By Joe Henricksen
We are past the midway point of the season and plenty has been learned -- and confirmed -- as we begin to head
down the stretch of the regular season. Here are just a few random thoughts....
Batavia in the conversation
When discussing the top teams in Class 4A, the Bulldogs of Batavia need to be in the conversation. Coach Jim
Roberts' club just wouldn't go away against talented Marshall Saturday night at the Sears Centre in Hoffman
Estates, eventually falling in a close one. This team is fearless. The much-anticipated Batavia-Simeon matchup Feb.
2 at Batavia should be a fun one as the atmosphere should be as good as it gets in high school basketball.
The freshman did what?
It was just three weeks ago when I mentioned Limestone's Donivine Stewart should be included with Curie's
Wayne Blackshear and DeLaSalle's Mike Shaw as one of the top freshmen in the state. The intangibles I mentioned,
which includes an uncanny feel and understanding of how to score for such a young player, must have been front
and center over the weekend. The 5-11 freshman guard scored 41 points in a win over Dunlap Saturday night.
While Stewart does not have the upside and ceiling of a Blackshear or Shaw, his ability alone puts him among the
top five freshmen in Illinois.
And yet another talented sophomore
It seems the list of top players in the Class of 2010 just grows and grows. Another player climbing the rankings
quickly is Mundelein's Ben Brust. Like the aforementioned Stewart, I just tend to gravitate to players that can
actually put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis. The 6-2 guard can flat-out score. He can shoot it with
range, off the dribble and is more athletic than people think. He's one of the top 15 players in the sophomore class.
Speaking of talented sophomores, one player I really anticipate making a huge jump between his sophomore and
junior year is New Trier big man Fred Heldring. His role is somewhat limited on a senior-dominated New Trier club,
but in this day where big men are impossible to find, Heldring has a chance to blossom into a high-major prospect
before it's all said and done.
Class 3A State Tournament will be brutal
This coming week's City/Suburban Hoops Report issue put together a Class 3A statewide ranking. After taking a
long, hard look at those rankings it's easy to see why the Class 3A State Tournament this March will have less
drama than any state tournament in state history. As previously mentioned, after Simeon, Marshall and Decatur
Eisenhower there is a considerable drop in team talent. From a ranking team perspective, it was actually difficult to
feel good about putting some of the teams in the top 16 3A poll. Hopefully 3A's "Big Three" will all make it to Peoria
and save the mess that is four classes.
The Super Six
Although this could possibly change before March rolls around, I believe six teams have separated themselves
from the rest of the pack. Simeon, Marshall, H-F, Farragut, Whitney Young and Decatur Eisenhower are six teams
that will likely be fighting it out for the 3A and 4A state titles. I have yet to see unbeaten Edwardsville, so it remains
to be seen how they fit into the mix.
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