PEORIA, IL — Simeon senior Zach Norvell already plays with the polish of a college basketball player. That same poise is evident off the court. The 6-5 guard leaned back in a seat at Carver Arena on Thursday, right after the Wolverines’ shoot-around, and took stock of his high school career.
“I think you could say I’ve checked off all the boxes, for the most part,” Norvell said.
Norvell has signed with Gonzaga, so his immediate future is secured. He led Simeon to a city championship last month. There is just one more thing to accomplish, two more games to win this weekend, to cement his legacy.
“You didn’t do anything at Simeon if you don’t win state,” Norvell said. “Making it downstate is cool, but if you don’t win it doesn’t even matter. Winning this state title this weekend would be a good way to finish it off. I’ll be able to sleep easy.”
Norvell has been very good all season, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He’s been tremendous for the past two months. Wolverines coach Robert Smith believes Norvell’s leadership has been the key to the city and state playoff run.
“After the first loss to Morgan Park I felt like I had to step up, forget about points and worry about winning,” Norvell said. “We were just playing, there wasn’t any togetherness, we hadn’t been through any tough battles. Things changed after that.”
Norvell and Curie senior Devin Gage (15 points, five assists) are joined on the Sun-Times Class 4A All-State First Team by Hinsdale South’s Barret Benson (20 points, 11 rebounds), Glenbard West’s Justin Pierce (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Belleville East’s Javon Pickett (24 points, six rebounds), an Illinois recruit.
Sun-Times Player of the Year Charlie Moore highlights the Class 3A First Team. Moore, a Memphis recruit, averaged 28 points, seven assists and five steals for the Mustangs. He’s joined by Fenwick’s Mike Smith (20 points, four assists) and Dixon’s Isaiah Roby (23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four blocks) who has signed with Nebraska.
Two players competing for the Class 3A state title this weekend round out the First Team. St. Joseph center Nick Rakocevic (20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, three assists) helped the Chargers to the title last season and has somehow managed to lead a team filled with young players back to Peoria.
Belleville Althoff junior Jordan Goodwin (17 points, 12 rebounds) leads the Crusaders, the favorites to win Class 3A this weekend.
Player, School, Position, Height, Year
Barret Benson, Hinsdale South, C, 6-10, Sr.
Devin Gage, Curie, G, 6-2, Sr.
Zach Norvell, Simeon, G, 6-5, Sr.
Javon Pickett, Belleville East, G, 6-4, Jr.
Justin Pierce, Glenbard West, F, 6-6, Sr.
Micah Bradford, Bradley-Bourbonnais, G, 6-0, Sr.
Tray Buchanan, East Moline United, G, 6-1, Jr.
Nick Robinson, Kenwood, F, 6-6, Sr.
Sam Taylor III, Thornton, G, 5-11, Sr.
Antonio Williams, Proviso East, G, 6-0, Sr.
Jordan Goodwin, Belleville Althoff, G, 6-4, Jr.
Charlie Moore, Morgan Park, G, 5-11, Sr.
Nick Rakocevic, St. Joseph, C, 6-11, Sr.
Isaiah Roby, Dixon, F, 6-8, Sr.
Mike Smith, Fenwick, G, 5-10, Sr.
Xavier Bishop, Springfield Lanphier, G, 5-8, Sr.
Romon Douglas-Watkins, Peoria Manual, F, 6-5, Jr.
Tim Finke, Champaign Central, G, 6-6, So.
James Jones, Bogan, G, 6-4, Sr.
Nate Kennell, Metamora, F, 6-5, Sr.
Dakota Bennington, Peoria Christian, F, 6-3, Sr.
Raekwon Drake, Orr, F, 6-5, So.
Demarius Jacobs, Uplift, G, 6-3, Jr.
Noah McCarty, Sterling Newman, F, 6-8, Sr.
Donovan Oliver, Kewanee, F, 6-6, Sr.
Logan Kohrmann, Breese Central, G, 6-2, Sr.
Brandon Suggs, Winnebago, F, 6-7, Sr.
Brandon Trimble, St. Joseph-Ogden, G, 6-3, Jr.
Matt Wendling, Athens, F, 6-5 Sr.
Gentry Whiteman, Rockridge, G, 5-11, Jr.
Darius Branch, Leo, G, 5-8, Sr.
Matt Chastain, LeRoy, F, 6-6, Sr.
Noah Frederking, Okawville, G, 6-4, Jr.
Phelan Kelly, Brimfield, G, 6-1, Sr.
Ross Owens, Woodlawn, G, 6-5, Sr.
Keegan Bertsche, Flanagan-Cornell, G, 5-11, Sr.
Jered Cain, Patoka, F, 6-2 Jr.
Jack Clausel, Newark, F, 6-6, Sr.
Teddy Fifer, Metro-East Lutheran, G, 6-1, Sr.
Darias Oliver, Leo, F, 6-6, Sr.