Cole seeks to prove how good he is

981511.png

Cole seeks to prove how good he is

Monday is a very big day in the life of Elliott Cole.

How big?

"Five or six Division I coaches said they want to see him play against Orr," said Jermaine Johnson, Cole's coach at Henry Ford Academy's Power House High School. "They are waiting to see what he does in the Red-West, how he plays against good competition."

Cole, a 5-foot-10 senior point guard at the tiny charter school in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's West Side, is the third leading scorer in the nation and the No. 1 scorer in Illinois. In 18 games, he has scored 675 points, an average of 37.5 per game.

Only one player in state history has recorded a higher average. In 1977-78, Metro's Mitchell Anderson averaged 43.5 in 22 games.

Power House, which opened in 2008, is a Class 2A school. For some unexplained reason, it is a member of the Public League's powerful Red-West Division. That means Cole's team is matched against Whitney Young, Marshall, Crane, Orr and Farragut.

The competition hasn't bothered Cole. He scored 24 points against Whitney Young, a season low. He scored 47 against Farragut and impressed coach William Nelson so much that he nominated him for the McDonald's All-America team. He scored a season high of 64 against Little Village.

But he knows Monday's game at Orr is something special and he is eager to accept the challenge. All he has ever wanted, since he enrolled at St. Joseph of Westchester as a freshman, was a chance to prove how good he is.

Is a kid who is averaging 37.5 points per game the real deal?

"It is very important for me to play well, to be myself," Cole said. "I don't want to do anything that I would do normally. It isn't me to show off. It's not about what I have done lately. I don't want to think about putting up a lot of points. If I score 10 points and we win or if I score 30 and we win, as long as we win, that's what matters.

"But I want to play my game ... show I can lead a team, be a true point guard, not just be a shooter. I like to pass and get in the lane and create shots for my teammates. I also can attack the basket and play defense. I want to show that I'm not reckless or out of control, that I play smart. I'm an all-around player, not just a shooter."

Cole plays with a chip on both shoulders. He wishes he was 6-foot-3, but he isn't.

"I have to prove somebody wrong every time I go on the floor, someone who hasn't seen me before. I'm 5-foot-10. That's the hand I was dealt. But I can still be effective like a 6-foot-3 player with my body frame," he said.

"It isn't me to show off. It's not about what I have done lately. I don't want to think about putting up a lot of points. If I score 10 points and we win or if I score 30 and we win, as long as we win, that's what matters."-- Elliott Cole on Power House's upcoming game against Orr"He reminds me of former Crane and Kansas star Sherron Collins and Ahmad Starks former Whitney Young star now at Oregon State," Johnson said. "On the court, he is the most humble, well-rounded and respectful kid you would care to meet. Through it all, he doesn't brag about it. He has his own little swagger. He'll do anything he has to do to win. He is one of the best shooting guards we've ever had in this city."

Cole lives in Oak Park. He enrolled at St. Joseph of Westchester as a freshman because he wanted to play for legendary coach Gene Pingatore and one of the most high-profile programs in the country. But he never got a chance. As a junior, he sat on the end of the bench and never saw the playing floor. He was told he didn't fit into the system.

So he opted to transfer to Power House. One of Johnson's friends tipped him off about Cole, who had been working out at his training camp in the suburbs. Johnson, 30, a graduate of Collins in 2001, runs a similar camp, Skills Athletics, in the city. With only one year of eligibility remaining for their son, Cole's parents thought Power House represented a good opportunity for him to experience instant success and gain exposure to college coaches.

Cole has a scholarship offer from Chicago State and interest from more than 30 mid-major schools, including Northern Illinois, Illinois State and Illinois-Chicago. He also has interest from Kansas State, Purdue and Wyoming.

"I would like to play at a high Division I level but I want to play at a school that fits me, not a situation like St. Joseph where I didn't get a chance," he said. "I want to make the right decision, mid-major or high-major. I like an up-tempo style. That's where I'm more effective because of my speed.

"I have their attention. I have an opportunity. The eyes are on my team. I have a chance to prove what I can do. I feel I have to perform at a certain level every night. I want people to say that he is the player they hoped he would be, not that he is overrated.

"It's an advantage to play in the Red-West. The great competition brings out the best in great players. It brings out a different level of intensity. It makes players step up their games. You can tell a good player from a great player. You can tell who really wants it."

Playing at Power House, which is located in an old Sears Roebuck power plant, isn't without its disadvantages, however. The school plays its home games across the street at Homan Square Park. The players don't get a lot of practice time, usually once a week at a church around the corner from the school at Homan and Arlington.

It doesn't detract Cole. He is always at the school gym or at the LA Fitness facility with his brother Felton and personal trainer Justin Brim. In the summer, he took 1,000 shots a day. During the school year, he is limited to 500 a day. He is ambidextrous and shoots 30-footers with both hands. He is a 70-percent shooter from three-point range. When he scored 64 against Little Village, he converted 8-of-11 three-point attempts.

