Consider Cameron Green a ripe varsity basketball player after a whirlwind final month of the season for the Stevenson sophomore that saw him go from suiting up for his first varsity game to making his first varsity start — downstate, of all places.
Patriots coach Pat Ambrose gave Green the starting nod Saturday night in the Class 4A state championship game to try to take advantage of Green’s physical strength and athleticism against mighty Simeon, which had a huge size advantage.
“He’s been doing some nice stuff for us,” Ambrose said after Stevenson’s 58-40 loss to Simeon, which captured its fourth straight state championship.
With the Patriots playing what almost resembled a box-and-one against 6-foot-8, 215-pound Jabari Parker in the opening quarter, the 6-3, 173-pound Green often found himself trying to defend the Duke-bound forward in the post.
Parker is considered by many as the top high school senior in the country.
On Monday, Simeon’s superstar was named the Morgan Wootten high school player of the year.
Parker is sure to repeat as Mr. Basketball in Illinois.
Green was playing in his 10th varsity game.
He got promoted from the sophomore squad in early February.
“He did a good job,” said Stevenson senior Jack Duffy, who started Friday against Edwardsville, before Green got the start in his place Saturday night. “Cameron’s a great player, he’s a great athlete and he’s got a good couple of years ahead of him.”
Green finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 28 minutes against Simeon. Parker’s 20 points led all scorers.
While his classmates Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw dazzled all season, Green is another sophomore that Stevenson should be thrilled to have back for two more seasons.
Not that Patriot fans were unaware of Green’s athletic ability. The son of former Bears and Notre Dame running back Mark Green, he was a standout wide receiver during the varsity football season.
“Cam was really happy to step up to the challenge (against Simeon),” Brunson said. “Jabari (Parker) is a wonderful player.”
They’ll be back: Stevenson will graduate Andy Stempel, one of the best shooters in Lake County, but the Patriots, who finished 29-5, will have realistic expectations of advancing downstate again next year. Against Simeon, they started Stempel, junior Matt Morrissey and sophomores Jalen Brunson, Connor Cashaw and Cameron Green.
Two other sophomores, 6-4 Parker Nichols and 6-foot Matt Johnson were on the varsity bench all winter. Nichols played significant minutes on many nights.
“I really want to get back down here, but next year we got to take it game by game, like we did this year,” Brunson said. “I think if we can do that, we’ll be in perfect position to win the state title, hopefully.”
All-state, all worthy: Stevenson point guard Jalen Brunson was the only sophomore among 15 players named first team all-state by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Zion-Benton junior forward Milik Yarbrough was also named to the first team.
Mundelein senior Sean O’Brien earned second-team all-state honors. The fourth team included Grayslake North senior A.J. Fish and Lake Forest sophomore Evan Boudreaux.
Lake County players making honorable mention all-state were: Lake Forest’s Sam Downey, Stevenson’s Andy Stempel and Connor Cashaw, Mundelein’s Chino Ebube, Warren’s Aarias Austin, Grayslake Central’s Danny Reed, Vernon Hills’ Stephen Curry and Waukegan’s DeVonte Taylor, Jordan Johnson and Jerome Davis.
Nice (final) shot: Mundelein senior guard Quinn Pokora advanced to the Final Four in the Class 4A 3-point contest downstate.
That was a nice finish for a kid who did a nice job bringing the ball up the court and firing in long-range jumpers all winter for the Mustangs.
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