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Zion-Benton's Milik Yarbrough has been heavily recruited by Auburn. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
Any avid follower of high school basketball in the Chicago area would never have guessed three years ago that Zion-Benton’s Milik Yarbrough would be a player in the Class of 2014 starving for attention.
He came into high school with plenty of fanfare and, number wise, was the most productive freshman in the state during the 2010-2011 season. He plays in an outstanding basketball league in the North Suburban Lake, is still being courted by college coaches, is on pace to surpass 2,500 career points, and he’s poised to become Lake County’s all-time leading scorer (he’s 423 points shy of former Deerfield legend Ryan Hogan’s 2,407 career points).
Yes, Yarbrough has remained a constant as a player and prospect in many ways. For as loud as his game can be as a big-time, electric scorer, the attention Yarbrough has received has been anything but.
“I’m the underdog now,” Yarbrough said.
Maybe it’s because he played his AAU ball outside Illinois with Indiana Elite. Maybe it’s because Zion-Benton hasn’t been a ranked team or state threat in recent years. And with players named Okafor, Alexander and Ulis in this senior class, getting lost in the Class of 2014 star shuffle is easy to do.
“I think a lot of it has to do with all those guys playing on the [Nike] EYBL circuit and playing with Meanstreets and the Mac Irvin Fire,” Yarbrough said. “They tout those guys, you know? I can’t let that bother me. I keep on working.”
Without being prompted, Yarbrough let it be known what he needs to do as a player going forward. There are questions concerning his overall athleticism and willingness to defend when projecting him to the next level.
“I’ve continued to work on my body and I’m at 6-6 and 210 pounds right now, so that will help with my explosiveness and my defense,” Yarbrough said. “I know what people say. But I’m playing well, and I think my game has really developed.”
Auburn has made a strong play for Yarbrough, who visited the SEC school this past weekend. Tulsa is in hot pursuit, and Yarbrough says he’s heard from the likes of Iowa, DePaul and Minnesota.
Recruiting and the Lake County scoring record isn’t all that’s on Yarbrough’s mind. He has specific goals in mind for this season.
“I want to play Jahlil [Okafor] downstate,” Yarbrough states. “That’s my boy. And I want to get my team downstate and get that chance. That’s the No. 1 goal.”