The Springfield area's top 10 players to watch this IHSA boys basketball postseason

Bill Welt
State Journal-Register

Here are the top players to watch in the upcoming Illinois High School Association boys basketball playoffs, which begin Saturday with the regional quarterfinals. 

Gus Abell

Gus Abell, Jacksonville Routt 

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior center is the go-to man for the third-seeded Rockets (24-6). He claimed the Gus Abell’s Bill Pool MVP award, averaging 19 points per game in late December. If Routt advances to the Class 1A Pawnee Regional final, he will likely face a heavyweight battle against Concord Triopia’s Ryan Snow, who has twice scored 18 points against the Rockets. Abell tallied 19 points in the Waverly meeting and 14 in Winchester. 

Lanphier's Tye Banks (2) puts a shot up over Springfield's Artez Hanson (24) in the first half at the Lober-Nika Gymnasium in Springfield, Ill., Friday, December 10, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Tye Banks, Lanphier 

The senior guard/forward and four-year starter leads the No. 5-seeded Lions in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg). He recently helped lift the Lions (16-11) to a 65-40 Central State Eight Conference rout over Normal U-High with 12 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists on Monday. 

Southeast senior Kam Banks drops in a finger roll against Springfield High's Carlos Day in the City Tournament at the Bank of Springfield Center on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.

Kam Banks, Southeast 

The physical 6-foot-3 senior guard/forward averages 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season for the Spartans, second on the team behind junior Seth Doss with 15.2 ppg and 8.9 rpg. He especially starred in Southeast’s thrilling 71-68 overtime victory over Chatham Glenwood and totaled 31 points. He later registered a game-high 23 points in a 77-55 win over Decatur Eisenhower and the Spartans are rolling into the postseason on a five-game winning streak. 

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Glenwood senior guard Eli Curtis hit the game-winning 3-pointer in Friday's 44-41 win over Southeast.

Eli Curtis, Chatham Glenwood 

The senior guard nearly led the Titans (18-12) to an upset over 3A state-ranked Sacred Heart-Griffin. He recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds in the 61-56 overtime loss while shooting 8-of-14 from the field. He averages 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season.  

Sacred Heart-Griffin's Jake Hamilton (3) is fouled by Lanphier’s Dewon Jones (31) as drives to the basket in the first half during the Showcase Saturday at the Bank of Springfield Center  in Springfield, Ill., Saturday, December 4, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Jake Hamilton, Sacred Heart-Griffin 

The junior guard ranks second in the Central State Eight Conference with 16.7 points per game for the 3A No. 4-ranked Cyclones (28-2), who entered Friday’s nonconference contest against Normal Community on a 28-game winning streak. He shoots 49.1% from the field. 

Sacred Heart- Griffin's Zack Hawkinson, right, goes up for a shot while being guarded by Chatham Glenwood's Weston Anderson during the game Friday Feb. 4, 2022. [Thomas J. Turney The State Journal Register]

Zack Hawkinson, Sacred Heart-Griffin 

The imposing junior forward has become a reliable double-double contributor. He averages 15.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. At Chatham Glenwood, he compiled 15 points and 15 rebounds in the overtime win. 

Springfield's Mitchell Logan (3) blocks a dunk attempt from Lanphier's Tye Banks (2) in the first half at the Lober-Nika Gymnasium in Springfield, Ill., Friday, December 10, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Mitchell Logan, Springfield High 

The 6-foot-3 senior guard just continues to produce. His averages sit atop the Central State Conference in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (9) and field goal percentage (61%). No. 8 seed SHS (12-17) faces an uphill battle beginning with No. 9 Rochester in the 3A Sacred Heart-Griffin Regional quarterfinal with the winner advancing against top-seeded SHG in the semifinal. 

Zach Powell, Pleasant Plains 

The 6-foot-5 junior forward is virtually unstoppable. He matched up against Routt’s Gus Abell and manufactured 14 points and eight rebounds to help the Cardinals (18-9) knock off the Rockets 45-41 in the Riverton Shootout. He averages 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds this season. 

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Spencer Rikas

Spencer Rikas, Auburn 

The 6-foot-1 senior guard is among the area’s top 3-point shooters. He leads the Sangamo Conference by a wide margin in particular, converting 94 of 227 (41.4%) 3-point attempts this season. 

Pana's leading scorer, Brenden Schoonover, dribbles around a fallen Macon Meridian defender on Jan. 11, 2022.

Brenden Schoonover, Pana 

The prolific senior guard has the hot hand. He totaled 26 points in a narrow 59-54 nonconference win over St. Joseph-Ogden in the Riverton Shootout and followed up that performance with 35 points in a 79-51 South Central Conference win over Gillespie on Tuesday. 

Contact Bill Welt: bill.welt@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/BillWelt