By Joe Henricksen

May 2009 Archives

Freshman shines at R-B Shootout

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By Joe Henricksen

The Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout is typically one of the premier high school team events of the year. On the first day of action, Proviso East's Keith Carter really opened some eyes.

When Proviso East was given the No. 14 seed last March in the Morton Sectional, opponents were certainly overlooking the fact the under-.500 Pirates had a blossoming talent in Carter who was just beginning his ascension.

Carter, who has been the No. 3 ranked freshman prospect in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 rankings since watching him nearly put up a triple-double in a regional victory over Lincoln Park this past March, again showed why he is in the same group as Peoria Central's Bobo Drummond and North Chicago's Aaron Simpson when it comes to conversation about the top players in the freshman class.

While his impact was minimal early in the season, including his three games at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, Carter was the catalyst in Proviso East's March surge. He scored 47 points in three regional victories, including upsets over Lincoln Park and Proviso West as the No. 14 seed. His progression was very similar to that of Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams as a freshman, though they are two different level of athletes.

Carter has been impressive with his AAU backcourt running-mate Simpson this spring while playing with Team NLP. Now he's even better, more mature and such a versatile weapon at the point guard position as he showed Saturday at Riverside-Brookfield. He helped lead the Pirates to a 3-0 record, including wins over Jay Parker and Thornton and Alex Rossi and New Trier.

He's like a high school version of Rajon Rondo, a disruptive force on both ends with long arms and playmaking ability. The 6-0 Carter pushes the basketball, has excellent vision and is very cerebral, especially for a player his age and experience. His dribble penetration is very difficult to contain, which ultimately leads to his greatest strength -- setting up teammates for easy baskets. He's capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc.

The best part is the fact it really seems, after spending some time talking with Carter and his father, Keith Carter, Sr., the kid and those surrounding him get it. Carter, who also plays baseball, is an honor roll student throughout his first year at Proviso East. He's sharp, articulate and extremely grounded and humble. His father simply says he wants his son to "stay hungry" as a player.

"My family and my coaches are the ones that do and will keep me level-headed," says Carter, who looks to be the next great one out of the powerful Maywood school. "I have to get better in everything I do, but my main focus is trying to make my teammates better, get them involved."

Carter has heard many of the recruiting stories of other prospects -- good and bad -- but is anxious to really start the process and getting to know coaches and programs. He mentioned three schools that he's always been very fond of as just a basketball fan.

"I have always really liked Illinois, Ohio State and Kansas," says Carter, who will be taking an unofficial visit to Iowa State next week.

Right now he is at the infant stages of the recruiting process. He has heard from the likes of Illinois, Georgetown, Tennessee, Iowa State, Detroit-Mercy and a few others. But after the July evaluation period and a little more attention thrown his way, don't be surprised if Carter heads into his sophomore year on everyone's radar and the No. 1 player in the state in the Class of 2012.

R-B Shootout notes from the first day of action...
• What a day for Riverside-Brookfield standout Sean McGonagill. Despite playing without two of its top players in Ryan Jackson and Billy VanderMerkt, the Bulldogs went 3-0 in pool play. McGonagill scored 34 in a win over Tracy Abrams and Mt. Carmel, 27 in a victory over Thornridge and 18 in a win over South Elgin. McGonagill, a 6-2 point guard, is climbing the Hoops Report's Class of 2010 rankings quickly.
Evanston's sophomore point guard Garrett Jones had a big game against Lincoln-Way East. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, scoring a game-high 36 points.
• The Hoops Report has undervalued Deerfield's Duje Dukan a bit. He just fills and fits into a perfect role at the next level with his size and shooting ability. Dukan scored a game-high 30 in a win over Bloom.
Waukegan played without star Jereme Richmond, who was playing with the Mac Irvin Fire in Milwaukee. The Bulldogs had a rough day going 0-3.
Glenbard East, which went 3-0 with wins over Hillcrest, Waukegan and York, looks to have the makings of a potential Top 25 team in the Chicago area. Lee Skinner, a 6-6 talented 4-man, has solidified himself as a Division II prospect. He's still young for his age, has a great body, length, really runs the floor and has become much more aggressive and athletic.

The next 25 in 2011...

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By Joe Henricksen

The City/Suburban Hoops Report broke down the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2011 in a previous blog. To check out the profiles on those players go to the May 3rd blog. For a quick refresher, here is a recap of the Top 25 (with a few changes made since that May 3rd blog) and then a look at the next 25 in the talented sophomore class.

