Simeon’s Sam Lewis commits to Toledo

Sam Lewis committed to coach Tod Kowalczyk and the Rockets on Friday, ending a recruitment in which he was a highly coveted mid-major prospect.

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Sam Lewis (11) dunks against Fenwick.

Sam Lewis (11) dunks against Fenwick.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

There are still a lot of unknowns for Simeon’s Sam Lewis, one of the top dozen senior prospects in the Class of 2023 in Illinois.

For starters, he has yet to play a regular-season game at his new school; Lewis transferred in at the of the school year after spending the past three years at Oak Park. Lewis played throughout June with the Wolverines and looked the part of a rising, talented senior. 

But the athletic 6-4 Lewis does know this: Toledo is his college choice.

Lewis committed to coach Tod Kowalczyk and the Rockets on Friday, ending a recruitment where he was a highly-coveted mid-major prospect. 

“They showed a lot of interest but throughout the staff recruiting me, they always talked about how they were going to help me both on and off the court,” Lewis said. “I valued that and really prioritized that in the recruiting process.”

Lewis said the coaching staff, style of play, campus setting, and “knowing people from where I’m from have succeeded” at Toledo all played a part in choosing the Rockets. 

Lewis becomes another player in a long line from Illinois who have thrived at Toledo. 

Currently, former Oswego East star Ray J Dennis is returning after averaging 12.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and four assists. Former Bloom star Dante Maddox, Jr., is transferring in from Cal-State Fullerton. 

Julius Brown, who starred at Hillcrest over a decade ago, is Toledo’s third all-time leading scorer. Warren’s Nathan Boothe was an All-MAC performer, scored nearly 1,500 career points, and is the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots. 

Lewis, a versatile perimeter player with outstanding physical attributes and upside, hopes to be the next Illinois product to star at Toledo. 

Under the veteran Kowalczyk, Toledo has averaged 22 wins a year over the past five years. They’ve reached the NIT three times and have won four Mid-American Conference West championships in that time. The only thing missing in Kowalczyk’s impressive résumé is an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Getting Toledo to take that next step and making the NCAA Tournament is a big priority for Lewis. 

“That’s a big thing for me,” Lewis said of helping Toledo to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 42 years. “I’ve dreamed of playing in the NCAA Tournament, and if I can be the man there for them in two or three years, based on my development, and help them get to a tournament, that would be a dream.”

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