St. Ignatius star Phoenix Gill commits to Northwestern

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St. Ignatius' Phoenix Gill (13) drives with the basketball against Loyola this season.

St. Ignatius’ Phoenix Gill (13) drives with the basketball against Loyola this season.

Quinn Harris/For the Sun-Times

The next two weeks are a couple of the biggest for high school basketball players across the state. It’s a time to impress as college coaches will flock to the state during two “live” recruiting periods to evaluate the top prospects in Illinois.

But St. Ignatius star Phoenix Gill didn’t care. He had no plans to draw out his recruitment any further, committing to Northwestern and coach Chris Collins earlier this week.

“I felt like it was just the best school for me,” Gill said. “Once the EYBL ended [in May], I felt like without any more offers that I wanted to pull the trigger. I was ready to commit because that was the school I really wanted to go to. It was a great opportunity that I didn’t want to waste.”

Gill, who averaged 17.1 points, six rebounds and 2.6 assists this past season as a junior, is among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 prospects in the class. As a sophomore, he was a double-figure scorer for an Ignatius team that finished fourth in the state in Class 3A.

He will be heading to a program that’s close to home and will be shooting for its third straight NCAA Tournament berth after winning a combined 45 games the past two seasons.

“Northwestern speaks for itself with the high academics, being a program that is on the rise and led by great coaches,” Gill said. “They are building something in a way that I love. They aren’t doing it a whole lot with bringing in transfers. They kind of stick with the guys they have and build which is essential with me. And my mom went there. That was a big key for me. She was pretty happy when I committed.”

Now if he can get his dad to throw on some purple.

Gill is the son of Illinois basketball legend Kendall Gill, who was part of the famed Flying Illini team that reached the Final Four in 1989.

“He’s not wearing purple yet,” Kendall Gill joked. “He said he will stay neutral when we play Illinois and says he will wear a gray suit. But he’s happy for me. He’s really, really proud that I will be playing in the Big Ten and both his school and my mom’s school recruited me.”

The 6-3 guard fits well into what Northwestern basketball has become in recent years under Collins. A tough, hard-nosed and physical guard who is about the right things and is the first commitment in the Class of 2025 for the Wildcats.

This is the second straight recruiting class that Northwestern has landed a top Catholic League player. Mount Carmel star Angelo Ciaravino will be a freshman in Evanston this fall.

Now it’s back to business with St. Ignatius, starting with an important summer following an up-and-down 16-15 season.

“It’s going to be a great senior year,” Gill said. “I think of this season as a revenge tour. Everyone is kind of writing us off because of last season. Honestly, even during our state runs they were writing us off. We know we have some championship pedigree, and I think we will shock a lot of people this year. We are building this summer and have the pieces.”

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