High School Basketball: Unannounced Club Basketball Team Full Package Opens Eyes in Fort Wayne

The spring portion of the grassroots basketball season turned into the annual Run ‘N Slam event last weekend in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where several Illinois club basketball programs played.

Here’s a three-point City/Suburban Hoops Report devoted exclusively to the hidden team and players who stole the show.

No. 1

While the Run ‘N Slam isn’t as charged or advertised as it once was, it’s still an opportunity for many different teams from geographical areas to come together and compete.

That includes many programs from different shoe-sponsored leagues that don’t normally play against each other.

There were teams from both the Under Armor Association and Nike’s EYBL, which included the perennial AAU powerhouses of the Illinois Meanstreets, Mac Irvin Fire and the Illinois Wolves. The best college prospects in the state fill those lists.

But it was an Illinois program without a shoe deal or big-name prospects that overshadowed the more hyped teams and players.

Full Package Athletics, based in the northern suburbs, made it to the Run ‘N Slam title game. Along the way, Full Package defeated a team from the EYBL Circuit (Indy Heat), the Adidas Circuit (Reach Legends), and the Under Armor-sponsored Illinois Wolves in the semifinals before falling in the Platinum Division championship game.

In the title game, the Full Package fell 70-67 to the Midwest Basketball club, which is led by commitments from Indiana (Gabe Cupps) and Kentucky (Reed Sheppard).

Additionally, another Illinois team without a shoe contract, Young & Reckless, captured the Gold Division championship on Sunday.

The entire package may or may not have a player who ends up playing Division I basketball. There are two or three on the cusp of drawing more recruiting attention at that level. But it’s a team packed with successful and impactful high school basketball players from last season. They play hard, they play together, and they will play college basketball at some level.

Headliners are names familiar only to avid high school basketball fans.

New Trier shooter Jake Fiegen was instrumental in helping the Trevians post a 30-win season and one appearance in the sectional title game. He showed off his shooting prowess throughout the weekend.

The Lemont twins, Mantas and Rokas Castillo, helped propel an unlikely state tournament last March. The energetic and competitive guards brought Lemont to a Class 3A super sectional appearance where he fell for Simeon.

Benet’s Niko Abusara and the Rolling Meadows trio of 6-7 Mark Nikolich-Wilson, 6-4 Foster Ogbonna and 6-7 Tsvet Sotirov are four other key players for an all-pack team that went 5-1 during the Weekend.

No. 2

The featured player in Fort Wayne this past weekend was Rolling Meadows’ Mark Nikolich-Wilson. He was outstanding in leading his Full Package team to a title.

Nikolich-Wilson was a productive player for the Mustangs throughout the season as part of a strong supporting cast starring Cameron Christie. As a junior, he averaged 12 points and nine rebounds per game while displaying an array of all-around basketball skills.

The burly 6-7 Nikolich-Wilson is as skilled as a big man, capable of burying a 3-pointer, handling the ball in the open field and using ingenious footwork, cunning and touch around the basket. He plays physically while also using a high basketball IQ and an understanding of the game that is invaluable to any team he plays on.

In addition, he has worked hard over the past year to improve his body, conditioning, and ability.

Nikolich-Wilson, who will make a difference next season for one of the best teams in the state, has clearly established himself as a scholarship-type prospect. Division II programs must be heavily invested.

Number 3

Watching Benet last season, from an evaluator’s perspective, junior Niko Abusara screamed potential. Abusara’s advantage was undeniable with the length of him, his lively body and his bounce off the ground.

He put together a solid junior season for the Redwings, earning all-conference recognition in the Eastern Suburban Catholic Conference. But expect a great senior campaign this winter, as Abusara has grown to 6-4 and is showing not only more athleticism but also more confidence.

Abusara impressed in Fort Wayne during Full Package’s run, even showing off an evolving perimeter shot and reel highlights to get to the basket.

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