Glenbrook South's Nick Martinelli makes early college basketball decision
How serious is Glenbrook South's Nick Martinelli about accepting a basketball scholarship offer to Elon University?
People have asked the incoming senior wing if he'd switch allegiance should a Duke or an Ohio State approach him.
"I would definitely not change my decision," he said. "I'm 100 percent. The coaches believe in me, and I believe in the program and what they're doing."
A first-team 2020-21 Class 4A all-state pick by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and a second-team Class 4A selection on the smaller Associated Press squad, Martinelli announced his commitment to Elon, in North Carolina, on the Fourth of July.
He accepted the offer over 11 others, including looks from Boston College, Rice, Lehigh, Belmont, Valparaiso and Navy.
"The campus is beautiful, I got a chance to look in a couple of the cafeterias and a couple buildings, like the business building, then the arena just capped off the amazing visit," Martinelli said.
"Everything just seemed to be the perfect fit for me. As soon as I got home, I talked to my parents (Jim and Carolyn) and I decided this was the place to be."
At 6 feet, 7 inches tall and 205 pounds, Martinelli is the rare player who can score driving to the basket, on the perimeter or with his back to the basket in the low post. Better still, he can defend all five positions.
His Elon recruiters -- head coach Mike Schrage and assistant Jonathan Holmes -- like that about him. So does Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston.
"He brings a high basketball IQ, a phenomenal work ethic," Ralston said.
"I think he's skilled as a perimeter player, he's skilled as a post player. There's not many times that you can say you're getting a player who can play multiple positions on the floor, and Nick checks all those boxes.
"I think it's a great opportunity for Nick, and just as great an opportunity for Elon. I think they're getting a phenomenal basketball player and I'm happy for both of them," Ralston said.
Playing last season for a 16-2 Titans team that finished in a three-way tie with New Trier and Evanston atop the Central Suburban League South, all three teams in The Associated Press' final Class 4A rankings, both Martinelli and point guard classmate Cooper Noard earned IBCA all-state honors.
Fluid in the open court and an above-the-rim finisher, Martinelli averaged 21.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3 assists and shot an outstanding 67.5% from 2-point range and 76.7% from the free-throw line.
Nailing 15 of 26 shots beyond the 3-point arc, Martinelli's 57.7% there led all Titans with more than one 3-point attempt. For a player who had the ball as much as he did, his 49 assists to 38 turnovers was impressive.
"One thing that (Schrage) said is obviously they need my position, which is a 3/4 wing-type player," Martinelli said. He liked my ability to score and my versatility. He liked my ability to guard five positions and to pass the ball well."
To those thinking Martinelli might entertain traditionally higher-powered programs, Schrage learned from some of those and brought that knowledge to Elon.
Before arriving with the Phoenix in April 2019, Schrage assisted at Ohio State, Butler and Stanford and was director of basketball operations at Duke for Mike Kryszewski and at Mississippi State for Rod Barnes. A graduate of Indiana University, Schrage was a student assistant under Bobby Knight.
"All the (Elon) coaches have said they want me to be an impact player as soon as I come in," Martinelli said.
He is the second Martinelli brother to accept a Division I offer this year. His older brother, Dom, Glenbrook South's top all-time scorer and a former preferred walk-on at Northwestern, just landed an offer from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a new Division I program. St. Thomas also offered Nick.
Their mother, Carolyn, would have been a Division I diver at the University of Wisconsin had she not broken her foot, Nick said.
Though he's made his college decision early, Martinelli is keeping the pedal to the metal. Playing in the vaunted MeanStreets program on a 17-Under team one youth basketball association ranks No. 2 in the country, he hopes to win the Nike Peach Jam July 13-19 in North Augusta, South Carolina, before he eventually turns his attention back to Titans basketball.
"I'm still really eager to go out and make a difference, and I want to win a state championship," he said.