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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Joe Henricksen

A dozen winners from this summer’s high school basketball circuit

Homewood-Flossmoor’s Jayden Tyler (0) goes to the basket against St Ignatius at the 2023 Riverside-Brookfield Shootout. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

The summer always produces winners. And here is a wide-ranging list of a dozen high school basketball winners from the past couple of months.

Angelo Ciaravino, Mount Carmel

There was no bigger individual summer winner than the 6-6 Ciaravino, who showcased more athleticism and shooting consistency while piling up scholarship offers.

A heavily recruited and attractive mid-major prospect heading into the summer, Ciaravino is now one with 20-plus scholarship offers and high-major opportunities, including high-academic options at Northwestern and Stanford. He plans to visit Northwestern in early August. 

Morez Johnson, Thornton

He won locally by staying home and playing his senior season while other top prospects in the class fled for prep schools. Thus, he’s an appreciated player, both with Illinois Fighting Illini fans and high school basketball diehards in this state. 

A rugged and regular double-double machine, the Illinois commit is now the frontrunner for all individual player awards heading into the 2023-24 season.

He also won nationally by cementing his reputation as a legitimate top 35 prospect in the class with his summer performance in Nike EYBL play where he was a force defensively, on the glass and around the rim. 

Jaden Smith, Kenwood

The light is flickering a little brighter these days for a highly-regarded prospect where the development has come at a slower pace. But he’s stringing together better performances, and the latest offer from Georgia Tech following his July performance shows the progress the 6-11 Smith has made. Smith is now back to flirting with top 10 status in state player rankings. 


Thornton, a perennial power in the south suburbs and one of the bigger names in Illinois high school basketball, finished with an uncharacteristic 14 wins and a fourth-place finish in the Southland Conference last season. 

Hello, Morez Johnson. 

The addition of the state’s top-ranked senior prospect, one that is a 6-8 manchild headed to play in the Big Ten, will push that win total back to 20-plus. But three other transfers — Isaiah Green from Kenwood, Meyoh Swansey from Romeoville and Chase Abraham from TF North — stockpile the backcourt and will push coach Tai Streets’ team to a Class 4A state title contender. 

Incoming freshmen

They haven’t even officially entered high school yet, but the superlatives being thrown around when talking about the Class of 2027 — yes, the Class of 2027 — are both encouraging and exciting.

The early attention is focused on guards in the incoming freshman class, which means early production from the class is more likely; young backcourt players tend to make earlier impacts than raw, still-developing big men. 

Bolingbrook’s Davion Thompson, Kenwood’s Devin Cleveland and Warren’s Jaxson Davis turned heads at different times this past summer. And others, including Young’s 6-5 Howard Williams, showed so much potential that it was impossible not to get excited about the youngest players in the state. 

Warren’s Jaxson Davis (1) controls the ball in the game against Larkin at the 2023 Riverside-Brookfield Shootout. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

Jason Jakstys, Yorkville

When a raw but up-and-coming prospect dreams of playing for the Big Ten team in his home state and it becomes a reality, you’re a big winner, particularly when it’s the lone high-major offer you’ve received. 

There is still a considerable amount of development to go for Jakstys, but the high ceiling he possesses as a versatile 6-10 big man can’t be ignored. He even caught the eye of some national evaluators while playing with Breakaway on the club basketball circuit. 

EJ Mosley, Romeoville

The move from St. Laurence to Romeoville was big news this summer. But Mosley’s play, whether it was with St. Laurence in June or Young & Reckless on the AAU circuit in July, was more head-turning. 

After putting up two pretty impactful seasons for St. Laurence as a young, exciting prospect, the 5-11 guard took it to another level this offseason. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands and has become a serious threat shooting the basketball. 

JD Tyler, Homewood-Flossmoor

Though there was fair warning before the June live periods began that the HF point guard was coming, the Vikings point guard was an unknown heading into the summer. But he quickly made the most of his opportunity. 

