There are years when it’s bigger and more impactful than others, but the transfer story in Illinois high school basketball is omnipresent. The moves can happen in an instant and, often, when you least expect it.
What’s interesting in this transfer story year is that three of the city’s major powers –– Simeon, Curie and Morgan Park –– all lost significant pieces, including some very good young talent.
Curie lost one of the top prospects in the Class of 2018, Landers Nolley, who played a pivotal role for the state champs a year ago. Simeon lost a pair of promising and talented juniors in 6-6 Devonire Glass and an emerging Bacari Simmons. All three of these players moved out of state.
This year’s moves, however, certainly change the landscape of Illinois prep basketball, starting with the fact the state’s top prospect, 6-10 Illinois commitment Jeremiah Tilmon, has returned to East St. Louis after a year at La Lumiere Prep in Indiana.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at the most impactful transfers on the high school basketball scene and, as the school year begins, where many of them have landed.
▪ Jeremiah Tilmon (from La Lumiere to East St. Louis)
Impact transfer scale: 10
It doesn’t get much bigger than adding a top 25 prospect in the country who has committed to the state university and is the No. 1 prospect in Illinois. So what if it’s the return to his original digs; adding the 6-10 post is a game-changer in Illinois high school basketball.
Plus, it’s an opportunity for fans across the state to watch Tilmon play, including a trip to Chicago for the Chicago Elite Classic in December.
▪ Alonzo Verge (from Proviso West to Thornton)
Impact transfer scale: 8
After an eye-opening sophomore season in which he led Willowbrook to a combination of unprecedented success and headlines, the 6-2 guard has been a basketball vagabond. Verge was headed to Proviso West but left the state for a prep school in Florida for his junior year, only to return to Proviso West.
Now he’s expected to be at Thornton, though some things are still being finalized with the move. When and/or if Verge is on the floor for coach Tai Streets this season, he becomes the top talent and performer in the south suburbs this winter. He takes Thornton from a Southwest Suburban Red contender to favorite, along with a chance for the Wildcats to be a major threat in March.
▪ Aaron Cash (Word of God Christian Academy in North Carolina to Morgan Park)
Impact transfer scale:8
After weeks of rumors of just where this talented 6-6 wing with true Division I talent would land, Cash will team up with dynamic junior Ayo Dosunmu in what could ultimately turn into a game-changer for coach Nick Irvin’s program.
▪ Trevon Abdullah (Las Vegas’ Desert Pines High School to Bogan)
Impact transfer scale:7
This well built and athletic 6-4 wing moved to Chicago this summer and is enrolled at Bogan, where he now looks to be among the top 15 prospects in the Class of 2017.
Abdullah is a bonafide Division I prospect as he received offers from the likes of Colorado State, Fresno State, Utah State, Northern Colorado and others before committing to Nevada.
▪ Javon Freeman (from Seton Academy to Young)
Impact transfer scale: 7
When Seton Academy closed its doors this past spring, it opened the door for some program to add one of the top prospects in the Class of 2018 in Illinois. The 6-4 wing put together an impressive sophomore campaign and was solid on the club circuit this past summer.
Yes, he’s talented as a multi-faceted wing, but the impact of Freeman is so great because it will be felt for two years. Coach Tyrone Slaughter has added a major perimeter threat, joining junior point guard Xavier Castaneda.
▪ Logan Windeler (from Manteno to Lincoln-Way West)
Impact transfer scale: 6
You have to feel for the Southwest Suburban Red teams who watched the rich get richer as both Thornton, the defending league champ, and Lincoln-Way West, a top four finisher in Peoria in Class 3A, add impact transfers.
While Windeler isn’t the dynamic talent of Verge, he’s a potential difference-maker in his own way after putting together a terrific spring and summer.
The move of the 6-8 Windeler from Manteno to Lincoln-Way West is more significant than most realize. Yes, Windeler is a lesser-known prospect who missed most of his junior year with an injury, but he went out and showed he’s a scholarship player at the low-Division I/Division II level over the past five months.
The long, agile 6-8 forward boasts skill. Now he will team up with three returning perimeter players, including star Marco Pettinato, who has committed to Division II Lewis, Nolan Green and Jay Bumstead, pushing Lincoln-Way West from a fringe top 25 team in the preseason to a bonafide top 25 team.
