Althoff High senior Tarkus Ferguson, one of the top point guard recruits in the state, on Saturday gave a verbal commitment to the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames.
The 6-foot-5 Ferguson helped Althoff to a second-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament and a 29-4 record last season.
“I’m very excited,” Ferguson said. “There’s a lot of players that are new on the team and I really have faith in the coaches that they can take my game to the next level.”
In other Althoff recruiting news, senior receiver Keenen Young has given a verbal commitment to play football at Jackson State.
Ferguson was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Jordan Goodwin at 14.2 points per game and also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
He chose the offer from Illinois-Chicago over offers from Indiana State, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Bradley, SIUE, Western Kentucky, Evansville, Missouri-Kansas City and Tennessee State. Ferguson’s Althoff teammate, senior Brendon Gooch, committed to SIUC earier this year while Goodwin has already been offered by Illinois, Missouri, St. Louis Unversity, Virginia Tech and many others.
Althoff coach Greg Leib said while UIC wants the versatile Ferguson at point guard, he’s capable of a lot more.
“He brings so much to the table,” Leib said. “He can go down the block, he can shoot it, he can handle it, he can do a number of things. I think theyr’e going to use him much like we do. With his length he can create a lot of disruptions defensively. Tarkus also really sees the play and thinks the play through and has great vision.”
Ferguson came away impressed after visiting the UIC campus last week. The Flames play in the Horizon League and have a new coach in former Indiana assistant and Wyoming head coach Steve McClain.
“It was like five minutes from downtown and the campus is right there,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on, very busy. It was fun.”
Ferguson said he and his Althoff teammates are on a mission to take their season one win further than last year. To do that, they’ll have to win a state championship
“We all have a big chip on our shoulders,” Ferguson said. “We lost twice last year to the same team (Westchester St. Joseph), including in the state championship.”
Ferguson’s recruiting heated up after a strong summer playing with the Southwest Illinois Jets. The offers came fast and furious and he admitted the process became intense at times.
“There was a lot going on,” he said. “I had to choose one of them and UIC was the best fit for me.”
Leib thinks his senior guard made the right call.
“I’m happy for Tarkus,” Leib said. “It’s a really overwhelming process with what he went through. He had such a good summer and so many people came in at one time recruiting him. He took his time with it and tried to evaluate all aspects of it so I think it’s going to pay off for him.
“He’s a man of few words a lot of times, but when he came back he was excited about his Chicago visit. I didn’t know it was going to be this quick.”
Young commits to Jackson State
Young (6-1, 223), one of the area’s top receivers in recent seasons, committed to Jackson State on Thursday.
“They were the only school that took a chance on me,” said Young, who had 33 catches for 493 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns before Friday’s game in Marion. “I took my family down there when I visited; I liked it and they liked it a lot, too. There wasn’t any point to waiting.
“I was really excited, now I can focus on my schoolwork here and football.”
Young has been one of the area’s top receivers since he burst onto the scene as a freshman and helped Althoff to a second-place finish in Class 2A. He also is a four-year starter as a basketball guard and helped the Crusaders to a second-place finish at the 3A state tournament last March.
Young’s older brother, Kent Young, played for Belleville East and East St. Louis before playing college football as an outside linebacker at Missouri Valley.
Located in Jackson, Miss., the school already has two other former metro-east standouts in former Cahokia and East St. Louis quarterback LaMontiez Ivy and former East St. Louis receiver Dan Williams.
Ivy has thrown for 1,311 yards and 10 TDs through four games and Williams is his top receiver with 30 catches for 515 yards and four TDs.
The Tigers compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and are coached by former Rams and NFL receiver Harold Jackson.