While decorating our too-tall Christmas tree Sunday night to wrap up a week of vacation, I flipped on the TV for the Maryland at Illinois basketball game.
The Illini (6-3, 0-2 in the Big Ten) lost in overtime, 92-91, but there were positives, not the least of which was Illinois junior guard Aaron Jordan’s performance in the second half.
Jordan played his high school ball at Plainfield East. A few years ago, he was the Herald-News Player of the Year. Against Maryland, he hit 4-of-6 shots, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, and all four free throws for 15 points, all in the second half.
The season is young, of course, but Jordan is leading the nation in 3-point accuracy. He is 23-for-35 from beyond the arc, a .657 clip. He also is shooting .642 overall and .833 (25-of-30) from the free-throw line.
Although not starting a game yet, Jordan is averaging 12.9 points, second on the team, in 20 minutes of playing time. He averages 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals.
The number of Illini fans who would like to see coach Brad Underwood give Jordan more playing time and run more plays to get him shots is growing. Understandably so.
ALSO IN D-I
Max Strus was a Division II All-American two seasons ago at Lewis. Anyone who watched him there had a feeling he could play on the D-I level, as much as we hated to see him leave the Flyers. He landed at DePaul, where he is a junior after sitting out last season according to NCAA transfer rules. He has done nothing but prove he belongs.
In seven games for the Blue Demons (3-4), Strus is averaging 33.7 minutes, a team-leading 15.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting .402 from the floors, .345 from 3-point range and .923 (24-of-26) from the free throw line.
• Junior guard Prentiss Nixon (Bolingbrook), a former Herald-News Player of the Year, is the leading scorer for Colorado State (4-4), averaging 15.9 points. He is shooting .365 from the floor, .357 from three and .875 (21-of-24) from the foul line.
• Freshman guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet West) is averaging 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals for Ohio (4-3). He is shooting .476 from the floor and .700 from the free throw line.
• Freshman Nana Akenten (Bolingbrook) has played limited minutes in five games for Nebraska (6-3). He is averaging 0.6 points and 0.4 rebounds.
• Two other freshmen from the area, Trevian Bell (Joliet West) and P.J. Pipes (Lemont), are contributing at Wisconsin-Green Bay (2-4). Both have played in all six games. Bell has started twice and averages 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting .395 from the floor, .400 (6-of-15) from three and .714 from the free throw line. Pipes is averaging 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds and is 13-of-15 from the free throw line.
• In women’s basketball, Nicole Ekhomu (Joliet Catholic) is a sophomore guard at unbeaten Florida State (8-0). She has played in all eight games, starting two, and is averaging 10.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting .443 from the field and .865 (32-of-37) from the free throw line.
IN THE PROS
Philadelphia 76ers 6-10 forward Richaun Holmes (Lockport), who played college ball at Bowling Green, has battled through injury issues and played in nine of the 76ers’ 22 games. He is averaging 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.1 minutes.
• A few former Joliet area standouts are playing in the NBA’s G League (the developmental league). Karrington Ward (Lockport), a former Eastern Michigan standout, is with the Windy City Bulls. In seven games, he averages 15.2 minutes, 5.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.7 steals. He is shooting .371 from the floor, .304 from 3-point range and .727 from the free throw line.
• Derrick Marks (Plainfield Central), who shared Herald-News Player of the Year honors with Ward when the two were seniors, enjoyed an outstanding college career at Boise State. Now he is with the Erie BayHawks, who are affiliated with the Atlanta Hawks. In 14 games, he is averaging 18.3 minutes, 3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 steals while shooting .375 from the field and .727 from the foul line.
• Ben Moore (Bolingbrook), coming off a solid career at SMU, is with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, who are affiliated with the Indiana Pacers. In 10 games, he is averaging 30.1 minutes, 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0. 6 steals. He is shooting .468 from the floor and .826 from the free throw line.
ALLIE QUIGLEY UPDATE
While covering the Joliet Central at Joliet Catholic boys basketball game a couple of weeks ago in the opening round of the WJOL Thanksgiving Classic, I ran into Allie Quigley (JCA).
“I wanted to see this game for sure,” she said. “It’s JCA against my brother-in-law’s team.”
Greg Smith, husband of Lewis women’s coach Samantha Quigley Smith, is an assistant for Joliet Central coach Lawrence Thompson Jr.
Quigley, an all-star with the Chicago Sky and the reigning WNBA 3-point contest champion, said she was home from Istanbul, Turkey, where she is playing professional basketball for the Galatasaray team. She recently had her right knee scoped. She was scheduled to return to Turkey last week and will continue rehabbing there.
“It may be a month or two before I’m back,” she said. “I’ve been playing on it for years, really. I thought I better get it done. I had the same knee scoped in college [at DePaul]. I know I can’t play forever, but I probably have a few years left.”
Quigley, 31, has played in five games in the Turkish League and is averaging 20.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 28.6 minutes while shooting .591 from the floor and .938 (15-of-16) from three free throw line. In four games in the ultra-competitive Euroleague, she averages 20.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists and shoots .551 from the field.
• When Quigley does retire, she said has not ruled out getting into coaching like her sister. Sam has a bragging-rights game Tuesday night as she will lead the Lewis women (5-3) into the St. Francis Sullivan Center to take on the Saints (7-2), her former team. USF beat NCAA Division II nationally ranked Lewis under her guidance early last season.
Nicole Ekhomu’s sister Christina played at USF the last three seasons and transferred to Lewis for her senior year. She should see action tonight against her former teammates.
• Dick Goss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.