The smooth, scoring rising junior established himself quickly, picking up several mid-major offers with his play in June. 

Basketball in DuPage County

This past March a pair of schools separated by just five miles in DuPage County nearly played for a Class 4A state championship. Downers Grove North fell to Moline in its state semifinal showdown with Moline, while Benet beat New Trier before losing to Moline in the title game. 

But following highly-successful summers, there will be a list of schools from DuPage County joining Benet and DGN in making headlines in 2023-24. 

Lake Park, led by senior standout Cam Cerese, will likely be a preseason top-25 team. York went a combined 8-0 at the high-profile Riverside-Brookfield and Romeoville “live” period events, while Metea Valley and Neuqua Valley combined to go an impressive 15-1 at R-B and Romeoville. 

Wheaton South will continue to be its pesky, overachieving self after winning a combined 60 games the past two seasons. 

Naperville North had a solid summer while all-area returning star Luke Williams, a Purdue football commit, split time between basketball and football.

And the list of bonafide hoopers to watch this year in DuPage County is a lengthy one and growing. Downers Grove North’s Jack Stanton, Neuqua Valley’s Luke Kinkade, York’s AJ Levine, Metea’s Will Ashford, Cerese, Williams and the young talent at Benet are all ones to watch. 

Class of 2026

Although it was still very early in their career and development, there were a ton of question marks and concerns surrounding this year’s sophomore class. However, one offseason has changed the tune as it pertains to the Class of 2026. 

No class put in the work and did its job better than this rising sophomore group. New names emerged, names we already knew showed significant progress and more names will become familiar as a result of opening eyes this past summer. 

Marist’s Stephen Brown and Benet’s Gabe Sularski, who picked up a recent offer from Illinois, are high-major prospects who are at the top of the class. 

Ben Oosterbaan, Hinsdale Central

Yes, there was even a big winner from the recently graduated Class of 2023.

Oosterbaan, a longtime Michigan baseball commit, pulled the plug on playing baseball in the Big Ten and went with his heart and his love for basketball. The problem was he made the decision in the middle of June as an unknown basketball prospect — Oosterbaan didn’t even play AAU — and when Division I rosters are full and scholarships are limited from transfer portal activity.

Nonetheless, Oosterbaan went with his gut, rolled the dice and waited to see just what his options would be. 

Fresh off a whopper of a senior year, which included 20.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and two steals for a ranked, 31-win team, the 6-5 wing instantly had impressive options. He took visits to Toledo, Charleston and St. Thomas, a burgeoning Division I program in Minnesota. He ultimately chose St. Thomas for what was an ideal fit and will fulfill his dream of playing Division I basketball. 

Prep schools raiding Illinois

Sadly, a win for out-of-state prep schools always results in a big loss for high school basketball in Illinois. 

The state has been losing players to prep schools in recent years — some big (think Hinsdale Central’s Matas Buzelis), some on a smaller scale. But there has never been an exodus like this past summer. 

The state’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2025, Jeremiah Fears of Joliet West, departed for Compass Prep in Arizona. Another rising sophomore, St. Rita’s Melvin Bell, is now at La Lumiere in Indiana. 

The Class of 2024 — rising seniors set to become the focal points of their teams and stars in this state — has been decimated. 

After Thornton’s Morez Johnson, the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s next three highest-ranked prospects have departed the state. St. Rita’s Nojus Indrusaitis, who spent the month of June playing with St. Laurence, Bloomington Central’s Catholic’s Cole Certa and St. Rita’s James Brown are headed to Brewster in Massachusetts, IMG in Florida and Link in Missouri, respectively. 

All three are committed to high-major programs: Indrusaitis to Iowa State; Certa to Notre Dame; and Brown to North Carolina. 

Jurrell Baldwin of Hyde Park, an all-area performer as a junior, announced earlier this month he’s heading to Arizona to play at PHH Prep. 

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