1. Tracy Abrams, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Mt. Carmel)
2. Wayne Blackshear, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park)
3. Sam Thompson, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young)
4. Mike Shaw, 6-8, PF/WF, Chicago (De La Salle)
5. Dre Henley, 6-6, WF, Chicago (De La Salle)
6. Chasson Randle, 6-2, PG/2G, Rock Island
7. Ryan Boatright, 5-11, PG, Aurora (East)
8. Nnana Egwu, 6-9, C, Chicago (St. Ignatius)
9. George Marshall, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Brooks)
10. James Siakam, 6-6, PF, Carbondale (Brehm Prep)
11. Donivine Stewart, 5-11, PG, Bartonville (Limestone)
12. Jacob Williams, 6-5, WF, Chicago (St. Patrick)
13. Mycheal Henry, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Orr)
14. Phillip Greene, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Fenger)
15. Jay Parker, 5-8, PG, Harvey (Thornton)
16. Hayden Hoerdemann, 6-1, 2G, Bloomington (Central Catholic)
17. Macari Brooks, 6-2, 2G/WF, Richton Park (Rich South)
18. Jamie Crockett, 6-3, WF, Crete-Monee
19. Andrew Jordan, 6-5, WF, Peoria (Notre Dame)
20. Tywon Pinckney, 5-10, PG, Chicago (Simeon)
21. DeShawn Greer, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
22. Devon Hodges, 6-7, PF, Romeoville
23. Julius Brown, 5-8, PG, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest)
24. Keith Gray, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Brooks)
25. D.J. Tolliver, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Farragut)

26. Aaron Armstead, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Hales Franciscan) ... The glimpses he shows are impressive, but he lacks consistency.
27. Will Sullivan, 6-2, 2G, Elmhurst (York) ... Solid, strong off-the-ball player who still needs to improve skill level and gain consistency with his jumper.
28. Max Bielfeldt, 6-7, PF, Peoria (Notre Dame) ... Has the heart and hustle every coach looks for in a player. He earns everything he gets and takes pride in rebounding. His big, thick, wide body is great for banging and for screens. He is not very quick and lacks athleticism to play at a high level.
29. Adonis Filer, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) ... Has the body, strength, quickness and athleticism to play at the highest level. Now his overall skills (shooting, ballhandling) need to catch up.
30. Jordan Nelson, 5-10, PG/2G, Lincoln ... He has a picture-perfect shot and release and can get his shot off with little daylight between he and his defender. Although he's not a physical marvel by any means, he just might be the best shooter in Illinois. Will have to show he can play the point at the next level or get stronger and add weight to play off the ball.
31. Abdul Nader, 6-5, WF, PF, Park Ridge (Maine East) ... Hoops Report loves the upside of this versatile, athletic player whose skill level is getting better and better.
32. Garrett Jones, 5-10, PG, Evanston ... A point guard who is strong with the ball and a little bull in the open court.
33. Derrick Marks, 6-2, 2G, Plainfield (Central) ... A strong, powerful perimeter player. Offensively he excels with his pull-up jumper from mid-range or getting to the basket with his strength.
34. Kyle Anderson, 6-2, 2G, Newark ... A sleeper no one knows anything about but is a mix between a slasher, shooter and scorer. A good athlete who can put the ball in the hole. Level of competition, being tested regularly could hurt him in the long run.
35. David Sobolewski, 6-1, PG, Lisle (Benet Academy) ... A point guard with a solid feel for the game, keeps it simple and who can really shoot the basketball. Will he be able to defend players with great quickness?
36. Johnny Hill, 6-2, 2G/WF, Lombard (Glenbard East) ... Still just a baby but with talent ready to bloom. Here is a name you will be hearing about in the coming 12 months.
37. Roosevelt Jones, 6-3, WF/PF, O'Fallon ... Still a question mark as to just what position he translates to at the next level. But he's tough, physical, rebounds and finishes.
38. Kevin Gray, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Brooks) ... Like his brother needs to gain experience, toughen up, gain weight and add strength. But his length and potential are intriguing.
39. Mike Lang, 6-7, PF, Wilmette (Loyola Academy) ... Has had a terrific spring with the Illinois Wolves, with his touch, skill and versatility for a 4-man opening eyes.
40. Luke Hager, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... Will get an opportunity this winter to showcase his versatility.
41. Jake Junis, 6-3, 2G, Rock Falls ... An absolutely terrific shooter from the perimeter, one of the best in the state, and with deep range. You can't leave him alone. Still must be able to show he can get it done off the dribble.
42. Sondale Connor, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Simeon) ... A terrific athlete who hasn't played a lot in the last six months after sitting out after his transfer to Simeon. Skills are still very raw.
43. Kourtney Darby, 6-4, PF, Chicago (St. Patrick) ... Need to watch him a lot to fully appreciate all that he brings to the table, including rebounding, nose for the ball, toughness and a high motor. The intangibles he has make up for his limitations.
44. Montrell Hallom, 6-5, PF/WF, Chicago (Crane) ... Still learning how to play but is long, athletic, runs the floor and has an upside despite being very raw.
45. Tyrone Staggers, 6-3, WF, Chicago (St. Ignatius) ... Quick, athletic leaper who is still figuring out just what position he will play.
46. Ryan Jackson, 6-0, PG, Riverside-Brookfield ... Productive prospect who isn't flashy but just gets things done.
47. Mark Gilchrese, 5-8, PG, Springfield ... He combines speed, quickness, strength and ballhandling to form a solid point guard prospect. His lack of height and subpar length are a concern.
48. Mike Turner, 6-7, PF, Chicago (University) ... A prospect of intrigue due to his size and skill. But he's still so physicall weak and is a long way from being a factor around the basket.
49. Aaron Johnson, 5-10, PG/2G, Waukegan ... A little overlooked playing with Jereme Richmond and Colin Nickerson last season, but he has big-time scoring ability. Possesses a mid-range game and is fearless in attacking the basket.
50. Jens Kennedy, 6-7, PF, Dwight ... Skilled, face-up 4-man who lacks the ideal athleticism you would like.

