By Joe Henricksen

The forgotten man in Class of 2011

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By Joe Henricksen

With all the superlatives being thrown around regarding the sophomore class in Illinois--and deservedly so--it's easy to forget the one that has actually already made a commitment to college.

East Aurora's Ryan Boatright made big headlines early on with his shocking verbal commitment to USC prior to even setting foot in high school. But he has almost been forgotten with all the talk of Tracy Abrams, Mike Shaw, Wayne Blackshear, Chasson Randle and the rest of the star-studded class of 2011.

While Boatright did get the offer from USC and coach Tim Floyd after playing well in a tournament in California just after graduating 8th grade, there are others who feel he's not even a Division I player after the struggles he went through as a freshman last season. The truth is probably somewhere in between playing at a high-major school and not being a Division I player.

Boatright seems to be settling in for coach Wendell Jeffries and the Tomcats after an up-and-down year as a freshman. The slender point guard has helped East Aurora win six straight, including scoring 32 in a win over St. Charles East. He helped take over the game late in an overtime win over Upstate Eight favorite Neuqua Valley, scoring 22 points with a big three-pointer and hitting 7-of-8 from the line. He has averaged 23 points a game in his last three.

"He's grown leaps and bounds," says Jeffries. "He's scoring but within the team concept. He's growing up."

Boatright admits he's learned a lot since receiving so much hoopla after the commitment. He says his biggest task has been to avoid--or at least ignore--the publicity, both the good and the bad.

"I had to keep my head in the game, keep my head on going out and playing basketball," says Boatright.

And as far as the notion that his stock has fallen?

"I know I was ranked high coming out of the 8th grade and I've fallen or whatever," says Boatright. "I really don't care about that. It doesn't even phase me. I just gotta have my fun."

Boatright has certainly taken positive steps since his debut last year, yet still has his limitations. He's still a bit undersized and needs to get physically stronger. He also has to value the basketball more with it being in his hands as much as it is, avoid turnovers and improve his decision-making. But he has a feel for the game, can get a defender off balance with a crossover or quick first step, and he has improved his perimeter shot. While he does let certain situations get to him and he can become a bit unglued, he is a competitor.

A part of the reason for the drop in his ranking is the fact the Class of 2011 is an absolutely special class. But despite the drop, Boatright remains one of the better guard prospects in the class.

Here is a look at where Boatright and the rest of the sophomore class falls in the most recent Hoops Report Class of 2011 player rankings heading into the holidays.

1. Tracy Abrams, 6-1, PG, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) .... The Illinois commit brings competitiveness, toughness and atheticism to any backcourt.
2. Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, 2G, Chicago (Curie) .... Visions of a young Nick Anderson with his body and athleticism.
3. Mike Shaw, 6-8, WF/PF, Chicago (DeLaSalle) .... Multi-talent who has skills not many players his size have for his age.
4. Sam Thompson, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) .... Still very much blossoming as a player and physically, but he's long and versatile.
5. Chasson Randle, 6-2, PG/2G, Rock Island .... A perfect combo guard and a player that you win with.
6. Dre Henley, 6-5, 2G/WF, Chicago (DeLaSalle) .... Big, strong, skilled and capable of so much on the perimeter.
7. Jacob Williams, 6-5, WF, Bartlett .... How much will sitting out this season hurt his development and progress as a player?
8. Nanna Egwu, 6-9, PF/C, Chicago (St. Ignatius) .... Rapidly rising and getting better by the week. Probably won't be a finished product for several years.
9. Donivine Stewart, 5-11, PG, Bartonville (Limestone) .... Limited by size and lack of athleticism but has an old school style and is full of production.
10. James Siakam, 6-7, PF, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) .... Great body and athleticism but skill level must get better.

The Next 10....
11. Hayden Hoerdemann, 6-2, 2G, Bloomington (Central Catholic)
12. George Marshall, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Brooks)
13. Andrew Jordan, 6-5, WF, Peoria (Woodruff)
14. Jay Parker, 5-9, PG, Harvey (Thornton)
15. Jamie Crockett, 6-3, WF, Crete-Monee
16. Ryan Boatright, 5-10, PG, Aurora (East)
17. Tywon Pinckney, 5-10, PG, Chicago (Simeon)
18. Mychael Henry, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park)
19. DeShawn Greer, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
20. Sondale Connor, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Simeon)

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9 Comments

MR. BOATRIGHT COMES FROM A SPECIAL FAMILY, HIS FAMILY
RUNS AN AAU TRACK CLUB, HE HAS HAD FAMILY MEMBERS WHO
HAVE RUN TRACK AT MAJOR COLLEGES!
IF YOU GO TO AURORA EAST AND LOOK IN THE TROPHY CASE,
THE NAME BOATRIGHT IS WELL REPRESENTED!

I KNOW THIS ABOUT BOATRIGHT BUT IM LOOKING AT YOUR RANKINGS. U HAVE DRE' HENLEY AT #7 IN THE CLASS THATS A JOKE. HE EASILY IS T0P 5 TRULY I FEEL LIKE HE IS #1 AT 6'5 OR 6'6 HE CAN DO IT ALL. MAYBE THESE RANKINGS ARE OLD IM NOT SURE. IF THEY ARE U NEED TO UPDATE THEM DID U SEE DRE' AT THE WINDY CITY CLASSIC ? IF SO U SHOULD NO HE IS TOP 5 IN THE CLASS OF 2011.. BY THE WAY I WAS AT THE GAME AND NORTH CAR0LINA IS VERY VERY INTERESTED IN DRE' HENLEY.I WAS SITTING RIGHT ABOVE ONE OF THERE ASSISTANT COACHES AND OVER HEARD THE COACH TALKING. THATS HOW MUCH HIS STOCK HAS RISEN SINCE THIS PAST SUMMER.

