Illinois Men's Hoops Lands Three Chicago-Area Preps For 2004-05
-- Northern Illinois University head coach Rob Judson
announced the signing of three student-athletes to letters of intent
on Wednesday (Nov. 12), as Frank Clair of Chicago Leo High
School and teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel
of Schaumburg High School signed with the Huskies for the 2004-05
A 6-foot-6 small forward, Clair was a third team Class A all-state
selection as a junior, averaging 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds a
game. In addition to his steady scoring and rebounding production,
the First Team All-Catholic League pick added 3.4 assists and 2.1
blocks for the Lions, who finished the season with an 18-12 record.
"Frank is one of the most talented players in the Chicago Catholic
League this season," head coach Rob Judson said. "He plays
for one of the top Catholic League programs, Chicago Leo, and has
had an outstanding career there. He's a 6-foot-6 wing player that
has a great shooting touch. His signing reconnects us to a high
school program that has been good to Northern Illinois in the past."
Already a two-year starter at Leo, Clair poured in 10.2 points and
5.4 rebounds a game as a sophomore to guide the Lions to a 16-12
record and a regional berth. An honorable mention all-Catholic League
pick as a sophomore, Clair is a consensus top 25 player in the state
heading into his senior season, ranking No. 21 in Illinois by High
School Elite and No. 24 by Chicago Hoops.com. Clair is coached by
Noah Canon at Leo High School.
"Frank is going to bring a lot of energy to Rob Judson's program,"
Chicago Leo High School head coach Noah Canon said. "He is
a dedicated practice player and as he gets stronger, his potential
will be unlimited. Athletically, Frank is there. He has worked hard
over the last couple of seasons to increase his shooting range to
20 feet and can do a lot of things for a team on the perimeter."
Current assistant coach and former Huskie great Donald Whiteside
is the last Chicago Leo standout to play for Northern Illinois.
A member of NIU's All-Century Team and the school's Hall of Fame,
Whiteside holds school records for three-pointers made in a game
(8), season (78) and career (204).
The Huskies also got a pair of signatures from Schaumburg High School
teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel.
A 6-foot-4 combo guard, Pancratz led Schaumburg in scoring as a
junior, averaging 16.8 points a contest while hitting more than
two 3-pointers a game. An excellent rebounder from his perimeter
position, Pancratz averaged 4.9 boards, while dishing out 3.1 assists.
Co-MVP of the Mid-Suburban League along with Reichel, Pancratz helped
lead the Saxons to an 18-8 overall record and the Mid-Suburban League
title. With both Pancratz and Reichel in the lineup, the Saxons
have won two of the last three Mid-Suburban League titles and have
reached the MSL title game each of their three seasons.
"Zach can play any of the three perimeter positions,"
Judson said. "He has tremendous court awareness and is an excellent
shooter of the basketball. He has a competitive drive that makes
him a better player. He and Craig both come from an outstanding
program (Schaumburg High School), where they are being coached by
As a sophomore, Pancratz broke into the starting five and double-figures,
averaging 10.8 points, while hitting 42 percent of his shots from
beyond the arc. An excellent shooter, Pancratz has hit 44 percent
of his shots from the floor and dished out 122 assists over the
last two years.
"Zach can play any of the five positions for us," Schaumburg
head coach Bob Williams said. "He's 6-foot-5 now, so he has
the ability to take the ball to the basket and do some nice things.
He is also a heck of a shooter, but his abilities on the basketball
floor aren't even the most impressive things about Zach. He's a
tremendous leader and is really a coach on the floor. He's the only
player to ever be selected as a captain twice for us (junior and
senior seasons), which shows he has the respect of his teammates."
A versatile power forward, Reichel combines size with a solid perimeter
game. As a junior, the 6-foot-8 post player more than doubled his
scoring output, going from 7.7 points per game as a sophomore to
15.9 points last season. A strong defensive presence, Reichel led
the Saxons in rebounding (8.0) and blocks (3.4). Despite playing
the power forward position, Reichel gives the Huskies a skilled
big man who can perform on the perimeter. While he averaged nearly
three assists per game as a junior, Reichel hit an impressive 48
percent of his three-point attempts as a sophomore.
"Versatility is always a priority with us and we got that with
Craig," Judson said. "He's big at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds,
but has the ability to step out onto the perimeter. He's a great
addition to our program."
Two-year starters for Bob Williams' Schaumburg club, Pancratz and
Reichel were both members of the varsity team when the Saxons brought
home the 2000-01 IHSA Class AA State Championship with a 28-3 record.
That year Schaumburg upset Thornwood High School led by current
Chicago Bull center Eddy Curry for the title.
"Craig is a skilled big man, but his best skill might be his
passing," Williams said. "Whether it's his passing in
the post or on the perimeter, he -can get the ball to the open player.
He's also proven to be a good three-point shooter. Craig has been
working extremely hard in the weight room and that will make him
an even more effective post player."
In addition to being the first set of high school teammates to play
for Northern Illinois since T.J. Lux (1995-2000) and Tori
Hughes (1996-98), Pancratz and Reichel will be the first Schaumburg
High School products to don the Cardinal and Black since Mike
Brown (1997-2001). A four-year letterwinner for the Huskies,
Brown led NIU in scoring during the 1998-99 season with a 10.9 point-per
"I've known Coach Judson for sometime and he is a man of character
and high moral fiber," Williams said. "I am excited that
both Zach and Craig are going to Northern Illinois because they
will be playing for an excellent program and they will be well taken
The signing of Clair, Pancratz and Reichel will help to fill the
four vacated spots created by seniors Al Sewasciuk, Marcus
Smallwood, P.J. Smith and Walter Thompson, following
the completion of the 2003-04 season.
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