Rising Brooks star Marshall gets offer

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By Joe Henricksen

Brooks sophomore star point guard George Marshall, currently the No. 10 ranked player in the Class of 2011 Hoops Report player rankings, made his second unofficial visit to DePaul Wednesday night. At the end of the night, Marshall was offered by coach Jerry Wainwright, according to George Marshall's father, George, Sr.

Marshall enjoyed his visit to DePaul and clearly has the Blue Demons in his sights. According to George, Sr., the DePaul offer was his first "official" scholarship offer since Illinois State offered the 6-0 guard. Marshall, at the very least, is a bonafide mid-major prospect who the Hoops Report believes can play at a higher level. Marshall was on an unofficial visit at Northwestern last weekend, while Marquette and Xavier have been actively recruiting the versatile point guard as well. Those schools, however, have not yet extended an offer.

DePaul, though, certainly has a leg up as Marshall previously knew and had established a relationship with assistant coach Tracy Webster while he was coaching at Kentucky. "There is some familiarity with Tracy," George, Sr. says. "He enjoyed his visit."

While he's a true point guard, Marshall's offensive game is versatile in that he can create off the dribble and has really shown the ability to shoot from the perimeter. He combines those attributes with an impressive feel for the game and court presence. He helped lead Brooks to regional and sectional titles last March before falling to Leo in the Class 3A supersectional.

Egwu's ascension is astonishing

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By Joe Henricksen

It was at the Reebok Headliner Camp at Attack Athletics Center where you can really see it, where you can really appreciate it. It's there where you see the 6-9 Nnanna Egwu participate in good 'ol fashioned drills at various stations throughout the gym. It's there where you can see the insane strides the St. Ignatius sophomore has made in such little time.

Before the games began and the perimeter players took over in the up-and-down scrimmage featuring players who were all unfamiliar with one another, there were two hours of drills. In this setting, where the station drills resemble a little old school Five Star Basketball Camp with Howard Garfinkle, Egwu shows the improved skills he's made as a player and what he can become. More importantly, he shows just how much upside he has and how far he could go.

