Chicago area contributes 5 to Nike event

Written By BY JOE HENRICKSEN For Sun-Times Media Posted: 08/17/2014, 02:31am
Array St. Joseph's Glynn Watson controls the ball during a game against Batavia last season. Watson has been working on his ability to close out games during this summer's travel basketball season. | Patrick Gleason/for Sun-Times Media

The Nike Global Challenge hit Chicago last week. Many of the top high school seniors around the country converged at Young for the four-day event.

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

The Chicago area was well-represented, with Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson, Simeon’s D.J. Williams and Ed Morrow, St. Rita’s Charles Matthews and Young’s Joseph Toye a part of four U.S. teams.

Brunson visiting five

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

Other visits set

Glynn Watson of St. Joseph, one of the top half-dozen seniors in Illinois, is set to visit Nebraska on Aug. 28-30 and Creighton on Sept. 4-6.

Several unofficial visits are in the works, too, with Simeon’s Isaiah Moss planning to visit Creighton on Aug. 25 and Michigan State on Aug. 29. Zion-Benton’s Admiral Schofield will take an unofficial visit to Tennessee on Saturday. Hinsdale South’s Barret Benson, one of the top junior prospects, took an unofficial visit to Stanford this weekend.

Tough offseason for St. Viator

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

After last season ended with a sectional loss to Stevenson, the Lions were expected to be the favorite to win the always-tough East Suburban Catholic Conference when the 2014-15 season tipped off in November. They were expected to return 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. Mike Howland left his alma mater to become the director of basketball operations at Missouri State. Finalists for the St. Viator job were interviewed last week.

Another Niego to watch

Lyons guard Harrison Niego will be the catalyst for coach Tom Sloan this season after averaging 15.6 points and 3.8 assists as a junior.

But how good Lyons will be and whether it can challenge Hinsdale Central in the West Suburban Silver might depend on sophomore Connor Niego, Harrison’s younger brother. Connor, a 6-6 forward, is a promising talent who impressed this summer with his versatility, size and shooting stroke.

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