Okawville High freshman guard Noah Frederking is a major part of what is shaping up to be a tremendous freshman basketball class throughout the metro-east.
"There's definitely potential there to be one of the best players ever at this school, but I preface that with there's a lot of hard work to be done," Okawville coach Jon Kraus said of Frederking, a 6-foot-3 guard who leads the Rockets in scoring (17.7 points per game) and rebounding (7.3 per game). "He has to continue to improve and work on all aspects of his game. The game is starting to slow down for him a little bit, he's starting to feel a bit more comfortable."
Althoff freshman Jordan Goodwin is fourth in the area scoring race at 19.5 points per game while Marissa freshman Kyle Smith (18.5 ppg) is sixth.
Goodwin, already attracting Division I interest, has been Althoff's leading scorer all season.
Another major Division I prospect is East St. Louis' 6-9 freshman center Jeremiah Tilmon, who averages 7.6 points and 7.1 rebounds with an area-leading 58 blocked shots.
Belleville East freshman guard Rico Sylvester, Jr. is also seeing plenty of varsity playing time.
Frederking played with the highly regarded St. Louis Eagles AAU squad over the summer.
"He actually played with kids that were a year older than him and I think that helped him a lot," Kraus said. "Playing at that level in the summer time has made an easier transition for these freshmen into high school. Nothing scares those kids, they're not threatened by anybody.
"I think that's had a huge impact on not just Noah, but all freshmen because they're used to playing against very high level players."
Okawville senior guard Jacob Brammeier (15.3 ppg) is another impact player for the Rockets.
Frederking is an athletic player who can score inside or out. He leads the team with 32 3-pointers and is hitting 80.3 percent of his free throws (61-of-76).
"Did I think he could score 17-18 points a game? Probably not," Kraus said. "But after our first three or four games, I felt pretty comfortable knowing he was going to be able to score a lot."
Frederking had a season-high 31 points Dec. 6 against Woodlawn. He poured in 29 last Friday against Columbia, had 26 against Mater Dei and 25 against Wesclin, helping Okawville to a 15-6 mark.
"He shoots the ball so well and another thing he does really well is pass the ball," said Kraus, who thinks Frederking's game is somewhat similar to that of former Okawville all-stater and Southern Illinois University Carbondale standout Abel Schrader.
Schrader is now the coach at Belleville East.
"Abel dominated basketball games like no kid I've seen ever since," said Kraus, another talented Okawville guard who played at McKendree. "He did everything. I haven't seen kids dominated games like Abel did. Noah doesn't dominate games, but he definitely he has potential to get to that level Abel was at."
Althoff coach Greg Leib said Monday that Goodwin, who has a concussion, is not likely to play in Tuesday's showdown against city rival Belleville East.
Belleville East downed Althoff 70-60 on Jan. 25 in the championship of the Chick-fil-A Classic.
"Right now it's still up in the air but we are proceeding like he's unable to play," Leib said. "If he does become part of it, it's that much better. He can jog and shoot free throws; I know he's itching to play."
In its first game without Goodwin last Friday, Althoff (15-5) beat Mount Vernon 63-55. The Crusaders got a balanced scoring effort led by 19 points from Brendon Gooch and 16 from Kevin Renner.
"It forced us to be a little bit more deliberate and conscientious of the shots we were getting," Leib said. "Jordan adds a whole other dimension for us, but this gives us an opportunity to grow in some areas that we might not otherwise be able to do."
Central Cougars are hot
Small-school top-ranked Central (17-5) has an 11-game winning streak and hasn't lost since Dec. 26, when it dropped a game against Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament.
Including in the run are victories over Nashville (61-40), Gibault (43-36), Mater Dei (49-38) and Highland (56-45), along with winning the Nashville Invitational Tournament.
Central also leads the Cahokia Conference-Mississippi Division with a 6-1 mark.
Along with a stingy zone defense, the Cougars have improved because the scoring of sophomore guard Logan Kohrmann has helped loosen some of the defensive attention on senior guard Jacob Timmermann.
Kohrmann is averaging 15.8 points and is among the area 3-point shooting leaders with 39. Timmermann, who has college interest in football and basketball, averages 14.2 points per game and excels at breaking down defenses.