Poulakidas, Schwieger weighing many offers
Ask John Poulakidas and Ben Schwieger about their scholarship offers to play basketball, and they'll methodically list the colleges one by one.
It just might take a while to get through the entire list.
It's been that way for a while with Poulakidas, who's been an impact player for Neuqua Valley since the moment he walked through the door as a freshman. For Waubonsie Valley's Schwieger, though, the process only started heating up in the last year.
Regardless of where they started, they'll enter their senior seasons as two of the top senior basketball players in the state. It's another interesting wrinkle in what's always been a feisty District 204 rivalry.
"It began the summer after my sophomore year," Schwieger said. "Then I realized I could really do something and it just improved from there. I'm really fortunate to be in the situation I am right now."
The list of offers for Poulakidas grew steadily: Bradley, Brown, Butler, George Washington, Loyola, Miami of Ohio, UW Milwaukee, Minnesota, Princeton, Rutgers, St. Louis, Southern Illinois, TCU, UIC, Wake Forest and Yale.
Schwieger's offers have been more like a jolt. It started almost exactly a year ago with IUPUI and Robert Morris but in the last few months he's added Belmont, Chattanooga, Elon, Loyola, Southern Illinois, UC Riverside, UIC, UW Milwaukee and William & Mary.
And, earlier this week Schwieger verbally committed to Loyola.
They may have started high school at different levels but the 6-foot-6 duo suddenly exists on the same recruiting plane.
"There are a lot of things I look for in a program," said Poulakidas, who received his first offer as a freshman from SIU. "The academic side for me is very important. It's books before basketball. On the basketball side, the biggest thing I look for is player development. I want to go to a program and a staff that will develop my game."
The COVID-19 pandemic sent shock waves through all segments of sports, and basketball recruiting is no different. It's halted both players' plans to make college visits and gain further exposure through AAU tournaments around the country.
Compared to other players still seeking that first offer, though, Schwieger and Poulakidas are pretty well off heading into their senior year.
Schwieger, for example, received all his Division I offers during the pandemic.
"I'm just kind of waiting to see how everything unfolds with the situation we're in right now," Schwieger said. "But I've got a lot of great offers right now and a lot of other great schools that are interested in me, and we're in constant communication. Just to know people are still working hard and doing their homework, it's reassuring."
Still, the decision process will be infinitely tougher if neither player is able to take visits and get an in-person look at the schools and basketball programs. While Schwieger didn't have plans for any college trips in the spring, Poulakidas aimed for several visits.
"It's been really tough not being able to see the campuses and get a feel for it in person," Poulakidas said. "You never really get a true sense for a university until you step foot on campus."
As the two players navigate their respective recruiting waters, they also anxiously await the restart of high-school competition and what should be terrific winter basketball seasons at Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley.
The Warriors graduated Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Captain Marcus Skeete but return Schwieger, who last year averaged 16.4 points and 5.5 rebounds, and the bulk of their rotation. Poulakidas, who averaged 17.5 points and 4.4 rebounds, will be joined by guard Connor Davis, who is attracting his own college attention.
Assuming the upcoming season takes place, both teams will be extremely competitive in the DuPage Valley Conference and beyond.
With Schwieger and Poulakidas leading the way, you can count on it.
"It does kind of feel like a rivalry but it's all fun and games," Schwieger said. "We have nothing against each other."