There's still about a month left of basketball season, but TJ Edwards is already in football mode.
The Lakes senior guard has decided to shift his focus to training and putting on weight for next season, when he will be playing college football at Wisconsin.
He will not be playing in any more basketball games for the Eagles.
"He's full football mode now and getting ready for the Big Ten," Lakes coach Chris Snyder said of Edwards. "Obviously, we'd still love to have him out here with us, but this is something that TJ feels he needs to do for his future and we support that. It was a group decision with me and TJ and his parents about what was best for him.
"It's not that he's quitting or leaving us. He's just all in for football."
Edwards, a quarterback and linebacker, originally committed to Western Michigan but was offered a scholarship late in the game by Wisconsin. He signed with the Badgers last week.
"TJ has done so much for our school over the years and I know he'd love to finish out basketball with his buddies," Snyder said. "But we understand his decision and I'm sure he's going to be happy with it next year when he's playing up at Camp Randall."
No one was more ready to flip the calendar from January to February than the players at Vernon Hills and their coaches.
The Cougars lost four of their five games in January, including three North Suburban Conference Prairie Division games.
In February, Vernon Hills is 2-1. And the one loss was a near win against one of the best teams in Lake County, North Chicago. The Cougars lost that game by just two points and had a 3-point shot in the final seconds just miss.
"It was a long January. There were some real dog days in there," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "We had injuries and illnesses and we weren't shooting the ball well. We were glad to put January in the rear-view mirror and we're starting to right the ship now."
Part of the reason Vernon Hills is playing better in February is that 6-foot-4 center Lem Turner has returned. He was out almost four weeks, beginning in mid-January, with a high ankle sprain
In his first game back, a win over Chicagoland Jewish, Turner scored 14 points and blocked 6 shots.
"It's so nice to have him back," McCarty said. "He's pretty close to 100 percent and is playing pretty well."
Not so fast:
Just when Vernon Hills got Lem Turner back from an injury, he is set to leave the lineup again.
Turner, a top-notch volleyball player, will miss two games this weekend to be at a travel volleyball event in St. Louis. It will provide recruiting exposure for Turner, who wants to play volleyball in college.
"This was an excused absence that we approved a while ago," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "It's important for Lem to be at this tournament because volleyball is going to be his thing in college and it's a good opportunity for him there."
Out of position:
When Vernon Hills point guard Cory Levin missed three games earlier this season, shooting guard Robby Nardini got moved to the point.
Nardini is glad that Levin has now returned and that he's back in his old position of shooting guard.
While Nardini, the Cougars' leading scorer, handled the point, points were tougher to come by for him. Now that he's back at shooting guard, Nardini has scored 79 points over his last three games, including a 30-point outburst against Chicagoland Jewish.
"We're able to run Robby off of screens really well going from the weak side to the strong side and when he's handling the ball, we really can't do that for him," Vernon Hills coach Matt McCarty said. "It's also easier for the defense to lose track of him when he's not handling the ball. We're glad he's back at shooting guard because he does so well there."
Nardini is averaging about 23 points per game, which is the highest season average at Vernon Hills since Matt Glees averaged 19.5 points per game in 2001. Nardini is only 70 points away from the single-season scoring record at Vernon Hills.
At Wauconda, head coach Scott Luetschwager is trying something new.
In order to break up the monotony of a long season, he switched up a few positions. In fact, with his leading scorer, he's doing the opposite of Vernon Hills did with its leading scorer, Robby Nardini.
Guard Dion Head, Wauconda's leading scorer at nearly 14 points per game, got switched from shooting guard to point guard, which moved point guard Joey Lovelle to shooting guard.
"We want to keep things fresh, so we're moving some guys around," Luetschwager said. "But we're also trying to put the ball in Dion's hands more. He's really good at creating for himself and breaking defenders down off the dribble."