The top 25 in college basketball is filled with prominent players from Illinois, Max Christie’s star is shining bright upon his return from injury, and the Eisenhower Sectional is absolutely loaded. We look at all three topics in this week’s City/Suburban Hoops Report’s Three-Pointer.
Former Illinois prep stars have made a major imprint on the college basketball season for teams at the top of the college basketball rankings.
Former Zion-Benton star Admiral Schofield is a major force for the No. 1 ranked team in the country. He’s helped Tennessee to a 22-1 record while averaging 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game. Schofield has put together a tremendous career for the Vols and is on pace to score more than 1,500 career points and grab 700-plus rebounds.
Ethan Happ of Rockridge has propelled Wisconsin into the top 25 with All-American numbers: 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game.
Happ is on pace to become the most productive Badgers player in program history.
The 6-9 senior is already Wisconsin’s all-time rebounder and is 237 points away. With 1,980 career points, Happ is closing in on the all-time scoring mark at Wisconsin. Lockport’s Alando Tucker (2,217 points) and Proviso East’s Michael Finley (2,147 points) are currently ahead of Happ. And even while playing center, Happ has climbed into the top five in career assists.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 4 in the country, thanks in large part to the production of Zach Norvell. The 6-5 guard from Simeon fills the stat sheet for the Zags, averaging 15.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists while knocking down 72 three-pointers.
Charles Matthews of St. Rita has been instrumental in helping Michigan to a 20-2 record and No. 7 ranking with 12.8 points a game, while the Simeon trio of Talen Horton-Tucker, Isaiah Moss and Ed Morrow are contributing for top 25 teams at Iowa State, Iowa and Marquette, respectively.
Former Evanston star Nojel Eastern is playing 28 minutes a game for 15th ranked Purdue, and Matt Mooney, who starred at Niles Notre Dame, is averaging 10.6 points a game for No. 18 Texas Tech.
Max Christie’s sophomore season was interrupted by a lingering deep thigh bruise that kept him out of action for a few weeks and miss five games. But the hype around the Rolling Meadows star certainly hasn’t diminished.
Christie, who scored 40 points in his return to action last week in a win over Niles West, took unofficial visits to both Duke and Michigan State the past two weeks.
The ultra-smooth 6-6 point guard has also risen up the national rankings.
ESPN now has Christie as the No. 9 ranked prospect in the country in the Class of 2021. Rivals has him ranked No. 12 and 247Sports at No. 16. Christie is a five-star prospect and the highest ranked national player in Illinois since Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson was a consensus top 25 prospect in the country in the Class of 2015.
In addition to his recent in-season visits, Christie has previously visited Ohio State, Michigan and Northwestern as his recruitment begins to heat up.
While constantly facing trick and gimmick defenses, Christie is averaging 27 points a game to go along with 9.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game. He’s also knocked down 48 three-pointers in 18 games and has shot 38 percent from beyond the arc. Christie, who has had eight 30-plus point games this season, has scored 51, 42 and 40 points in games this season.
Coaches across the state will be seeding sectionals this week in Class 3A and Class 4A. There will be no stronger sectional in the Chicago area than the Eisenhower Sectional.
There is a battle in Chicago Heights for the top seed there as No. 6 Bloom (21-3) and No. 7 Marian Catholic (24-3) are jockeying for the top spot.
Perennial power Simeon should settle in as the No. 3 seed, while Homewood-Flossmoor, Brother Rice, St. Rita and Thornton will be top eight seeds with 20-plus wins by the time regional play begins in March.
There are currently 11 teams in the Eisenhower Sectional with 15-plus wins and seven who are ranked in the Sun-Times Super 25.