When the games began, as is usually the case, the big men are lost, very rarely see the ball and become less and less of a factor. But having watched Egwu move from station to station, it's abundantly clear he has so much more room to get better. He wants to get better. And he will get better, especially after he just has more seasoning as a player and game experience. The more he plays, the more he gets up and down in game situations, the better he will become. There are so many young players, standouts the Hoops Report and others rave about as young prospects, who simply plateau at one point in their high school career. That's why Egwu is so intriguing. It's a cliché, but he hasn't even scratched the surface.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report has dedicated plenty of space lately, right here in this blog, on the progress of Egwu. It was a little less than two years ago, June 6, 2007 to be exact, when Egwu finally picked up the game of a basketball. Yes, only two years ago. He was barely a project. When the Hoops Report's next Class of 2011 rankings come out next month, Egwu will be climbing again. That's how much the Hoops Report thinks of the upside Egwu brings to the table. Having not played basketball, he has fewer bad habits to break. Plus, everything in the game is so fresh and new to him. He's like a sponge, taking in anything and everything coaches throw his way, whether it be St. Ignatius coach Rich Kehoe or his AAU coach, Mike Mullins of the Illinois Wolves. He wants to learn, he wants to get better and he sees the progress he is making and, with it, comes added confidence. The Hoops Report can't recall a player who has come this far in such a short time.

No, he's not even close to a finished product. The casual basketball fan and observer may very well leave a gym wondering what the fuss is on a given day. He's still awfully raw on the offensive end, sometimes even ineffective. Yes, he will struggle maintaining his position in the post, getting pushed out. And his footwork is certainly a work in progress. However, for comparison sake, he's definitely ahead as a player and prospect as current Illinois freshman Stan Simpson at the same stage of their careers. Egwu has a developing jump-hook. His 15-foot jumper looks much better, more fluid than it did 12 or even six months ago. When he runs the floor it's almost comical that he's 6-9 and growing with how fast he gets up and down. He has that unique combination of size, mobility and coordination. Defensively he's already a presence in blocking and altering shots with his long arms and timing.

Egwu, who currently sports offers from Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern and DePaul to name a few, will be visiting Illinois on Wednesday on an unofficial visit. With big men at such a premium, Egwu will be a hot commodity as his game evolves and his coachability and love for the game shines through.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

Reebok Headliner Tryout Camp tidbits

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By Joe Henricksen

The Reebok Headliner Camp at Attack Athletics Center offered a different view of some of the top talent in the state. While there were scrimmage games that were played, it was good to see and evaluate the skills and development of different players in the morning hours as they went through various drills in different stations, ranging from ballhandling, spot-up shooting, shooting off the dribble and working in the halfcourt.

Mike Mullins of the Illinois Wolves and his assembled staff did a terrific job of getting the most out of this two-day event. The drill work in the stations were run efficiently with little to no downtime. And from an evaluation perspective, it's always interesting to see players broken down into smaller groups and working on skills they may or may not necessarily have.

It was in those stations where the Hoops Report could once again see the development of St. Ignatius big man Nnanna Egwu. While a big man can be the forgotten man and have little impact in the type of scrimmage setting that took place at this camp, he showcased his mind-boggling skill improvement in the station work. The 6-9 sophomore, who will be unofficially visiting Illinois this Wednesday and has offers from Illinois, DePaul, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue among others, will be making another move up the Hoops Report's Class of 2011 player rankings next month. There will be a future blog on Egwu in coming days.

• Williams coming along
As has been suspected various times in recent months, it does appear the path is being cleared for 6-5 sophomore Jacob Williams to return to St. Patrick next season after sitting out the basketball season while attending Bartlett this past school year. Williams is still rounding into the form the Hoops Report saw of him last summer, brushing off the rust and finding his confidence level after basically having six months off of competitive basketball.

When the Hoops Report watched Williams at the Hall of Fame Showdown in early April he really struggled. He showed glimpses at the Nike Spring Showdown later in the month. There is no question the year off stunted his development for the time being, but he remains one of the top 10 prospects in the class as his AAU program, the Illinois Wolves, have broken him down and are building him back up following the layoff.

Williams says he hears the most and receives the most interest from Ohio State. He also rattled off several schools he says are actively recruiting him, including Wisconsin, Oregon State, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Miami-Florida and, most recently, DePaul.