But Monday is his biggest challenge to date. He knows he will be under a microscope with college coaches evaluating every move, every shot. Orr, led by Tyquone Greer, is one of the best teams in the state.

Oh, there will be other challenges to come, like games against Collins on Wednesday and North Lawndale on Friday. On Jan. 25, Power House will play Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan. Sunrise is ranked No. 8 in the nation.

But Monday is Orr. That's his focus. Cole hopes to fare better than he did last Wednesday when Power House lost to Westinghouse, 69-68, in overtime. He was limited to 24 points and missed a shot from the free throw line at the buzzer that would have won the game.

"It's a big game. It would be a big win for us. But I can't get into the hype," he said. "Sure, it's very important to play well. I know coaches will be watching. I just want to play hard, play my game and do what it takes to get a win."

And he wants to prove something to Anthony Manuel, the dean of students at Power House and a former All-State guard at Crane in 1985.

"He gives it to me every day," Cole said. "He says to me, 'Back in my day, I could beat you.' But he also reminds me to stay humble."

And keep playing with that chip on his shoulder.

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school basketball games across Chicagoland for another basketball edition of High School Lites. Catch the show live at 11 p.m. Friday on CSN and streaming at CSNChicago.com

The show will feature numerous teams in the CSN Preps Power Rankings. The best game on Friday night could be No. 16 Benet traveling to No. 15 Notre Dame in a clash of unbeatens in the ESCC but there will be plenty of other highlights to check for.

The Red-West, North Suburban and Southland are all prominently featured on the show this week while High School Lites will also have highlights from the SouthWest Suburban.

This week's Viewers' Choice Game of the Week generated over 5,000 votes as Von Steuben will travel to Taft to represent the Red-North.

We'll also have a Getting to Know feature on Conant senior guard Jimmy Sotos.

Thursday's Game

Hyde Park at No. 7 Kenwood, 4:30 p.m. -- Kenwood will try to keep its momentum going as they host Hyde Park in a Red-Central battle. Kenwood (5-1, 1-0) is coming off of a Red-Central win over Dunbar earlier this week while Hyde Park (3-1, 1-0) defeated Lindblom for a conference victory as well. The Broncos are still unbeaten in Illinois as they're relying on senior big man Manny Patterson and his talented group of teammates. Hyde Park is trying to figure things out in head coach Jevon Mamon's first season as Andrew Anderson had a nice game against U-High at the Chicago Elite Classic.

Friday's Games

No. 11 North Lawndale at Westinghouse, 4:30 p.m. -- The Red-West is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season as this should be an interesting game. The Phoenix (5-1, 1-0) knocked off Marshall for a Red-West win on Wednesday while Westinghouse (3-3, 0-1) is coming off of a tough double-overtime loss to Farragut. Westinghouse is going to have to slow down Carlos Hines and Martrell Barnes but they can counter with a talented senior of their own in Coreyoun Rushin.  

Kankakee at Crete-Monee, 6:00 p.m. -- We also head to the Southland on Friday night as Kankakee (1-3, 0-1) travels to Crete-Monee (3-2, 1-0). The Warriors survived a high-scoring, double-overtime win over Rich East on Wednesday as they're led by senior and Toledo commit Dwayne Rose, the nephew of Derrick Rose. Kankakee is off to a sluggish start as they've lost some close games and they could use a conference road win here.

Rich East at No. 19 Bloom, 7:00 p.m. -- Keeping it in the Southland, Rich East (2-4, 0-1) will try to shake off a double-overtime loss this week as they travel to face No. 19 Bloom. Rich East has two one-point losses and the double-OT loss to Crete-Monee this year, so they could be better than the 2-4 record indicates. Bloom (4-1, 1-0) was impressive during Thanksgiving week at the Chicago Heights Classic as they look like one of the premier teams in the South Suburbs this year.

No. 24 Thornton at Lincoln-Way West, 7:00 p.m. -- These two teams battled in the SouthWest Suburban Red last season and both programs return some key pieces. Lincoln-Way West (2-4, 1-0) is led by senior Marco Pettinato as he's an All-Area candidate and big-time scorer. Thornton (3-2) will counter with a big scorer of its own with senior Alonzo Verge.

No. 16 Benet at No. 15 Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m. -- This could be the best matchup of Friday night as two unbeatens clash in the ESCC. Benet (5-0) is coming off of a runner-up finish in Class 4A as they bring back some talented players like Jack Nolan, Liam Lyman and Justin Enochs. The Redwings have looked very good early this season as they've piled up a lot of double-digit wins. Notre Dame (6-0) is also off to a hot start as they picked up an overtime win over Loyola and another victory over Bartlett last weekend. The Dons have a lot of size on the inside as Chris Heinichen, Jeameril Wilson and Sean Johnson are all 6-foot-5 or bigger.

