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Schwab: St. Charles North's Neari chooses familiar coach

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT

Another Neari is about to play college basketball, and another Neari is set to play for Todd Lickliter.

St. Charles North senior point guard Tony Neari committed last week to Marian University (Ind.), an NAIA program in Indianapolis.

Marian is coached by Lickliter, who coached Nick Neari, Tony's older brother, at Iowa. Nick Neari walked on at Iowa as a freshman before transferring to Division-II Wisconsin-Parkside after Lickliter was ousted at Iowa.

The family's familiarity with Lickliter – who coached at Butler before leaving for Iowa – was a main selling point for the younger Neari.

"We kind of knew each other already and my brother loved playing under him," Neari said. "It just seemed like a wonderful situation, and I loved the school when I went there."

Big brother's scouting report on Lickliter factored heavily into Neari's choice.

"He basically told me he's a great coach but he's a better person than a coach," Neari said. "I can't wait to get out there and have a great four years of playing basketball there and becoming a student and being good as a student as well."

Neari, a scrappy defender and impressive rebounder for a point guard, was primarily a distributor for the North Stars but is also a capable outside shooter.

He likes pushing the pace in transition and said he looks forward "so much" to playing with a shot clock at the college level.

"I wish high school had a shot clock," he said.

Neari chose Marian over the University of Dubuque, a Division III program in Iowa. He said he gave fleeting thought to attending a larger school as a regular student.

"It just didn't seem possible for me to give [basketball] up," said Neari, who plans to gear up for college ball through workouts this spring with Nate's Premium Athletes.

Lickliter spent a year as an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) before returning to Indianapolis in June 2012, this time at Marian. He spent six seasons as head coach and had two stints as an assistant at Butler, his alma mater.

Licklister's dismissal at Iowa was one of the reasons Nick Neari transferred to Wisconsin-Parkside, which qualified for the D-II NCAA Tournament this winter in Neari's senior season.

Trip on: Kaneland baseball coach Brian Aversa received the news he was looking for Tuesday afternoon.

The Knights' spring break road trip had been in doubt but Aversa was informed that the first game of the trip – at 5 p.m. today against a Missouri opponent at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, near St. Louis – will go on as scheduled. Southern Illinois absorbed a major snowstorm on Sunday but Aversa said the GCS crew planned to let the sun melt some of the snow on Tuesday and hose down the field with hot water to melt the rest early today.

"As long as it works, I'm not going to question the method," Aversa said. "I just want to get a game in."

The rest of the trip's slate remained a work in progress as the wintry weather affected some schools' plans for the week but Aversa said preserving today's game emboldened him to follow through.

"We have three games for sure," Aversa said. "That's what I needed to hear. We're hoping we're going to have four but that's what we're going with right now."

Burlington Central baseball scrapped its spring break trip, which was to begin Monday, because of the downstate snowstorm. Aversa said his players are relieved they're able to finally start their season. Kaneland plans to depart at 9 a.m. today.

"They want to get out of town," Aversa said Monday, when the the trip's status was still in question. 

"Parents do, too. We have a bunch of families that are going. Everyone looks forward to this every year. It's a shame [the bad weather] happened but we're going to try and go make the best of it and get something in if we can."

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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