As the summer heat has cranked up so has offseason basketball competition for players of all skill levels, including elite prep players from across the nation looking to increase their college stock.

Two of those top dogs, Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Owen Freeman (Class of 2023), and former Kankakee hooper A.J. Storr (Class of 2022), who is set to enter his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida this upcoming season, have used their time to continue adding impressive college basketball programs to the list of schools inquiring about their services.

Both Freeman and Storr have been at the top of their respective recruiting classes and have accumulated numerous Division I basketball offers, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Iowa.

For Freeman, his varsity basketball career began as a freshman by playing center for the Boilermakers, when he looked very raw with untapped potential. However, a quick growth spurt and a strong offseason of training later, things started to click.

Freeman grew 3 inches between his freshman and sophomore years. The stretch big went from 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-10, which helped him land his first-ever offer from the University of Illinois in October.

“Freshman year I was raw, but I grew a little bit and got into the gym, which really helped with my big-man aspect of my game,” Freeman said. “I wasn’t that tall my freshman year, so I learned some speed stuff, which helped me with my versatility as a 6-foot-10 guy in just being able to move and step out and shoot, which is what a lot of coaches have been highlighting on my visits.”

Freeman averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and five assists last season as a sophomore to take home MVP honors for the Boilermakers. In addition, his stellar sophomore campaign allowed him to receive Daily Journal All-Area honors as well as being selected to the Kankakee Thanksgiving Tournament All-Tournament and SouthWest Suburban All-Conference teams.

These awards helped catch the eyes of the Hawkeyes coaching staff at the University of Iowa in April, which only opened his recruitment even more. Since receiving an offer from the Hawkeyes, Freeman has been fielding Division I offers left and right.

“Once I got those offers from Illinois and Western Illinois in October of last year, things really died down once the season got started,” Freeman said. “Once Iowa offered me around April, ever since then, it’s been crazy because all the colleges have been coming in, and I’ve been going on my visits in June. So that’s when all the offers really started to come in and take notice of me.”

Ready to enter his junior year, Freeman already has accumulated 12 offers, including Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State and Purdue out of the Big Ten, and has been in contact with 2020-21 national runners-up Gonzaga. With so many prominent programs interested in Freeman, he surely has become one of the biggest recruits in Boilermakers boys basketball history.

“I welcome the pressures that come with being a high-level recruit,” Freeman said. “At first, it was a lot seeing all the college coaches on the sidelines [at AAU tournaments], and it was pretty hard.

“My first tournament was terrible because I didn’t know how to handle the pressure, but as time went on I got more used to it, and so now I’m comfortable playing in front of colleges and all the pressures that come with it.”

Playing up to par with his high level of competition hasn’t been a struggle for Freeman in recent months, but that hasn’t stopped him from focusing on taking his game to the next level.

“I plan to add to my game by working on my ball-handling,” Freeman said. “I want to be able to stretch the floor and be more like a strong forward.

“I’ve been working on my outside game a lot because I feel like I’m pretty comfortable with my back toward the basket.”

Although Freeman has no set timetable for when he wants to make his decision, the stretch big just wants to find the ideal fit for him. Whether it’s a top-notch Division I program or a smaller one, Freeman wants to find the school that makes him a priority, and until then, he plans to sit back and enjoy the ride that comes with being a high-level recruit.

“I have 12 offers, and all the schools are making me a priority right now ...” Freeman said. “Right now, I’m just taking it all in while not making any school a priority. I’m just enjoying the process, and once the time comes to make a decision, that’s when I’ll start narrowing it down.”

Former Kankakee star AJ Storr taking his time

Unlike Freeman, Storr has had a wild ride when it’s come to his recruitment process.

The senior guard has had a long journey since he made the decision to transfer from Kankakee High School in 2020. Since leaving the Kays, the 6-foot-6 guard has gone on to play for two separate high schools in Nevada and Arizona with plans to transfer to a third one this fall.

Storr, a Rockford native, transferred from Kankakee High School to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas in summer 2020, but their season was canceled because of COVID-19. He then moved to Arizona Compass Prep in December and averaged 12.5 points per game as a junior. Moving forward, Storr plans to attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to conclude his high school basketball career this year.

Moving around has gone well for me,” Storr said. “If I didn’t leave Illinois, I don’t think I’d have as many opportunities that I have gotten playing on the stages I’ve been playing on. Playing top-level competition on the West Coast has gotten me a lot of exposure.”

In May, Storr opted to decommit from the University of Illinois after shakeups to the coaching staff with the departures of assistant coaches Chin Coleman and Orlando Antigua. It was a decision that wasn’t easy but ultimately one Storr felt he had to make after he no longer had strong relationships with the new coaching staff of the orange and blue.

“I decommitted from Illinois because of their coaching changes; they had two coaches who opted to go coach at Kentucky,” Storr said. “Relationships are big for me, and so those coaches that I had strong relationships with left the program, which is why I reopened my recruitment.”

Since re-entering the recruitment pool, Storr has been heavily recruited from all parts of the country. He’s fielding about 25 separate offers, some of which include Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana State, Oklahoma, Illinois and Miami.

“I don’t really have a dream school,” Storr said. “I want to go to a school that I’m going to come in and be an immediate impact player while also having strong relationships with the coaching staff.”

Despite having less than one year to make a decision, Storr still has no idea who he will end up suiting up for in college. Nonetheless, it’s been a process the highly coveted guard knew he had put himself in since opting to leave Illinois to move to Las Vegas.

“I knew I was going to be heavily recruited once I got to my first tournament with{/span} {span}Bishop Gorman, where I averaged like 25 points and won the showstopper award,” Storr said. “Pretty much from that point on, I knew I was going to be a top recruit.”

Cody is a sports journalist who's been with the Daily Journal since 2020. He's been a sports reporter since his days at the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2019.