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Big, experienced Westinghouse beats Lincoln Park

Gary Johns, a 6-7 Westinghouse senior, scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Warriors’ 62-53 win against visiting Lincoln Park. 

Westinghouse’s Gary Johns (11) celebrates with teammates during the game against Lincoln Park.
Westinghouse’s Gary Johns (11) celebrates with teammates during the game against Lincoln Park.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

High school basketball players are no longer the first choice for college coaches looking to add players to their programs. The transfer portal is at the top of the list and JUCO’s and prep schools aren’t far behind.

That’s changed things drastically for high school players. Add in the fact that the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to college players due to COVID-19 and it is clear to see what the Class of 2021 is up against.

Westinghouse and Lincoln Park both have players that, if they performed well senior year, would have been looking at numerous college scholarship offers in the past.

Instead they find themselves playing in empty gyms for a one-month season during a recruiting dead period.

Gary Johns, a 6-7 Westinghouse senior, is a prime example. He scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Warriors’ 62-53 win against visiting Lincoln Park.

“I know it is my time to step up to the plate,” Johns said.

He’s a bit of a late bloomer and a full season in front of recruiting analysts and college coaches could have opened up some doors for him. Westinghouse coach Rafie Fields said Johns has some JUCO and NAIA interest but believes Johns, who is a good student, can definitely play at the D1 level.

Junior Martell Webb added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors (2-1, 2-1 Red-North/West). Senior guard Juvon Crawford scored 12 and Dwayne Walton added 11 points and seven rebounds.

The game was tight until late in the third quarter. Westinghouse took control with a 10-0 run and Lincoln Park (0-4, 0-4) never got closer than five points after that.

“Unfortunately, it’s a short season,” Fields said. “But these guys have been playing together for four years. They know each other well and it’s just a matter of going out and executing. So that definitely helps us. They can just kind of score and turn it on when they see fit.”

Lincoln Park’s Sincere Malone (15) goes to the basket during the game against Westinghouse.
Lincoln Park’s Sincere Malone (15) goes to the basket during the game against Westinghouse.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Lincoln Park seniors Sincere Malone and Julio Montes are two other players caught in the current college recruiting mess.

Malone, who started high school at Simeon, has bounced around to a few different places but quietly improved every season. He’s made his biggest leap this year. He’s now 6-9 and playing with more aggression. Malone finished with 12 points, 14 boards and five blocks.

He looked like a future Division I player against Westinghouse. After the game Malone said he has offers from Chicago State and Southern University, along with interest from Wake Forest and a few others.

Montes has been one of the city’s most dependable points guards for three seasons. He scored 18 points. He’s also struggling to get enough attention from colleges.

“A lot of schools have shown interest in Sincere but they haven’t offered him yet,” Lincoln Park coach Antwon Jennings said. “But I think the offers will come. Sincere is an excellent player. He can play anywhere on the floor and he can guard any position.”

Watch the final minute of Lincoln Park at Westinghouse: