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Watch now: St. Rita's new big three are an Illinois recruiting priority for the Class of 2024

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CHICAGO — St. Rita coach Roshawn Russell remembers one of the first practices involving top prospects Morez Johnson and James Brown.

They’re two of the top prospects in the state and make one of the most talented frontcourts in the country.

"I'll just say that one of the first practices we had was an 'Oh, boy' moment," Russell said. "It happened and we were great from there. They definitely compete and they go after each other, but they've now learned how to do it the right way. It's been fun to watch."

The two have a close relationship, playing for the Meanstreets AAU program together and are two of the priority targets for Illinois in the Class of 2024. Both are top-50 prospects and Johnson is the current cornerstone of the class after committing to Illinois in November.

They recently added another Meanstreets player from the 2024 class in Nojus Indrusaitis, a transfer from Lemont, which creates a big three that will be tough for other teams to match statewide. It also is a big three that are some of the biggest priorities for Brad Underwood and his staff in the 2024 class.

Indrusaitis has been integrated into the team this summer, while Johnson and Brown have been busy over the next couple days at the U17 USA Basketball training camp. Johnson will return after missing the cut while Brown is currently a finalist for the team. He would play at the FIBA World Cup in Spain in July if he is selected.

“I hope I don’t see them until July,” Russell joked.

When those three join forces on the high school hardwood, they’ll be a must-watch for Illinois fans. All three have been offered by the Illini and Underwood referred to the Class of 2024 as being “loaded” at an Illini Tailgate Event in Winnetka.

Those three are all ranked in the top-50 by 247sports and seem to be the cream of the crop as far as early rankings are concerned.

Indrusaitus has been a fast riser since the end of his sophomore season that saw his Lemont team upset Ty Rodgers and Thornton in the state sectionals. He’s a 6-foot-4 off guard who has an ability to slash and score off the bounce with an outside shot that will create space for St. Rita’s pair of star bigs.

"He's so versatile," Russell said. "I mean, the kid is really athletic, he can shoot it, he can handle. There's really nothing he can't do."

That space will help Johnson continue his development. He’s a 6-foot-9 forward with high level athleticism who has improved in all skill areas since starting high school.

"I would say athletically, he's changed in the last year," Russell said. "He's way more explosive. You know, he was always been a high flyer, so to speak, and fast, but he really gets off the ground really fast. There's times where, you know, a guy can be shooting the ball and it doesn't look like he's close, and he's able to get to it and get his hands on it. So his athleticism certainly has been eye opening."

Brown is a similar size, and has flashed play making and ball handling ability over the summer and in the past.

Those three are aiming to return to Champaign in the spring, this time with a state title berth instead of a school visit. They’ll also be continuing a rapid development arc.

"The exciting thing is, I think there's a lot of room for growth for both," Russell said. "Anyone who watches them, they'll be impressed with their footwork, and their ability to push the break, and they're getting more comfortable on the perimeter. But honestly, they've got a long way to go, which is really exciting. I think that by the time those guys get to college. They're going to be a lot to deal with."

Follow Anderson Kimball on Twitter at: byAndy Kimball


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