No. 12 Stevenson at Mundelein, 7:00 p.m. -- Stevenson is off to a great start as they try to carry that into Mundelein in this North Suburban contest. The Patriots (6-0, 2-0) are led by Indiana commit and senior Justin Smith as he's one of the best players in the state this season. Mundelein (2-4, 0-1) dropped one to Zion-Benton earlier this week as they try to get back on track in the North Suburban race.

Lake Zurich at Zion Benton, 7:00 p.m. -- Two team with high expectations in the North Suburban face each other in this one. Zion-Benton (2-1, 1-1) dropped a conference game to leader Stevenson last weekend but recovered with a double-digit win over Mundelein during the week. Lake Zurich (4-1, 0-1) dropped its conference opener to Waukegan after a 4-0 start to the season.

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Von Steuben at Taft, 6:30 p.m. -- This week's poll was a tight one as over 5,000 people voted and this game barely beat Lane at Uplift. The Panthers (0-2, 0-1) are trying to pick up their first win of the season after losing to an out-of-state opponent and No. 9 Uplift. Senior Rafael Cruz put up monster numbers last season as he's the player to watch for Von Steuben. Taft opened its Red-North slate at home against Lincoln Park as they're facing two tough opponents right out of the gate at home. They'll try to capitalize on those early conference home games with a win here.

Recruiting News and Notes: Mitch Lewis' recruiting stock soaring

Recruiting News and Notes: Mitch Lewis' recruiting stock soaring

Mitch Lewis (TE), Naperville North

Naperville North senior three-star ranked tight end Mitch Lewis (6-foot-6, 215 pounds) has seen his overall recruiting stock soar over the past month, as he's now touting 10 verbal scholarship offers and has more interest growing by the day.

"It's been a pretty wild last week or two," Lewis said. "It just seems like a lot of schools decided to offer me. It all came out of nowhere to be honest and it feels pretty amazing."

Lewis has added several of his 10 offers over the past few weeks and ran down his list of offers.

"I have offers now from Hawaii, Wyoming, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, South Dakota, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Northern Iowa," Lewis said. "Also Iowa, Penn State and Purdue have also been in touch weekly, and both Iowa and Penn State are coming to watch one of my basketball games this week. I have a feeling some of the Big Ten schools are getting closer to offering me."

Lewis, who made his first official visit to Wyoming back in November is planning to set more official visits in January.

Joshua Maize (DE), Deerfield

Deerfield senior three-star ranked defensive end Joshua Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) has switched up his planned official visit schedule, and he will make his first official visit this weekend.

"I'm making my first official visit to UConn this weekend," Maize said. "I was suppose to go to Miami of Ohio last weekend but they wanted me to reschedule. I was suppose to go to Miami of Ohio last weekend but they wanted me to reschedule since I was the only recruit scheduled to visit."

So what is Maize looking for when he visits UConn?

"I'm just looking forward to seeing the campus and the surrounding area," Maize said. "I've never been out East before so I want to see what UConn has to offer. I'm also looking forward to getting to know the coaches and the guys on the team. UConn also is supposed to have great facilities and I'm excited to see the different facilities along with the overall environment at UConn."

Maize has also drawn late recruiting interest from a handful of schools.

"Syracuse has been showing a lot more interest," Maize said. "They have a few offers out to Juco kids so they are waiting to see what happens. Syracuse wants me to make an official visit in January. I'm also talking weekly with Toledo and Central Michigan. I'm sure I'll set more visits in January but for now my focus is on UConn this weekend."

[MORE: The 2016 Edgy Tim All-State Team]

Nick Marozas (OL), Brother Rice

Brother Rice junior offensive linemen Nick Marozas (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) added his first scholarship on Monday from Minnesota.

"Getting my first offer from Minnesota feels great," Marozas said. "It was a bit of a surprise. I talked to one of the coaches on Monday morning and then later in the day they called my coaches at school then they offered me a scholarship."

Marozas visited Minnesota earlier this fall and came away impressed with the Gophers.

"I visited Minnesota last month for the Homecoming game against Purdue," Marozas said. "I had a chance to talk to the coaches at Minnesota on that visit and that went well. I liked the campus, the facilities and the stadium. Minnesota is just a great program and school and it's pretty exciting to get my first offer from a great Big Ten program."

Marozas has drawn interest from Minnesota along with Syracuse, Illinois, Indiana, Northern Illinois and Navy. Marozas plans to make a mid January unofficial visit to Syracuse.

Alec Palczewski (OT), Prospect

Prospect senior offensive tackle Alec Palczewski (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) has seen his recruiting stock soar late this fall. Palczewski, who added his first offer from Illinois a few weeks ago, now has added offers from the Fighting Illini along with Vanderbilt and Syracuse. Minnesota, Iowa and Indiana have also started to take interest in Palczewski.