▪ Kaleb Thornton (from Nazareth to Bolingbrook)
Impact transfer scale:6
This is a bonafide top 25 team already with the return of 6-5 Nana Akenten, one of the top 10 prospects in the senior class, super sophomore point guard Joseph Yesefu, and a host of players with size and athleticism.
Now the Raiders add a talented, jet-quick guard to the mix in Thornton. He provides yet another threat with the ball in his hands, along with more balance and depth for coach Rob Brost. The 5-11 point guard has two years of varsity experience under his belt and was able to familiarize himself with his future teammates as he played the month of June with the Raiders.
Other moves of impact
Bolingbrook’s other additions: There is a trio of talented transfers who have enrolled at Bolingbrook. In addition to the arrival of Thornton, coach Rob Brost also has transfers Malik Binns, a powerful senior forward from Morgan Park, and senior wing Trevor Ross of Oswego East. With the arrival of these three players, this highly-regarded Bolingbrook team now can go eight or nine deep.
Hello, Harvest Christian: The little-known private school in Elgin is loading up, starting with the arrival of Andre White.
The 5-9 point guard is a mighty mite sophomore who played on the varsity level at Loyola Academy last year, where he knocked down 40 three-pointers. White is the son of new Harvest Christian coach Andre White, a former prep star at Zion-Benton.
In addition, senior Brennen Woods, who has been a fixture as a high-producing 6-3 at Hampshire, along with junior J.J. Flores from Huntley, will join White in helping make Harvest Christian a major player in Class 1A.
Kenwood’s new talent: Coach Marlo Finner was hit hard by graduation, including the loss of a pair of Division I players in Nick Robinson (St. Joseph) and Zion Morgan (UNLV), but the Broncos do have some new blood in three influential newcomers.
H-F transfer Cameron Bowles, a skilled 6-6 wing who came on late last season for the Vikings, will be a key addition, along with Octavious Parker, a shooting guard who played at Niles West last season. Then there is point guard Bryson Langdon, who moved from Utah a year ago and sat out last season.
North Lawndale adds a pair: They may not be big names, but they will help coach Lewis Thorpe’s team in the Red-West. The Phoenix, who will be led by senior guard Carlos Hines, will get a big lift from junior David Forrest, an explosive athlete on the wing who has transferred from Foreman and is a known scorer. In addition, senior guard Steven Ross makes the move from Marian Catholic to North Lawndale.
Austin Richie to Bloom: After playing at Marian Catholic last season, the big-bodied 6-4 wing has transferred to Bloom. Richie, a very solid perimeter shooter with three-point range and size, will team up with underrated senior Jalen Lee.
Big bunch of new pieces at Bogan: Division I prospects from the past couple of years –– Luwane Pipkins (UMass), James Jones (Buffalo) and Bryce Barnes (UW-Milwaukee) –– are no longer around at Bogan. But the Bengals, led by the arrival of the aforementioned Abdullah, will have a whole new look with a surplus of fresh talent.
In addition to Abdullah, Bogan has added Mikyle Burke, a transfer from Danville who showed flashes this summer of being a potential impact player this coming season.
Morgan Park transfer Cortez Bailey will take over the point guard chores, while a pair of transfers from Simeon, Paris Smith and Kamari Thornton, will be in coach Arthur Goodwin’s rotation.
Plus, 6-8 senior Jaquan Lawrence from Perspectives Math & Science and 6-5 Rashaun Agee from Hyde Park will give Bogan added size.
Evanston adds a piece: With the return of star Nojel Eastern, along with talented senior veterans in Chris Hamil and Elyjah Williams, along with promising sophomore Lance Jones, there are big expectations in Evanston. So the addition of Young transfer Malcolm Townsel, an athletic 6-3 wing, is an added bonus.
Scorer for St. Rita: In addition to Javon Freeman leaving the now closed Seton Academy, scoring guard Rashaad Williams also needed to find a home for his senior year. Williams, a 6-0 guard who poured in 37 points in a game against St. Laurence last season and averaged 15 points a game, is now at St. Rita.
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