A slower week than usual with teams easing their way back into things after the Holidays, here are the ten players of the week for the seventh week of the year, plus some additional notes.
Asa Thomas (Lake Forest)
Thomas battled for the Scouts while flexing between the perimeter and paint. In a win over Lake Zurich, he had 15 points and seven rebounds in a game where they dominated the glass. Then he had 24 points and 10 rebounds in a close loss to a good DePaul Prep team. Clemson is getting a player who is on a good trajectory from both a skill and size perspective.
Caden Hawkins (Carterville)
Hawkins had a career high 36 points for Carterville in a key conference win over Pinckneyville. The unsigned senior has operated at a high level for the Lions and put together his best performance of the year so far.
Gaven Marr (Glenbrook South)
In the crosstown rivalry with a then-one-loss Glenbrook North team, Marr led the charge with 21 points in a commanding victory. The 6-foot-3 senior has done so many little things for the Titans but excelled cutting and driving to the rim. It was an important performance to start the new year as GBS looks to keep up their hot hand.
Jeremy Fears (Joliet West)
The Michigan State commit was the lead dog for Joliet West and came up with the game-winner against a loaded Rolling Meadows team. Fears has that rare combination of feel, playmaking, shot making, and defensive prowess that you check off when looking for a point guard. He had a game-high 24 points in that win over Meadows and had 29 points, seven boards, and five assists in another win earlier in the week.
JJ Hernandez (Glenbard North)
Winning both games this week, Glenbard North was driven by Hernandez on both ends. In a win over St. Charles North, he had 19 points, seven rebounds, and five steals. Earlier in the week, he took on a tough Hoffman Estates team and finished with 16 points and 10 boards. Long, rangy, and quickly improving, Hernandez looks primed for a big second half of the year.
Nik Polonowksi (Lyons)
With two matchups with teams considered in the top 25 of their respective classes, Polonowski made his presence felt. In a much-anticipated game that went down the wire against Downers Grove North, Polonowski had a game-high 14 points and six rebounds to take the conference lead. He nearly outscored Perspectives the next day putting up 25 points to their 29 total. The Penn commit is leading the way on both sides for a one-loss group.
Roderic Gatewood (Meridian)
Quietly having a monster year for Meridian, Gatewood had two more eye-opening games, scoring 54 points on nine threes in one game while contributing five assists as well. That broke a school scoring record that he set himself a few weeks ago. If that wasn’t enough, Gatewood came back the next game and poured in another 42 points in a win.
Ty Pence (St. Joseph Ogden)
Pence is one of the top two guards in the state and had a productive week highlighted by a 35-point outing. His athletic slashing has been a driving force for a serious contender in 2A and the complete shot-making that he possesses at nearly 6-foot-7 is hard to find. Earlier in the week Pence also went for 15 points.
Wes Rubin (Simeon)
Simeon played a gauntlet of a schedule this week and came out of it still undefeated thanks to efforts by players like Rubin. Using his strength, soft touch, and versatility, he gave them critical contributions on both ends. Against a Cathedral team led by a five-star forward, Rubin had a game-high 20 points along with eight boards and six steals. He had 13 points in a tight victory over another nationally-ranked Imhotep team. The Northern Iowa commit continues to show high IQ, toughness, and winning traits.
Zack Hawkinson (Sacred Heart-Griffin)
Hawkinson has continued what has been a tremendous season with two monster performances. Against a previously undefeated MacArthur team, he led the defending 3A champs with 26 points and 21 rebounds. The next day, he exploded for 33 points. It’s still shocking that more Division 1 programs are not looking into the various ways the 6-foot-5 senior affects winning.
5 Things I Loved To See
1. Battle of the Top 2 Seniors In the State
2. The Commitment From The Last of the Lyons Niegos
Jackson Niego, the youngest Niego brother to come out of Lyons, committed to Illinois Wesleyan earlier in the week. After having an impressive start to the year, the cerebral senior decided to commit to one of the most consistently competitive D3 programs in the country. To cap off the week, Niego hit a game-winner against a Downers Grove North team who was previously undefeated in conference play.
3. 1,000 Point Feats – Ryan Cohen (Glenbrook North) and Ben Oosterbaan (Hinsdale Central)
4. Simeon Showing Out on the National Stage Against Top Programs
Led by Jalen Griffith and Miles and Wes Rubin, the Wolverines added two wins over marquee national opponents. They continue to impress and have represented the state well in these national games.