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Brad Underwood and his staff have returned Illini basketball to national prominence, but they want to keep the talent pipelines booming. News-Gazette contributor

Gavin Good checks in on Illinois’ current commits and targets during the holiday hoops season:Class of 2022

signeesSENCIRE HARRIS

  • , a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio), and the Irish (2-2) haven’t played since rolling to a 74-53 win at Youngstown Chaney (Ohio) on Dec. 14. St. Vincent-St. Mary is scheduled to be back in action on Tuesday night at Richmond Heights (Ohio).

JAYDEN EPPS, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Combine Academy (N.C.), and the Goats (10-1) earned a 92-68 victory over Crestwood Prep (North York, Ontario) last Sunday in the opener of the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. Epps tallied seven points, five assists and four rebounds as Combine’s bench scored more than 50 points. Epps and the Goats were upended by fellow Illini target Kylan Boswell

  • and Arizona Compass Prep during a 58-43 loss on Tuesday night. Epps scored 13 points. Combine Academy is also scheduled to play Virginia Episcopal School in the John Wall Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28.

TY RODGERS

  • , a 6-foot-7 small forward from Thornton, and the Wildcats (5-2) got back on track with a 78-46 win over Rich Township on Dec. 17. Rodgers was good for another double-double, scoring 14 points, hauling in 11 rebounds and adding four blocks before the Wildcats emptied the bench later in the game. Thornton is looking to repeat as Big Dipper tournament champions after the event was canceled in 2020. Thornton’s stay at tournament, hosted at Rich South, begins on Monday night with a game against Chicago Vocational.

Class of 2023

targetsKYLAN BOSWELL, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Compass Prep (Ariz.), and the Dragons (15-1) were 66-45 winners over Victory Rock Prep (Sarasota, Fla.) last Sunday during their opening game at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. Boswell scored eight points in the win. Boswell scored eight first-half points, finishing with nine points, in a 58-43 win over fellow Illini target Jayden Epps

  • and Combine Academy on Tuesday night in the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. The Dragons are scheduled to play at Our Savior Lutheran (7-4) in New York City on Monday.

JEREMY FEARS JR.

  • , a 6-foot point guard from La Lumiere (Ind.), and the Lakers (9-1) took down St. Francis last weekend, 88-50. After struggling in a recent loss to Sunrise Christian, Fears was instrumental offensively, scoring 24 points. La Lumiere isn’t scheduled to play again until Jan. 1 in the Mac Jelks Invitational in Hammond, Ind.

JAZZ GARDNER

  • , a 6-foot-10 center from Los Altos (Calif.), and the Conquerors (8-2) cruised to a 73-36 win at La Serna (Calif.), avenging the only regular season loss from last year. Gardner continued to dominate, scoring 22 points, bringing down 21 rebounds and blocking eight shots. He has had at least 22 points and 21 rebounds in his last three games. Los Altos is off until Monday against Fountain Valley (Calif.) in The Classic at Damien in La Verne, Calif.

TY PENCE

  • , a 6-foot-6 wing from St. Joseph-Ogden, scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds during the Spartans’ 53-37 home win on Tuesday night against Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin. Pence and SJ-O (9-0) is set to tip off play at the State Farm Holiday Classic at 10:30 a.m. on Monday against Tri-Valley in a first-round game at Normal West High School.

Class of 2024

CommitMOREZ JOHNSON

  • , a 6-foot-8 power forward from St. Rita, and the Mustangs (9-4) opened up play at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic on Wednesday with a 63-35 win against Lincoln-Way Central and followed that up with a 61-59 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. Johnson didn’t play in the win against Lincoln-Way Central and had 11 points and six rebounds for the Mustangs (9-4) against Homewood-Flossmoor. St. Rita is slated to play again on Tuesday at the tournament.

TargetsJAMES BROWN

  • , a 6-foot-8 power forward from St. Rita, and the Mustangs started out 1-1 at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic. Brown had two points in St. Rita’s 63-35 first-round win against Lincoln-Way Central and produced a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds during St. Rita’s 61-59 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the quarterfinals. St. Rita (9-4) is slated to wrap up play at the holiday tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday.

NOJUS INDRUSAITIS, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Lemont, scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds during a 70-47 home win against Minooka on Tuesday night. Lemont (7-2) is scheduled to open play at the 32-team Jack Tosh Holiday Classic in Elmhurst on Monday against Timothy Christian with a first-round game at 11:30 a.m.

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