By Roy & Harv Schmidt
Richards' Eliud Gonzalez, Evanston's Steven Rudnicki and Lockport's Justin Jarosz may not be D1 basketball prospects and may not always fill up a stat sheet, but they are all ideal recruits at the small college level. All three of them were just as instrumental in leading their respective teams to the Class 4A state finals in Peoria as anybody. Not only that, but they all have what it takes to not only be successful in basketball but in the most important game of all, the game of life. It is for those reasons that we believe it is time for them to receive their just due.
Let us begin with Gonzalez. While 6'5 Indiana State signee Carl Richard and 6'8 junior Shaun Pratl draw most of the accolades, both Richard and Pratl will be among the first to tell you that in many ways Gonzalez was the driving force behind Richards capturing the Class 4A championchip in the school's first ever appearance in the state finals.
Gonzalez, a 5'10 point guard, is not a prolific scorer and doesn't do anything flashy. What he does do tremendously well is run his team's offense, as he has good playmaking capabilities and plays under control. He is also outstanding defensively, as he puts pressure on the ball and is adept at being able to get into the passing lanes and force turnovers. In Richards' championship game victory over Zion-Benton, Gonzalez only scored 9 points, but came up with 5 assists and 3 steals. On the recruiting front, Gonzalez is considering the University Of Chicago, Lake Forest, Augustana and St. Xavier, all of which are outstanding academic schools in addition to having quality basketball programs.
And now on to Rudnicki, who is a 6'3 shooting guard. Both he and 6'0 point guard Zach Morton proved to be among the most unheralded back court duos in the state all season long. Rudnicki is an outstanding spot-up shooter with range that extends beyond the 3-point line. He has also shown that he can consistently put the ball on the floor and hit shots off the dribble. While the 2-guard is his natural position, Rudnicki was also used quite a bit at the point for Evanston this season and did an above-adequate job of handling those duties. Recruiting-wise, Rudnicki has drawn attention from the University of Chicago, St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and Augustana.
Jarosz is a 6'6 wing player whose primary strengths are on the perimeter. He is a smooth-shooting lefty with 3-point range and is also capable of handling the ball and is a good passer from the top of the key. There is no question that Jarosz knows how to win and is a leader, as both he and 6'2 guard Brian Bradley have been three year varsity starters and during that time have helped Lockport reach the state finals in Peoria the past two seasons in addition to making a supersectional appearance during their sophomore campaigns. Jarosz has drawn a wide range of recruiting interest, as he has been offered by Michigan Tech and is also receiving attention from North Dakota State, Elmhurst, Carthage, Edgewood and Quinnipiac.
To top everything off, Gonzalez, Rudnicki and Jarosz are all elite students academically. Gonzalez ranks among the top ten in his class at Richards, while Rudnicki posted an ACT score of 30. Therefore, while none of them may become All-Americans on the basketball court, there is no question that their futures indeed look bright.