(top left) Nate Eimer, Jamaal Thompson, Derik Hollyfield
(bottom left) Kris Jenkins, Jay Thomas
Champs Continue Roll
Championship after championship West Aurora has yet to get off of their cloud nine.
Overcoming a favored Westinghouse team in the state finals last year West Aurora shocked the state by taking the Class AA state title. However, everyone seemed to overlook their entire regular season, which had them submit to only a single loss.
At last weekend's Morris Shootout in Morris, Illinois West Aurora was the surprise of the tournament downing favored Whitney Young. However, everyone seemed to overlook the returning starters Jamaal Thompson and Derik Hollyfield that the Blackhawks brought back.
Continuing their roll on Wednesday at the Oak Park summer league tournament West Aurora was crowned yet again, defeating Proviso East in the Finals.
Fueled by a starting lineup with no one over 6'3" the Blackhawks are starting to open people's eyes as a serious contender to repeat as state champions. "I think we have a good chance to repeat if we can work as hard as we did last year. Plus we've been showing some good signs this summer," said the 6'2" Hollyfield.
The modest Hollyfield has not only been showing 'good signs' but has proven that he and the 6'3" Thompson are to be considered among the state's best prospects.
An intense competitor Hollyfield is a great athlete that combines strength, skill and quickness to round out a complete game. With great anticipation skills Derik is very quick in the passing lanes and solid on the fast break. Also, a good passer and smart player he knows how to keep his teammates involved.
Being recruited as a shooting guard Hollyfield is one of the best marksmen in the state. With a quick shot that extends easily to the 3-point arc he is clutch down the stretch in big games, as he has continuously shown in the state tournament and at Morris.
Receiving mild interest thus far, schools such as Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Kansas State, Bradley, Illinois State and Western Illinois have been paying attention to Derik.
On the opposite wing along with Hollyfield is the unassuming Jamaal Thompson. With a constant game-face this skinny swingman is a relentless hustler. Excellent off the dribble Jamaal can easily take the ball all the way to the hoop or stop-on-a-dime and elevate for a pretty jump shot. Often times forced to play the post for the undersized Blackhawks defenders must always have a body on the sly Thompson who is constantly hanging around the rim for offensive rebounds or easy put-backs, utilizing a great vertical leap and virtual limitless hang-time. In no rush to make a decision Jamaal has been fielding calls from Bradley, UIC, Chicago State and USC with Bradley and UIC being his early favorites.
Both having Mid-Major potential Jamaal and Derik have talked about the possibility of committing together but don't see it as a seriously viable option.
Rounding out the West Aurora starting lineup is fellow senior 6'3" Nate Eimer who does the dirty work, 5'11" junior Kris Jenkins whose brother Shawn graduated last year and 5'11" freshman Jay Thomas who has showed great promise and poise.
One reason why West Aurora continues to be overlooked is because they don't have any star players with "big names." Hollyfield and Thompson are definitely both two stars that can carry Aurora a long way. However, neither one of them plays AAU which is where great players usually solidify their status as elite. In contrary, attributable to a lot of the success that Aurora has been receiving could be because they all play together during the summer allowing them to form good chemistry.
No matter the reason, West Aurora High is showing people that last year's state championship was not a fluke. Now maybe they no longer be overlooked.
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