By Joe Henricksen
The 2008-2009 high school basketball season tipped off this week around the state. The City/Suburban Hoops Report, which begins its 14th season of covering the high school basketball scene in Illinois, takes a look at the top 65 college prospects to check out in a gym this winter.
1. Brandon Paul, 6-3, 2G, Gurnee (Warren) .... The top senior prospect in Illinois due to his upside. Coach Chuck Ramsey has been thoroughly impressed with his maturity, improvement and how prepared he was coming into this season. He remains an explosive athlete who, when his shot is falling, is so difficult to defend with his ability to attack and get to the rim.
2. Chris Colvin, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young) .... What a recruiting steal for Iowa State, tapping into the city for an elite point guard capable of breaking just about anyone down off the dribble.
3. Jack Cooley, 6-8, PF, Glenview (Glenbrook South) .... Is there a better way to describe this kid than "rock solid." Everything about him is "rock solid." He is strong, competes, rebounds, finishes around the basket, does the little things.
4. Darius Smith, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Marshall) .... He competes, gets after it and wins. And his teams usually do, too. Questions still remain with his jumper, but he does too many other things well.
5. Matt Vogrich, 6-3, 2G, Lake Forest .... Don't be surprised if the sweet shooting Vogrich puts up some gaudy numbers and evolves into a Mr. Basketball candidate. The talented guard found the perfect system for his talents in Michigan.
6. Angus Brandt, 6-9, PF, Lake Forest (Academy) .... The top uncommitted prospect in Illinois is highly versatile with size. With step out and knock down a three or take you baseline and dunk on you. He's a high-major talent.
7. Drew Crawford, 6-5, 2G/WF, Naperville (Central) .... It took some time but finally people are realizing just how good this multi-dimensional guard is. He makes people around him better, though he can be too unselfish. Shooting the ball extremely well.
8. Joseph Bertrand, 6-5, PG/2G, Sterling .... Is it his time to put everything together and consistently? His body is getting stronger. He's got the wing span, he's smooth with great vision and is pretty cerebral. But it may take him some time at the next level to reach his full potential.
9. Michael Haynes, 6-6, PG, Chicago (Fenger) .... Tough and undistinguished high school career for the undersized but powerful four-man. Good rebounder and shot blocker for his size, due mostly to his explosive athletic ability.
10. Terry Johnson, 5-11, PG/2G, Chicago (North Lawndale) .... Hoops Report hasn't jumped off his bandwagon as there is still something to be said about a player who puts the ball in the hole, scoring off the dribble, from beyond the arc and with a nice mid-range game.
11. Nik Garcia, 6-5, 2G, Evanston .... Will he be eligible at Evanston in January? He can shoot it with the best of them.
12. D.J. Cooper, 5-9, PG, South Holland (Seton Academy) .... Chose the perfect level in the Mid-American Conference and Ohio U. Has a terrific package of speed and skills.
13. John Taylor, 6-0, 2G, Chicago (North Lawndale) .... Uber-talented for sure and would thrive in some systems with his tremendous one-on-one abilities. But still awfully wild.
14. Jonathan Mills, 6-4, PF, Chicago (North Lawndale) .... If he does indeed land at Corpus-Christi, what a steal for that program. No one rebounds better. An absolute monster around the basket. But he's still an undersized 4-man.
15. Diamond Taylor, 6-3, 2G, Bolingbrook .... Looking to bounce back and quiet some critics after being a consensus top 10 player a year ago to falling out of the top dozen. He still remains a pretty potent scorer but has lacked the consistency.
16. Marcus Jordan, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Whitney Young) .... Maybe no player in Illinois has more varying views than Jordan. Strong, powerful athlete who can get to the basket.
17. David Brown, 6-3, 2G, Rockton-Hononegah .... Stock dropped somewhat after somewhat fizzling down the stretch this past summer. Nonetheless, this is a solid recruit with upside for Western Michigan. He can score in different ways and will get out and defend.
18. Shaun Pratl, 6-8, PF, Oak Lawn (Richards) .... Chris Colvin to Iowa State and Pratl to Eastern Illinois were the two biggest recruiting steals in November. You just don't get a player of his size, athleticism and skill level in the Ohio Valley very often.
19. Zeke Upshaw, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Lab) .... Your classic "upside" prospect. He is just beginning to develop as a player and is far from a finished product. But he's 6-5 with a very good handle and can shoot it.
