Henricksen: Small college programs loading up

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Recruiting isn’t all about the chase for five-star talents like Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson and other high-major college players.

Also out on the recruiting road are Division II, Division III and NAIA coaches around the country, looking under every rock for a player suitable for them.

Here is a look at a few small college recruiting storylines in the Class of 2015.

Illinois Wesleyan, Augustana loading up

A pair of Division III rivals and CCIW powers, Illinois Wesleyan and Augustana, continue to reel in top-level talent.

CCIW defending champ Augustana has locked up a surplus of local talent, headed by Jacobs guard Crishawn Orange. The combo guard, who scored over 1,000 points in his career, put up 15 points a game for a conference championship team that won 22 games.

Augustana coach Grey Giovanine also secured an underrated point guard in Hinsdale Central’s Jordan Bradshaw and a pair of shooters in St. Charles East’s Jake Asquini and Plainfield North’s Jake Nowak.

But the wild card in the class is 6-4 Pierson Wofford, an unknown who has as about as much upside as any Division III recruit after averaging 26 points and 7.2 rebounds a game while knocking down 55 three-pointers for Springfield Lutheran. Wofford could prove to be one of the real recruiting steals in the class.

Illinois Wesleyan coach Ron Rose dipped into the East Suburban Catholic Conference for a trio of talented players.

The latest is Benet’s hard-nosed Colin Bonnett, who put together a stellar season for coach Gene Heidkamp. The 6-3 Bonnett led Benet with 17 points a game, along with 4.2 assists and 4 rebounds a game. He was named the A.C. Williamson award winner at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

In addition, St. Patrick guard Nick Coleman and St. Viator point guard Mark Falotico are also heading to Illinois Wesleyan. Rose will also welcome talented guard Jason Gregoire of Cary-Grove. The 6-2 scoring guard is Cary-Grove’s all-time leading scorer.

Recruiting steal for University of Chicago

Coach Mike McGrath has had his share of recruiting steals in recent years, including the Whitney Young tandem of Jordan Smith and Nate Brooks a few years ago and Morton standout Waller Perez two years ago. Now another one is on the way in Noah Karras of Lake Forest.

Karras, an athletic 6-3 shooting guard, is one of the top Division III recruits nationally. He averaged 11.6 points a game for a team that finished 28-2 on the season, while shooting 40 percent from the three-point line (69 of 170 from beyond the arc).

Lewis hits it big, adds former Oswego star

Although not a high school recruit, Division II Lewis and coach Scott Trost has to be ecstatic about the arrival this fall of Division I transfer Miles Simelton. The athletic 6-0 point guard from Oswego left Lehigh after two seasons and figures to be a huge addition for the Flyers.

Simelton, who appeared in 62 games at Lehigh over his first two seasons of college basketball, finished his Oswego career as the second leading scorer in school history with 1,588 points.

Lewis also locked up Bloomington Central Catholic combo guard Jake Reinhart, who helped lead his high school team to a state championship as a junior and sectional title as a senior. This past season as a senior, Reinhart was a Class 2A first-team all-stater, averaging 19.7 points a game while knocking down 81 three-pointers.

And while they are a pair of out-of-state recruits, the Michigan prep combination of Delaney Blaylock and 6-9 Frank Vukaj were other highlights in the stellar Class of 2015 Lewis recruiting class. Blaylock is considered to be a Division II steal after the 6-4 wing averaged 18.7 points a game for a state championship team in Michigan this past season.

Wisconsin-Parkside lands pair of Illinois bigs

In the never-ending search to secure big men in college basketball –– at all levels –– Division II Wisconsin-Parkside reached across the state line and landed two: Libertyville’s 6-10 Joe Borcia and Oak Forest’s 6-9 Kyle Flanagan, who averaged 17.8 points and 10.2 rebounds a game.

Neuqua Valley’s Raridon stays home

North Central College in Naperville will be bringing in depth and size in its 2015 recruiting class, but the headliner is a familiar name: Neuqua Valley’s Connor Raridon, a versatile 6-5 wing. Raridon, the son of North Central head coach Todd Raridon, averaged 15.5 points a game, scored a school record 40 points in a win over East Aurora this past season, and became just the third player in Neuqua history with 1,000-plus career points.

In addition, 6-8 big man Jack Bronec of St. Charles East is headed to North Central after a highly-productive senior year for a 24-win team.

Other notable small college recruits …

Ken Davis landed his most impressive in-state recruit as he begins his second season as head coach at Lake Forest College. Jordan Morgan, a big, strong, rugged 6-3 guard from Chicago University High is a terrific building block for Davis’ program. … Wisconsin-Stevens Point landed a good one in high-scoring guard Robby Nardini of Vernon Hills. After averaging 19.7 points a game as a senior, Nardini finished his career with 1,452 points. … As coach Todd Kelly tries to build the Illinois Institute of Technology program from the ground up, landing Whitney Young point guard Ant Moseley was a big step in that process.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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