By Joe Henricksen

Lesser names rise, bigger names fall in '09

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By Joe Henricksen

The natural progression is taking place, so we shouldn't be all that surprised when it happens. It never fails as we

see some of the top names as freshmen slowly fall in the player rankings the older they get, while relative no-

namers rise a couple of years down the road as they mature and blossom as players. This common trend can be

blamed on the early hype that is bestowed on these players coming out of junior high.

That is excactly what the Hoops Report is seeing as this scenario plays out in the Class of 2009. The big names

just a couple of years ago are slowly falling, while several under-the-radar prospects climb the ladder as

prospects. After watching plenty of holiday tournament basketball and games into early January, a couple of those

new names to get familiar with are Downers Grove South's Malcolm Herron and Waubonsie Valley's Jelani

Johnson. These two are both Division I prospects but still receiving little or no hype in comparison to other players

in their class.

Ironically, both Herron and Johnson are similar in size at 6-4 and style of play. Herron and Johnson are a pair of

long, athletic wings that have played huge at times this season. They both have a knack to score in a variety of

ways, whether it be using their length and athleticism in getting to the basket or stepping out and knocking down a

three. What is especially impressive is their ability to get things done at crunch time and in some big moments.

Herron is now among the top 20 juniors, while Johnson, after a terrific holiday tournament in helping lead the

Warriors to a tournament title and a huge game against rival Neuqua Valley last weekend, is not far behind.

Johnson has probably emerged as the biggest sleeper in the junior class as virtually no one is aware of him.

Neither Herron or Johnson have come close to reaching or maximizing their abilities as both are still learning just

how to do that on a consistent basis.

While hardly a no-namer, Glenbrook South's Jack Cooley has impressed the Hoops Report with his rise in the

rankings more than any other junior. He's much more athletic than he appears. He does all the little things, will bang,

get physical and has very good hands. If he can develop a little better face-up jumper and extend his range out

past 12 feet I can see Cooley evolving into a more athletic Brian Cardinal-type at the next level. While many mid-

major programs have extended offers to the 6-8 junior, there is no way he won't end up at a high-major. Big men

are at a premium and nearly every high-major program in the midwest has picked up its interest. And the Hoops

Report believes Cooley is the big man with the most promise and potential in the Class of 2009, although it's been

some time since watching Eureka big man Jordan Prosser.

Cooley is looking for a solid academic institution, which makes me wonder why Northwestern has waited so long.

Notre Dame and Iowa are both getting heavily involved and don't be surprised if Illinois soon extends an offer as

they look to complement their 2009 perimeter commitments with a big man.

Here is a look at how the City/Suburban Hoops Report sees the top college prospects in the Class of 2009 following the holiday tournaments. (Note: this list does not include highly-regarded Zeke Schneider of Metamora as he is the lone top prospect in the class the Hoops Report has not yet seen. Thus, he is not included in this list)

1. Brandon Paul, 6-4, 2G, Gurnee (Warren)
2. Joseph Bertrand, 6-5, 2G/WF, Sterling
3. Diamond Taylor, 6-3, 2G, Westchester (St. Joseph)
4. D.J. Richardson, 6-3, PG/2G, Peoria (Central)
5. Jack Cooley, 6-8, PF, Glenview (Glenbrook South)
6. Chris Colvin, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young)
7. Jordan Prosser, 6-8, PF, Eureka
8. Dyricus Simms-Edwards, 6-1, PG, Washington
9. Michael Haynes, 6-6, WF/PF, Chicago (Washington)
10. Marcus Jordan, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Whitney Young)
11. Darius Smith, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Marshall)
12. Nik Garcia, 6-5, 2G, Skokie (Niles West)
13. Kyle Rowley, 6-11, C, Lake Forest (Academy)
14. Cully Payne, 6-1, PG, Schaumburg
15. Jordan Walker, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Hales Franciscan)
16. Cortney Bell, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Lincoln Park)
17. James Kinney, 6-0, PG, Champaign (Centennial)
18. Terry Johnson, 6-1, PG/2G, Chicago (St. Rita)
19. Matt Vogrich, 6-3, 2G, Lake Forest
20. John Taylor, 5-11, PG/2G, Chicago (North Lawndale)
21. Malcolm Herron, 6-4, 2G/WF, Downers Grove (South)
22. D.J. Cooper, 5-7, PG, Chicago (Hales Franciscan)
23. Marcus Rodgers, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park)
24. D'Mitri Riggs, 6-3, 2G, Bloomington
25. Stanford Brown, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young)
26. Tony Nixon, 6-4, WF, South Holland (Seton Academy)
27. Brian Conway, 6-3, WF, Chicago Heights (Bloom)
28. Eriq Harris, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Marshall)
29. Jelani Johnson, 6-4, WF, Aurora (Waubonsie Valley)
30. Drew Crawford, 6-4, WF, Naperville (Central)
31. Malcolm Griffin, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Hyde Park)
32. Xavier Humphrey, 6-3, WF, Oak Park (Fenwick)
33. Seth Evans, 6-2, PG, Seneca
34. Shea Sumpter, 6-5, PF, Richton Park (Rich East)
35. Conrad Krutwig, 6-5, WF/PF, Algonquin (Jacobs)

