News-Gazette contributor Gavin Good checks in on how the Illini’s current signees and targets are faring on the court this winter:
Class of 2022
➜ SENCIRE HARRIS, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio), and the Fighting Irish (4-2) had to cancel its game against Lima on Dec. 19 and rescheduled the conference-opener against Cleveland St. Ignatius due to COVID-19. Harris resumed competition in style on Dec. 28, dropping 30 points in a 72-56 win at Richmond Heights. On Sunday night, the Fighting Irish dealt Lincoln (Ohio) its first loss of the season with a 70-69 victory. Harris helped lead a second-half comeback, nailing a pull-up three-pointer and tying the game with a steal and a traditional three-point play. The Fighting Irish are scheduled to host South Oak Cliff (Texas) at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
➜ JAYDEN EPPS, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Combine Academy (N.C.), and the Goats (11-3) opened up the John Wall Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 with a 69-56 victory over Virginia Episcopal as Epps scored 14 points and tallied five rebounds and two assists. Combine Academy dropped its opener at the Hoop Cities Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C., 83-79 to Word of God Christian Academy (N.C.) last Friday, but Epps scored 12 points and had five rebounds and three assists in a 74-59 win over Virginia Academy this past Saturday. The Goats are scheduled to play Woodson (Va.) on Thursday night.
➜ TY RODGERS, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Thornton, and the Wildcats (7-4) knocked off Chicago Vocational 70-61 on Dec. 27 in the opening round of the Big Dipper Tournament. Rodgers scored 13 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists in the victory. The Wildcats earned a 69-57 win over Thornton Fractional South on Dec. 28 in the Big Dipper quarterfinals as Rodgers scored 24 points and had 14 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals, setting up a semifinal showdown with Hyde Park, where the Wildcats were defeated, 57-46. Rodgers sat out against Hyde Park and missed a 53-49 win over Perspectives Leadership/Technology in the third-place game due to hamstring discomfort, according to Thornton coach Tai Streets. The Wildcats are set to resume play on Jan. 11 with a home game against Homewood-Flossmoor.
Class of 2023
➜ KYLAN BOSWELL, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Compass Prep (Ariz.), and the Dragons (17-1) defeated Our Savior Lutheran (N.Y.) 78-40 on Dec. 27 in the opening round of the Hoophall East tournament in Springfield, Mass. Boswell hit three three-pointers and scored 15 points, while bringing in four rebounds. The Dragons continued to roll on Dec. 28, cruising to a 75-45 win over Westtown (Pa.). Compass Prep went to the bench after going up 18-0 early, which kept Boswell in more of a supporting role after he hit a smooth, step-back jumper to give the Dragons a 29-10 lead midway through the second quarter. Next up for Boswell and Compass Prep is a showdown against Prolific Prep (Calif.) at the