When Nojus Indrusaitis transferred from Lemont to St. Rita before last season, it gave the Mustangs the top three recruits from the 2024 class in Illinois.
Indrusaitis, Morez Johnson and James Brown led the Mustangs (23-11) to an up-and-down season that ended with a sectional semifinal loss to Brother Rice.
Now, every member of the trio has left St. Rita. In March, Brown announced his transfer to Link Academy, a prep school in Missouri. Johnson left for Thornton. Brown is committed to North Carolina and Johnson to Illinois.
Indrusaitis, an Iowa State recruit, played with St. Laurence over the summer but announced Tuesday he is heading to Brewster Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire.
Before making the decision to go to Brewster, Indrusaitis said he was looking for a place where he “felt comfortable.”
“Whatever happened, I can’t speak on that,” Indrusaitis said of St. Rita. “For my senior season, I just wanted to have fun and get ready for college.”
It sums up what’s happening in high school basketball across the state. The NCAA has an official transfer portal. It appears that an unofficial portal has opened up in Illinois.
St. Rita also lost top 2025 prospect Melvin Bell to La Lumiere, a prep school in Indiana.
The Mustangs will have a completely new look next season, including a new coaching staff.
Roshawn Russell resigned as head coach in May and took an associate coach’s role under Byron Burt at St. Laurence, where Russell is also an assistant athletic director.
“This was my choice,” Russell said at the time. “I wasn’t forced out or anything like that. My time at St. Rita has been great. I’m an alum and I’m really fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to coach at my alma mater. Anyone who’s had that opportunity knows how special that is.
“However, I’m just at a place where this was the best decision for me and my family moving forward. I’m excited for new beginnings at St. Laurence.”
In June, St. Rita announced Ross Burt, who previously coached at Payton, as its new head coach.
Adding Johnson, who is ranked as the top player in Illinois and No. 31 in the nation in the senior class by Rivals.com, gives Thornton a dominant post player who can take over a game.
It’s similar to the situation in 2021-22, when the Wildcats added Ty Rodgers — who will be teammates with Johnson at Illinois — before his senior season.
Thornton did not stop with Johnson, though.
Isaiah Green, who was a major contributor for Hillcrest as a sophomore and looked like a future star before transferring to Kenwood and playing limited minutes last season, has joined the Wildcats. As has fellow senior guard Chase Abraham, an ace 3-point shooter who scored points in bunches last season for T.F. North.
The Wildcats’ latest addition came in July with Romeoville transfer Meyoh Swansey, another guard and a rising recruit in the 2024 class.
Homewood-Flossmoor, meanwhile, bolstered a strong returning nucleus with the additions of guard Gianni Cobb and forward Mac Hagemaster.
Hagemaster, a 6-foot-7 forward who had some strong games last season at Lincoln-Way East, gives the Vikings an inside presence.
Cobb is returning to the south suburbs after starring as a sophomore in 2021-22 at Bloom. He spent last season at Perspectives-Leadership.
“Most of all these people on the team I know and I was close to them since I was younger,” Cobb said. “Carson (Brownfield) and I have played together since we were little. It’s exciting to play with them again.”
Cobb said a season in the Public League toughened him up.
“After playing in the city last year, I’m coming back to the south suburbs stronger,” he said. “Playing there made me a better point guard. There are a lot of good point guards in the city.”
Josh Pickett is on the move again.
A talented 6-5 senior guard with eight Division I scholarship offers, Pickett has transferred from West Aurora to St. Laurence, returning to the Catholic League.
Pickett, who spent his formative years in Plainfield, enrolled at West Aurora for his freshman year.
With continuing uncertainty due to the pandemic, Pickett said his parents decided to have him transfer to St. Rita for that first year to take advantage of in-school classes, which they preferred for him over remote learning they thought was likely to continue at West Aurora.
At St. Rita, Pickett played on the varsity.
He returned to West Aurora for his sophomore year, averaging 14.1 and 14.4 points the next two seasons, respectively, while earning all-conference honors in the Southwest Prairie.
Pickett also excelled in the classroom, making the National Honor Society.
His latest move has been fueled, in part, by what transpired following a coaching change this offseason after West Aurora finished with an 18-15 record. Coach Brian Johnson was dismissed by athletic director Jason Buckley.
Between that time and the eventual hiring of West Aurora graduate and former Plainfield East coach Michael Fowler, Pickett and his family had decided on the move to St. Laurence.
“Everybody could tell it was just a dumpster fire (at West Aurora),” said Mark Pickett, Josh’s father. “This is an important time for Josh going into his senior year. We felt fully supported by the administration, but it was just a state of transition.
“I know people are excited about coach Fowler, but I don’t know him. It’s such a storied program. West Aurora deserves a great program. People know basketball there.”
Mark Pickett chose not to comment when asked whether Josh would still be at West Aurora if Johnson were still the coach.
Beginning Monday, Josh Pickett will take part in the NCAA College Basketball Academy held in Memphis, Tennessee, after applying for and receiving an invitation.
The first academy camp was held in 2019. It was canceled for three years due to the pandemic and then resumed this year with a camp added for girls.
During an otherwise dead recruiting period, the four-day academy is the only activity open to Division I college coaches and could help Pickett expand his recruiting offers.
Aubrey Galvan is accustomed to making stunning moves on the basketball court. In her first two years at Deerfield, she displayed exceptional court vision and ball handling that has attracted attention from Power Five programs.
Earlier this summer, the junior point guard made a stunning move off the court with her decision to transfer to Loyola. The 5-7 Galvan, who has nearly 15 offers, is a two-way highlight reel due to her ability to affect a game.
Galvan, a second team all-state selection by The Associated Press, averaged 12.3 points, 4.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds with a whopping 4.6 steals while making 66 3-pointers and blocking 28 shots in helping to lead the Warriors to a Class 3A fourth-place trophy.
News updates from the south suburbs delivered every Monday and Wednesday
After earning the program’s first trip to the state semifinals, the Warriors saw their promising future suffer another major blow this summer when junior guard Nikki Kerstein announced she was transferring to Montini.
Kerstein, who averaged 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.4 steals and hit 73 3-pointers, has more than 10 offers.
Galvan and Kerstein, both of whom confirmed their transfers, were slated to be one of the best backcourts in the state.
Deerfield coach Nicole Keith said she enjoyed watching Galvan and Kerstein develop their games while leading the program to new heights.
“Aubrey and Nikki were significant contributing pieces to our historic season,” Keith said. “Both of them were incredibly special to watch day in, day out. Athletes like them don’t come around very often, so I’m grateful to have coached both girls.
“Both of them are phenomenal athletes who play their hearts out every time they step on the court. I’m anxious and excited to see their growth and will continue to follow their success in the future.”
Steve Millar is a freelance reporter. Staff reporter Rick Armstrong and freelance reporter Bobby Narang contributed.