Remember Bolingbrook, Illini land big target, midseason coach of the year

SHARE Remember Bolingbrook, Illini land big target, midseason coach of the year

York’s Nate Shockey (10) gets to the basket. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Bolingbrook is healthy and ready for a run, Illinois lands a massive recruiting target and the midseason City/Suburban Hoops Report Coach of the Year highlight this week’s Three-Pointer.

No. 1

It’s been out of sight, out of mind for Bolingbrook, arguably the best team no one has seen or heard much about this season.

Coach Rob Brost’s Raiders are ranked and sport a 9-3 record heading into the new year.

But the schedule has not been conducive in attracting headlines or attention as Bolingbrook played nine games out of the area in November and December. The Raiders have yet to lose to an in-state team.

In addition, veteran star and Northern Illinois recruit Tyler Cochran missed the first eight games of the year with an injury and just recently returned.

Bolingbrook began the season playing three games in central Illinois where it won the Decatur Turkey Tournament, including a win over Class 3A heavyweight Springfield Southeast. The Raiders dropped two games in Iowa in early December and went 3-1 in Florida playing in the Kingdom of the Sun Tournament over the holidays.

But everyone is going to learn a whole lot about this year’s Bolingbrook team in coming weeks. The January schedule evolves into a gauntlet filled with ranked local powerhouses.

In a four-day stretch in the middle of the month, the Raiders travel to Homewood-Flossmoor in a key Southwest Suburban Blue game and face a pair of top 10 teams in Evanston and Morgan Park. Then Bolingbrook takes on Simeon Jan. 26.

The rugged schedule is the best Bolingbrook has played since Brost took over the program in 207, and it includes a schedule where the Raiders have already faced the top-ranked team in Iowa and one of the top-ranked teams in both Wisconsin and Florida.

“This was by design,” said Brost of the type of schedule the Raiders put together this season. “We wanted to ramp it up. This is what we needed to do to best prepare us for March.”

With a healthy Cochran, a do-it-all guard who has significantly helped on the glass since his return, the presence of point guard and Drake recruit Joseph Yesufu (17 ppg) and the emergence of junior Darius Burford (17 ppg), Bolingbrook is prepared to live up to its lofty preseason ranking and expectations.

No. 2

The Sunday commitment from Kofi Cockburn couldn’t have come at a better time for Illinois and coach Brad Underwood.

The struggling Fighting Illini, who are in desperate need of front court help, landed one of the top 40 prospects in the country in Cockburn, a 6-10, 285-pound mammoth center from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.

Cockburn provides a presence on the offensive block and is a space-eating big man in the paint who is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a game for Oak Hill. He was the leading rebounder during the club season on the highly-regarded Nike EYBL circuit.

Cockburn is the highest ranked player Illinois has landed since the Class of 2010 included top 40 prospects Jereme Richmond of Waukegan and Meyers Leonard of Robinson.

No. 3

There are always plenty of coach of the year candidates each season. This year the early list would include Mike Taylor of Marian Catholic, Scott Hennig of Geneva and Fremd’s Bob Widlowski among others.

But at the midway point of the season it’s hard to argue against York’s Vince Doran. He has guided the Dukes to an impressive 14-1 start and No. 15 ranking after being unranked and considered a darkhorse to Oak Park in the West Suburban Silver when the season began.

York owns a win over Benet and won the 32-team Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament last week. The Dukes have beaten 10-plus win teams in Glenbard West, Downers Grove South, St. Laurence, Downers Grove North and Lyons Twp. while throttling a solid Willowbrook team by 28 points.

While York has some impressive pieces, particularly on the perimeter with Nick Kosich, Erik Cohn and Nate Shockey, it’s a team that epitomizes “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” phrase.

York’s funky zone has the capability of taking opposing teams out of their comfort zone, and the Dukes have shown an ability to play at different speeds offensively.

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