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Henricksen: This, that and more in high school hoops notebook

08/18/2014, 3:30pm CDT
By Joe Henricksen | @joehoopsreport

Jalen Brunson stars in Nike Global Challenge, top players set up visits, Roosevelt Smart leaves St. Viator and more in City/Suburban Hoops Report notebook.

The Nike Global Challenge hit Chicago this week, where many of the top prep seniors around the country converged at Whitney Young for the four-day event.

The eight-team, 16-game tournament featured the top high school and U-19 basketball players from the best international teams in the world and played under FIBA rules. US participants were selected from across the country based on the four regular season sessions of this year’s Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).

The Chicago area was well represented with Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson, the Simeon duo of D.J. Williams and Ed Morrow, St. Rita’s Charles Matthews and Whitney Young’s Joseph Toye all a part of four separate US teams. 

As one would expect, the state’s best player, Brunson, showed why he’s so highly regarded. The 6-1 point guard was productive and efficient in four games, averaging 14 points a game while shooting 20 of 32 from the field, including 10 of 15 from beyond the arc. He also dished out 25 assists with just nine turnovers. 

Brunson visiting five: The state’s top player, Brunson, recently set up his five official visits. Illinois is first up, with Brunson visiting Champaign Aug. 28-30. The 6-1 point guard, one of the top 25 players in the country, will then visit Villanova Sept. 4-6, Temple Sept. 11-13, Michigan State Sept. 19-21 and Purdue Sept. 26-28.

Other Stevenson star sets two visits: Connor Cashaw, a 6-3 senior who put up 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a game as a junior, has 15-plus offers on the table and has set up a pair of visits. Cashaw, a City/Suburban Hoops Report top 15 prospect in the senior class in Illinois with high academics, will visit Lehigh Aug. 29-31 and Rice Sept. 5-7. 

Other visits set: Glynn Watson of St. Joseph, one of the top half dozen senior prospects in Illinois who recently received an offer from Tennessee, is set to visit Nebraska Aug. 28-30 and Creighton Sept. 4-6. 

Several unofficial visits are in the works as well, with Simeon’s Isaiah Moss planning to visit Creighton Aug. 25 and Michigan State Aug. 29.

Zion-Benton's Admiral Schofield will take an unofficial visit to Tennessee Aug. 23. The 6-5 wing is also involved with West Virginia, Ohio and Wichita State. 

Hinsdale South’s Barret Benson, one of the top junior prospects, took an unofficial visit to Stanford this past weekend. 

Obediah Chuch of Springfield, a bouncy, athletic 6-7 senior and top 15 prospect in Illinois, has two official visits lined up and two others in the works. Church will visit Missouri State the weekend of Sept. 5-7 and Wisconsin-Green Bay Sept. 12-14. He is in the process of setting up visits to Ohio and Indiana State. 

Although he's already committed, West Aurora's Roland Griffin, a 6-5 senior forward who missed July with an injury, will take his official visit to Illinois State Sept. 12-14.

Tough offseason for St. Viator: There’s no program that has been hit harder than St. Viator this offseason. 

When the season ended with a sectional loss to Stevenson in March, the Lions were expected to be a clear Top 25 team in the preseason and favorite to win the always-tough East Suburban Catholic Conference when the 2014-2015 season tipped off this November.

The Lions returned point guard Mark Falotico, sharpshooter Pat McNamara and a bonafide star in Roosevelt Smart. 

But St. Viator has lost its star. Smart, a 6-2 shooting guard and one of the top dozen prospects in the Class of 2015, will be attending Sunrise Christian, a prep school in Kansas. 

Plus, the program is in search of a coach, with one of the better young coaches in the Chicago area, Mike Howland, leaving his alma mater for a position on the Missouri State basketball staff as director of basketball operations in July. Finalists were interviewed this past week. 

Another Niego to watch: Lyons Twp. guard Harrison Niego will again be the catalyst for coach Tom Sloan again this season after averaging 15.6 points and 3.8 assists a game as a junior. But how good LT will be this winter and whether it can challenge Hinsdale Central in the West Suburban Silver may depend on another Niego –– sophomore Connor Niego, Harrison’s younger brother. Connor Niego, a long, 6-6 forward, is a promising talent who impressed this summer with his versatility, size and shooting stroke. 

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