Henricksen: Recruiting roundup

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Illinois prospects are flying off the board.

With the November signing period just seven-plus weeks away and college roster spots filling up as prospects are giving verbal commitments, there was a flurry of activity around Illinois on Monday.

Here is a recruiting rundown for several of the top players in the Class of 2015 in Illinois.

Obediah Church commits: After putting together an outstanding spring on the club circuit and turning heads during the July evaluation period with his eye-popping athleticism and improved production, Springfield’s Obediah Church became a big priority for mid-major basketball programs.

Church, one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 seniors in the Class of 2015, decided to end his recruitment on Monday, committing to Missouri State and head coach Paul Lusk. In the end, he chose Missouri State over Wisconsin-Green Bay, Indiana State and Ohio.

While the opportunity to play in the Missouri Valley and for coaches he says he has a great relationship with was a big part in his decision, the academics fit was also something that stood out.

“The academic piece was very important,” says Church. “I want to study criminology, and they have a really good program.”

The uber-athletic Church is a 6-7 gazelle running the floor. While his offensive game is in the midst of developing –– he will occasionally drop in a 12-15 foot face-up jumper –– where he shines is around the basket, finishing with put-back and alley-oop dunks, rebounding and blocking shots.Church is an ideal Missouri Valley Conference recruit.

Missouri State coach Paul Lusk and assistant coach Brad Korn made Church a priority, and the Bears have secured themselves one heck of a prospect.

Biggest steal in 2015: The term “recruiting steal” is thrown around loosely. However, there is no other way to describe Tyler Hall’s commitment to Montana State. The Rock Island star is arguably a top 15 prospect in Illinois heading to the Big Sky, a league where the average attendance this past season was a shade over 2,000 fans and road dates include trips to the likes of Idaho State, Portland State, Southern Utah and Sacramento State.

But Montana State was on Hall early and stayed on him as head coach Brian Fish established a relationship with the sharpshooter that proved to be the difference in this recruitment.

Hall is a silky smooth 6-3 scoring guard and is without question one of the top handful of shooters in the senior class. He brings a feathery touch, range and a quick release, both off the dribble and catch. Nevada, Northern Iowa, Western Michigan, Ball State and others were heavily involved with a player who could end up being the steal of the class out of Illinois in the Class of 2015.

UWGB continues presence in Illinois: Coach Brian Wardle knows Illinois. The Wisconsin-Green Bay coach was a high school star at Hinsdale Central in the 1990s. He has a staff with Illinois ties and connections. And it’s all paid off.

Wardle and his staff locked up a pair of players from Illinois. Bolingbrook big man Julian Torres, a 6-9 senior, committed to Wisconsin-Green Bay Monday morning, while Rockford Auburn 2-guard Antoine Pittman committed to the Phoenix Monday night.

Torres bring legit 5-man size and a bundle of promise as a developing big man, while Pittman is a strong, big-bodied scoring guard who is capable of putting the ball in the basket in multiple ways. Torres and Pittman are two more Illinois prospects headed UWGB’s way, joining a host of former Illinois prep players who have or are currently playing for Wardle.

The Phoenix are expected to challenge for a Horizon League title this winter with several former Illinois prep players leading the way, headed by former Marshall star Keifer Sykes, one of the top point guards in the country. In addition, Crete-Monee’s Greg Mays and Marshall’s Alfonzo McKinnie figure to play huge roles.

Lincoln star still wide open: Gavin Block, who impressed many around the state with his play in Peoria in helping Lincoln to a second-place finish in Class 3A in March, remains wide open on the recruiting front. Block is receiving interest from Northern Iowa, SIUE, UIC, Ohio and Northern Illinois among others. Block is a versatile wing who led a 34-win Lincoln team in scoring with 16 points a game, along with 6 rebounds and nearly 3 assists a game. He also knocked down over 60 three-pointers on the year.

Shooter Seibring down to six: Normal’s Tyler Seibring, a 6-8 stretch-the-floor shooter who teamed up with Block on the AAU circuit with Central Illinois Net Gain, is down to six schools. Seibring has Colgate, Princeton, Ohio, Brown and Elon, along with Division III powerhouse Illinois Wesleyan, on his short list.

Smart set for Loyola visit: Former St. Viator star Roosevelt Smart, a 6-2 shooting guard who is now attending Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, will take an official visit to Loyola this weekend. Smart averaged 15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game in helping St. Viator to a 23-win season a year ago.

NU getting after 2016 class: Northwestern has been active this fall with the Class of 2016 in Illinois. Coach Chris Collins offered a pair of juniors last week in 6-10 Barret Benson of Hinsdale South and 6-8 Rapolas Ivanauskas of Barrington. Benson ranks among the top five prospects in the class in Illinois, while Ivanauskas is the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 2 ranked junior.

Southern Illinois duo commits: The Southwest Illinois Jets club program in the southern part of the state is an underrated one. A pair of players from the Jets, Edwardsville’s Emondre Rickman and Alton’s Carlos Anderson, both committed over the weekend.

Rickman, a legit 5-man with 6-9 size and a wide body, is one of the more improved players in the senior class. Now he’s headed to the Missouri Valley Conference as he committed to Indiana State. Anderson, a big, rugged, physical 6-4 wing, committed to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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