A Look Ahead
August 15, 2008 by End to End
No basketball fan will forget last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship for a long time. For fans in Illinois, it will take even longer. Each team in the game, Kansas and Memphis, featured former Chicago Public League standouts; Sherron Collins (Crane), and Derrick Rose (Simeon). Collins was a major contributor all season as a sophomore for the victorious Kansas Jayhawks. Rose, barely a year removed from back-to-back state titles at Simeon, started at point guard all season as a true freshman for Memphis.
While both former IHSA standouts got to play on the biggest stage in college basketball last season, one should not forget the many other Illinois natives playing major roles on some of college’s top programs.
End to End would like to take this chance to recognize which former hometown heroes are going to be contributing on teams we may be watching in this coming season’s national championship. Aside from the players highlighted in this feature, there are hundreds of other former IHSA players playing in the division one, two, three and in the junior college ranks. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for stories on many of them.
Duke: Jon Scheyer (Glenbrook North). After a decorated high school career, including a state championship in 2005, Scheyer is now entering his junior year at Duke University. Having received major minutes as a freshman and sophomore, averaging double figures in points scored both years, Scheyer will be a key to Duke’s success once again.
North Carolina: Bobby Frasor (Brother Rice). Frasor received early playing time as a true freshman in the 2005-2006 season, and at the start of his sophomore year. Unfortunately, a foot injury has hampered him ever since. Now entering his senior year, Frasor will look to provide leadership at point guard to the loaded Tar Heels roster.
Georgia Tech: Iman Shumpert (Oak Park – River Forest). Like Scheyer and Frasor before him, this former McDonald’s All-American chose to play collegiately in the ACC. Shumpert is entering his freshman season, and is predicted to play early and often for the Yellow Jackets. With his size, athleticism, and skill set, he can play both guard positions.
Virginia: Mustapha Farrakhan (Thornton). Farrakhan didn’t see much time as a true freshman last season, but is expected to play a much bigger role this season. The sweet shooting guard will look to fill the scoring void left by last year’s leading scorer, and current Sacramento King, Sean Singletary.
St. Louis: Kevin Lisch (Belleville Althoff) and Tommie Liddell (East St. Louis). Lisch and Liddell return for their final seasons under coach Rick Majerus. As the team’s top two leading scorers, and all conference players, Lisch and Liddell will make a strong push to get the Billikens in the Big Dance.
Illinois: Demetri McCamey (St. Joseph), Trent Meachem (Champaign Centennial), Calvin Brock (Simeon), and Mike Tisdale (Riverton). Illinois will look to a rebound from a relatively disappointing season last year behind several returning players. McCamey will take the reins as the team’s starting point guard after an impressive freshman year. Tisdale, a seven-footer, also showed plenty of promise as a center last year as a freshman. Meachem and Brock will look to provide senior leadership as both logged heavy minutes last season.
Indiana: Matt Roth (Washington). With the combination of graduating seniors and several transfers to other programs, it looks like Roth will have a shot at early playing time as the Hoosiers return only two players from last year’s team. In his first season as head coach, it shouldn’t take long for Tom Crean to utilize the lights out shooting ability of the freshman, Roth. After leading his team downstate last year in high school, Roth will have to make a quick adjustment to Big Ten competition.
Ohio State: Evan Turner (St. Joseph). Turner provided a spark off the bench for the Buckeye’s last season as a true freshman. The 6’6’’ former all-state selection provides a versatile skill set from the wing. Look for his nine point scoring average from last year to increase this season as his role increases on the relatively young OSU roster.
Purdue: Marcus Green (Leyden) and Lewis Jackson (Decatur Eisenhower). Green will enter his senior season as a key role player for the Boilermakers. While he can provide scoring, he is most valuable as a defender. At 6’4’’, he also is an excellent rebounder for his position. Jackson will have to work hard to earn playing time as a true freshman, but the explosive point guard might be too talented for Coach Painter to keep off the court.
Northwestern: Michael Thompson (Lincoln Park), Jeff Ryan (Glenbrook South), and Mike Capocci (Glenbard East). “Juice” Thompson made his presence felt as a true freshman last season in Evanston providing a much-needed scoring punch from the point guard position as he started every single game. While he displayed his scoring capabilities, he also set the school’s freshman record for assists. Ryan, who got significant playing time as a true freshman was hampered by injuries during his sophomore year last season. The 6’6 combo guard and small forward will look to have a strong bounce back season as a junior. Capocci enters his sophomore season as a key reserve off the bench at small forward.
