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St. Rita's Victor Law (5) grabs a rebound against Providence's Nate Vejvoda (55). | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
DuSable guard Malik Williams made one of the signature plays of the state tournament with his game-winning jump shot in the Class 4A St. Rita regional championship. It made for riveting and great theater, unless of course, you were one of the St. Rita players.
Except for those lucky few on a state title run, every season inevitabley ends on some kind of note of disappointment or regret. The way the Mustangs’ otherwise stellar year ended was heartbreaking. St. Rita missed its own game-winning shot and then watched Williams rip their collective hearts out.
“Anytime your season ends like that, I don’t care what sport it is, it’s going to motivate you to get better, improve and make sure it never happens
again,” St. Rita forward Victor Law said.
The 6-7 Law was a centerpiece of the Mustangs’ attack who averaged 14 points and nine rebounds on 47 percent shooting from the floor.
“You have to remember we had five players who averaged double-figures, so we didn’t have one big scorer,” St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare said. “He’s a very skilled and talented player who can score with either hand and dominate the game,” he said. “He is one of the top three or four players in the state and one of the top 25 in the country.”
Law’s case is a bit unorthodox as the rare player who arguably holds a greater profile nationally than locally. He is rated the 28-best player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN and No. 67 by Rivals. After the Mustangs played at a holiday tournament in Myrtle Beach (S.C.) and the elite Springfield (Mass.) invite in January, Law seized his opportunity to state his case for elite national status.
“Law is exciting because he brings together the attributes of skill [and] athleticism, and I think a desire to really get better,” ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep said.
“The last time I saw him he had the attributes of an athletic small forward with legitimate perimeter range. There are a lot of guys who are juniors [who] may have already hit their peak but Victor Law is a guy to me who is trending in the right direction.”
The top competition trigged some of Law’s best efforts. In the team’s first game at South Carolina, Law scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as St. Rita ended the 35-game winning streak of Christ Presbyterian of Franklin (Tenn.).
“Coach DeCesare did a great job of allowing each of the players to really showcase their game,” Law said. “I had a chance to play really well against players on the national level, and a lot influential [recruiters] had a chance to see me play, some for the first time, because not many people [at the national level] really knew what I could do, and I had a chance to show them what I could do.”
Now the stage shifts to the club season, where he balances off-season conditioning, setting up college visits and playing with the powerhouse Meanstreets with Marian Catholic star Tyler Ulis and his own teammate, Charles Matthews.
The program competes in the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), the best of the Nike-affiliated national club programs. Two weeks ago in Milwaukee (Wis.) Meanstreets lost in the championship game to Young star Jahlil Okafor and the Mac Irvin Fire.
“My role with Meanstreets is not really all that different from Rita,” he said. “With St. Rita, I’m playing power forward, with Meanstreets, shooting guard. I really want to master the areas of strength and then work on and refine the areas where I need to improve. I really like the way I’m shooting right now.”
An elite student who wants to study business with an emphasis on marketing and sports management, Law has made a visit to Georgia Tech during a recent family sojourn to his native Mississippi. He is also planning to make visits to Harvard and Boston College.
Illinois and Northwestern have both offered scholarships to Law.
“Coach [John] Groce has been very aggressive and enthusiastic in recruiting. I also met with [new Northwestern coach] Chris Collins and I talked with him for about 30 minutes, and he told me about the system he’s going to have in place.”
DeCesare coached seven years as a college assistant during separate stints at DePaul and Richmond.
“I tell kids the biggest change from high school to college is the strength of the players,” he said. “Victor has got to get stronger and improve his ballhandling. Those are his biggest areas of improvement.”
“Now that I’m a [rising] senior, I know my time at high school is coming to an end,” Law said. “You only get three, four years and then it’s over so fast. I want to make sure I make my mark.”