College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

Ayo Dosunmu Mac Irvin Fire

Former Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu played for Mac Irvin Fire on the Nike EYBL circuit before his time in Champaign.

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Illinois doesn't exclusively recruit high school players off the EYBL circuit. It would make sense, of course. A Nike school recruiting from a Nike league. While there's been the occasional prospect off the adidas circuit — both Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Andre Curbelo, for example, played for the NY Jayhawks — the bulk of the Illini's high school recruits had a Nike background before they got to Champaign.

That includes the two highest profile players from the Brad Underwood era. Ayo Dosunmu played for Mac Irvin Fire, and Kofi Cockburn for New York Renaissance. Current Illinois players have those same kind of grassroots ... roots. Luke Goode played for Indy Heat and Ty Rodgers for Meanstreets. So do incoming freshmen Amani Hansberry (Team Durant) and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (Indy Heat). 

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Illinois has continued to mine for prospects out of the EYBL even as high school recruiting has taken a bit of a dip in comparison to the transfer portal. The Illini's lone 2024 commit —St. Rita big man Morez Johnson Jr. — plays for Meanstreets. Johnson is one of 25 players from 18 different teams at the E17 level of the EYBL with an Illinois offer. There's seven more playing E16 and an additional three on the E15 circuit.

The final spring EYBL session runs May 26-29 in Memphis, Tenn., which is the final stage before Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., from July 3-9. Here's a look at who among the Illinois targets fared the best in the other May session in Dallas last weekend:

Karter Knox, 6-5, 205, SF, Florida Rebels

The 2024 five-star wing out of Tampa Catholic (Fla.) continues to star on the circuit. Knox averaged 20.7 points, six rebounds and two assists in four games in Dallas. While he shot 51 percent overall, a 27 percent success rate from three-point range leaves something to be desired. Kentucky and Louisville are the early frontrunners, per 247Sports.

Morez Johnson Jr., 6-8, 205, C, Meanstreets

The lone Illini commit in the Class of 2024 put up 14.7 points and eight rebounds per game last weekend. Johnson shot 56 percent from the field and made the only three-pointer he attempted.

Kon Knueppel, 6-5, 205, SF, Phenoim University

Knueppel qualifies as a bucket getter. The 2024 four-star wing out of Wisconsin Lutheran (Wis.) did some stat sheet stuffing in Dallas, too, averaging 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists while finishing with a 53/46/82 shooting slash line.

Boogie Fland, 6-3, 165, CG, PSA Cardinals

Plenty of programs are interested in the 2024 five-star Fland, with 247Sports putting Michigan and North Carolina at the top of the list. The Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) product had averages of 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists last weekend and connected on 44 percent of his three-pointers.

Mikey Lewis, 6-3, 170, PG, Oakland Soldiers

Lewis is a new name on the 2024 Illinois recruiting board, and it's been his play on the EYBL circuit that's driven a higher level of interest. The Oakland, Calif., native was the EYBL's leading scorer in the first session last month and averaged 18 points, four rebounds and two assists in the latest session. 

Curtis Givens III, 6-2, 170, PG, MOKAN Elite

Givens spent last season at Montverde Academy (Fla.) on a loaded team, and the 2024 four-star point guard has found a little more individual success on the EYBL circuit. He put up 18.7 points, 2.2 assists and two rebounds per game in Dallas and shot 48 percent overall and 39 percent from three-point range.

Trey McKenney, 6-4, 205, SG, The Family

The four-star Class of 2025 guard left Meanstreets for The Family in the latest EYBL session, putting the Michigan native on a Michigan-based team. McKenney shined after the move, too, averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and three assists albeit at not the highest level of efficiency. He shot 36 percent overall and 36 percent from beyond the arc.

Austin Swartz, 6-4, 180, SG, Boo Williams

Swartz's increased recruiting attention — as in an additional 10 high major offers — is the result of his performance on the EYBL circuit. The three-star 2024 guard averaged 18 points and 2.7 rebounds last weekend in Dallas and finished the session with a 44/43/83 shooting slash.

Will Riley, 6-7, 180, SG, UPlay Canada

Riley, who plays at The Phelps School (Pa.) but is originally from Canada, has had a breakout spring on the E16 circuit. The 2025 recruit put up 18.2 points, 3.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game in the most recent session, and while he did shoot 48 percent overall he only made 25 percent of his threes.

Cam Ward, 6-6, 180, SF, Team Durant

The 2025 four-star wing out of Maryland had an interesting stat line in Dallas. Averaging 17.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and two assists made him one of the more productive E16 players in Dallas. Shooting 57 percent overall and 40 percent from three went a long way toward those numbers. But he also made just 51 percent of his free throws. Worth noting.

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).