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Where is James Pointer from Leo High School. This kid is playing very well this year for 13-2 Leo Lions.

In regard to James Pointer, you are correct in that he is having an outstanding year. He can penetrate and get in the lane on just about anyone. My complete player rankings currently has James Pointer at No. 39 overall in the junior class.

James Pointer is a very good kid he doesn't really have a good team but yet they are still 13-2 he's putting up big numbers and yet yall still rank him No. 39 overall thats terrible

There is a kid in the south surburbs by the name of Anthony Welch. He is a relitively unknown kid out of Evergreen Park. He has good range on his shot and is leading a young, talented team. Be on the look out for this team and this individual.

The center for the Richards Bulldogs is 6-8 junior Shaun Pratl. He is a multi-skilled basketball player having a great year. Perhaps he is miscast as a post player at this stage, because he is just as comfortable on the perimeter as he is inside, but none of the big men on this list have his combination of speed and physical strength. In addition, Shaun was named to the All-Tournament team at the Carbondale Holiday Tournament, and if you were paying attention last summer, he outplayed some of your notables at the Loyola tournament, while having a breakout season with the Meanstreets Club team. He IS a division I football prospect, but is it automatic that his basketball skills must be ignored or downplayed by basketball people? And if so why? His talents have not been ignored by the Bulldog's opponents.

Well timed blog as usual. I recently had the opportunity to see Herron, and was impressed with his perimeter defensive skills. Also showed he can guard taller players in the post. Who on this list has shown the ability to knock down game winning shots other than Drew Crawford? Probably nobody, if he gets stronger (physically, and protecting the ball), you will see him to continue to move up this list.

In regard to Shaun Pratl, you are dead-on. He is a true basketball prospect who is going to play Division I football. He's a skilled big man who runs the floor extremely well. He is not being overlooked. He currently checks in as the No. 40 ranked junior in the City/Suburban Hoops Report. While we won't ever see it, it would be interesting to see just how far and high he could go if he were to have dedicated himself to basketball for 12 months instead of splitting time between sports. He's a terrific all-around athlete.

Who says he isnt to play basketball in college? I'm pretty sure he's getting division 1 looks in both sports and hasn't made a decision yet, but i could be wrong.

Best Junior nobody has heard of...David Brown 6'2" G/F from Rockton Hononegah. Team is 22-2 has beaten De LaSalle, Zion-Benton, & Nequa Valley. Averaging 20+ a game.

FanoftheGame, you may be exactly right about David Brown. Both he and Hononegah are talked about in the upcoming issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, due out next week.

There is a kid by the name of Rodney Clark who is similar to a Chris Paul. Standing 5ft10 can shoot off the dribble,drive to the whole and he also can dunk. He wants to go to Michigan State. So I think Michigan state should show some interest. He average bout 15ppg9apg.

Theres two kids out of evergreen park high school thats sophmores Darius Welch(Evergreen Park) and Cedric Watkins(Evergreen Park) who are spectacular and playing varsity.Cedric is 6ft5 and welch 6ft2. By next year they should very improve.Its another sophmore Zakarri Dowd(Evergreen Park) whos 6ft5 and is a beast in the whole he's playing on the sophmore squad but I wouldnt be surprised if he gets move up tp varsity by end of season. All three of these prospects goes to Evergreen Park So scout should come and look at these players.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 13, 2008 3:30 PM.

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