NU lands pair of HS stars

Ryan M. Daniels

Does this look familiar to anyone?

Northwestern coach Bill Carmody’s vision of bringing Princeton basketball to Evanston may take two steps forward next winter. The coach locked down verbal commitments from Evan Seacat and Jim Maley to start his 2002 recruiting class.

They can sign a letter of intent in November during the early signing period for college basketball.

Both players love to pass the ball, and one specializes in hitting the three — two skills that Carmody cherishes in his offense. But so far, he hasn’t found much of them at NU.

When colleges look for talented shooters, they often find them in Indiana and at the Nike All-America camp held in Indianapolis each July.

Seacat, who played at Paoli High School in Paoli, Ind., might be the best pure shooter from both.

“Most coaches would tell you he’s the best shooter in Indiana,” said Mike Brown, head coach at Paoli. “It’s not very often that he misses.”

Seacat got a great opportunity as a freshman to show off his touch on a large stage — the Indiana state championships. Prior to the tournament, Brown promoted Seacat to a senior-laden varsity team lacking a jump-shooter.

“He was just a skinny kid but an incredible shooter,” Brown said.

Paoli High School lost in the finals, but Seacat played for half of the game and made a strong contribution. The next year he took over the team, scoring 20 points per game and returning to the state Final Four.

During his junior year, Seacat’s team lost in a competitive sectionals draw. The 6-foot-3 guard scored 23 points a game in the tournament and was widely recognized for his talents because double- and triple-teams greeted him every time he touched the ball. Seacat scored a career-high 50 points in one game and nailed a school-record nine treys in two others.

Seacat said he has made his greatest strides in basketball camps.

“It shows you where you stack up,” he said. “The past few summers I’ve really worked on my defense.”

Maley, Seacat’s future teammate, impressed his coach with good defense in high school, something much appreciated by the Wildcats.

Carmody already knew Conte Stamas, Maley’s coach at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Ill. Stamas previously coached at Evanston Township High School for five years, where Carmody recruited Mason Rocca to play for Princeton in 1996.

During Maley’s decision process, Stamas promoted Carmody and NU.

Stamas became more excited when marketing Maley, who led his team to the state semifinals.

“Jimmy has all the ingredients,” Stamas said. “He’s unselfish, smart and moves with or without the ball. His game will really flourish.”

Although Maley scored 16.3 points per game last season, he gained the most attention for his intangibles. At 6-foot-7, Maley plays shooting guard because he can handle the ball and pass extremely well. Stamas says he has an excellent mid-range game and shoots the three-pointer .

Stamas came to Lyons during Maley’s sophomore year and immediately promoted the player to the varsity squad. The two worked together to rebuild a winning program after the team finished with a sub-.500 record four years in a row.

Last season Lyons went 28-5, and Maley led the team with 36 points in the sectional final.

In high school, Maley and Seacat both played in major settings and against many of the players they will see in college. Both wanted to attend school close to home, and they liked the balance NU offered.

“The class sizes will be small,” Seacat said, “which is really important to me. If I get through, it’ll help me down the road.”

Maley had similar thoughts.

“(NU) was the best combination of academics and basketball close to home,” he said. “It will get me prepared for the real world. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a job in Chicago.”

In the meantime, both high schoolers have the same task in front of them — getting bigger for the Big Ten. Maley weighs just 175 pounds.

Seacat will hit the weight room as well, and he’ll have to get used to wearing purple and white. He grew up a huge Indiana Hoosiers fan.

“It’s gonna be weird playing Indiana,” Seacat said. “You can’t root for the other team, but when we’re not playing them, I’ll be rooting.”