Downers Grove North's Wolkow making the grade in a second sport
George Wolkow was a household name in baseball before he enrolled at Downers Grove North.
Wolkow became a must-see player when he committed to play baseball for South Carolina in eighth grade. He committed to South Carolina on June, 16, 2020, right at the end of his eighth-grade year.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Wolkow, a third baseman and corner outfielder, estimates his farthest home run at "over 400-plus feet, probably 430 feet up on the roof" in Durham, North Carolina.
Wolkow, a sophomore, is starting to now make headlines in another sport -- basketball.
Wolkow recorded a personal-high 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds to lift Downers Grove North to a 44-36 victory over York on Friday night in Downers Grove.
Junior Jacob Bozeman added 7 points and Jack Stanton and Finn Kramper both scored 6 points for the Trojans (9-5, 3-2 West Suburban Silver).
Wolkow said he was focused on helping the Trojans take advantage of their superior height and size over the Dukes (12-6, 1-4).
"I don't know about that, but I just tried to have fun," Wolkow said, asked if he's becoming known as a two-sport athlete. "The coaches really implement rebounding in practice and we drill hard on that. That's one of our core values. Rebounding is a big part of what we do, so we all just try and go out there and succeed at it feels good.
"We finally started running things together and got all our players back, and now got depth at guard. We were able to go in there and be physical. Rebounding was a big part of that. We tried to beat them up in the post. We knew we had that opportunity after watching film."
Even with his impressive height and muscle -- think college tight end -- at such a young age, Wolkow is not a one-dimensional basketball player. He showed off a nice touch against the Dukes, swishing all six of his free-throw attempts, and he drilled a key 3-pointer to give the Trojans a 16-15 lead with 2:06 left in the second quarter. Wolkow's 3-pointer started a one-man 7-point scoring flurry that ended with the Trojans (9-5, 3-2) leading 20-15.
He also added a first-quarter block, and tossed a key assist for a 3-pointer to Kramper to start the third quarter to put the Trojans ahead 23-17.
"A lot of it is natural, but I believe a lot of it come from hard work," Wolkow said of his soft shooting touch. "You have to train hard. I try to make sure I go to the gym, put in extra hours. I got a great opportunity to come out here and compete on the varsity (in basketball). I just wanted to get more athletic, play and compete to get ready for the baseball season. It's been fun competing and bonding with my teammates."
Downers Grove North coach Jim Thomas said Wolkow's aggressiveness can be contagious, which showed on Friday night. The Dukes led 9-0 before the Trojans stormed back, led by Wolkow's strong presence inside and running the break.
"He's really physical and has a competitive spirit and motor which is unmatched," Thomas said. "We try to continue to stay on top of those guys because he can wear out guys and takes up a lot of space. He's come a long way since a freshman on the sophomore team. If he continues to excel at this speed, he's going to be a really talented player. We love both of our sophomore big guys, George and Jake Riemer. This was a good win for us."
York couldn't match the interior size of the Trojans, as the Dukes struggled scoring inside the paint but managed to slice the deficit to 40-36 in the final minutes. The Dukes missed two shots and turned the ball over twice to miss a chance at a comeback victory. Tieran Casey led the Dukes with 10 points and Drew Kircher and Alex Sherman each scored 7 points.