factor is senior guard Fred Cleveland Jr. He’s one of the area’s best stories. Cleveland started his varsity career as a 5-3 freshman. Skinny and small, colleges ignored his scoring ability and brilliant overall feel for the game.

Cleveland, now 5-10, has spent the last three years wondering if any school would give him a scholarship.

“At one point I did start to doubt it would happen,” Cleveland said. “I just felt like I was putting in so much work and not getting what I wanted out of it. I sat down with my mom and she told me to keep at it.”

Cleveland was one of the best players in the city last season, regardless of size or class. This summer things finally turned around and he picked up some Division I offers. He committed to North Carolina A&T a few weeks ago and will sign next week.

“It’s going to be a relief for me and my family and everyone else that supported me,” Cleveland said. “This is what we’ve been pushing for since third grade. Some people thought I should wait and play out this season and see what happens. I thought about betting on myself but I decided not to pass up on a $200,000 education and a school that believed in me.”

Leo coach Shawn Frison has known the Andersons and Cleveland for most of their lives. That’s an excellent way to keep your star players from transferring.

“They weren’t going anywhere,” Frison said. “That isn’t going to happen anymore at Leo. We are building something special here.”

Leo only lost one key player to graduation, Malcolm Bell. The Lions added two transfers that will contribute, Tim Howard from Bogan and Myles Thomas from UP-Englewood.

Frison is also expecting big things from junior guard Kevin Drumgoole, who was an excellent scorer on the sophomore team last season.

The Lions have left the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament and will play at the prestigious Proviso West Holiday Tournament this December.

Leo has a chance to win at Proviso and plans on winning the Class 2A title in March.

“There is no reason we can’t be ranked No.1 [at the end of the season],” Kendale Anderson said. “We have players that dominate on the perimeter and in the paint.”

 

Want to hear all about the Sun-Times preseason Super 25 basketball rankings? Michael O’Brien and Joe Henricksen go in-depth on all 25 teams in the latest episode of No Shot Clock, the Chicago high school basketball podcast. LISTEN HERE.

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15 comments

  • John

    If you transfer from a public to a private you have to sit out a year. That is the rule. If these kids are playing and just transferred then something fishy is going on. Its not hating, its the rule. But Chicago schools pretty much do what they want. Illegal recruiting, kids playing for schools and where they don’t live in the district or within the 30 mile rule, making some teams move up or down in class (when they win or lose too much) yet others get to stay in their class regardless of accomplishments. Its a joke.

    • Tom

      No, it’s not the rule.

      Per Craig Anderson, the Executive Director of the IHSA when I asked him that question:

      “IHSA By-law 3.043.1 allows a student to have eligibility upon transfer when the transfer is in conjunction with a change in residence by the student and his/her family. If the students transferred without a change in residence, then only with a circumstance related to one of the bullet points noted in by-law 3.043.3 would the students have eligibilty.
      Rules are posted on the IHSA website under Transfer 3.040. There’s nothing about transferring from a public to a private school

      • William

        If you move to a different district or a divorce or extreme circumstances…all three have extreme circumstances and all wanted to attend the same school?…Chicago is one district…IHSA Rules committee states

      • John

        I coach at a private school. We have had transfers from public schools and they have to sit a year before playing. But when our kids transfered to a public school they didnt sit at all. Also if you truly believe these kids and their parents actually move into these new districts you are delusional. No one from the IHSA ever checks of they really moved. Many use family members or friends addresses amd have them lie for them if it is ever questioned. Its funny how all these players have aunts or uncles or g-parents who live on all these districts with the best teams.

  • L Fan

    You spelled Kevin Drumgoole wrong Mr. O’Brien

  • L Fan

    It’s spelled Kevin Drumgoole Mr. O’Brien

  • L Fan

    Leo can play with 3 and 4A teams especially if Kevin Drumgoole plays well. Very versatile and plays big.

  • Chris.

    Rashuan Agee is the best rebounder in the area

  • sammy

    Gonna be nice seeing Lil Fred and D. Anderson play under the bright lights in the big time tournament at Proviso West. They get to go against top guards like Uplift’s M. Jacobs and Young’s DJ Stewart and Beard as well as a host of other top players.

  • william

    so you can have different rules than everyone one else? that’s hating? you’re delusional.

  • Shawn

    Stop hating Will do you want them on the streets getting in trouble.Let the kids play

  • Robert Jones

    Fred Cleveland aka Lil Fred, has always been a favorite of mine, great kid and even greater family, blessed to be in their circle 💯

  • william

    How are all these public school transfers eligible? including last year… are they not supposed to sit out if they go public to catholic?

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