Even before Jacob Alexander, Lincoln-Way East already had a dynamic sophomore nucleus.
That’s because Alexander, who took up football as a freshman, is opening a lot of eyes as a defensive end.
“I got an offer from Illinois in December — before a basketball game, actually — and I’m starting to talk to Iowa,” Alexander said. “I grew up playing basketball, but I just started playing football.
“It just took off for me.”
Alexander continues to take off in basketball too, producing 13 points and six rebounds Friday night for the Griffins in a 65-52 SouthWest Suburban Blue victory over Sandburg in Frankfort.
He also had 14 points in a 63-56 loss to Andrew in a conference crossover on Feb. 7. The win over Sandburg snapped a six-game losing streak for Lincoln-Way East (16-11, 2-6).
Powell, who had 12 points and 10 assists against Sandburg, is hoping Alexander continues to play well, especially with the absence of Thomas.
“He brings in defense, rebounding, scoring — everything,” Powell said.
Powell has offers from Radford, South Carolina State and Howard and is getting interest from Michigan, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt. He knows a little bit about recruiting.
“I knew he was going to get interest in football,” Powell said. “Look at him. During the fall, I was in the stands cheering him on.”
Now, football players in the stands can be found cheering Alexander on the court as he eased his way into the lineup.
“The beginning of the season was a little bit rough for me coming back from football,” he said. “But I started working my way into basketball and it got a lot better.”
Two sports for Abrams
Eisenhower’s AJ Abrams was interested in playing both football and basketball in college. The problem was colleges wanted him for either one or the other.
But Iowa Central Community College was the exception, with the Tritons welcoming him for both sports. Abrams officially signed on Feb. 7.
“They were the first one to offer for both,” Abrams said. “Not many schools have that option. They came out and visited me and I took a virtual tour of the school.”
Iowa Central’s football team finished 7-4 and won its 13th straight bowl game with a 44-9 victory over Snow. Morgan Park’s Aaron Warren, Marist’s Michael Bartolotta, Andrew’s Jonathan Young and T.F. North’s Michael Washington are local players on the roster.
In basketball, Iowa Central has a 5-18 record.
Abrams, the reigning South Suburban Red’s player of the year, and the Cardinals (23-6) are on a roll with an 11-game winning streak. It’s a far cry from opening the season with an incomplete lineup as Abrams got hurt in a 77-37 loss to Marist on Nov. 20 in Blue Island.
“We are finally all back together and we’re getting to know each other,” Abrams said. “That first game was just a wake-up call for us. We came back better and got our whole team healthy.”
If the seeds are right, there could be a ton of action involving Southland teams in March 1 sectional championship games.
Homewood-Flossmoor and Marist drew the first and second seeds, respectively, in the Class 4A Rich Township Sectional. Mount Carmel earned the top seed and De La Salle the second at the Class 3A Hinsdale South Sectional.
Thornton is seeded first and Brother Rice second in the Class 3A Thornton Sectional.
Beecher, which entered this week as the only unbeaten team in the state, picked up the top seed in a sub-sectional of the Class 2A Clifton Central Sectional.
Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.