• Fenger firepower
Watch out for Loren Jackson's Chicago Fenger team this winter. Wow, what a collection of talent he is quietly assembling on Chicago's far South Side. The best of the bunch is sophomore Phillip Greene. He opened the Hoops Report's eyes this spring with his consistent play in AAU ball. He showed flashes of outstanding offensive ability for a 6-1 guard, just a dynamic offensive threat. At the Reebok Headliner Tryout Camp he was, at times, simply dominating, particularly watching him in a 3-on-3 drill during station work and then again in the scrimmages. This kid can score in bunches -- in transition, off the bounce in the halfcourt, getting to the rim, shooting from the perimeter. How in the world Greene was not in the last Hoops Report's top 25 player rankings for the Class of 2011 is foolish. He's still a little wild and erratic, but he's a top 25 talent in the class -- probably a top 15 player.

This was really the first extensive look the Hoops Report had of Fenger junior Walter Lemon. The 6-1 left-handed guard is devastating in getting to the rim and finishing against just about anyone, especially in the open court and typically in spectacular fashion. He's a big-time athlete who must improve his perimeter shot but is one to watch in the Class of 2010. And both Tavares Herron, another highly-athletic perimeter player, and 6-7 Jamari Traylor opened some eyes as well. Traylor looks the part with a great body and good athleticism but still needs to figure it all out on the floor.

• Wolves boast depth with Sullivan
The Illinois Wolves 16s are a loaded group with some big-named players, including Jacob Williams, Nnanna Egwu and Rock Island's Chasson Randle, who were all in action this past weekend. While York's Will Sullivan is not in that category, he certainly is flying under the radar both locally and with college coaches. He's another player getting better by the week as he's improving on his weaknesses.

Sullivan, a 6-2 sophomore, will catch-and-shoot, come off screens, knock down the mid-range jumper and is pretty fundamentally sound. While he still must get better and more comfortable with his overall handle and off the dribble, he's more than just the two or three dribble player he was six months ago. A year from now, the Hoops Report believes, Sullivan's stock will be sky high.

• CVS' Williams brings a lot to the table
After a breakout junior year in which Aaron Williams helped pump life back in the Chicago Vocational basketball program, he is now making strides as an individual player. Again, this setting with the different skill work that took place in the various stations, offered a different glimpse into Williams' game. The 6-5 junior's skills on the perimeter (ballhandling, passing, etc) are much better than people give him credit for, though he still has to become a better shooter and extend his range to be considered a true 3-man. That perimeter shot is what prevents Williams from shedding the dreaded 'tweener label. But the Hoops Report likes his demeanor, the way he plays, how he competes, rebounds and his physical make-up.

•High on Hoopy
While the recruiting for Mounds Meridian's Isiah "Hoopy" Jones, a 6-2 junior point guard, is all over the board, he projects to be a nice fit at the mid-major level. While he shot the ball extremely well at the Chicago Hoops Nike Spring Showdown, he remains streaky from the perimeter. However, he is the big-bodied guard out on the perimeter college coaches covet, capable of defending big guards or getting where he wants to on the floor offensively. He's unselfish, thrives in the open floor and sees the floor pretty well, finding open teammates or simply finding his way to the rack with his strength and athleticism.

•Another name in 2012
Keep an eye on 6-7 Jay Simpson of Champaign Central. The little-talked-about freshman has the body and a decent face-up game for such a young player. Now he just has to utilize that body better, become a more efficient rebounder and presence. He displayed his talent in stretches during the Reebok Headliner Tryout Camp, and the upside is there, but he tends to drift a little. All of this should come in time for the promising Simpson, who is part of the Illinois Wolves program.

• Loaded, big-time event coming
Illinois will be home to one of the premier events in the country this summer as the Chicago Summer Classic, which will be at the Joy of the Game facility in Deerfield July 9-11, is absolutely loaded. Virtually every top AAU program and player in the state of Illinois will be on hand over the three-day event, plus many elite AAU programs from around the Midwest.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now beginning its 15th year of publication, call (630)-408-6709 or email hoopsreport@yahoo.com

These 10 ready to be showcased

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By Joe Henricksen

They won't be recruited by Duke, North Carolina or any Big Ten schools. They won't be cracking any top 100 national rankings. They won't be confused with the likes of Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard or Lenzelle Smith. But the following 10 players, all seniors-to-be, have something in common in the coming months.

Riverside-Brookfield's Sean McGonagill, Lincoln's Ben Brackney, Hales Franciscan's Patrick Miller, Rock Falls' Tevin Rumley, Oak Park's Jeff Dirkin, Foreman's Tommy Woolridge, Kaneland's Dave Dudzinski, Rich East's Kashaune McKinney, Bolingbrook's Antoine Cox and Oswego East's Jay Harris all have their sights set on impressing college coaches once they are given the opportunity and earning those coveted Division I offers. Their names are starting to generate a little buzz with some outstanding spring performances, yet college coaches have seen very little of them due to being under-the-radar and not being able to get out and evaluate in the spring as they have in the past.

