Three-Pointer: Geneva’a Jack McDonald, juniors shine, CCL letdowns

Geneva's Jack McDonald dribbles along the baseline during second half action of the Vikings' 58-51 victory over Notre Dame in the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, December 27, 2017. Allen Cunningham / for the Sun-Times.
Geneva's Jack McDonald dribbles along the baseline during second half action of the Vikings' 58-51 victory over Notre Dame in the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, December 27, 2017. Allen Cunningham / for the Sun-Times.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s weekly Three-Pointer includes a look at the unassuming star of unbeaten Geneva, Jack McDonald, the hyped 2020 stars, D.J. Steward and Adam Miller, living up to the hype, and the Catholic League’s missed opportunity over the holidays.

No. 1

There are superstar talents and Division I prospects leading top teams across the state. Geneva’s unassuming Jack McDonald, a top small college recruiting target, is as important to his team as any of them.

McDonald is the engine of an unbeaten team fresh off winning the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, where he was named tournament MVP after averaging 16.2 points and five assists a game.

The unheralded point guard won’t wow you with physical gifts or monster numbers. But the 5-10 savvy senior’s impact on the game is loud and clear.

In addition to his high basketball I.Q. and vision that allows him to see things before they develop, McDonald makes key plays and shots in big moments. He runs the team, has a willingness to move the ball and is efficient in everything he does on the basketball court.

With McDonald and scoring wing Mitch Mascari leading the way, Geneva knocked off St. Viator in the semifinals at Wheeling and then beat Fremd in the championship game.

Now coach Scott Hennig’s team heads into the new year with a perfect 13-0 record after picking up signature wins over the holidays. In addition, the Vikings have established themselves as not only the favorites in the DuKane Conference at the midway point of the season, but also as the team to beat in the Bartlett Sectional.

No. 2

The two highest ranked, big-named stars in the Class of 2020, Morgan Park’s Adam Miller and Young’s D.J. Steward, played the role of star attraction exceptionally well in holiday tournament action.

Miller led Morgan Park to a tournament title and broke the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament scoring record along the way with 133 points in four wins.

The 6-3 junior guard showcased his greatest strength, shooting the basketball, by making 19 three-pointers. Included in his record-breaking tournament scoring run run were games of 48 and 45 points.

Steward, who should be appreciated as much nationally as he is locally, averaged 23.8 points a game and added 13 assists in Young’s second-place finish at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. He shot it extremely well, making 16 of 17 from the free-throw line and over 50 percent from beyond the three-point line (11 of 21).

Steward was at his best in the biggest games. He was sensational in a semifinal win over Fenwick with 30 points, which garnered an offer from Xavier head coach Travis Steele, and added 28 in the title game loss to Bogan. Even more impressive was the efficiency in which he put up those numbers, making 20 of 37 from the field, including 5 of 12 from the three-point line and 13 of 14 from the line.

No. 3

With several opportunities in front of it, the Chicago Catholic League fell short in making any kind of big statement over the holidays.

There wasn’t a single team from the league that played in an in-state holiday tournament championship game.

The league’s best team, DePaul Prep, lost to Marian Catholic in the semifinals at Hinsdale Central and then fell to Oswego East in the third-place game.

Leo, Fenwick, St. Laurence, Providence St. Mel and Mount Carmel all reached the semifinals of their respective holiday tournaments. However, all six lost in their semifinal matchups.

Loyola did leave the state and snapped up four wins and a tournament title in Naples, Fla.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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