Boys basketball: Area rich in prolific scorers
By Pat Disabato email@example.com February 10, 2013 4:46PM
Sandburg's Tim Prendergast (11) attempts to block Andrew's Jubril Adekoya. | Paul Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 12, 2013 6:06AM
The final scores of local varsity boys basketball games may not necessarily reflect it, still hovering between 40 and 60 points on most nights, but some Southland scorers are putting up numbers not seen in some time.
As of Wednesday, six local players were averaging at least 20 points per game: Eisenhower’s Tyrone Terrell (29.1), Marian Catholic’s Tyler Ulis (22.9), Marist’s L.J. McIntosh (21.5), Brother Rice’s Alex Majewski (21.5), Andrew’s Jubril Adekoya (20.5) and Lemont’s Juozas Balciunas (20.4).
Three others are knocking on the door to that coveted plateau: Providence’s Kevin Kozan (19.9), Chicago Christian’s Corey Bulthuis (19.4) and Reavis’ Nick Bal (19.3).
Nice numbers. Nice players. But if you’re looking for a nice, neat explanation of this scoring binge — or rather the binge in scorers — it may not be available.
The 20 ppg sextet range in size from 5-foot-9 to 6-7. There are point guards, shooting guards and forwards in the group. Ulis is a junior, the rest seniors.
The one common thread is that each player has the ability to knock down the three-point shot. Even Majewski, at 6-7, and Adekoya, at 6-6, have the skills to step out beyond the arc and drill a trey.
However, Majewski and Adekoya boast another weapon in their scoring arsenal the others do not: the ability to wreak havoc in the paint.
“I work on my jump shot a lot, but I also work on my post moves,” said Majewski, a Chicago resident who grew up near Midway Airport. “I definitely think it helps that I can score from the inside or from the outside. If my shot isn’t falling, I can always take the ball inside.”
It also helps that all of them have played a minimum of three years on the varsity.
The experience has allowed each to often exploit younger, less savvy defenders.
Adekoya, Terrell and McIntosh have spent their entire careers on the varsity. Not only were they competing with the big boys as freshmen, each played significant minutes, undoubtedly hastening their development.
“I’ve learned so much from the experience and knowledge playing up the past three years,” said Adekoya, headed to Valparaiso in the fall. “It’s brought up my level of maturity. Without having that maturity, I’d probably force things. I just let things come to me and be patient. Craftiness plays a huge role in my game and helps with scoring.”
Varsity experience can’t be undervalued.
“That’s a big bonus,” Richards coach John Chappetto said. “They’re playing, in many cases, against guys who are in their first year on the varsity. That’s where the lack of depth makes some sense and these guys are able to take advantage.”
Lack of depth on a scorer’s own team has an impact, as well.
“There’s probably more one-man teams than in the past,” said Chappetto, who guided the Bulldogs to the 2007-08 Class 4A state championship. “The level of depth is down on many teams and they’re relying on one player to score.”
That’s certainly the case for some, but not all, of our shooters. Majewski has the benefit of multiple players capable of picking up the scoring slack on any given night.
Then there’s the boon Terrell enjoys by playing in Eisenhower’s uptempo attack. The Cardinals strive to put up a shot within 12 seconds of every possession.
More shots means more points for guys such as Terrell, whom Eisenhower coach Mike Curta called, “one of the best pure shooters I’ve ever coached.”
Like Terrell, McIntosh is primarily a shooting guard. And like Terrell, he’s also plenty capable of handling the ball. He, too, can light it up from outside — though the 6-1 RedHawk is just as apt to gather points off the dribble.
Ulis and Balciunas are the point guards in the group and can create their own shot.
Ulis has few peers when it comes to handling the ball. Off the dribble, he’s practically unstoppable and has developed into a more consistent threat beyond the arc.
Balciunas, who attended St. Joseph’s his first two years, may not be as quick as the 5-9 Ulis, but, at 6-1, is physically stronger.
“I just try to play my game and do what I need to do to win the game,” Balciunas said. “I like to play physical and go to the basket. I have teammates who look for me, too. That helps me to score. But scoring doesn’t matter to me as long as my team wins.”
What about how a team wins?
The trend years ago was to work for high-percentage shots, even if it meant passing the ball 15 times during a single possession. That strategy, for the most part, has gone the way of the headband.
Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty has won more than 700 games, building squads around scorers big (6-5 Mendel great Mike Hampton, 6-7 Thornridge alum Sam Mack) and less so (6-1 former Mount Carmel star Tracy Abrams).
“If you have a good shooter, you’re going to take the shot if it’s good enough,” Flaherty said. “Defenses, in many cases, are geared to stop the best players. When that player can get his shot off, they’re going to take it. These guys know how to get open. It’s not like years ago, when you’d jam the ball inside.
“The vast majority of these guys are three-point shooters. If you can get a guy that can shoot in the mid-30 percent range (from the three-point stripe), teams will run more things to set those guys up.”