Iowa: Cyrus Tate (Homewood-Flossmoor). Cyrus Tate, 6’9’’, landed in Iowa City after taking the junior college route, and has proven to be the Hawkeye’s best post player. Having posted several double-double games during conference play last season may not be as impressive as his eye popping 67% shooting from the field.
Kansas: Sherron Collins (Crane). Collins was the Jayhawk’s spark off the bench in his first two seasons in Lawrence. The explosive 5’11’’ point guard has displayed nice shooting range, but is best known for his ability to get in the lane and create plays for teammates and himself. Entering his junior year, Collins should start for the defending national champion’s as Mario Chalmer’s left for the NBA, and Russell Robinson graduated.
Kansas State: Jacob Pullen (Proviso East). As a true freshman last year, Pullen earned the job as starting point guard for the Wildcats. While he won’t have Michael Beasley around to dish the ball too anymore, Pullen shouldn’t suffer as he is just as good of at scoring the ball as he is at distributing it.
DePaul: Mac Koshwal (Julian and Boys to Men Academy) and Will Walker (Bolingbrook). Koshwal returns to the Blue Demons as their best post player. At 6’10’’, Koshwal can run the floor better than most big men in the nation, and is a load to handle down low. Will Walker will handle the point guard duties this season, and has an uncanny ability to break down his defenders to create his own shot. This season may be DePaul’s chance to earn a birth into the NCAA tournament.
Marquette: Jerel McNeal (Hillcrest) and Maurice Acker (Hillcrest). These former high school teammates reunited in college after Acker transferred in from Ball State. McNeal exploded onto the national scene last season after earning All-Conference awards. This season, he should receive heavy consideration for All-American nominations. The 6’3 combo guard can score the ball in a variety of ways, and made that apparent during the NCAA tournament last year by scoring 30 points against Stanford. However, McNeal’s calling card may be his ability to defend. Acker provides as a back up for both guard positions. Even though he is 5’8’’, his great three-point shooting ability allows him to come in as a shooting guard.
Kentucky: DeAndre Liggins (Chicago Washington). After a successful three years in Chicago playing for Washington, Liggins headed to Vegas for prep school. There, “The Big Ticket,” solidified himself as one of the nations top recruits. At 6’6’’, Liggins possesses great ball-handling ability and court vision making him a difficult matchup for any defender. With a developing outside shot, Liggins will definitely see early playing time as a freshman for the storied Kentucky Wildcat basketball program.
California: Jerome Randle (Hales Franciscan). This 5’10’’ point guard fits in perfectly with the Pac-10’s fast paced style of play. Randle excels at pushing the ball and creating for others. The junior-to-be can also score in bunches as his shooting range extends well outside the three point arch.
Oregon: Joevan Catron (Thornton), Matt Humphrey (Hales Farnciscan), and Mike Dunnigan (Farragut). The Ducks will have plenty of Chicago flavor on their roster this year, and they will be anchored by junior Joevan Catron. Although Catron is only 6’5’’, he is as good as a power forward as there is in the conference. With an array of post moves, and nasty aggressiveness on the boards, Catron cracked the rotation early as a sophomore. He should make a strong case to be an All-Conference candidate by the season’s end. Oregon also got a trio of incoming freshman from Chicago, two of which are expected to play early. The first is McDonald’s All American, Mike Dunnigan. The 6’10’’ center improved his game every season in high school, and that trend shouldn’t stop in college. Dunnigan is athletic, has a good shooting touch, and is a true center. He also possesses a great shot blocking ability to complement his fundamentally sound defense. Humphrey, a 6’5’’ shooting guard, should see playing time due to his ability to fill it up from beyond the arch. Humphrey also gained good experience this summer playing on Team USA’s 18 and under team.
West Coast Conference
Gonzaga: Jeremy Pargo (Robeson). Pargo returns at point guard for his senior season to lead the Bulldogs. While he will be on everyone’s All-American watch lists, Pargo will be focused on taking Gonzaga to the Final Four. Not many guards in the nation combine speed and strength as well as him. Every year he has been in college he has been able to get into the lane and create for others, basically at will. After flirting with the idea of going pro at the end of last season, Pargo will show how complete of a point guard he is offensively and defensively.