June 25th, 2019 11:05 AM
Fenwick forward Bryce Hopkins averaged 22 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during his 2019 breakout sophomore campaign. (Photo by Carol Dunning)
By Marty Farmer
There's an excellent chance Fenwick's Bryce Hopkins and OPRF upperclassmen Isaiah Barnes, Justin Cross and Josh Smith will play college basketball at Division I programs.
While all four burgeoning stars will likely choose a college sometime over the next couple of years, they all increased their recruiting stock significantly with strong showings at the 17th Annual Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout (June 21-23).
However, bragging rights as best team belonged to Stevenson. Competing in a 64-team field with 16 pools of four teams apiece, the Patriots outlasted all contenders at the stacked shootout. MVP Matt Ambrose powered Stevenson to a 63-49 win over Whitney Young in Sunday's championship game/shootout finale of the three-day event.
In the second-place bracket final, East St. Louis edged Bogan 47-44.
OPRF, Curie, Marian Catholic and Neuqua Valley also played very well as semifinalists in the aforementioned top pair of brackets.
Host Riverside-Brookfield also merits a tip of the cap.
"This was by far the best event we've been involved with since I became head coach at OPRF," Matt Maloney said. "[RBHS coach] Mike Reingruber ran the best tournament in the Midwest and possibly the country this past weekend. The top teams in the state were in attendance and all players were showcased in front of 150 plus college coaches."
Notable college programs like Arizona, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Texas dispatched coaches to RBHS for a closer look at some of the best players and teams Illinois has to offer. In-state attendees included coaches from DePaul, Loyola-Chicago, Illinois and Bradley. Coaches representing Division I, II, III, NAIA and JUCO schools and conferences like the Big 10, Big 12 and ACC appeared on the guest list.
Huskies, Hopkins got game
OPRF turned in a terrific effort from the perspectives of both team and individual play. The Huskies went 2-1 in Pool I play, with comfortable wins over Jacobs and Schaumburg. In the best game of the pool, Whitney Young held off OPRF 52-42.
"The loss to Whitney Young was back and forth all game," Maloney said. "At one point, we had one senior, two juniors and two sophomores on the court and we were right in the mix. Over 50 schools watched that game and many of the Huskies turned heads and moved up recruiting boards."
In second-place bracket action, OPRF rallied from a 15-point deficit to eke out a 56-54 victory against Oak Forest. The Huskies consolidated that win by crushing Batavia 56-22. In the second-place semifinals, Bogan edged OPRF 47-44.
Several Huskies caught the attention of college coaches in attendance. Maloney praised the efforts of seniors Kyren Gardner and Cross, juniors Rashaad Trice, Barnes and Smith, sophomores Demetrius Dortch and Eric Locke Jr., and promising freshman Christian Marshall.
Barnes, Cross and Smith were particularly impressive.
"Isaiah had by far the best performance of his OPRF career," Maloney said. "After having a dominant weekend, he picked up [a scholarship] offer from Illinois and interest from many other high- and mid-major schools.
"Justin soared up the recruiting boards. He has several Division II and low major Division I programs recruiting him now with mid-majors closely monitoring as well.
"Josh is getting Division I attention and had a huge game against Whitney Young [at RBHS]. He's our starting point guard and primed for a breakout season after a tremendous summer this year."
Fenwick fared well in Pool A with a 2-1 record to finish first, ahead of Bloom, Hinsdale Central and Morton. Bryce Hopkins recorded a double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Friars' 68-59 win over Bloom. Donovan Newby and Keshawn Willams chipped in 12 points apiece for Bloom.
On Sunday, Stevenson notched a 50-36 victory against Fenwick in the first-place pool play bracket.
Several college coaches, including Texas' Shaka Smart, Nebraska's Fred Hoiberg, Missouri's Cuonzo Martin and Northwestern's Chris Collins intently watched Hopkins at the shootout. In fact, Hopkins secured scholarship offers from Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa State and Texas over the weekend.
The high-scoring 6-foot-5 forward had a breakout sophomore campaign last winter, averaging 22 points and 6.5 rebounds as an all-Chicago Catholic League player.
Fenwick guards Trey Pettigrew and Kaden Cobb also drew interest from college coaches at RBHS. Both players score, pass and defend well. The latter is also regarded as big-time prospect for Division I college football programs.
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