This time next year, Geneva boys basketball standout Nate Navigato might be jaded to the college recruiting process.
For now, the rising junior forward finds it to be pretty amazing.
On Sunday, the 6-foot-6 forward received his first Division I scholarship offer from Illinois-Chicago, and it left him nearly speechless.
“It was just one of the coolest things ever,” Navigato said. “When they told me they offered me … I don’t even know how to describe it.”
The offer extended by UIC head coach Howard Moore and one of the Flames’ assistants came in person as Geneva’s summer team was attending a one-day shootout at UIC. Northern Illinois and Evansville are among the other Division I programs that are in steady communication with Navigato.
Navigato is coming off a strong sophomore season in which he averaged a team-high 15.7 points a game and made 53 percent of his field goal attempts.
The versatile forward said he’s taking a “no days off” approach to the summer, which will include AAU basketball with Mercury Elite after focusing on his high school team during June. The Vikings opened play Monday at the Geneva Summer League, which features games Monday and Wednesday nights this month.
“I’m just trying to work on my defense a lot more,” Navigato said. “I’m trying to get quicker and jump higher.”
Making his body more Division I-friendly also is a high priority, with some early success.
“Coach Moore thought I’d gotten stronger since last time he saw me since the end of the season,” Navigato said. “I’ve been going to the weight room at least three times a week, if not more.”
Joining Navigato as an up-and-coming Division I prospect for Geneva is classmate KJ Santos, who was called up to varsity late last season and helped Geneva pull an upset against Hinsdale Central in a regional semifinal.
The Vikings also return starters Cam Cook and Chris Parrilli from last year’s 21-9 team, and their depth could be boosted by the return of Justin Durante, who missed most of the season after suffering a concussion.
“I love playing with him,” Navigato said of Durante. “He’s one of those players that every time the ball goes on the floor, he’s diving after it, and he’s always getting steals and he’s a good passer and a good shooter. He does a lot of little things for our team.”
Wheaton Academy hoops camp serves as fundraiser: A basketball camp/fundraiser at Wheaton Academy will take place for players in grades 1-10 on June 21 at Wheaton Academy High School.
Times will be 3 to 4:30 p.m. for first through fifth graders, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for sixth through eighth graders and 6:30 to 9 p.m. for ninth and 10th graders. Cost is $35 for first through fifth graders, $40 for sixth through eighth graders and $45 for ninth and 10th graders. All proceeds from the one-day mini-camp will be donated to the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation, a not-for-profit organization formed to train young adults with leadership potential. This year’s JKB recipients from Wheaton Academy are Josh Ruggles, Reid Culberson, Molly Thorson and Annika Pearson.
Coaches scheduled to attend the camp are all-time Wheaton Academy leading scorer Tim Rusthoven, now a college player at William & Mary, former Wheaton Academy boys basketball coach and current Wheaton College assistant Paul Ferguson, new Wheaton Academy coach Pete Froedden, Downers Grove North coach Jim Thomas and Hinsdale South assistant coach Erin Dwyer. Mail checks to Wheaton Academy, c/of Mercury Mechanical, 152 N. Railroad Ave., Northlake, IL, 60164.
Recently graduated Wheaton Academy senior Brandon Ruggles is a past attendee at a JKB Leadership Foundation event in Colorado, and said his life was “completely changed” by the week. In an email, Brandon Ruggles wrote, “I need this camp to be a success, because if it is, we will be able to fund a life-changing experience for four outstanding student-athletes who represent the future of a school that supplied me with two of the best years of my life.”
For information, contact Brandon Ruggles at email@example.com or 630-981-7244.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.