Sophomore DeJuan Marrero and his Bowman Academy teammates whipped Peoria Manual in the Shootout At The Hall, held December 12 at the Assembly Hall. Marrero enjoyed playing in the home of the University of Illinois.
"It's amazing. A lot of atmosphere, great crowd. We came in here with a hungry attitude to win, and that's what we did. I think we played tremendous. We knew it was gonna be a scrappy game. They played the same way we did, up and down."
The broad-shouldered 6'-5" Marrero will be a wing in college, but he must play center much of the time for his high school team. He understands the value of playing out of position.
"Oh yes. But I get to play all positions because when I get to the next level, I have to know all the positions one to five."
Bowman head coach Marvin Rea likes how his team is playing and knows he has a prized talent on his hands.
"I think our team is doing an excellent job. We have a number of excellent players on our team. And we have an elite player like DeJuan Marrero. They keep him humble in practice. Our team has been doing great handling all the fanfare with DeJuan.
"I describe him as a throwback player. If I had to point out one thing he does well, I really can't. He does whatever we need him to do day in and day out. He's one of the few players who actually dive on the floor for the ball, take charges and does all those things.
"I think his maturity is a credit to him. On our roster we have ten seniors, and they hold DeJuan accountable. I think that has aided his development process also."
Marrero has enjoyed early physical development. His mustache and overall appearance make him look much older than his actual age.
"I'm just a growing boy," he muses.
The 6'-5" athlete has a number of scholarship offers already.
"I have scholarship offers from Valpo, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois and Cincinnati."
He is in no hurry to complete the recruiting process.
"I enjoy it. I try to keep it to the side right now because I have a long way to go. I'm a sophomore, so I'm worried about games coming up.
"I'll probably look into it more going into my senior year. Probably the summer, first week of school maybe. I'm not sure. I'll have to discuss it with my family and Coach. I know a lot of people commit early with different schools, but I don't look into that."
Marrero has been on the Illinois campus at least four times already. It is obvious he likes what he sees.
"Coach Jay Price is recruiting me, and Coach (Bruce) Weber. They're both cool guys, the whole coaching staff matter of fact. I know half the guys on the team. It's amazing. They treat you like family down here. That's what I like."
Gary lies adjacent to the state of Illinois. But Marrero's loyalty resides in his home state.
"I'm an Indiana kid."
He isn't in competition with all the other top Indiana talent for bragging rights. His comeraderie with his peers gives the state of Indiana an advantage in his recruitment.
"We play AAU ball together. We're all just close friends. We all try to be like family since we're all from the same region. We just try to be the best basketball state there is."