20. Tony Nixon, 6-4, 2G/WF, South Holland (Seton Academy) .... An important recruit for Northern Illinois. Nixon can flat-out shoot the basketball and, ever so slowly, is rounding into a more complete, versatile player.
21. Cully Payne, 6-1, PG, Schaumburg .... Does a lot of things well but doesn't blow you away in any one area. But will his size and athleticism hold up at Alabama and in the SEC?
22. Dyricus Simms-Edwards, 6-2, PG, Washington .... No player has more to play for and show this winter. Great body and getting a better feel for the game but lacks that blow-by ability you seek in guards.
23. Jordan Prosser, 6-7, PF, Eureka .... Forget the fact he has dropped from a top 10 player in the class as a sophomore to where he is now. He's a mobile big man with some skill at a position that is so difficult to fill.
24. Malcolm Herron, 6-3, 2G, Downers Grove (South) .... There aren't many players who can score like Herron, who will knock down threes and beat you off the dribble. Still needs to compete harder and on a more consistent level.
25. James Kinney, 6-0, PG, Champaign (Centennial) .... Talented point guard who can score and that may get a bit more fanfare if he were playing in the Chicago area. Signed with Ohio.
26. Derek Needham, 5-11, PG, Chicago (DeLaSalle) .... The Fairfield recruit is a power-packed point guard who can break you down with his handle and abuse you with his physical body. Still needs more consistency with his perimeter shot and size comes into play sometimes when finishing around the basket.
27. Jordan Walker, 6-6, PF, South Holland (Seton Academy) .... Verdict is still out as he's played so little basketball the last 12 months. But he runs the floor and is very active with his long body.
28. Kyle Cain, 6-7, WF/PF, Calumet City (T.F. North) .... Long arms, wiry frame, bouncy and gets a lot done around the basket.
29. Jeremy Jones, 6-1, PG/2G, Chicago (Simeon) .... Should blossom as he's become more than just a spot-up perimeter shooter. Best basketball is ahead of him.
30. Brian Conway, 6-3, WF, Chicago Heights (Bloom) .... Hope for the best in regards to his legal situation. Still very unpolished in the skill areas but is a terrific athlete, long and glides down the floor.
31. Seth Evans, 6-1, PG, Seneca .... He won't wow you but the UW-Green Bay recruit is as steady as they come. He can really shoot it and is poised and in control with the ball.
32. Colin Nickerson, 6-3, PG/2G, Waukegan .... There weren't many players that made a bigger jump from this time last year than this combo guard.
33. D'Mitri Riggs, 6-3, PG/2G, Bloomington .... Four years ago he was in everyone's top three or four players in the class. If he can somehow find that next gear and come to play every day, his upside becomes special.
34. Conrad Krutwig, 6-5, WF/PF, Algonquin (Jacobs) .... University of South Dakota gets a quality player in Krutwig, who can face-up, knock down shots and beat you with his hustle and intangibles.
35. Chris Eversley, 6-3, 2G/WF, Chicago (Payton) .... A blossoming all-around player who, like a few others on this list, clearly has his best basketball ahead of him. The Rice recruit has a lot of versatility to his game.
36. Malcolm Griffin, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Hyde Park) .... When he's in shape and motivated he has the ability to be a big-time offensive weapon.
37. Cortney Bell, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Lincoln Park) .... Make or break for Bell. How hungry is he? Has the dreaded 'tweener label but big-time upside with his body and athleticism. If he was a high energy, great motor guy he could survive as an undersized four-man.
38. Eriq Harris, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Marshall) .... Still waiting for it all to come together for this athletic combo forward.
39. Stanford Brown, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young) .... The Lamar recruit has made progress. He lacks the lift off the floor coaches covet but has been productive.
40. Troy Snyder, 6-5, WF, Bolingbrook .... Combines the ability to get things done around the basket and stepping out on the perimeter. He's the second player in the top 40 to sign with Wisconsin-Green Bay.
41. Markus Yarbrough, 6-7, C, Zion-Benton .... Signed with Tennessee State. He's a solid low-post scoring option with a nice feel with his back to the basket. He can score on the block. Limited athletically and must harden the body and stay in shape.
42. Anthony Dixon, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Hyde Park) .... Came out of nowhere this past offseason and landed at San Jose State. He's wiry and glides to the basket.
43. David Smith, 6-2, PG/2G, Lake Forest (Academy) .... Signed with Drake. Great body, strength, body control and absorbs contact well for a player his size. Talented combo guard who the Hoops Report has always like.... but the Missouri Valley?
