Hammarlund is Mr. Intangibles for St. Viator

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Hammarlund is Mr. Intangibles for St. Viator

Kevin Hammarlund is a coach's dream and an opponent's worst nightmare. St. Viator's 6-foot-1 senior guard doesn't score points as much as he creates headaches. He wishes he were 6-foot-3, could shoot and play at Duke. But he knows that isn't to be. He is comfortable in his own skin.

"The most points I ever scored in a game was 28 as a freshman. My varsity high is 18 last year, 14 this year. I average only three to nine shots a game," he said. "I realize my role is to play defense and set screens and rebound and make steals, a little bit of everything."

Hammarlund averages nine points, five rebounds and at least one steal per game. He also takes four charges per game and usually limits the opponent's leading scorer to fewer than 10 points. He doesn't count floor burns or black-and-blue marks or bumps and bruises.

"I'm not a big statistics guy," he said. "I take pride in setting good screens for my teammates to get good shots. I've had at least one steal in every game. And my goal in every game is to help on team defense and hold the other team's good scorer under 10 points."

A two-year starter at wide receiver and free safety on the football team, Hammarlund will play football in college, probably at Washington University in St. Louis or Dayton, Butler or St. Thomas in Minnesota.

"I love both sports," he said. "Basketball is harder because I'm a shorter guard. I had a great chance to start in football last year and it led to being recruited by some schools. But I love basketball. I've been playing since I was 3. I wish I could play at Duke, but..."

But it won't happen. He will have to settle for trying to help St. Viator make history this season. The Arlington Heights school was 25-4 last year and lost to Mundelein in the sectional semifinal. The Lions have never been farther in the state tournament series. This year's goal is the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.

"I've been at St. Viator for eight years and this can be the best team I have seen," two-year coach Mike Howland said. "We have five returning players who saw minutes last year. We know we are talented but we are younger than last year.

"We know we would have a learning curve. We know how to play together. Everyone knows their roles. We know who is good at what. We're starting to figure it out. We have a lot of firepower and a great group of guards. We can score in bunches. We're looking to make history this year."

St. Viator is 13-4 after losing to Lake Forest 66-53 on Tuesday. The Lions will face two severe tests when they face East Suburban Catholic rivals Marian Catholic and Tyler Ulis on Friday and Notre Dame on Saturday at the Sears Center. It won't get any easier next week when they meet Benet and New Trier.

Last week, St. Viator defeated Northridge Prep 65-55 as Ore Arogundade had 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. In an 86-81 decision over Nazareth, Arogundade had 22 points and 11 rebounds while Mark Falitico had 24 points and seven assists, Patrick McNamara scored 17 points and Hammarlund had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Against Lake Forest (12-3), one of the top teams in the North Suburban, Hammarlund scored 14 points and Ore Aragundade had 13. But St. Viator couldn't contain Lake Forest's 6-foot-7 Evan Boudreaux, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds.

"This will be a fun stretch. Our conference is as good as it gets, loaded, a battle every night," Howland said. "We played our worst week of basketball at the Wheeling tournament at Christmas (they lost to Naperville Central and Niles North to finish fourth) but played our best basketball last week (beating Glenbrook North and Carmel).

"We're really good when we play together and share the ball. We have to play to our strengths...play defense, push the tempo, get stops and rebound well. I said at the beginning of the year that if we go far (in the state tournament) we must rebound the ball and give opponents one shot. When we do, we're good. When we dont, we're pretty average."

The lineup features Hammarlund, 6-foot-3 junior guard Arogundade (16 PPG, 8 RPG), 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard Falitico (13 PPG, 5 assists), 6-foot-2 senior guard Martin (10 PPG) and 6-foot-5 senior center Hugh Masterson (6 PPG, 7 RPG). Ore's brother, Mayo Arogundade 5 PPG), a 5-foot-11 senior point guard, and 6-foot-3 sophomore McNamara come off the bench.

Howland describes Hammarlund as "our do-everything guy, a winner, our intangibles guy. He doesn't need the basketball. He took five charges in one game. He is a difference-maker. He is our best defender. He takes the opponent's best player."

"My role? I do what the coach tells me. I do what it takes for this team to win," Hammarlund said. "I like to be known as a defensive player. I pride myself at working at the defensive end, trying to take their best player out of the game.

"And I like to bring energy. I make energy plays, charges and steals, that bring us easy baskets. It gets our crowd going and gives the team momentum. I'm not a stat guy. I see how many points my man got, if I was able to hold him to a low score."

Hammarlund came off the bench last year as St. Viator went 25-4 and won its first conference championship in more than 10 years. The Lions were undefeated in the conference and on their home floor. But the loss to Mundelein in the sectional semifinal was a big disappointment, something he and his teammates haven't forgotten.

"I thought we'd go much farther than that. We should have gone to the supersectional or downstate. I felt we were that good," he said. "But we have more talent this year. We have a lot of good players and we are playing as a team. We can be better than last year."

St. Viator lacks size -- as was clearly evident in the loss to Lake Forest -- but usually makes up for it with aggressiveness, balanced scoring and lockdown defense.

