Team Illinois [Coached by Donald Stewart] was everywhere this summer! A well-run program with elite athletes at all age levels – I made sure I caught a Team Illinois at every event I was at. It was a growing summer with extreme upside for Team Illinois 2027. A team that started the season with only five players quickly turned into a team that other programs were struggling to compete against. At Future Stars Classic in Appleton, Wisconsin this group had five players but still managed to finish in the Final 4 against very skilled and deep teams. They continued their success throughout the season, developing their skills and competing against some of the top teams around the nation. This 2027 group is certainly a “Team To Watch” going into the next season of the Circuit.
Below is the latest team roster and a few notes on what each player brings to this squad.
Natural born leader and winner. Monte is a pure point guard who makes everyone around him better. Excels at attacking the rim and setting up his teammates for easy buckets. He’s also a very tough defender who competes for every play at a high level.
Versatile stretch big who can score from all 3 levels of the floor. Owen has an excellent feel for the game, which made him easy to plug in at multiple positions on the 2026 team. Owen has a lot of upsides and we are expecting him to play an even bigger role offensively and defensively for us next summer.
A shifty, silky smooth guard that can score in a variety of ways. An above-average 3-point shooter, Keshaun also has a nice mid-range game as well and excels at setting his teammates up for easy baskets.
A tall, smooth combo guard that knows how to play the game. Jarrell brings a lot of versatility offensively with his height and ability to score from all 3 levels of the floor. Jarrell will take big strides in his game this winter.
The most athletic kid on Team Illinois 2027 team, Charles rim protects extremely well and rebounds like no other. Charles has continued to make positive strides in his mid-range game as well.
Johnathon Kendrick –
JK is a combo guard that scored well this past summer. A hardworking, physical combo guard with a lot of upsides.
Daniel Sago –
Daniel showed steady improvement throughout the course of the AAU season. Unselfish team player who runs the floor hard, good rebounder, and competent 3-point shooter.
An active big that has soft hands and finishes well around the rim. Jaiden brought a level of toughness to the team that helped immensely.
This team is up next! A group of athletes that all show extremely high upside. The IQ is strong and the chemistry is clear, if this team stays the course they will be tough to go up against next summer. Below we dive more into Team Illinois with Coach Stewart.
Which Prep Hoops Next event do you remember most?
- “The most memorable tournament for us was the Prep Hoops Next National Championship in Kansas City, Missouri. This was our first and only tournament with a full roster and everyone got to play together. The game that stood out the most for me was our game against the top 5 nationally ranked Pivot Life United, mainly because we got a glimpse of how good we could be when we all buy in and compete at a high level.”
How do you feel your program competed throughout?
- “I felt our team competed at a high level all throughout the Prep Hoops circuit. Even when missing our best player for a month we still finished at least .500 or above at every event we competed in. Right now, our guard play is the strength of our 2027 team. An area where we could use some improvement is better ball movement on the offensive end, becoming better defensively on the ball and help side, and knowing how to play the game better.”
Who were a few of the biggest stock-risers this season? Who added levels to their game?
- Monte Phillips – Coming off two class 2a IESA State Titles with Robertson Charter in Decatur, IL, Monte is looking forward to defending his title and continuing to develop into the next stellar PG to come out of the Central Illinois area.
- Owen Kirby – With a great showing on the Prep Hoops circuit this summer Owen is looking forward to building on that success and competing for a state title while continuing to develop into one of the best 8th graders in the Central Illinois area.
- Keshaun Manney – Will continue to lead his 8th-grade team at Bloomington middle school and compete for a chance to go to state. We are looking forward to Keshaun’s development as a more vocal leader and explosive scorer.
- Jarrell Brown – Jarrell will continue to make a name for himself this upcoming middle school season. We are looking forward to seeing him improve in all facets of the game and take steps to become a more vocal leader.
Coach Stewart added that Team Illinois 2027 is expected to return every player on their 2022 Prep Hoops NEXT Circuit roster while also potentially adding a few new athletes to the group!
Stay tuned in to this program, big things are ahead!