Bloom’s Dante Maddox Jr., Donovan Newby make college commitments

Dante Maddox Jr. committed to Cal State-Fullerton on Friday and Donovan Newby chose Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week.

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Bloom’s Dante Maddox, Jr., hits from three. He committed to Cal State-Fullerton on Friday.

Bloom’s Dante Maddox, Jr., hits from three. He committed to Cal State-Fullerton on Friday.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

With five Division I senior prospects in the program, an awfully busy fall was expected at Bloom.

There would be open gyms in Chicago Heights filled with college coaches eyeballing and courting the talent. Official visits would be taken and verbal commitments given as a prelude to National Signing Day next month.

A couple of those promising prospects, guards Dante Maddox and Donovan Newby, are now off the board following commitments this week. Newby, a poised 6-1 point guard, committed to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday while Maddox, a scoring 6-2 combo guard, gave Cal-State Fullerton a commitment on Friday afternoon.

Maddox had trimmed a lengthy mid-major list down to Fullerton, Missouri State, Toledo and Kent State. He took official visits to all four and singled out the school in California due to his connection to head coach Dedrique Taylor and how the school fit Maddox’s academic and future pursuits beyond basketball.

Many prospects will mention the academics of the school they choose as a key piece in making their decision. Maddox was emphatic about the impact it had on his decision.

Maddox’s dream outside of basketball is to be a sports broadcaster. Fullerton offers a stellar radio and television program and is smack dab in the middle of a Los Angeles media market that offers so many different opportunities for its students and graduates. That certainly opened the eyes of Maddox.

“The academics, especially with the field I want to study, played a huge role in my decision,” Maddox said. “That was probably as big as anything. I’m passionate about broadcasting and being at a place that has that much to offer? That’s huge. I couldn’t find a better place to continue playing basketball and to prepare myself for life after basketball.”

Maddox, a strong-bodied guard who not only can score the basketball but impressed college coaches with his defensive effort and approach, also felt a connection with the coaching staff. The feeling he had at Fullerton resembled the closeness he feels at Bloom, where he plays for his father, Dante Maddox, Sr., and a close-knit group.

“The very first thing I noticed, the thing that immediately stuck out to me was the relationship I saw between the players and the coaches,” Maddox said. “That stood out before anything basketball wise. There was an immediate, true family feel there. You could tell they loved being around one another and how close they were.”

The recruiting process for Newby took some time. He was recently labeled by the City/Suburban Hoops Report as one of the more under-recruited prospects in Illinois in the Class of 2020. He admits there was some frustration as he awaited more interest and offers.

But the fit he felt at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the offer from coach Pat Baldwin and the subsequent commitment made it all worth it.

Bloom’s Donovan Newby (1) around the corner against Bloomington. Newby recently committed to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Bloom’s Donovan Newby (1) around the corner against Bloomington. Newby recently committed to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

“It’s a dream come true,” Newby said. “The thought of that scholarship and that my parents won’t have to pay for my college is an unbelievable feeling. Then to think I get to do something I’ve loved all my life –– play basketball ––while going to college is pretty special.”

UW-Milwaukee’s business school fit Newby’s academic needs and said he connected with the coaching staff, including Baldwin and assistant coach Paris Parham.

“When talking with the coaching staff I could relate and talk so easily with them,” Newby said. “It was all so easy, natural and smooth with them.”

UW-Milwaukee is getting a true point guard who provides stability in running a team while providing on-the-ball defensive pressure.

Now Newby and Maddox can turn their attention to an upcoming season in which Bloom will be a state title contender. Last year the Blazing Trojans finished 26-4 but lost in the sectional semifinals. But four three-year starters return and a key transfer, Christian Shumate, adds to the talented group.

“I’m excited about not having to worry about the offers and recruiting,” Newby said. “I can focus on getting better and reaching our goal of playing in Peoria. We know what’s out there.”

Maddox views the upcoming season as a special opportunity, something he and his teammates have been waiting for after putting in so much time together in the gym. But he is also relieved that the focus can turn back from recruiting to those team and season goals.

“I could see when Donovan committed earlier this week what it did for him,” Maddox said. “I could see the stress relief and weight off his shoulders. It was so evident. He was so happy and relieved. You could see it even his walk. I feel like that now.”

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