Henricksen: Notebook filled with news, notes and thoughts

SHARE Henricksen: Notebook filled with news, notes and thoughts

The story of Noah Deutsch of Deerfield, which was highlighted in a feature piece I wrote last week, is a special and unique one.

How about another good one?

The story of Morton’s Jamari Carthens is certainly one worth noting.

Carthens, a senior for coach Tony Martinucci’s 13-9 Mustangs, was cut last season. He was given the option, however, of staying with the team and practicing with them throughout his junior year, o work on his game on his own.

After putting in time as a junior as a virtual “one-man practice squad” player, Carthens has shined as a senior. With back-to-back 32-point games against Leyden and Willowbrook, Carthens is now averaging 16 points a game for Morton.

Rakocevic recruiting: St. Joseph’s Nick Rakocevic enters the stretch run of his senior year, a season in which the 6-11 big man has been at times dominating while showing consistent production. As the top uncommitted prospect in the senior class, Rakocevic’s recruitment will only continue to pick up steam.

Rakocevic has taken just one official visit –– to West Virginia last fall –– so he will have four official visits available if he chooses following the season. As this process plays out, narrowing the lengthy list down could be tricky. Miami-Florida, USC and Arizona State have been in constant hot pursuit, with a surplus of others now getting involved in some capacity.

Now it’s a matter of which of those other schools –– Rakocevic is hearing from North Carolina, South Carolina, Auburn, Louisville, Oklahoma, Cal and Providence –– will join the race and be in the mix to the end.

Lorenzo Edwards watch: The Lake Forest senior continues to put up numbers and gain college interest, with a number of mid-major programs having checked in on the 6-6 forward.

Furman and Saint Louis extended offers a couple of weeks ago, with Furman head coach Niko Medved taking in Lake Forest’s game with Mundelein on Tuesday night. Duquesne stepped up with a recent offer, while Valpo watched Edwards last weekend and George Mason was expected in this week. Edwards will take an unofficial visit to Wisconsin this Sunday.

Defending state champs are hot: With the loss of Jalen Brunson, one of the most decorated prep players this state has produced, along with Division I player Connor Cashaw and, overall, four starters, there were obvious question marks heading into the season for Stevenson.

Throw in the arrival of two transfers, guards Rodney and Willie Herenton, to go with all the new blood, and the adjustment period was surely going to take some time for coach Pat Ambrose and the Patriots.

But you know what? Stevenson has climbed its way to the top of the North Suburban Lake, sports a not-too-shabby 19-6 record and is getting hot at the right time. The Patriots, whose guards are making better decisions, taking better care of the ball and playing with more patience while the defense has come together, are 11-2 since the holidays and have won five straight.

While it’s clearly not a team at the talent level of a year ago, there is high-major prospect Justin Smith, a 6-6 junior wing who is putting up 17 points a game. The concern, however, is if Smith isn’t playing at a “wow” level against the very best teams, the Patriots are vulnerable.

While Evanston will be the clear-cut favorite in the Glenbrook South Sectional next month, this Stevenson team, which will be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, is better than it was a month ago and a whole lot better than it was two months ago.

Schedule strength always a plus: There is always talk about schedule strength at this time of the year as coaches submit their sectional seeds. Unfortunately, schedule strength is not factored in by all coaches when seeding, even as an unwritten rule and taking common sense into account.

Regardless of how a challenging schedule helps in the seeding process, it’s clearly a plus in preparing for March. Fenwick is a prime example.

With a little over a week remaining in the regular season, Fenwick has played 11 teams that have been ranked at some point this season, including 10 teams that have at least 17 wins this season and are closing in on 20-win campaigns.

The Friars have gone 3-1 against Public League powers Simeon, Morgan Park, Young and Bogan. They’ve played league leaders in Riverside-Brookfield and Benet, with a regular-season finale against South Suburban Blue champ Hillcrest later this month.

This doesn’t even include matchups in the Chicago Catholic League with St. Joseph (18-7) and De La Salle (18-6).

Top 10 player in 2017 on the move?: Reports out of Bloomington have prized junior Charles Payton possibly transferring from Bloomington to Olympia, a school of 551 students 20 miles southwest of Bloomington-Normal. Randy Kindred of the Bloomington-Pantagraph reported the news on Wednesday.

Payton, one of the most dynamic athletes in the state, is one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 10 prospects in the junior class.

Parks, Blazing Trojans blooming and dangerous: The most significant result of the week was Bloom’s 72-62 win over Thornton on Tuesday night.

If Bloom’s 7-1 run its last eight games didn’t open the eyes of Simeon, Thornton, H-F and Marian Catholic –– likely the top four seeds in the sectional –– the win over Thornton should have. That makes two wins in the past two weeks over teams that will be top four seeds.

Plus, guess who’s hosting the sectional? Bloom.

Since Jamal Parks, an unheralded 6-5 senior, took off at the midway point of the season, the Blazing Trojans have been a different team. He’s been huge in big games, scoring 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds in a win over H-F and putting up 22 points in the win over Thornton.

Momentum, emerging confidence, a surging senior and homecourt advantage is a nice little recipe for an underdog in March.

Class 4A vs. Class 3A note: Though overall record is never a for-sure answer in a Class 4A vs. Class 3A talent debate, there is no question the sparkling records glitter the 3A ranks.

There is only one Class 4A team in the state, Evanston, with two or fewer losses. In Class 3A, seven of the 10 state ranked teams in Illinois have either one or two losses on the season.

While the most notable 3A powers are No. 1 ranked Morgan Park, No. 2 ranked Belleville Althoff and No. 3 ranked Fenwick, a few unknowns to Chicago area fans with impressive win totals include: Metamora, Rockford Boylan, Galesburg, Springfield Lanphier, Centralia, La Salle-Peru, Dixon and Washington.

For years the Peoria area sectional has been a chore to get through, simply because of the Peoria schools ––Manual, Central and Richwoods –– being dominant forces. But this year the sectional does, yes, include a power out of Peoria in Manual (19-3), but it also features Galesburg (27-1), Washington (18-2), La Salle Peru (20-2) and Dixon (22-2) with Nebraska-bound senior Isaiah Roby.

Waiting for the winner on the other end of the sectional in the DeKalb Super could be Rockford Boylan (25-2).

Unsigned senior showcases: Former college basketball coach Adam DeMong, who spent eight years at both the Division I and Division II level, will be trying to put uncommitted prospects in the Class of 2016 in front of college coaches one last time.

DeMong will be running an unsigned senior showcase at South Suburban College. The 2016 Coach Perspective Available Showcase, which will be Mar. 26, is $40 for any individual who signs up prior to Mar. 1 and $60 for anyone who registers after Mar. 1. The event is open to high school seniors or prep school members who are part of the Class of 2016.

Coaches from Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college programs will be in attendance.

For more information, contact DeMong at adamdemong@gmail.com or register at http://coachperspective.net/unsigned-senior-showcase/

Another unsigned senior showcase will be held Sunday, Mar. 20 at Mundelein High School. The Illinois Last Chance Unsigned Senior Camp will also highlight unsigned players in the Class of 2016 for small college basketball programs.

For more information on this event, contact camp director Terry Head at (312)-501-7287 or email CoachTHead@aol.com.

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