Dawkins, St. Benedict eye No. 1 seed

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Dawkins, St. Benedict eye No. 1 seed

As St. Benedict coach Tom Horn saw it, last Sunday's 72-29 loss to Du Sable was a bad as it looks. "Horrendous. It was a wash. We agreed to play with a running clock in the second half," he said.
 
But there were extenuating circumstances. Lamon Dawkins, St. Benedict's best player, was sidelined with an injury. Only two starters and four reserves dressed. The other players were injured or sick.
 
But Dawkins, a 6-foot senior guard who scored 91 points in three games last week, was back in uniform on Tuesday. He scored 24 points and Marshawn Williams added 17 in a 66-32 romp over Christian Liberty to boost the Bengals' record to 17-4.
 
So all is well as St. Benedict braces for Friday night's all-important assignment against Hope Academy. The winner will claim the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A regional tournament. Last year, St. Benedict finished 21-8, losing to Hope in the regional final.
 
"We've never been farther than the regional," Horn said. "The best team our school has ever had was in 1974. We ranked No. 8 in the state. But we lost to Niles West in the Class AA regional."
 
How good is this team? "We're very young. We have a little point guard who has to learn how to pass the ball. But we have the potential to do something that the school has never done before," Horn said.
 
That's because Dawkins has emerged as one of the most dynamic players in the city. Last week, he had 29 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in a victory over Chicago Latin, 31 points and 10 rebounds in a victory over Ellison and 31 points and 11 rebounds in a victory over Mather.
 
Horn describes Dawkins, who has a 40-inch vertical jump, as "a high Division II prospect with athletic ability." The youngster wants to play in Division I. He said he has interest from DePaul, Bradley, Loyola, Eastern Illinois, Butler and Florida A&M.
 
All are waiting to see his ACT score. He is a B/C student but scored only 14 on his first ACT. "I'm just not good at testing. I can study all I want but I don't test well. I do well in tests in school. I concentrate as hard as I can and try my hardest but I don't do well on the ACT."
 
He is reading ACT books and is working with a tutor to improve his ACT score. He'll retake the test in February. "I really want to go to a Division I school. I have the grades but I must get the ACT," he said.
 
On the basketball floor, he prefers to play shooting guard. But he understands that if he doesn't grow, he'll be a point guard. "I like to come off screens and shoot a jumper or drive to the basket," he said.
 
He is averaging 20 points per game. A year ago, he averaged 23. But he isn't even the leading scorer on his team this season. Sophomore point guard Marshawn Williams, a 5-foot-5 sophomore going on 5-foot-3, is averaging 24. Williams, who grew up a block from St. Ignatius, ended up at St. Benedict because no other school wanted to take a chance on such a short player.
 
"He takes a lot of attention off me," Dawkins said of Williams. "As long as we win, I don't care if he scores more points or doesn't pass me the ball."
 
Other starters are 6-foot-3 sophomore Johnathon Rasool (7 ppg, 11 rpg), 6-foot senior Israel Aragon (5 ppg) and 6-foot-3, 250-pound Earl Briggs (8 ppg, 8 rpg).
 
They get a boost from assistant coach Manny Weincord, who won more than 500 games while coaching at Roosevelt for more than 30 years.
 
"He's my favorite coach," Dawkins said. "He always talks to me. 'You can do it,' he says. In a game, when I'm upset, he makes me laugh and gives me confidence. He tells stories about all the games he won.

Recruiting news and notes: Fenwick's Mike O'Laughlin headed to West Virginia

Recruiting news and notes: Fenwick's Mike O'Laughlin headed to West Virginia

Fenwick junior tight end Mike O'Laughlin (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) went from landing a scholarship offer from West Virginia to giving the Mountaineers his verbal commitment in just over a week's time.

"Before I left for West Virginia last weekend I honestly had no plans on committing," O'Laughlin said. "The visit went as well as I could have wanted it to go. West Virginia is just a perfect fir for me in so many ways, so I committed."

O'Laughlin admitted that overall recruiting pressure from so many recruits played a factor in pushing forward his decision.

"These days, committing early is the process," he said. "I know that West Virginia had offers out to other tight ends and the fact that they hadn't added a commitment yet was a gift. After making my visit this weekend I was ready to make my decision. I already had a school who offered me, then a few days later took another kid's commitment. I was not going to let that happen at West Virginia."

Batavia junior offensive tackle Nolan Eike (6-foot-6, 260 pounds) gave Central Michigan his verbal commitment at last weekend's Chippewas spring game.

"I had it planned over the past week or two about committing," Eike said. "I had made three separate visits to Central Michigan already and I'm just very comfortable with Central Michigan. I was ready to make my decision and I feel great about it."

Eike, who was seeing a steady increase in his recruiting stock this spring didn't want to play the wait and see game during the ongoing spring evaluation period. 

"I really wasn't waiting around for any other offers or waiting for bigger schools to offer me. I had some good offers but I always found myself comparing them to Central Michigan. After a while, I was always trying to find places better than Central Michigan and why keep waiting when I knew where I wanted to play for already."

Last Sunday, Glenbrook North hosted the annual Under Armour Football Camp and two State of Illinois names added invitations to the 2018 Under Armour All American Bowl game in January. Lincoln-Way East four star ranked defensive end Devin O'Rourke (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) and Carterville three star ranked tight end Luke Ford (6-foot-7, 247 pounds) had standout camp performances on Sunday and will take place in the nationally televised all star game.

Bolingbrook junior three star ranked wide receiver I'Shawn Stewart (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) early on his his recruiting process talked about being committed by now, but at least for now Stewart has pushed back his time frame just a bit.

"I'm going to push it back a little," Stewart said at Sunday's Under Armour camp. "I'm looking at making a decision closer to the beginning of June right before the college camps start up."

Stewart, who earlier this week added his latest offer from Syracuse is "looking harder these days at Iowa, Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin."

Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison commits to NIU

Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison commits to NIU

Phillips junior defensive tackle recruit Queneil Morrison (6-foot-2, 300 pounds) gave Northern Illinois University his verbal commitment Saturday afternoon. Morrison, who is in DeKalb attending the Huskies spring game, told head coach Rod Carey his decision.

"I committed to NIU," Morrison said. "I just like NIU and it's a good school and a good program. I also really like the people at NIU and it's feel like a great place fort me."

Morrison, who had offers from Toledo and Bowling Green, was starting to draw increased recruiting looks from several FBS schools this spring.

[RELATED: Preps Recruiting News and Notes - Tuscola's Hunter Woodard headed to Oklahoma State]

Why commit this early to the NIU Huskies?

"I just really like NIU and I also didn't want to lose my opportunity that I have at NIU by waiting too long," Morrison said.

Morrison is now the fourth in-state verbal commitment to the Huskies' 2018 Class, joining Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Plainfield East defensive end Jack Sullivan and Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis. Earlier this week, Danville junior offensive tackle Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds), who was the first 2018 commitment for the Huskies, backed out and gave Illinois his commitment after he was offered a scholarship earlier this week.