"We have a lot of positive energy and leadership on and off the court," Hammarlund said. "The seniors have played together for four years. Sure, we have concern when we play a bigger team. But we have athleticism with our guards and can pressure bigger players and make it tough for them to finish."

Recruiting News and Notes: Jacub Panasiuk nearing college decision

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Recruiting News and Notes: Jacub Panasiuk nearing college decision

Jacub Panasiuk (DE), Lake Park

Panasiuk (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) recently announced that he will make his college choice on June 14.

"I decided that I'm going to make my college choice on June 14th," Panasiuk said. "That's my birthday and I'm just getting closer to wrapping things up. June 14th also happens to be my birthday and I just feel like that's the right time to make my decision."

Panasiuk, along with East St. Louis junior wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), remain the only uncommitted players in the Rivals.com Early Spring Top 20 Class of 2017 State of Illinois rankings. Panasiuk discussed what factors will help land his services.

"Over the past two years of going on visits everywhere and talking to coaches, I've realized that facilities and all the fancy stuff doesn't really matter," Panasiuk said. "Every school will end up having the same things. It will be how comfortable I am with the coaching staff at the school. I think having a close relationship with the coaches is a key factor in all of this."

Panasiuk, the older brother of Mike Panasiuk who signed with Michigan State, has offers from the Spartans along with several other Big Ten schools. Panasiuk added that he will narrow down his list of favorite schools "very soon."

Joe Spivak (DT), Montini Catholic

Spivak (6-foot-1, 292 pounds) added his second offer this week from South Dakota State. Spivak, who's father Joe played for Illinois State back in the 80's, also landed his first offer from his dad's alma matter. So is it safe to assume that the younger Spivak is a "lock" for Illinois State?

"A lot of people think that I'm a done deal for Illinois State," Spivak said. "I love Illinois State but honestly I'm looking at all of my options for now. I'm just not in a big hurry and I want to see how my recruiting shakes out."

Spivak has drawn recruiting looks from Northwestern, Miami of Ohio, Air Force, North Dakota State and Ball State, along with several Ivy League schools.

Charlie Schmidt (OG), Libertyville

Schmidt (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) was able to add his first offer late last week from Iowa State.

"I was pretty surprised," Schmidt said. "I talked to one of the assistant coaches on Thursday and they offered me the following day."

The sophomore offensive guard also has a serious connection to the Cyclones.

"My teammate Tyler Jost just committed to Iowa State. Also Coach (John) Kuceyeski is from Libertyville so we have a pretty good connection to Iowa State at our school. I know that they have good coaches and a good tradition at Iowa State The Iowa State coaches want me to come out and visit. I don't have anything set just yet but I'll get out to visit them soon."

Schmidt has also drawn recruiting interest so far this spring from Michigan State, Central Michigan and Illinois State.

Marist Notes

Marist head coach Pat Dunne has been putting in some serious time with college coaches this spring. Marist is already touring three DI recruits in junior linebacker Micah Awodiran, junior offensive guard Bill Kuduk (Central Michigan) and junior defensive back Robert Topps and you can now add junior defensive tackle Elijah Teague (6-foot-3, 292 pounds) to the FBS recruit listing as Teague was able to add his first offer from Iowa State.

"Iowa State was able to see me work out at school and they offered me a few days later," Teague said. "I don't know too much about the school but I do have family that lives in Carroll, Iowa which is like 30 to 45 minutes away from Ames. I've been to Ames before and I've seen the school and it looks nice. The Iowa State coaches want me to come out to visit and I'll try to get out to visit them this summer."

Illinois Mr. Basketball Charlie Moore down to eight schools

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Illinois Mr. Basketball Charlie Moore down to eight schools

After opening up his recruitment earlier in April, Morgan Park senior point guard and Illinois Mr. Basketball Charlie Moore is down to eight schools, he announced on Twitter.

The 5-foot-11 Moore is down to Cal, Illinois, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, SMU, UNLV and Western Kentucky. Moore opened up his previous commitment from Memphis after head coach Josh Pastner left to take the same position at Georgia Tech. It's worth noting that the Yellow Jackets is on Moore's final list.

A two-time state champion at Morgan Park, Moore averaged 28 points, seven assists and five steals per game as a senior.

Regarded as the No. 57 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, according to Rivals, Moore is the best available senior point guard left in the country. 

 

Phillips DB Dexter Warren pledges to NIU

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Phillips DB Dexter Warren pledges to NIU

Phillips junior defensive back recruit Dexter Warren (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) already drew a handful of MAC offers and more recruiting looks this spring, yet it didn't take long for Warren to make his verbal commitment. Warren gave NIU head coach Rod Carey his verbal commitment while visiting the school last weekend for the Huskies spring game.

"NIU just feels like the right place for me," according to Warren. "I just like everything they have to offer and I was ready so I committed."

Warren, who can play either cornerback or safety at the college level, didn't choose NIU just because of its proximity to his hometown.

"I really didn't consider staying closer to home too much at first," Warren said. "I just liked everything that NIU has to offer. The school being closer to home is just another positive but it wasn't a big factor in my decision. My family and friends can come see me play, which is good."

Warren is now the second known in-state commitment for the Huskies and joins DeKalb WR Cole Tucker in the NIU Class of 2017.