The weekly City/Suburban Hoops Report Three-Pointer touches on the job Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin has done this year, an exciting time for Mundelein basketball and the scoring and shooting exploits for Johnsburg’s Zach Toussaint.
Morgan Park may or may not win a city championship in the next couple of weeks.
The Mustangs may or may not win a third straight Class 3A state championship in March.
Regardless if those two monumental accomplishments occur, this is very likely the best coaching job Nick Irvin has turned in during his 11 years in leading the South Side power.
Even with four state titles, a third-place finish and a career record of 279-72 since taking charge of the Morgan Park program in 2008, Irvin and other coaches of city powers are often disregarded when it comes to outstanding coaching jobs in any one individual season. Irvin, in particular, is often much maligned.
The team talent, the naysayers preach, somehow always discounts any basketball philosophy, input or knowledge from the coach.
While there is still outstanding talent in place at Morgan Park, including the best junior prospect in the state in guard Adam Miller, this was not supposed to be a typical Mustangs juggernaut.
After losing superstar Ayo Dosunmu and Division I talents Cam Burrell and Kenyon Duling, here Morgan Park is in early February with a 22-3 record, ranked No. 3 in the Super 25 and with wins over Bogan, Simeon, DePaul Prep and Bolingbrook.
Irvin’s teams, no matter the year, always play with something to prove and rarely, if ever, take the floor disinterested. With Irvin’s constant energy and intensity, the Mustangs are at full throttle for 32 minutes. That’s not an easy thing to do, especially in today’s world of basketball.
Irvin has his team playing together, has nicely blended pieces and helped turn a nobody into a Division I prospect in DeShawndre Washington.
Under-the-radar teams with young talent are ones you want to be mindful of when you’re a high seed in March.
Mundelein fits the description.
They are unranked and a relative unknown after being completely off the basketball map for several years, and the 15-8 record the Mustangs sport may not jump out at you. However, three promising sophomores are leading the way and getting better by the month.
That young trio of 6-2 guard Conor Enright (16 ppg, 5 apg), 6-8 Scottie Ebube (16 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and 6-3 Jack Bikus (9 ppg, 8 rpg) are the nucleus of a program that is on the verge of turning the corner.
When these sophomores entered high school last year, Mundelein was coming off a stretch in which it had gone 11-106 over the previous four seasons. After Enright and Ebube shared in the improvement last year as freshmen when the Mustangs won 14 games, coach Matt Badgley was soon able to see and acknowledge what the future held.
While he knows there will be growing pains with young players at the forefront, positive steps continue to be taken.
“The thing with young kids is trying to teach them how to play through the adversity of a game and keep their composure,” says Badgley, who is in his third season at Mundelein.
While it’s still a learning process for his young players, Badly has seen steady improvement in this area.
Now it will be interesting to see how Mundelein finishes off North Suburban Conference and how it fares in March.
The Mustangs played Waukegan tough in a pair of losses and will face league leader Stevenson this weekend after losing to the Patriots by just five points back in December. All three will be in the Waukegan Sectional together next month.
The continued growth of this team and program continues.
“Now it’s lets get kids to understand we need people to fit this player criteria and to fill these roles and specific things within a team,” says Badgley. “We are in constant communication with our kids about this. We know what the future could hold.”
Ebube is among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 prospects in the Class of 2021. He’s a force athletically around the basket with a body and game that continues to develop. Badly says Ebube continues to see the progression of a 32-minute game what physical teams are going to be with him.
Enright is a spunky lead guard who plays with athleticism while being a scoring threat with his shooting ability. Understanding the pace of the game, Badgley says, is where he sees the growth in a point guard who also plays fast and with confidence.
Regardless of who you play or where you play, scoring 2,000 points in your high school basketball career is a mammoth achievement.
Zach Toussaint is never going to get a ton of buzz in the Chicago area playing for a 13-9 Johnsburg team in the Kishwaukee River Conference. But the slender, fun-to-watch 5-11 guard became the first player in McHenry County history to score 2,000 career points over the weekend.
Remarkably, Toussaint only scored 56 points during his freshman season, so nearly all the work has been done in three seasons. Toussaint is on pace to score 2,200-plus career points which would place him among the top 75 scorers in state history.
A terrific shooter with 278 career three-pointers and a chance to become just the 21st player in state history to surpass 300 three-pointers made, Touissant signed with Division II West Texas A&M this past fall.
Toussaint has faced gimmick defenses all season, yet he’s averaging 24.8 points along with 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game. He’s had games of 51 and 43 points this season and scored 52 in a game last year.