While the Illinois men’s basketball team still has two weeks left in its regular season, the postseason is nearing for five recruits of John Groce who will be in Champaign at this time next year.
The five — Austin Colbert, Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate — have all posted above-average numbers in their final go-around at the prep level. Now comes the postseason. Here’s a look at where the five will start their respective journey towards a possible state championship. (All times are Central Standard Time)
Austin Colbert: The senior forward from Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.) School and the 17-6 Knights conclude the regular season on Saturday against Ridge (N.J.) High School in the Somerset County championship game before postseason play kicks off next Wednesday. Colbert and the Knights open against St. Joseph High School at 6 p.m. at home in a Non-Public, Group B first-round game. A win there would advance Gill St. Bernard’s, the fifth seed, into a quarterfinal game against either No. 4 Marist High School or No. 13 St. Mary of the Assumption High School at 6 p.m. next Friday.
Malcolm Hill: The senior guard/forward from Belleville East (Ill.) High School and his 23-3 Lancers end the regular season tonight at Granite City (Ill.) High School before starting the Class 4A postseason at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday. Belleville East is the top seed in the O’Fallon Regional, and will face the host Panthers in a regional semifinal game. A win there would put Belleville East into a regional championship game against either No. 2 Belleville West or No. 3 Collinsville at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Maverick Morgan: The senior big man from Springboro (Ohio) and his 18-4 Panthers start the Division I playoffs at noon on Saturday in a first-round district game. Springboro, seeded second, takes on No. 19 Trenton Edgewood High School at Butler High School in Vandalia, Ohio. A win there and Springboro would meet No. 16 Riverside Stebbins at 5 p.m. next Wednesday at Butler High School. A win against Riverside Stebbins would advance Springboro into a 7:30 p.m. game on March 2 at Wright State’s Nutter Center in Dayton.
Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate: The senior guards for 22-3 Chicago Simeon start their quest for the school’s fourth straight Class 4A state championship at 6 p.m. next Tuesday as the top seed in the Chicago Mt. Carmel Regional. The Wolverines will play either No. 16 Mt. Carmel or No. 18 South Shore at 6 p.m. in a regional semifinal game, with a victory propeling the duo into a 7:30 p.m. regional championship game next Friday against either No. 8 Hyde Park or No. 9 Chicago Marist.