Conference Prospect Spotlight: Chicago Catholic League

The Chicago Catholic League remains one of the top conferences in the state. Today we are looking at some of the prospects throughout the deep league.

Kentucky commit Bryce Hopkins has been on another level since being snubbed from the McDonald’s All-American list. The 6-foot-7 wing is one of the state’s toughest covers, especially when he sets his mind on getting to the rim. Their 2022 class is one of the deepest in the state. 6-foot-6 wing Gabe Madej is a terrific outside shooter that has the upper body strength to control the glass and score through contact (which he is doing more this year). He is a prime Ivy League target. Den Juette, one of the breakout point guards in the state, has shown open court athleticism and the ability to knock down open jumpers. Floor spacing David Geiser plays with toughness on the defensive end and Division-1 football recruit Eian Pugh plays a number of roles for the Friars.

DePaul Prep is anchored by star point guard Ty Johnson (Loyola), center Brian Matthews (UMass), and defensive wiz Rasheed Bello (UW-Parkside). Johnson has made a case as the top lead guard in the state, scoring and creating effortlessly. Matthews is an old-school bruising big that is a force on the block on both ends of the floor. He should be a high-volume rebounder at UMass. Bello, a shutdown defender that can get out in transition, has been a dangerous backcourt complement to Johnson.

The Rams have talent in the pipeline as well. Junior Dylan Arnett provides highlight-reel dunks, but more importantly, he has a face-up game that makes him a mismatch at 6-foot-9. Joining the Illinois Wolves this spring/summer, he should have a breakthrough AAU season. The junior varsity team has a trio of promising freshmen as well in lanky 6-foot-4 guard Payton Kamin, Jaylan McElroy, and PJ Chambers.

De La Salle’s DJ Bates has been on a scoring rampage this season, putting up 40 in a game a few weeks ago. His craftiness and smooth handle give him an advantage every night. He has received some low-major interest. 6-foot-8 big Marcellius Cohen is a long-armed big that demands attention on the offensive glass and is an intimidating shot blocker. He could end up at a higher level than the low-major offers that he got last year. Wing Jamil Wilson is also interesting at 6-foot-7 with his athletic burst in transition.

St. Rita has turned into a prospect factory over the last few years. The freshmen understandably receive a lot of attention. All of them have Division-1 offers. 6-foot-8 forward James Brown is one of the most polished bigs I have seen. With his intangibles, size, and footwork, he has a chance to be Chicago’s next national prospect. Point guard Jaedin Reyna is really good. He is so composed and has the ball on a string. 6-foot-6 Morez Johnson has an endless motor and the athleticism to guard one through five. And Joshua Pickett has a developed body and scoring instincts to aid him as an off guard.

Christian Henry, the elder statesman on this team, is an uncommitted point guard that provides a scoring punch and leadership. St. Joseph transfer Bryce Coleman has added more perimeter skills to his physical, attacking style. Coleman already has an offer from Nebraska and looks every bit like a Power-5 wing. Kaiden Space, a heady point guard, shouldn’t be overlooked for his impact on both ends. They have a host of other talented underclassmen on a team that should be near the top of the CCL next year.

St. Ignatius is another team with a promising group that should return a lot next season. 2022 guard AJ Redd has taken a nice leap into being a reliable scorer. His length and versatility to play both guard spots should attract D1 suitors. 2023s Rich Barron and Jackson Kotecki have star potential. Barron, a big wing with a sweet shooting stroke, has shown even more explosiveness as a sophomore. Kotecki is 6-foot-8 but can thrive on the wing or in the post. I love his projection as a face-up four that can grab-and-go in transition. 

Add in another plus-sized wing that can get to the rack in Kolby Gilles, senior floor general Parker Higginbottom, and crafty combo guard Miles Casey, and you see why Ignatius was so competitive despite a younger roster.

Ahmad Henderson has been huge for Brother Rice and continues to look like a guard that can carry a team with his finishing, shooting, or passing. The 5-foot-9 guard is electric in transition and is going to be a hot name among 2023 point guards this summer. 2022 wing Nick Harrell has the prototypical length and athleticism for a next-level perimeter stopper. His defense and rebounding are advanced, but his slashing ability and spot-up shooting have improved as well. Low to mid-major Division 1 schools have reached out to him. Northwest Missouri State (D2) commit Luke Moustakas is a skilled post that does a nice job anchoring the team.

Loyola has some solid unsigned guards in fundamental shot maker Scotty Dean, ball hawk Jalen Axibal, and shooter Jake Moser. Dean should be a high-level Division 3 player with his ability to move off the ball, knock down open shots, and play with toughness. The sophomore class for the Ramblers is very bright as well with 6-foot-3 guard Ben Moser, 6-foot-6 wing Nate Kwiecinski, and 6-foot guard Alex Engro.

Moser has put together some big games on varsity already, scoring off jumpers and timely drives to the basket. His best basketball is still ahead of him. Kwiecinski is one of the highest upside swingmen in the 2023 class, showing defensive versatility, rebounding instincts, and playmaking flashes. Engro has primarily been on sophomore, but he is a tremendous shot creator with serious length and potential.

The backcourt of dynamic guard Cam Cleveland and Tyler Smith for Leo can score the ball or distribute when needed. Elite 2022 center Kyle Thomas is the headliner at St. Joseph, though I have not seen them in action. During the fall and winter, he displayed expanded range and fluidity on the offensive end. Illinois, Arizona, and Nebraska are among the schools that have offered the 6-foot-10 big man.

For Providence St. Mel, Sherod Dent is a bright spot worth tracking as a 6-foot-6 lefty wing with a combination of power and finesse. Carmel has their own sophomore who should be an all-conference player the next three years. DeAndre Craig is a big-game player that will challenge any guard in the area. 2021 shooting guard Jadyn Benson is the leader and backcourt mate with Craig. He projects as a long-armed 3-and-D player in college.

Montini has quietly been a highly productive team, led by 2021 Jemari Moore (Knox) and 2022 Andrew Stokes. The ability to score at the rim has opened up Moore’s perimeter game. Stokes is physically impressive, possessing a lot of tools that you can’t teach. He is tough to slow down in transition, but his improved ball-handling makes it that much more difficult.

At Providence Catholic, Jack Wadja is a well-rounded player that is able to fill it up with his outside shot or using his strength in the paint. He projects as a Division 3 player that can score and rebound the ball. 6-foot-6 sophomore Collin Moran has a ton of potential scoring off the dribble, elevating over defenders, and utilizing his touch from all three levels.

Marmion is an up-and-coming group that shows the youth movement in the CCL. After missing a few weeks early, they have been dynamic offensively. I really like the potential and skill of freshmen Jakob Blakley and Trendell Whiting. Both can get their own shot and handle the ball with confidence. 2023 point guard Collin Wainscott is one of the best shooters in the conference and is doing more damage with his pull-up and finishing. His court vision shouldn’t be overlooked either. They also have a highly productive 2022 guard in Sean Kavanaugh, who has been shooting it well, and 2021 Nick Reid (Central College).

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