Here is a look at 10 players the Hoops Report believes are beginning to put together impressive resumés and have the most to prove and showcase in the coming months.

SEAN McGONAGILL, 6-2, PG, Riverside-Brookfield
• Just call him Mr. Steady. He has been rock solid for the Illinois Kings all spring long. He's run the team nearly flawlessly and shot the heck out of the ball from the perimeter for a team that has enjoyed a lot of spring success. The strong-bodied point guard may not wow you with his athleticism, speed or dimensions, but in the end he's always able to handle whatever is thrown at him. Right now the Hoops Report views McGonagill as a perfect Division II point guard, who must continue to show he can handle quick, athletic perimeter players on both ends of the floor. If he does do just that, McGonagill could solidify himself as a low-Division I point guard.

BEN BRACKNEY, 6-5, 2G/WF, Lincoln
• The 6-5 shooter has been a gem for coach Larry Butler's Illinois Warriors this spring. He's playing with more confidence and gaining experience playing against high-quality, athletic players. While his overall foot speed remains the question mark, he is showing he's more athletic than people have given him credit for. He is a young senior-to-be, so he's not done developing by any means. Brackney is a dead-eye spot-up shooter from beyond the arc who seems to be getting more comfortable putting the ball on the floor, developing a pull-up jumper. He would thrive best in a specific system and style that is geared around his strengths. With his size and shooting ability, Brackney is climbing the Hoops Report's player rankings and is a low-Division I prospect right now who will have the opportunity to prove doubters wrong this summer.

TEVIN RUMLEY, 6-3, 2G, Rock Falls
• As a result of playing both his high school and AAU basketball outside the Chicago area, Rumley may be one of the more overlooked prospects in Illinois. There aren't many high school players with a better mid-range game than Rumley, who makes a living off the 2 to 3 power dribble and mid-range game. He will lull you to sleep a bit off the dribble, but then shows above-average athleticism with a powerful body (he benches 265 pounds) and good body control. Rumley still has to prove he can get things done at a higher level, against better competition.

JEFF DIRKIN, 6-7, PF, Oak Park
• When watching Dirkin at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament last December, you could see the potential starting to come together. Still, he was far away from where he is today and so physically weak. While he still needs to gain considerable strength and weight, Dirkin is blossoming this spring while playing with McGonagill on the Illinois Kings AAU team. He's skilled with an inside/outside game but especially flourishes facing the basket. His lack of bulk does hurt him rebounding and he may lack the foot speed to defend small forwards at a high level, but he's a real offensive threat who seems to just get better and better.

JAY HARRIS, 6-0, PG/2G, Oswego East
• The slender combo guard is a scorer who has a little swagger and bounce to his game. There will always be concerns over whether he will be able to take the pounding at the college level as Harris is rail thin. However, Harris, is a real rhythm scorer with advanced scoring abilities. He can put points on the board in bunches and can be devastating creating his shot off the dribble, shoot with range or beat people off the dribble. Harris, who plays summer ball with Old School, still must become more comfortable with the nuances of the point guard position and may need time to develop those skills, but he is arguably one of the best five shooters in Illinois and a bonafide Division I prospect.

TOMMY WOOLRIDGE, 6-2, 2G/WF, Chicago (Foreman)
• Of all the players on this list, here is the one who either already has Division I offers on the table or has some ready to pop -- and is the highest ranked player at No. 25 on the Hoops Report Class of 2010 rankings. He lives in the shadow of the more hyped Foreman stars -- Mike McCall and Lavonte Dority -- but he's certainly the third Division I prospect on this team. There just aren't a lot of college coaches who have taken notice yet. He's a big-time scorer with the kind of offensive mentality you love. He's still a little raw and his overall floor game needs refinement, but he's blessed with many of the traits you just can't teach.

PATRICK MILLER, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Hales)
• The Hoops Report has been singing the praises of Miller for quite some time. He's developing into the type of point guard that the Hoops Report expected. Now it's time for college coaches to start taking notice of the No. 27 ranked player in the Hoops Report's Class of 2010. Miller has a solid floor game. He is heady and just has a feel for the position, while also being a competitor who will defend and won't back down. He's not a superstar athlete, but he gets where he wants to on the floor and will knock down shots.

