Updating recent high school basketball happenings around the nation, Harvey, Ill., Thornton High School was"king for a day," jumping to No. 1 on January 18 in the latest USA Today high school boys' basketball poll, after previously top-rated Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy lost to Snellville, Ga., South Gwinnett High School on Monday. However, after a day-long "celebration" by students at school, that same night Thornton High lost to Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest High School.
We highly recommend an excellent article written by sportswriter Steve Tucker in today's Chicago Sun-Times, in which Detroit Lions wide receiver, and Thornton High School alumnus, Tai Streets, gives an in-depth look at the state of high school basketball. In this story Tucker also writes about the Thornton-Hillcrest game on January 18, won by Hillcrest 62-53 at Harvey, Ill.
The star of the game was Marquette-bound, 6-foot-3, 185-pound wing guard Jerel McNeal with 23 points, including 12 points in the crucial fourth quarter. Ball State signee, 5-foot-9 point guard Maurice Acker added 18 points for Hillcrest High, then rated No. 5 in the state.
McNeal, a legitimate candidate for the McDonald's All-American Team, Acker, and several of the Thornton High School players, including junior standout, 6-foot-6 forward Joevan Catron, all play for Tai Streets' very competitive summer team, The Mean Streets, that finished second in our 2004 Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions last May.
According to Sun-Times prep writer, Taylor Bell, Jerel McNeal is a primary candidate for "Mr. Basketball" honors in Illinois, along with Kansas-bound, 6-foot-8 forward Julian Wright, Homewood-Flossmoor HS; DeAndre Thomas; North Carolina signee, 6-foot-3 guard Bobby Frasor, Chicago Brother Rice HS; and Iowa recruit, 6-foot-1 lead guard Tony Freeman, Westchester St. Joseph HS.
Speaking of massive 6-foot-6, 275-pound, unsigned center DeAndre Thomas, Chicago Westinghouse High School, he is now qualified academically, and according to Taylor Bell, Coach Bruce Weber's No. 1 rated Illinois program may now be his top school.
The top senior player in the state of Michigan, without question is DePaul-bound, 6-foot-8 power/wing forward Wilson Chandler, Benton Harbor High School. According to knowledgeable Detroit Free Press sportswriter, Mick McCabe, Chandler is having a phenomenal year, and is really the heavy favorite for "Mr. Basketball" honors in Michigan. Incidentally, Memphis signee, 6-foot-5 guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, Detroit Northwestern High School, has been ineligible to play this season, and is not a candidate for Mr. Basketball. Douglas-Roberts, reportedly will become eligible to play on January 25.
According to Coach Carlos Peralta at Goldsboro, N.C., Charis Prep School, his star player, 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward Jimmy Graham, who committed last July to the Miami Hurricanes, has decided to graduate this year, and enroll at the U. of Miami next fall. After transferring to new school Charis Prep from Wilson, N.C., Community Christian, Graham was reclassified to repeat his junior year. However, he, reportedly, has the academic credits to finish high school this spring, and will be a welcomed member of Coach Frank Haith's surprisingly successful first-year ACC basketball program next season.
To update the current situation with outstanding athlete, 6-foot-3 guard/forward Nyan Boateng, Brooklyn, N.Y., Abraham Lincoln High School, after suffering a broken foot which ended his football season, Boateng became academically ineligible to play basketball at Lincoln High. According to the New York Daily News, Boateng is ineligible at least until February 1, when the next report cards are issued. On January 7 he did make a verbal commitment to play football for new Florida head coach Urban Meyer.
Having a good year at Lincoln High School is Brooklyn Grady transfer, 5-foot-11 point guard Kevin White. White had 11 assists as Lincoln beat his former school 82-67.
On the national commitments scene, Wright State has received a verbal from willowy 6-foot-10, 195-pound center/forward James Craft, Mercersburg, Pa., Academy, who announced that he will sign in April with Coach Paul Biancardi's Wright State program.
Talented 6-foot-4, junior wing Carlos Morias, Stockbridge, GA, Community Christian School, has made an early commitment to Coach Jim Wooldridge's Kansas State Wildcats.
An interesting matchup of top players in south Georgia had Illinois-bound, 6-foot-8, 275-pound, center/forward Charles Jackson, and his Buena Vista Tri-County High School team, going against talented Auburn signee, 6-foot-7, 225-pound power forward Korvotney Barber, and Manchester High School. Despite picking up two early fouls, and playing only eight minutes in the first half, Jackson dominated, scoring 28 points, and getting 18 rebounds and 8 blocks, as Tri-County won 87-75. Barber finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out.
Charles Jackson, reportedly, is ranked among the nation's Top 100 football prospects as an offensive lineman/defensive end. However, he will only play basketball at Illinois. It appears that The Illini have landed a needed inside "stud" for next year.
Another outstanding player from southern Georgia, Georgia Tech signee, 6-foot-3 second guard Lewis Clinch , Cordele Crisp County High School, recently set a school scoring record getting 54 points against Sylvester, Ga., Worth County. We predict that Clinch will be a major impact player next year as a freshman for Coach Paul Hewitt's Yellow Jackets.
A talented member of the Class of 2006 having a super year is 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard/forward Dwight Lewis, Metairie, La., Archbishop Rummel High School. According to his summer coach, Al Jones, of the Houston (TX) Westside Lions, Lewis is averaging over 30 points per game this season.
In an duel of highly-regard Michigan big men, 6-foot-9 senior center Zack Gibson, Grand Blanc High School, outperformed promising 7-foot junior center Tom Herzog of Flint Power High School. Gibson outscored Herzog 17-11, and won the rebounds battle 16-10. Michigan recruit, 6-foot-5 junior wing K'Len Morris, was impressive with 16 points for Grand Blanc High.
According to Mick McCabe of the Detroit Free Press, a sophomore sensation to be aware of is 6-foot-4 guard/forward Dar Tucker, Saginaw, MI, Arthur Hill High School. Tucker had 31 points and 18 rebounds as Arthur Hill High beat rival Saginaw High 67-66. Another outstanding underclassman, former Louisiana resident, 6-foot-2 junior guard Larry Wright, made 10 of 14 field goal attempts to lead Saginaw High with 27 points.