Help is about to arrive for Huntley’s boys basketball team.
Red Raiders 6-foot-7 junior forward Amanze Egekeze, the McHenry County area’s top college prospect, was cleared Monday by orthopedic surgeon Brian Cole and will return at 7 p.m. today when Huntley hosts Crystal Lake South in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division game.
Egekeze had surgery on his right knee to alleviate the patellar tendinitis he had experienced throughout the spring and summer. It limited what he could do with his AAU team, the Illinois Wolves. He tried to rest when he could, but the pain persisted, so the surgery was performed by Cole on Sept. 25. Cole was the surgeon who repaired Bulls star Derrick Rose’s ACL injury last spring.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Egekeze, a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection last season. “I felt a little helpless at times. Whether we won or lost, I felt I could have made an impact. It’s a great feeling that I can do something about it now.”
Huntley (8-5 overall, 2-0 FVC Valley) fared pretty well without Egekeze, who averaged 11.9 points a game and led the area with 65 blocked shots last season. Raiders coach Marty Manning is not sure what to expect in Egekeze’s first few games back.
“I hope he just shows progress,” Manning said. “He’s already showed a little bit of progress since Wednesday when he came back with us. He won’t be the defensive presence he has been because he doesn’t have a lot of strength in his knee yet.”
Fortunately for Egekeze though, he also doesn’t have the pain either. He said his knee began hurting near the end of last high school season.
“Before, I couldn’t touch the spot because it hurt too much,” Egekeze said. “Now, there is no pain there. It doesn’t hurt when I run around a lot either. We went the safe route and did it right. There’s a little atrophy, but that will come back when I get in my normal routine.”
Egekeze has done some running in practice and some drills. He spent a lot of time on the side shooting and working on ballhandling drills when the team was practicing full-speed. Huntley, the two-time defending FVC Valley champion, was able to grab division road wins at Jacobs and McHenry without its star player.
“We’ve done a good job,” Manning said. “I had high expectations even without Amanze. We said this group was pretty good. I thought we could have had a couple other wins, but our goals are to win the [division] and win a regional title, and the losses we had haven’t affected our goals.”
Adams to North Park: Johnsburg catcher Cam Adams, who will be a fourth-year varsity player this spring, has committed to play baseball at NCAA Division III North Park University in Chicago next year.
Adams hit .303 with 22 RBIs and a home run last season for the Skyhawks. He split time with Brandon Krennrich at catcher. Adams had five doubles, two triples and scored 25 runs.
“When coach [Luke] Johnson came there five years ago, they were something like 5-43 and now it’s almost the opposite,” Adams said. “That was important. It’s only an hour-and-a-half from my home and it’s close to Wrigley, so I can catch a Cubs’ game sometimes.”
Adams said his father Don has health problems, so North Park’s proximity was a key factor. He also plans on majoring in sports management and with the school in Chicago he feels that offers an advantage.
North Park saw Adams at an Area Code Showcase over the summer at Triton College. He also played for the Racine Hitters’ travel program last summer.
“[North Park] liked what they saw at that tryout and watched me through August and the fall,” Adams said.
He went to visit the school in November and recently committed.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.