DAVE DUDZINSKI, 6-8, PF, Kaneland
• The big kid from the farming community northwest of Aurora has grown leaps and bounds over the last 12-18 months. He's gone from a major project with little production to a legitimate face-up 4-man. You come away so impressed with his coordination, ability to move and run the floor for a player his size. Dudzinski, who plays AAU ball with Velocity, still has to get stronger, demand the ball more and build a better on-the-block game, but he's skilled enough to show his vast upside and get you excited about his potential.

KASHAUNE McKINNEY, 6-3, 2G/WF, Park Forest (Rich East)
• The eyes open when watching McKinney due to his combination of athleticism and his improved ability to knock down shots. McKinney, who played with four seniors at Rich East this past winter, has been impressive this spring with the Illinois Wolverines on the AAU circuit and has risen into the Hoops Report's top 30 prospects in the Class of 2010. He still has to improve his fundamentals and overall feel for the game, but his upside will excite you.

ANTOINE COX, 6-3, WF, Bolingbrook
• A rare, freakish athlete on the wing who absolutely explodes off the floor and already possesses a great body. His explosiveness is off the charts, though his skill level needs some catching up. When he squares up, with his feet set, he can knock down shots, even with range at times. The problem, however, is a lack of consistency both in doing so and with his mechanics. Cox just needs to play more and work on his skill set. He could turn into a big lockdown perimeter defender with his physical and athletic strengths.

DePaul getting after 2011, offer Egwu

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By Joe Henricksen

With many of the top prospects in the Class of 2010 off the board and already committed -- at least in terms of Illinois prep prospects -- the DePaul basketball program is hoping to hit a home run in the star-studded class of 2011. The most recent target is St. Ignatius rising big man Nnanna Egwu, the 6-9 junior who plays for Mike Mullins' Illinois Wolves program. According to Mullins, the Blue Demons offered Egwu Wednesday night while on an unofficial visit.

DePaul's recruiting fortunes took a swing for the better with the hiring of assistant coach Tracy Webster, who brings much-needed credibility and connections to the Blue Demon recruiting circles. Coach Jerry Wainwright and Webster will surely be scouring the Class of 2011 in hopes of beginning the rebuilding process.

Egwu, who also has offers from three Big Ten schools in Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin, would be a huge recruiting coup for DePaul. While still very raw offensively, it's easy to become enamored with his upside after watching him run up and down the floor for a player his size and length. DePaul will surely be active with the likes of the De La Salle duo of Dre Henley and Mike Shaw, Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear and several others.

Rising interest continues for Rising Stars

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By Joe Henricksen

Just recently there was some wonder as to what happened to Notre Dame in regard to the recruitment of a couple of Chicago area prospects in Mundelein's Ben Brust and New Trier's Alex Rossi. After some early interest from coach Mike Brey and his staff, it had been very quiet on the recruiting front for the two north suburban stars in recent weeks.

Put that wonder to rest as the Irish offered Rossi Tuesday night, according to coach Mike Weinstein of the Rising Stars program, and will continue to keep a close eye on Brust this summer. The two players from the Rising Stars program are two of the hottest names in Illinois prep basketball recruiting. And the Hoops Report expects Brust, the No. 5 rated player in the Class of 2010, to add more interest once he shows he's completely healed and better than ever from his injury this past winter.

"Minnesota, Auburn and Missouri have started to get involved with Ben," says Weinstein, "especially Minnesota."

What is interesting is how many of the same schools are recruiting both Brust and Rossi.

"I am hearing more and more from college coaches who are saying they are wanting kids with grades, good, quality kids who can play," says Weinstein.

Notre Dame, California, Stanford, Virginia, Northwestern and a host of others are interested in one or both of the junior guards. There are a couple of schools that would be interested in taking both Brust and Rossi together. Despite both being 2-guards, they are different type of players, with Rossi as the dead-on, spot-up shooter who will extend defenses and Brust a more versatile offensive threat.

How heavily watched is the Rising Stars Gold team going to be this July, with Brust, Rossi, DeKalb big man Jordan Threloff and Champaign Centennial's Rayvonte Rice.

