Brehm Prep Loading Up On Quality Talent

Brehm Prep in Carbondale is loaded with basketball talent. It attracts prospects from all over the world, and it plays a rugged schedule outside the Illinois High School Association. With the rumor DeLaSalle Institute wing Dre Henley might be transferring to the school, it's a good time to learn more about its basketball program.

Brehm Prep is located in Carbondale, Illinois. Basketball coach Aaron Lee has attracted a talented and diverse group of athletes for his team from all over the world. He is modest about his recruiting success.

"I've had an opportunity to coach a lot of places, camps, some AAU, coaching clinics. When you build relationships with good people, good things can happen.

"And then, we're in a very good situation academically. All of our kids have over a 3.0 grade point average. It's been in existence 27 years and has been accredited all 27 years. If you do the work we do as educators and coaches for the right reasons, people always come your way."

Lee says it isn't practical for his school to play a normal high school schedule through the Illinois High School Association. Thus, Brehm Prep is not eligible for the state championship.

"We play all over, for two reasons. We have been approved with the IHSA, but in our area we can't find games. So we're talking about a 5-6 hour drive to a game. So we stick mostly with junior colleges. We do have Oak Hill next year. Be careful what you wish for.

"Our obstacle right now is deciding how to get the most for our program. Right now, we're going to play a heavy junior college schedule. Of our 23 games so far (in the 2009-10 season), 17 are against junior colleges. The wins won't come as quickly, but the getting better will. The skill sets and skill levels will definitely get better.

"We don't play in the IHSA state championship because their stipulation is we don't play a junior college schedule. So we chose to not take the accreditation because we can't find games with high school teams. We could travel to the Chicago area every weekend, but that wouldn't be good for our program. Financially and logistically, it wasn't a good fit."

Despite playing without its leading scorer, and with two other standouts getting hurt during the four game schedule, Brehm Prep still showcased some outstanding basketball players at the recent Illinois team camp shootout.

"We have a lot of talent on our team, and it's very young talent. Our sophomores and freshmen are pretty good, our juniors are getting better.

"The most obvious one is James Siakam. But we have some other good players including poing guard Bruce Barron. And then we have some good underclassmen. We have a really solid foundation for the future."

Siakam is an undersized junior power forward who impressed Illini fans before going down with a sprained knee ligament. The upcoming junior will be followed closely by Illinois and numerous other schools.

"James is a very versatile player. He defends the paint real well. He's a great rebounder and can score anywhere around the bucket. Right now, he's extending his game to 15 feet from the basket. So at the next level, he can play the 3-4 position. He's very athletic.

"He's only been playing 2 and 1/2 years. But he works hard, and he's a good presence for us around the basket.

"Siakam is from Cameroon. His older brother Boris Siakam played for Western Kentucky when they made that Elite 8 run. So he's got good genes obviously."

Another youthful prodigy with minimal basketball background is 6'-9" upcoming sophomore Emmanuel Ochinje. The youngster also suffered a mild injury in the shootout, and his sledner frame made banging inside difficult, but he showed good potential for the future.

"Ochinje is still developing. The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores. But he's got a great skill set around the basket. He can shoot with either hand. He can already hit the 15 foot jump shot.

"He doesn't take it too much with his back to the basket. But he can shoot the jumper off the drives. His shot-blocking has improved. So has his rebounding as he gets more comfortable with the game. He's only been around it a year to a year and a half."

The younger brother of former Carbondale star Justin Dentmon is now the point guard at Brehm.

"This is Bruce Barron's first year playing the point guard for us. He's been converted from a three to a point guard. So all our kids are in a learning process. It's been a good situation to come in with young, dedicated kids."

Besides Siakam's Cameroon background, several other Brehm players have traveled long distances to the school.

"Ochinje is from Lagos, Nigeria. We have a very diverse school. We have a kid from Belgium, one from Kansas City, one from Mississippi, and one from Naples, Florida."

If Aaron Lee adds Dre Henley to his already imposing arsenal, Brehm Prep will be even more intriguing for college recruiters to evaluate.

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