Basketball

St. Rita High School Appoints Roshawn Russell '08 as Head Basketball Coach

Chicago – Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., Ph.D., St. Rita of Cascia High School's Head of School and Chief Executive Officer, has appointed current St. Rita Athletic Director, Roshawn Russell, M.B.M., a 2008 St. Rita alumnus, as Head Basketball Coach of the 114-year-old institution. Russell will also retain his position as Athletic Director. Russell will succeed Coach Gary DeCesare, who coached the Mustangs for ten years with an 182-110 overall record. Russell spoke highly of his time working with DeCesare. "He took our basketball program to new heights. We wouldn't be where we are today without him," Russell said.

Roshawn Russell ‘08, St. Rita Head Basketball Coach

Roshawn Russell ‘08, St. Rita Head Basketball Coach

Prior to becoming Athletic Director in July 2018, Russell served as an Assistant Admissions Director at St. Rita. Russell has extensive basketball coaching experience, including serving as the Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Fontbonne University. Additionally, Russell enjoyed a very successful playing career on the hardwood. He finished his career with the North Park University Vikings ranked number one for career and season all-time free-throw-shooting percentage. He shot a career-best 88 percent from the line and a record 90 percent during his freshman year. He also ranks tenth all-time in total assists at North Park and scored 939 points over his four-year playing career. Russell is ranked seventh all-time at North Park for career three-point field goals, and ranks eighth all-time in career three-point percentage with 38.5%. Russell graduated from North Park University with a BA in Physical Education, and holds a Masters in Business Management from Fontbonne University. Coach Russell has served as St. Rita's Head Sophomore Basketball coach since September 2015, and has led the sophomore Mustangs to two 20+ win seasons and two Chicago Catholic League titles.

Russell attended St. Rita where he enjoyed a stellar prep career. He was a four-year starter for the basketball team and earned All-Chicago Catholic League Second Team honors as a junior and First Team as a senior, as well as All-Area honors from the Southtown Star. He was voted the team MVP his senior year and earned All-Tournament honors at the McGovern Classic. He averaged 18.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals in leading the team to an 18-11 record his senior year. Russell also played in the Catholic League All-Star Game in the spring of 2008.

When asked about Russell, Fr. Galetto said, "St. Rita is in a strong position. We have premiere facilities and a great family atmosphere, which Coach Russell understands. His positive and competitive attitude, combined with his basketball knowledge is a winning combination. I'm excited to see his dynamic coaching style on the varsity level."

Russell is equally excited to step into this role, stating, "I've worked very hard to get to this point in my career, and I understand what it takes to succeed. I've been very fortunate to learn from some of the best coaches at every level. St. Rita and its basketball program had a tremendous impact on my life, and I am honored to be able to carry the tradition forward. This is the opportunity of a lifetime."

About St. Rita High School

St. Rita High School is a college-preparatory, Augustinian Catholic high school located on a beautiful 37-acre campus at 7740 S. Western Avenue on Chicago's south side. The all-boys St. Rita has a 114-year old tradition and legacy, is over 24,000 alumni strong and offers 15 athletic teams competing in the Chicago Catholic League and 32 clubs and activities.

Matthews Stars for Michigan in Run to Title Game

By Tim O'Brien, The Beverly Review

Earning a three-seed in the west region of the NCAA tournament, the University of Michigan men’s basketball team was rolling.

The Wolverines had won via buzzer-beaters and blowouts, advancing all the way to the national championship game.

Photo courtesy of University of Michigan

Photo courtesy of University of Michigan

Then, it all came crashing down on April 2 in San Antonio; Michigan fell to top-seeded Villanova 79-62.

However, despite the obvious disappointment, St. Rita grad Charles Matthews just tried to take it all in.

“Playing in the national championship game, that’s a great learning experience,” Matthews said. “You learn a lot playing on that stage. You’re playing at the highest level of college basketball. We learned from it, and we hope to get there again next year.”

March Madness With A St. Rita Flavor

By: Ed Leiser '04

We often say that “St. Rita alumni go on to do great things in life” and as college basketball’s “March Madness” nears, we are extremely proud to say that again. Just as several St. Rita graduates participated in college football’s bowl season (either as players or coaches), this year’s March Madness for NCAA Men’s basketball will have a noticeable St. Rita flare.

Three young Ritamen will be experiencing the madness first-hand, as their teams have completed exciting regular seasons, and are poised to make some noise in this year’s tournament. We are proud of Tony Hicks ’12 (Louisville Cardinals), Vic Law ’14 (Northwestern Wildcats) and Charles Matthews ’15 (Michigan Wolverines) on enjoying stellar college careers so far.

