Henricksen: Three-Pointer talks top tandem, most improved, ESCC’s fast start

SHARE Henricksen: Three-Pointer talks top tandem, most improved, ESCC’s fast start
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St. Laurence’s Zion Fortune (33) fouls Marist’s Jack Ellison (21). Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s weekly Three-Pointer includes a look at the best 1-2 punch in the Chicago area, the most improved player from a year ago and the terrific start of the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

No. 1

There may not be a 1-2 punch in the Chicago area right now better than Simeon’s Talen Horton-Tucker and Messiah Jones. The duo has been a prime example of consistency and production.

When you combine the versatility Horton-Tucker brings to the table and the presence around the basket at both ends that Jones offers, it’s no wonder Simeon is 6-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state.

“They know each other so well and play different spots, so it makes it so much easier,” says Simeon coach Robert Smith of his prized tandem. “We try and keep them together on the same side of the floor, and it’s been a real luxury so far.”

Horton-Tucker, who has signed with Iowa State, is one of the most skilled, all-around players in the state with his ability to dribble, pass and shoot. The 6-4 do-it-all fills a stat sheet with 21.5 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals a game.

The Drake-bound Jones, a finisher around the rim and an athletic glass cleaner at 6-5, is putting up a double-double, averaging 18.3 points and 10 rebounds and blocks two shots a game.

The tandem were at it again Thursday night at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Florida. Simeon beat Wesleyan Christian (NC) 69-68 as Horton-Tucker had 27 points and 10 rebounds and Jones added 17 points and 11 rebounds, including the winning free-throw with 2.2 seconds to play.

No. 2

There are dozens of vastly improved players throughout the Chicago area in the senior class. But no one has made a bigger jump than Niles Notre Dame’s Dusan Mahorcic.

After playing a limited role last season as a junior, the 6-9 Mahorcic, who moved to the United States from Montenegro during his sophomore season, has improved every facet of his game.

“He’s developed his game and improved tremendously based on the work he put in, both in the gym and in the weight room,” says first-year head coach Kevin Clancy.

Mahorcic, who recorded a triple-double last weekend in a win over Carmel, is averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game. The skilled big man is shooting 63 percent from the field and has had games of 34, 25 and 24 points this season.

Now among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 30 prospects in the Class of 2018, Mahorcic will certainly grab the attention of Division I coaches going forward. He’s a player with projectable size and coordination, shooting touch and an undeniable high ceiling.

No. 3

The East Suburban Catholic Conference has been hit hard by defections, both to graduation and transfers.

Notre Dame and Benet combined to win 48 games last year but graduated the bulk of their respective teams.

The league also lost its conference MVP, Maurice Commander, who transferred from league champ Marist to Curie, along with three talented points guards who also transferred: Marian Catholic’s Chase Adams transferred to Orr, St. Patrick’s Xavier Pinson to Simeon and St. Viator’s J.R. Cison is now at Lake Zurich.

But the league is tired of hearing about personnel losses. The ESCC is sticking its chest out these days due to the stellar start the teams have had as they head to holiday tournaments across the state next week.

The top five teams in the conference are now a combined 41-5 overall, including Marist’s perfect 11-0 start. Marist coach Gene Nolan may be on the verge of coaching his second straight Player of the Year in the conference as senior Morgan Taylor has been sensational.

When you add Carmel’s 6-1 non-conference record to the mix, the ESCC is a very impressive 39-4 outside of conference play.

The ESCC will get its chance over the holidays to prove its worth.

Benet plays in a loaded Pontiac field. St. Viator is at Wheeling with unbeaten Niles North and Waukegan. Marist heads to Centralia, where one of the state’s best, Belleville West, will be favored. Marian Catholic hopes to get a shot at the likes of DePaul Prep and Bolingbrook at Hinsdale Central.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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