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City/Suburban Hoops Report Three-Pointer: Rolling Meadows, top uncommitted bigs, ESCC contenders

There are few uncommitted senior options remaining in Illinois for Division I programs. But two big men will be of interest to college coaches in the next few months: Bloom’s Emondrek Erkins-Ford and Benet’s Kyle Thomas.

Bloom’s Emondrek Erkins-Ford (13) goes up to block a shot in the first half against Thornton’s Vincent Rainey (2).
Bloom’s Emondrek Erkins-Ford (13) goes up to block a shot in the first half against Thornton’s Vincent Rainey (2).
Quinn Harris/For the Sun-Times

Replacing the greatest player in school history is never easy.

A significant drop is expected when the player was a McDonald’s All-American and Sun-Times Player of the Year.

But Rolling Meadows, which finished 15-0 in the abbreviated and constrained schedule of a year ago, is still enjoying success following Max Christie’s departure to Michigan State. The Mustangs are 7-1 and plenty capable of winning another Mid-Suburban League championship.

The main reason for this success is the maturation of both junior Cam Christie and senior Orlando Thomas. They have stepped into a shared alpha dog role under coach Kevin Katovich.

Cam Christie, a 6-5 guard and Max’s younger brother, is a high-major prospect. He’s averaging 19 points, four rebounds and four assists a game. Thomas is a player who is simply better than advertised. The 6-2 guard is averaging 16 points, five rebounds and three assists a game.

Last year they both shared shots while Max Christie was the dominant figure. Katovich believes that helped form a chemistry between the two.

“They feed off each other and are fun to watch,” said Katovich. “They are unselfish and so comfortable playing together. They know when the other is hot and they keep feeding the other the ball.”

With Christie and Thomas in the backcourt, along with the presence and rebounding from a surplus of key pieces with size and length, it’s a team that is expected to make a run later this month at York’s Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament.

Uncommitted bigs

There are very few uncommitted senior options remaining in Illinois for Division I programs. But a pair of big men will be of interest to college coaches over the next few months: Bloom’s Emondrek Erkins-Ford and Benet’s Kyle Thomas.

While the 6-9 Thomas is the more well known name, Erkins-Ford is coming along nicely while anchoring a Blazing Trojans team that knocked off Thornton and Evanston this past weekend. With his length, mobility, shot-blocking and intriguing face-up ability, Erkins-Ford is a late-blossoming 6-8 forward who continues to evolve.

Erkins-Ford remains raw on the offensive end but is becoming more assertive. While his low-volume 35 percent three-point shooting is promising, his offense is still catching up to his defense where he has already blocked 50 shots this season. But Erkins-Ford is filling the stat sheet averaging 10 points, nine rebounds and six blocks a game.

East Suburban Catholic contenders

With the East Suburban Catholic Conference looking a little wobbly at the top, might Carmel be able to squeeze its way into the mix?

Marian Catholic is still the favorite with Benet and Notre Dame as the obvious contenders. But Saturday’s win over St. Rita was just the springboard Carmel needed heading into a big ESCC battle this Friday with Benet.

There shouldn’t be any type of emotional letdown for a program that hasn’t had a top three finish in the league in decades. The best finish in that time came in 2018-19 when the Corsairs finished 6-3 in league play for a fourth-place finish

Bryce Moore, a 6-5 wing who has signed with Niagara, is arguably the league’s best player. Together with 6-5 senior Asher Jackson, coach Zack Ryan has one of the most potent 1-2 scoring punches in the Chicago area.

The numbers between the two are pretty eye-popping: Moore averages 21.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game and Jackson has put up 20.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a game while shooting a blistering 44 percent from three.