44. Daron Guyton, 6-4, WF, Maywood (Proviso East) .... Good body, athletic and has a really good looking stroke. But does he know how to play?
45. David Bryant, 6-4, 2G/WF, Batavia .... A glue guy who does what is asked and helps teams win. A good shooter with size but can be a little inconsistent. Lack of foot speed is the concern.
46. Brock Von Nordeck, 6-7, PF, Decatur (Eisenhower) .... A big man who has a little streak in him and is capable of knocking down the three.
47. Lawrence Thomas, 5-7, PG, Springfield (Southeast) .... A little waterbug who puts pressure on opponents on both ends of the floor. He's pesky with quick hands defensively and is a true point guard with the ability to knock down shots.
48. Kendrick Morse, 5-7, PG, Richton Park (Rich South) .... Size is a definite issue. He can really handle it and flies around the court. He would flourish in an up-tempo system.
49. Troynell Adams, 6-5, PF, Chicago (Farragut) .... A big-time athlete who is bit undersized. To his credit he has improved his jumper from 15-feet and in.
50. Nick Washburn, 6-8, PF, Mahomet-Seymour .... Upside comes with his terrific frame and body. Still refining his skill level and will get better and better at Hillsdale.
51. Luke Scarlata, 6-7, PF, Berwyn-Cicero (Morton) .... Quality big man who uses both hands around the basket as well as anyone in Illinois. Lacks the athleticism but has a solid skill level.
52. Mike Black, 5-11, PG, Oak Park (Fenwick) .... A player who knows what he is--a true point guard, with a good first step and ability to get into the lane and to the basket. Heading to North Florida.
53. Matt Sullivan, 6-4, WF, Wilmette (Loyola Academy) ... Old, crafty veteran type that just knows how to score. Should have a terrific career at Brown.
54. Nate Rogers, 6-0, PG/2G, Westchester (St. Joseph) .... Underrated combo guard with good strength and athleticism. He can get to the basket, draw contact and finish.
55. Delino Dear, 6-8, PF, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) .... The perfect project. A still developing big man who has a long way to go to compete physically. He's long, pretty active and really runs the floor.
56. Brandon Pullman, 6-6, WF, Rock Island .... Passes the look test and will open your eyes with his length, athleticism and ability to sit out on the perimeter and knock down shots. But inconsistency and lack of intensity has plagued him.
57. Ronald Steward, 5-9, PG, Zion-Benton .... Limited due to his size, but he's tough as nails, competes, leads and is a winner. Raises his level of play in big games and in big moments.
58. James Pointer, 5-10, PG, Chicago (Leo) .... Difficult to stay in front of and thrives in open court and in transition. He can put points on the board in a hurry. But shot selection and decision-making are question marks.
59. Danhi Wilson, 6-3, WF, Park Ridge (Maine East) .... A lot of people missing the boat on this raw-around-the-edges prospect who just gets things done.
60. Tyler Ponticelli, 6-7, PF, Northbrook (Glenbrook North) .... A perfect Ivy Leaguer (headed to Brown), with a combination of some size and skill.
61. Brandon Orange, 6-3, WF, Chicago (Simeon) .... Is this the year he breaks out and showcases his abilities beyond his athleticism? The opportunity will be there for him.
62. Tremel Owens, 6-1, 2G, Hillside (Proviso West) .... Another player looking to blossom after sitting out. Good feel for scoring. He can still get out of control and a little turnover prone when he is pressured.
63. Jelani Johnson, 6-4, WF, Aurora (Waubonsie Valley) .... Still developing his abilties to play away from the basket, but he's crafty and long.
64. Paris Gulley, 6-0, PG, Peoria (Manual) .... Good open floor speed and difficult to defend. At times will force the issue too much.
65. Tim Traversa, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (St. Patrick) .... Powerfully built combo guard who utilizes his strengths well.
Five Sleepers in the Class of 2009
CALEB LONG, 6-0, PG/2G, Mt. Zion
KEVIN SENECHALLE, 6-7, PF, St. Charles (East)
JORDAN HARKS, 6-5, PF, Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South)
BRANDON KUNZ, 6-7, PF, Lake Zurich
CORBIN THOMAS, 6-5, PF, South Holland (Seton Academy)
For more information or how to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 14th year of publication, call or email the Hoops Report at (630)-408-6709 or email@example.com