For Hicks, a South Holland native, his road to Louisville and March Madness was not without a prior stop, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, at that. Hicks (the Catholic League Lawless Award winner for top senior while at St. Rita) originally enrolled at Penn University of the Ivy League. There, he was a three-year starter and double-digit per-game scorer for the Quakers, but due to a coaching change before his senior year, he opted to put basketball on hold for a year—and save his fourth year of eligibility for an eventual transfer. He would go on to graduate from Penn in May, 2016, and truly opted for the “best of both worlds” approach, when he transferred to Louisville to play for legendary coach Rick Pitino and one of the nation’s top programs. 

Due to an NCAA rule, he was able to play immediately without having to sit for a year.  For his one and only year as a Louisville Cardinal, Hicks has averaged over 10 minutes-per-game and four points-per-game in scoring. He will have the option to pursue playing basketball professionally after this year, or fall back on his Ivy League education and Penn degree.  Both options will be well-deserved for Hicks, and St. Rita is proud of all his accomplishments to date!

A former teammate of Tony Hicks while at St. Rita, Vic Law (also of South Holland) was a consensus Top-100 prospect coming out of St. Rita his senior year. Ranked as the No. 88 player in the country by 247sports.com, Law entertained offers from places like Florida State, Stanford, Michigan State, and several other ACC, Pac-12 and Big-10 schools. In the end, it was the lure of playing for the Northwestern Wildcats (and up-and-coming coach, Chris Collins) that sold Vic on heading north to Evanston. To get a Northwestern education was icing on the cake.

Law was an immediate contributor from the moment he stepped on the court for Northwestern, averaging seven points-per-game in over 24 minutes-per-game during his freshman season. A shoulder surgery sidelined Vic for all of the 2015-16 season, but he has shown no signs of rust in the 2016-17 season, going for over 12 points-per-game in over 32 minutes-per-game so far, while contributing nearly six rebounds-per-game as well. Perhaps most impressive, is that Law (the third leading scorer for the ‘Cats) has helped end a Chicago Cub-like streak of futility, propelling Northwestern to their first ever NCAA Tournament bid!  He was also named First-Team All-Defense in the Big-10 this year, proving he has a well-balanced game for the Wildcats. With two seasons of eligibility left beyond this season, Vic will set his sights on even bigger and better things for his remaining days in Evanston. Like Tony Hicks, St. Rita is very proud of Vic and all of his accomplishments.

A third former Mustang, Charles Matthews, is a member of the Michigan Wolverines, another NCAA tournament-bound team (and a former high school teammate to both Hicks and Law). Matthews is sitting out the 2016-17 season as a Redshirt freshman, after transferring from Kentucky a year ago. Matthews will be eligible for game action next year for the Wolverines and retain three seasons of eligibility. While at St. Rita, Matthews also won the Lawless Award in the Catholic League and was rated the No. 42 overall player in the country, according to ESPN. Matthews’ future is bright, and the St. Rita community looks forward to a few years of battles between his Wolverines and Law’s Wildcats in Big-10 play.

One other former Mustang, Dominique Matthews, from the St. Rita Class of 2014, fell just two games shy of reaching the NCAA Tournament this year as well. The University of Illinois-Chicago guard had a team-high 21 points in a losing effort to UW-Milwaukee in the Horizon League semi-finals. A win in that game (the Flames lost 74-68) plus one more would have secured the UIC men’s team a trip to March Madness. For Dominique, he will have a few years remaining of eligibility as well, and can support his younger brother (Charles) in this year’s tournament! 

Congrats go out not only to these former Mustangs, but all associated with the St. Rita basketball program, led by Head Coach Gary DeCesare. The Mustangs basketball program has appeared in a Sectional Final three out of the last four years (no other Catholic League team can say the same) and remains one of the top programs in Illinois. The St. Rita Family is proud of these former Mustang players and wishes them all the best of luck in the years ahead.  We are thrilled to have not just one—but three former Mustangs involved in the “madness” this year!

Charles Matthews '15 Heads to University of Michigan

Charles Matthews '15 could have stayed at Kentucky. He appreciated being a part of one of college basketball's most storied programs. He enjoyed playing for legendary coach John Calipari. He admired the beauty of Kentucky's tradition-rich, 800-plus acre campus.

But …

"I need to be an impact player and have an opportunity to produce like one," said Matthews, a 2015. St. Rita graduate. "I want the ball in big situations. I loved Kentucky and I loved the system we played. I didn't want to transfer. Coach Cal didn't want me to leave. But I needed a role change."