By Joe Henricksen
Diamond Taylor. Chris Colvin. Brandon Paul. Nik
Garcia. These are just a few of the players in the junior class in Illinois that were relative no-namers
nationally a year ago--even as recently as last winter--but have made huge strides this offseason. Suddenly, the
Class of 2009 is not nearly as weak as the City/Suburban Hoops Report originally thought.
It's true, the Hoops Report has stated numerous times that the Class of 2009 in Illinois is the weakest the state
has produced since the Class of 1999, which was highlighted by Lincoln's Brian Cook and
Proviso East's Steven Hunter and not a whole lot of anything else of significance. While this
year's junior class still lacks the true, bonafide stars at the top--the Top 25 player nationally or McDonald's All-
American-type--and has virtually no size with the exception of Eureka's Jordan Prosser, the late
bloomers have elevated the overall depth of this class.
This class had some big names early on, with Peoria Central's D.J. Richardson,
Whitney Young's Marcus Jordan and Schaumburg's Cully Payne all receiving headlines
as freshmen for various reasons. Richardson was the next great one out of Peoria and nationally known as a
freshman. Jordan was Jordan. And Payne made news by committing to DePaul a few weeks after wrapping up 8th
grade. Although it took some time, there are now finally some names to add to the list.
Diamond Taylor of St. Joseph, as an example, vaulted himself to the top of
the Hoops Report player rankings after a terrific spring and summer. The 6-3 silky smooth scorer was not even
among the top 15 players in his class just six months ago. Now the Hoops Report has him at the top due to his great
all-around scoring capabilities. Chris Colvin of Whitney Young maybe opened
more eyes on the national scene this past summer than anyone in the class with his improved decision-making and
ability to penetrate, get in the lane at will, and run the point. Both are no-doubt-about-it high-major Division I
The list of players that raised their stock both locally and on the national level also includes the athletic
Brandon Paul of Warren and Nik Garcia of Niles
West. These are two more players that boasted potential early on but have vaulted themselves into the
top 10 of the most recent Hoops Report Class of 2009 player rankings after an impressive spring and summer.
When you add Prosser, Sterling's Joseph Bertrand, Marshall's Darius Smith,
Hales Franciscan's Jordan Walker and Washington's Michael Haynes to the
aforementioned names, this class could end up with as many as 12 or more high-major recruits. This list doesn't
even include a host of other Division prospects, including up-and-coming players like Lincoln Park's
Cortney Bell, Glenbrook South's Jack Cooley and Proviso East's Tramel
The Hoops Report has always felt the biggest strides made by a high school player comes between their
sophomore and junior year. And that was definitely proved by this group of juniors the past few months. I can't
remember the last time a class as a whole has made this much progress in an offseason. So yes, while we all
continue to rave about the loaded sophomore Class of 2010, it's time to give a little love to the Class of 2009.
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