Smart people play basketball too

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For some high school basketball players, playing at the next level isn’t just about basketball.

A pair of juniors, Glenbrook North’s Peter Szostak and Glenbrook South’s Jack Ryan, will participate in the fourth annual Academic All-American Showcase Sunday and Monday at the Joy of the Game Center in Deerfield.

The camp is aimed at high school basketball players wishing to compete at Division I Ivy League or Patriot League schools, which do not offer athletic scholarships. The camp’s timing works out for dozens of prospects from around the country, who will compete Saturday in the final day of three-day Chicago Summer Classic AAU tournament, which is hosted by Joy of the Game.

Many Ivy and Patriot League coaches are already in town to watch recruits from the Class of 2010 and 2011. Due to changes by the NCAA, July is the only evaluation period to view upcoming recruits. According to a JG flyer, last year’s camp featured over 100 college representatives watching 120 players with an average ACT test score of 27 from 17 different states.

The 6-6 Szostak (pictured at right) and 6-5 Ryan will take the ACT or SAT during the upcoming school year. The Ryan family is already committed to high academics since Jack’s older brother, Jeff, currently plays for Northwestern.

Players at the camp are required to have a GPA higher than 3.0. Each player pays $250 and all of their personal statistics (height, weight, vertical, contact numbers, etc.) will be published in a pamphlet with their academic records for recruiters at the end of the camp. The players will go through an NBA-style combine Sunday and then break out for scrimmage games on Monday.

Mary Szostak said the first call her son received from a recruiter came from Cornell.

“(The camp) was recommended from a parent whose son went last year,” Mary Szostak said. “He said, ‘Of all the things we’ve done, AAU and high school, this was the best thing anyone ever created.’ He thought it was totally worthwhile.”

Peter is an honors student at GBN next school year in physics, calculus and World History. He had a 4.0 GPA in the spring semester.

The camp was featured in USA Today in 2007, in a report written by former Tribune preps writer Marlen Garcia.

Each player is guaranteed five games, three on Sunday and two on Monday, so plenty of recruiters should get a chance to see each camper.

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