For most of us, April 15 is tax day.
Get those receipts and earning statements together. Mortgage interest statements. Federal forms. Stuff it all in an envelope and hope you‘re not owing anything.
For a handful of senior class basketball players in Chicago, April 15 will be a much happier day. It’s signing day. April 15 is the first day of the NCAA’s late signing period, and the puzzle is still not figured out.
Marshall’s Darius Smith, perhaps the best of Chicago’s uncommitted seniors, announced Monday night he had committed to the University of Connecticut.
But among several other Chicago-area uncommitted players, that still leaves Marcus Jordan of Whitney Young and Cully Payne of Schaumburg unclaimed. Payne is back on the uncommitted list because he asked and received a release from his letter of intent at Alabama because former head coach Mark Gottfried was forced to resign.
The late signing period will go until May 20, per NCAA regulations.
Smith, a 6-foot-2 point guard who averaged 23 points and 7 rebounds per game for Marshall (17-6, No. 19 in Illinois, MaxPreps ranking), chose UConn -- a Final Four team -- over Arizona State. In addition to his shooting and dribbling skills, Smith is a strong defender. He averages 6 steals per game.
Smith announced his decision Monday night on Chicago Tribune Live‘s cable telecast.
“UConn‘s style of play is my style of play -- up and down the court,” Smith said. “I like the program and get along real well with the coaching staff. I will be a true point guard there.”
UConn’s starting point guard this season, A.J. Price, leads the Huskies with 14.7 points per game. But he is a senior, and Smith would likely compete for the point guard spot next fall. The Huskies have two sophomore guards and two freshman guards on their current roster, including 2008 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year Scottie Haralson.
Smith is rated the No. 12 point guard in the nation by ESPN.
Among the Big Ten schools Smith turned down were Indiana and Purdue. Kentucky, UCLA, Duke and Memphis also recruited him heavily.
Jordan’s stock rose after leading Whitney Young to the Class 4A state championship and No. 1 state ranking, scoring 19 points in the 4A championship game. He is the son of NBA great Michael Jordan.
Toledo, a Mid-American Conference, has recruited Jordan all along. But among Jordan‘s latest suitors: Iowa, which extended an offer in the last week, and UCF, where Jordan visited last weekend. Butler has also extended an offer.
Payne, who had de-committed from DePaul before signing with Alabama earlier this season, is being courted by Iowa and Tennessee, according to reports.
City’s best seniors play in Chicago Classic
Twenty-seven of the Chicago area’s top seniors will play in the Chicago Classic boys’ basketball all-star game Friday night at Niles North in Skokie.
The game will feature players from 23 schools, including three from Public League champ North Lawndale, but no players from Class 4A champion Whitney Young are scheduled to play.
Of the 27 seniors, 18 are signed or verbally committed to colleges next year. Among the seniors on the South team is Marshall’s Darius Smith, who committed this week to Connecticut, a Final Four team.
Among the notable uncommitted players are John Taylor, a 5-foot-11 guard at North Lawndale, and Cully Payne, a 6-foot guard at Schaumburg.
The game will begin at 8 p.m.
Fenwick coach leads West to McDonald’s win
There were no Chicago players in the annual McDonald’s All-American Games played Wednesday night in Miami, but Dave Power of Fenwick High School in west suburban Oak Park was head coach for the West girls team.
Despite Notre Dame recruit Skylar Diggins of Washington, Ind., scoring a game-high 18 points, the West won, 69-68.
The off-court experience of visiting the Ronald McDonald House affected Power.
“When I get back home, I’m going to visit the one there,” Power told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “This is all about the kids and that’s a wonderful thing. Raising money for that is great. When I came here, I didn’t understand that as well as I do now.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities provide support for children and families worldwide. There are nearly 300 houses in 30 countries.
Richards’ Pratz faces assault charge
Eastern Illinois recruit Shawn Pratl, a star at Richards High School, faces a May 11 court date for his alleged involvement in an assault of a Mother McAuley High School female student.
Pratl is a defendant in the case, along with Michael Hennigan, a friend. The assault was said to have occurred at an under-age drinking party in November at an Oak Lawn residence. Bree Bonnema, the female student, was allegedly pushed to the ground and against a garage door after a drinking game.
Cook County Circuit Judge Kerry Kennedy is expected to issue a ruling May 11.
Wheaton soccer star honored by IYSA
Olympic gold medalist Julie Foudy was the keynote speaker at an awards banquet honoring Wheaton Academy goalkeeper Emily Mulder.
Mulder, a junior at the West Chicago school, was honored by the Illinois Youth Soccer Association for being selected to the U.S. Youth Soccer Region II Girls Olympic Development Program team. She is in her third year as a goalkeeper at Wheaton Academy and also plays for the Strikers Fox Valley Soccer Club of Geneva.
Mulder was the only Illinois player in her age group selected for the 30-player ODP pool.
Track: Wheeling alum wins Hall of Fame honor
Dana Miroballi, who won four consecutive state championships in cross country and the 3,200-meter run in the 1980s at Wheeling High School, will be inducted into the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) Hall of Fame on July 1 in Chicago.
She is the only Illinois inductee and just one of three former athletes.
In all, Miroballi won 10 state championships, and her time of 11 minutes, 16 seconds in the 1987 cross country meet was then a state record. She later competed in track at Indiana University. She is now an attorney for the Office of Intelligence at the National Security Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It is especially fitting for Dana that her Hall of Fame induction will occur so close (Chicago) to where she achieved so many of her accolades. In terms of prestige, the NFHS Hall of Fame is unrivaled in the high school athletic forum,” Illinois High School Association Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a statement.
Baseball: St. Rita knocked off by Young
What a year it has been for Whitney Young.
The school’s most famous alum, Michelle Obama, is now First Lady.
The boys’ basketball team won the Illinois Class 4A state championship, and its girls’ team was runner-up.
And maybe the baseball team is pretty good, as well. The unranked Dolphins pushed their record to 4-0 Wednesday with a 7-6 win over previously unbeaten and top-ranked St. Rita. Frank Gowder hit two home runs for Young; Angelo Burrage hit a grand slam for St. Rita, which plays in the city’s Catholic League.
Paul Bowker covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at