By Joe Henricksen

Shhhh.... Dare we say 2011 overhyped?

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By Joe Henricksen

OK, the headline is a bit misleading. The City/Suburban Hoops Report is not going to make the statement the talented Class of 2011 in Illinois is overhyped, though it may be a bit by the national analysts. But the comparisons to past great classes in Illinois need to be held in check -- at least for the time being.

The Hoops Report has repeatedly said that this year's sophomore class in Illinois is the most talent-laden group since the Class of 1998. That remains true. This sophomore class does have the best collection of top college prospects since then.

But if you recall, the top of that class featured Corey Maggette of Fenwick, Quentin Richardson of Whitney Young and Frank Williams of Peoria Manual. All three left before their senior year of college as all three were NBA first-round draft picks. The class also included Simeon's Bobby Simmons, now a NBA veteran, Farragut's Michael Wright, a college star at Arizona, Maine West's Kevin Frey (Xavier) and Lucas Johnson (Illinois), Whitney Young's Dennis Gates (Cal) and Cordell Henry (Marquette), Julian's Lance Williams (DePaul), Galesburg's Joey Range and Rockford Boylan's Damir Krupalija (Illinois). In addition there are many more terrific, under-the-radar players in that class that starred in college, like Naperville North's Henry Domercant, one of the nation's leading scorers while at Eastern Illinois, and Julian's Waitari Marsh (Tulane), to name two of the many others in that class.

But looking back at that class, the top players like Maggette, Richardson and Williams were doing things we have yet to see on a regular basis from this year's group of talented sophomores. The young stars in Illinois today are not what the young stars of 10 years ago were. They just aren't at that level. But that's OK. Those were special young talents. Those guys we're talking about at the top of 1998 are pros.

Right now a lot of these top players in the Class of 2011 are battling inconsistency, which is to be expected from sophomores. However, there is one prospect in 2011 who is generally considered one of the top 10 prospects in the nation. I watch and say, "Huh? How can that be?" That player does not do the things on the floor, physically, mentally or from a production standpoint, you expect from a top 10 national talent. Yes, there is plenty of potential but to be among the nation's best, the very elite, at some point there has to be some production to go along with that high ceiling. Did anyone see Corey Maggette as a sophomore? That's what a top 10 talent is as a sophomore. Derrick Rose as a sophomore? You left the gym and just knew it.

There is a whole other aspect today that just 10 years ago was not as prevalent. In just the last 10 years the exposure, attention and expectations on young players now is so much greater than even a decade ago. You are kidding yourself if you don't think that has an impact on development with some individual players. Even evaluations -- from analysts, college coaches and especially fans -- can become so jaded when it pertains to the really young prospects. We hear and see so much of these players now and we see them committing to high-major Division I schools so early, that we come to expect so much of them. We forget how young and underdeveloped, both physically and mentally, they are. We forget how much more they will improve in the next year or two.

This is a talented group of players. Right now there could be as many as a dozen high-major players in the class. That right there -- 12 high-major players -- is an impressive number for this early in the game. And of all of those top prospects, the Hoops Report gives Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams and Curie's Wayne Blackshear the slight edge over the rest, simply because of their combination of toughness and pure physical talent and abilities. While the Class of 2011 isn't quite there yet, it will be fun watching these prospects try to get there.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 14th year of publication, contact the Hoops Report at (630)-408-6709 or email at hoopsreport@yahoo.com

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4 Comments

Mr. hendrickson,

Considering you left one of the 'big three' of the class off the list, I think anyone who follows Illinois basketball can determine who you are talking negatively about.

You leave him off your list because he is not 'producing'; he does not have the 'stats'. Could that be because he does all the dirty work that is not kept as a 'stat'? Could that be because, unlike other players and systems, this sophomore is surrounded by good players and he wants the TEAM to win, not just himself?

Phil K .... Possible, if we are talking about the same player. But a top 10 player nationally? Thanks for the post and comment .... Joe H

Possible???

Is the Class of 2011 over-hyped? Absolutely, if by hype we mean print and electronic media outlets blathering over and over again that this is the best class in years.

Of course, two years ago those same print and electronic media outlets were blathering the "fact" that the class of 2009 was "lousy". A suggestion that most have backed away from by now.

I strongly suggest that you avoid talking this class for a good long while, long enough for these kids to at least finish their sophomore year of high school.

AWR .... I will definitely admit you are right in that the Class of 2009 is much better than I thought it would be two years ago. That's why forecasting young players, which college coaches now HAVE to do because of the trend in recruiting, can be very hit and miss.

Instead, you can run articles talking about how many good high school basketball teams are out there this season and how easy it is to get out on a Friday or Saturday night and see an excellent game of basketball.

This really is a special season. All courtesy of the formerly "lousy" class of 2009.

I kind of agree with what you are saying about a certain player. I'm not a talent evaluator but I would expect a top of the class player to dominate a couple games, especially for a front court player. You make some interesting comparison of the two classes.

This year Was one of the most Hectic Years of searching for the next big thing in middle school basketball BUT there was 1 kid that stood out to me. His name is Devanchey Bell and He attends Holy Family Lutheran School. The reason this kid stands out to me because of his overall Game. He's about 5'11 and he has a 6'2 wing spand. He can get it done on both ends of the floor. His moves are as fast as lightning and can light up a score board in bunches. For the 2013 prospects I think he should be in the top five but because he's Underrated he's not looked as one of the elite in his class and not even a Prospect. Devanchey is like a cornerback on the floor he can read plays and can calculate were the ball is going to be and pick It . Last year in 7th grade he averaged over 20 points a game and 7 assist as a point guard. His ablity to attack with killer instincts shows me that he will be one of the best of his class. He's the most humblest kid I can think of at this level. His sportsmanship is excellent and he can take over the game at anytime. I asked him at his game yesterday "What school do want to attend next, year And he told me " Gordan tech. " I looked oddly and said " why that school" he told me " shay boyle their head varsity coach is taking over this GT team and I believe I can be apart of the rebulding of a team. This draws me to my final Conclusion this kid is ready for the next level. I believe with the proper preperation over the summer and knowing there offense This kid is ready for varsity. (Gordan this was a steal and You should make the most of It.) Scouts Check Out Devanchey Bell.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 7, 2009 10:09 PM.

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