A busy and eventful week of games during holiday week didn’t disappoint. We detailed some of the top championship matchups in our weekly newsletter. But we will look at 5 pleasant sights from the week and 15 players of the week this week with so many top performers during the week.
Players of the Week:
Angelo Ciaravino (Mt. Carmel)
Ciaravino has taken his game to another level this season and continued that progress while the Caravan captured their second Pekin championship in a row. In the championship, he went for 20 points and put together a nice tournament. He received a couple of Division 1 offers before the season and has the look, game, and now consistency that you look for in a next level wing.
Ben Oosterbaan (Hinsdale Central)
Committed to Michigan for baseball, the 6-foot-5 Oosterbaan is a load with his athleticism, strength, and multi-level scoring ability. He won the first annual Justin Hardy MVP of the Hinsdale Central tournament while averaging 21.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. Oosterbaan should continue to be an explosive scorer for the Red Devils.
Brayden Fagbemi (Benet)
Leading the Pontiac tournament in assists and dominating games with his handle, playmaking, and intelligence, Fagbemi had a terrific week. While playing the loaded Joliet West backcourt, he welcomed the tenacious ball pressure and got the Redwings into their offense while hitting big shots when called upon. The Johns Hopkins commit averaged 12 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists and looks every bit like an All-State floor general.
Cam Christie (Rolling Meadows)
It looks too easy for Christie more often than not. He moved into third on the Rolling Meadows all-time scoring list while leading the Mustangs to a big win over an excellent Lyons team. Christie, who is committed to Minnesota, had 26 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in the title game. He continues to be a leading piece for a team who is a realistic threat to make it downstate.
Connor May (Palatine)
For people who were not aware of May, he exploded onto the scene with games of 36, 30, and 27 for Palatine at the Jack Tosh tournament, one of the better holiday tournaments in the suburbs. May is 6-foot-7 and stronger and more athletic than a year ago. But he has also refined his versatile game and is shooting a high percentage from three, scoring on the block or from the mid-range, and passing the ball well. He received his first Division 2 offer from Lewis as a result of his play during the week.
Daniel Johnson (Whitney Young)
The first back-to-back player of the week selection this year, Johnson put on a show at the Proviso West tournament to win MVP and lead Whitney Young to the title. Against Kenwood, he was a big-time scorer and has shown the ability to use his length to create turnovers and shoot over smaller defenders. He is playing with a different level of focus and determination that has made him a nightmare.
Darrin Ames (Kenwood)
When you score 65 points (yes, 65) in a game, it’s hard to keep you off of the players of the week. Ames made the scorekeepers stay on their toes with a dominant individual performance where he got to the rim, hit jumpers, and converted free throws at an alarming rate. He also had seven assists in the game, despite sitting a good portion of the end of the game.
DJ Douglas (Yorkville Christian)
Douglas led the Plano Christmas Classic in both scoring and rebounding at 30.3 and 12.3 per game respectively. Not bad for a 6-foot-5 guard who is the primary ball-handler for the Mustangs. Facing constant defensive attention, he made shots from all over the floor and continued what has been a one-man wrecking crew. Division 1 and Division 2 programs that haven’t seen him yet should be taking notice.
Drew Scharnowski (Burlington Central)
The only starter from a team who won the Plano tournament last year, Scharnowski spearheaded a dominant run to the first repeat in tournament history. At 6-foot-9, his ability to finish as a downhill driver, transition rim runner, and face-up scorer is unique. He averaged 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals while sporting a 60/40/79 line. Scharnowski is signed to Belmont and was tournament MVP.
Jake Fiegen (New Trier)
Finishing second at Pontiac in scoring at 22.0 points a game, Fiegen was on a tear against a gauntlet of a schedule for the Trevians. Scoring is one thing, but how about a 58/39/89 shooting line? That efficiency mixed in with the leadership, toughness, and team-first approach he brings is hard to find. Committed to Cornell, Fiegen has thrived as the focal point this year and has added so many layers to his game.
Jalen Griffith (Simeon)
Griffith was the catalyst for Simeon winning the Pontiac tournament in a stacked field of teams. He was especially good in the final against Benet where his ball control and ability to create shots stood out against a stout defense. Still uncommitted, Griffith averaged 15.0 points and 2.5 assists during the week and continues to prove that he is one of the best point guards in the entire state.
Jimmy Rasmussen (Geneva)
Geneva’s pitbull guard took on a lead role for the Vikings and won MVP of the Chuck Dayton tournament after averaging 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. He showed up big in the championship game scoring 22 points to lead them over United. Rasmussen is uncommitted but has the body, shooting, defensive ability, and point guard skill to contribute at multiple levels.
Owen Freeman (Moline)
Despite losing in the championship game, Freeman was nearly unstoppable with his interior scoring. He had 25 points to keep Moline alive in the title game and finished the tournament averaging 20.5 points and shooting an insane 71 percent from the field on a high volume. The 6-foot-11 Iowa commit continues to prove that he is the top center in the senior class.
Will Buchert (Libertyville)
Buchert had a terrific week winning tournament MVP and helping guide the Wildcats to a win over previously undefeated Glenbard North. In that game, he had 15 points and 10 boards and has been able to use his toughness, finishing, and size on the wing to make things happen for the experienced team.
Zack Hawkinson (Sacred Heart Griffin)
Hawkinson has been rock solid for the defending 3A state champs and was able to keep that momentum for SHG as they won the large-school division of the State Farm Classic in Bloomington over Romeoville. Big, mobile, and skilled at 6-foot-5, Hawkinson is a Division 1 prospect who has developed well over the last few years.
5 Things I Loved To See:
1. Niko Abusara Poster
2. Daniel Johnson’s Dominance
3. Shot Clocks
While the implementation for every school may take time, it was nice to see games with shot clocks. The long stalling, especially at the end of games, is nice to see out of the game and more end of game strategy and execution needed to win close games. Don’t expect an immediate switch to full-time shot clock use because smaller schools with fewer resources and personnel to operate them will struggle to pull it off. But here’s to keeping our fingers crossed.
4. Cole Certa Putting In Work
5. The New Year
Hopefully everyone has a healthy, safe, and fruitful new year. And we are now only a few months away from the state championships.