Alonzo Verge on Illini: 'They've been showing interest in me a lot'

Alonzo Verge showed off his talent at the EYBL session in Atlanta during Memorial Day weekend. He talks about his game, recruitment and upcoming decision on which high school he'll attend.

Alonzo Verge has been all over the map -- literally -- with his situation off the court, as he will enroll in his fourth high school in three years this fall.

Verge starred at Willowbrook during his sophomore season, and Illini head coach John Groce offered him a scholarship the following April. Then, Verge transferred to Proviso West only to transfer again in October to play for Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla. But he didn't finish out the season -- returning back to Chicago in February and finishing his junior year at Proviso West.

There's been plenty of uncertainty surrounding Verge, but you won't find any with him when his sneakers are on the hardwood. Verge is still the electrifying talent who took Chicago by storm as a super sophomore, and his game has gotten even better.

Verge closed out the spring AAU period strong at the EYBL session in Atlanta over the Memorial Day weekend. It was decisively the best he's looked.

"I'm just getting back into my groove," Verge said. "I've been in the gym working on my stuff. We had a few weeks off, so I've just been working, getting in the gym and trying to get better."

He was the second-leading scorer for MeanStreets with 14.6 points per game, while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. Five-star wing Brian Bowen led the team with 15 points per game.

But there's no question that Verge was the difference-maker with the way he impacted the game. He turns the dial up with his ability to run the break, and he is absolutely lethal in the open floor.

"I'm a fastbreak player, so as soon as I get the ball, I'm gonna try to get it up and down the floor," he said. "I want to make it an open court and get my guys involved."

Verge can also get by almost any defender in the halfcourt with his handles and elusiveness off the dribble. All of that was on display in a matchup with the Mac Irvin Fire.

With Bowen, Nojel Eastern, Justin Smith, Da'Monte Williams, and Jordan Poole all included in the high-profile battle, Verge was the best player on the court. He led MeanStreets to a 76-60 win with a game-high 18 points on just seven shots, and he added in four assists.

Verge simply could not be stopped one-on-one. He attacked with supreme confidence off the dribble, and he dished off some sweet no-look dimes to teammates in transition.

Verge had the pulse of the game in his hands, and he made things simple for point guard Evan Gilyard by yelling out 'give me the ball'.

"I was just demanding the ball because I felt like I had control of the game," he said. "I was just trying to create for others and also myself."

Verge turned it up in the Chicago showcase, but he said it was just him playing his game.

"I didn't try to take it personal. I just wanted to get better," he said. "We played as a whole team and that's why we got the 'W'."

Verge has enjoyed playing with Eastern, Bowen and Gilyard in a talented backcourt this spring.

"It's fun. I grew up with Nojel and Evan," he said. "We're getting to know (Bowen) a lot. They're just like my family. It's fun playing with them."

It's a treat to watch Verge play as well, and many have wondered where they might see him at the next level. Verge gave IlliniInquirer.com the latest on his recruitment.

"It's going good," he said. "Kansas just started showing interest. Nebraska and Illinois have been. I'm not really into all that right now, though."

It's no secret that Verge likes the Illini.

"It's home. They've been showing interest in me a lot," he said.

You would think that having a fellow one-man fastbreak on the staff would be an added sell, and that's what the Illini have with Dee Brown being the Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations.

"I think that's big," Verge said. "I think that's big for the program. It's just a big thing to have someone that played at a high level, played for them and knows the school."

But as he said, recruiting can wait. Verge is now focused on making his decision on where to attend high school for his senior year. He said that will be his primary focus this month.

"I'm going to still be making my decision. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I'm just trying to weigh my options," Verge said. "I'll be looking real hard at education. I want to go to a place that can put me in a good position."

The word around Chicago has been that Proviso East -- where Brown won Mr. Basketball in 2002 -- is the favorite.


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