Goss: Plainfield’s Derrick Marks lighting it up at Boise State
December 5, 2012 10:36PM
Boise State's Derrick Marks (2) goes for a layup against Creighton's Gregory Echenique in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Marks scored 35 points in Boise State's 83-70 win. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:16AM
Popular opinion says boys basketball in the Joliet area is not what it once was.
In accepting that premise, however, we overlook the success some of our own are experiencing in college ball.
No attempt here to list everyone, of course, but there are some shining examples.
We begin with Boise State sophomore guard Derrick Marks (Plainfield Central). If you are flipping channels late at night and come across a Boise State game, stop and watch it for a while.
Through seven games for the Broncos (6-1), Marks was averaging was 18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals. The 18.7 scoring average featured a 35-point outburst in an 83-70 victory Nov. 28 at Creighton.
An All-Mountain West honorable mention selection as a freshman, Marks was shooting 49 percent from the field and 86 percent (38-of-44) from the free-throw line (shades of the game his senior year of high school when he went 22-of-22 from the line). He not only is an accurate free-throw shooter, but he always could get to the line often with how strong he is taking the ball to the basket.
Marks was Herald-News co-player of the year two seasons ago, sharing the honor with Karrington Ward (Lockport), he of the 40-inch vertical Wards.
The 6-foot-7 Ward last season played at Kankakee Community College and was a junior college All-American, averaging 23 points and 9 rebounds. He transferred to Moraine Valley (7-1) for this season and is putting up virtually identical numbers. He has committed to continue his career next season at Division I Eastern Michigan.
Our area player of the year last season, 6-9 center Brian Bennett (Plainfield East), got off to an excellent start as a freshman at Division I Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (2-3). He was playing 27.2 minutes per game and averaging 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 62 percent from the field (23-of-37).
We mentioned Ward, and his former Lockport teammate, 6-8 Richaun Holmes, always rates a nod. Holmes was an NJCAA Division II All-American last season at Moraine Valley and now is at D-I Bowling Green State (4-4). The sophomore was playing 17.5 minutes per game and averaging 5.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. He hit 18-of-24 field-goal attempts in that time (75 percent) and was leading the team — not surprising — in blocked shots with 16, a 2.0 average.
Remy Roberts-Burnett (Joliet West) played regularly last season as a freshman guard at Western Illinois (5-3). This season, he was out for a while because of a concussion and returned to action Saturday in a win against Kansas City, scoring two points in eight minutes.
Seth Evans (Seneca) is a senior guard at Florida Southern (5-1), which was ranked 22nd in the first NCAA Division II poll. He was off with his shooting early on but still was averaging 12.3 points to go with 4.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals.
Robert Morris (4-5) perennially is among the top NAIA programs in the nation, and senior guard Brian Bradley (Lockport, Joliet Junior College) is one of the team’s top scorers, regularly hitting in the high teens or 20s. Among his teammates is 6-7 junior forward Anthony Shoemaker (Joliet), who transferred there after two successful seasons at John A. Logan Community College.
Again, no attempt here to mention everyone from the area playing college basketball. There are many others. The point, though, is that we have produced players who are stepping up on the national stage.
On the gridiron
During this football season, we published updates on local players doing good things on the Division I level.
I know of one I previously missed. That’s junior wide receiver J.D. Foster (Joliet West) at Southeast Missouri State (2-8). He caught at least one pass in all 10 games and finished with 37 receptions for 498 yards and five touchdowns. His best game was seven receptions for 107 yards and two TDs in a 41-38 win over Tennessee Tech.
For his career with the Redhawks, Foster has caught 65 passes for 880 yards and nine touchdowns.
A final football note involves Florida freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook). We mentioned earlier in the season that Morrison was seeing some playing time for the Sugar Bowl-bound Gators (11-1). Well, he not only forced a key fumble in the late-season win over Florida State, but he likely will step into a starting spot in the BCS bowl game.
Regular linebacker Jelani Jenkins broke a bone in his right foot during the win over Florida State, and Morrison was summoned. Florida was down 20-16 in the fourth quarter when Morrison belted FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel and forced a fumble, a hit that was featured on ESPN highlights. Florida, which has lost only to Georgia 17-9, recovered and scored a touchdown on the subsequent play for a 23-20 lead the Gators never relinquished.
Florida coaches always have liked Morrison’s physical nature, and that’s an occasion it helped produce a huge victory. Regardless of the Gators’ bowl opponent, you may want to tune in and watch Morrison do his thing.
For the season, he has 24 solo tackles and 31 total, with two for loss and one sack. The forced fumble against Florida State was his first.