Watcher: I did have him one spot lower than he was supposed to be, though you have to realize: this class is LOADED! There is very little separation between the top five or six players in the class. As Henley gets its done time and time again, yes, I would anticipate his rise in the rankings. But to say he's just No. 6 is really no big deal as many players in this class, depending on the day you see them and how you project them, could be interchangeable. They are all high-major prospects. Thanks for the response! ... Joe Henricksen

I have not seen Boatwright play so I won't comment about him. But Henley should be higher. And where is Garrett Jones of Evanston. He should be on this list, he has improved greatly from his feshman year. And Mike Shaw should be Number 1 in this class hands down.


Tim: You are right on! In retrospect, I did move Henley as I bumped him up one spot, though it's no disrespect to be ranked No. 4, No. 5, No. 6 or No. 7 in this class. It's so loaded. I actually have Garrett Jones No. 22 overall, though you are right he could clearly crack the top 20. When we are talking sophomores it's pretty easy to fluctuate between 5 or 10 spots. I really like Jones. As far as Shaw, that's a personal opinion. There is very little separation between the top three or four prospects in this class. There just are too many times right now where I have watched Shaw and I leave a gym hardly knowing he played. He's young, talented, versatile and a big-time prospect for sure. And as I said, very little separation, especially between Shaw, Blackshear and Abrams. Thanks for the insight! ... Joe Henricksen

How does Sondale Connor rank at #20 and he has not played any basketball this season?

Michael: Because when I watched him in the spring and summer he was one of the 20-25 prospects in the class. Jacob Williams has also not played a minute this year, but he's clearly one of the 10 best players in the class. Thanks for the response.... Joe Henricksen

Hi Joe, yes you are absolutely right, this class is absolutely loaded! If Boatright can continue playing the way he has the last few games; the early hype on him could come to fruition. Yes he does need to get stronger, from what I understand he is considered a young sophomore by age,just turned 15. So hopefully there is still some physical maturity that will take place to strengthen him. Not to go too far off the subject; but is there a better one on one player than Will Brown in the Fox Valley area? He has great instincts for the game! What is your take on East Aurora as a team? Still under the radar?

Troy: Will Brown is an offensive force who just has that natural instinct to put the ball in the hole. He is so difficult to defend one-on-one, as he showed in the Neuqua Valley game when he went for 30-plus. East Aurora thrives on playing the frenetic style. But in order to do that Wendell Jeffries has to have all his players on the same page, at practice every day, buying into what he's preaching and be eligible each game. That has been the issue for the past year or so, but recently it seems they are on track and hopefully it will stay that way. Right now they have put themselves in the driver's seat in the Upstate Eight, although it's early. Will be fun to watch. This could be the year the Tomcats get rival West Aurora. Thanks for the post! ..... Joe Henricksen

Commenting on Will Brown, from what I have seen this year, in person and on TV, from a pure basketball standpoint, Will Brown is as good as any player in the state, at 6'5 he can do it all, I remember last year at the St. Charles Tourney, he completely outplayed Diamond Taylor, wasn't even close, what's your take on him, and why is he never mentioned in your rankings, after all the guy was a 4th Team IBCA all-stater last year, he's definitely one of the top 10 players in the state

THE YOUNG MAN DIAMOND TAYLOR IS SIGNED, SEALED AND
DELIVERED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN!
WHERE DID HE ATTEND BEFORE GOING TO BOLINGBROOK, WHERE
DID ISIAH THOMAS GO TO HIGH SCHOOL, WHERE DID MCCAMEY
GO TO HIGH SCHOOL, WHERE DID EVAN TURNER GO TO HIGH
SCHOOL, YOU GOT IT - ST. JOE'S IN WESTCHESTER!
DON'T WORRY IF WILL BROWN IS ALL OF WHAT YOU SAID, HE
WILL BE RANKED, IS HIS TEAM WINNING, JUST WANTED TO
KNOW?
REMEMBER WILLIAM GATES FROM HOOPDREAMS, YES HE ATTENDED
ST. JOE'S!

This class is sounding like the 1998 class that had Q Richardson, C Magette, B Simmons, L Williams, F Williams, and Wright (Farragut). They also had a couple other players who attended high major Div 1 schools (California, Iowa, Arizona, Xavier).

U of Illinois is off to a good start getting a verbal from Abrams and I hope they can land several more of the top players from this class. F Williams had the most college success, but was likely the 4th best player from this class. Another top player from this list (Simmons, Wright, Richardson, Magettee) may have given the Illini a final four appearance.

I feel that you have forgotten one guard in the class of 2011. Deangelo Thigpen is a guard to watch out for. Although he attends a small school (Al Raby) and plays in the Blue West conference, he clearly stands out as one of the best point guards in the city. He attacks the defender with out regard for their defense with a quick crossover and gets to the basket or if you want an assist not a problem, pull up game automatic. Keep your eye on this kid because he truly is a treat to watch.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on December 21, 2008 4:33 PM.

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