Dragicevich leaves Wolves
In an AAU note of interest, Glenbrook North junior standout Alex Dragicevich has left the Illinois Wolves program. Dragicevich, one of the top 15 players in the Hoops Report's Class of 2010 player rankings, is rumored to be heading to the Chicago Elite team, where Foreman star Lavonte Dority is currently playing.

Some random thoughts ...

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By Joe Henricksen

• A player that continues to perform at a high level and excite many is Foreman star Mike McCall. The 6-0 combo guard, who plays with the Illinois Heat AAU team and who has put together a solid spring, is poised for a big July evaluation period. The City/Suburban Hoops Report caught up with McCall at the Windy City Classic on Saturday. He says the four schools who have shown the most interest in him are Texas A&M, Virginia, Dayton and Xavier. With Texas A&M assistant coach Alvin Williamson as the point man in the recruitment of McCall, the No. 6 player in the Hoops Report's Class of 2010 player rankings says the Aggies recently extended an offer.

• Speaking of Foreman, there should be a number of low-Division I schools scurrying to try and secure Foreman's third wheel -- senior guard Tommy Woolridge. This kid can flat-out score.

• With the Mac Irvin Fire 16s and 17s off this past weekend, De La Salle sophomore star Dre Henley ran with a local team, Full Court Express at the Windy City Classic. The versatile 6-5 wing again showed flashes of why he's the Hoops Report's No. 2 rated player in the Class of 2011. While there is great upside and potential with Henley, he also has provided more results than a lot of the other talented players in the sophomore class.

• The young Mac Irving Fire, however, were in action Saturday. And yes, the Hoops Report has uncharacteristically showered praises on 8th grade prospects recently. But again, it's so hard not to be impressed or ignore the talent and skill level of several of these players, including Simeon-bound Jabari Parker who was in action. There was one prominent AAU coach who noted a significant difference between the current sophomore class (Class of 2011) and the much-ballyhooed class of 2013 that features Parker, Alex Foster, Tommy Hamilton and several other promising players: the lack of raw athleticism in this 8th grade class in comparison to this year's sophomore group. It's a good point. The Class of 2011 is blessed with superior, eye-popping athletes, while this group of 8th graders -- at the same stage in their careers as those players two years older -- aren't as explosive athletically.

• College coaches at all levels will be front and center over the next 15 months watching the Peoria Irish 16-and-under AAU team. Their players may be missing a little of this or a little of that either in their game or physical attributes, but this team has many college college prospects. The headliner, of course, is Bloomington Central Catholic guard Hayden Hoerdemann, a Hoops Report favorite. He just brings it every day he steps on the floor. He's a high-energy guard who has the ability to knock down shots and is improving off the dribble.

• Speaking of knocking down shots, there may not be a better one in the state than Lincoln sophomore Jordan Nelson. The 5-11 combo guard is one of the purest shooters you will find. You simply can't leave him open anywhere with his picture perfect shot and quick release. His shot is J.J. Redick-ish.

• The unheralded but rising post prospect for the Peoria Irish, 6-7 Max Bielfeldt of Peoria Notre Dame, continues to get better and better. He's huge with a tremendous base, frame and strength, especially for his age. He has good hands and has developed some effective moves near the basket while also showing a soft touch. The knock will always be his lack of explosiveness and athleticism as he's purely a below-the-rim player. There are constant questions regarding what level he can play at. He's clearly a low-Division I prospect right now, but if he were to pop a couple of more inches and get to 6-8 or 6-9, look out.

• There are two players that are rising faster than anyone in the City/Suburban Hoops Report's Class of 2010 player rankings -- one who the Hoops Report has singled out for the past year and the other being a player that has just made tremendous strides in the last six months. The Hoops Report has raved about Hales Franciscan's Pat Miller, a terrific 5-11 scoring point guard, and has labeled him as one of the real sleepers in the Class of 2010. And it's time to give Kaneland's Dave Dudzinski his due. The 6-8 junior is an inside/outside threat with the great combination of coordination and height. He moves so well, gets up and down the floor and is gaining confidence. He does lack a great back-to-the-basket game and needs to add significant strength, but his size and mobility are awfully attractive. He's a legitimate Division I recruit.

• A pair of south suburban players continue to stand out this spring. Hillcrest's Eric Gaines, who plays with Orange Crush, continues to get better and better and has a big upside, while Tinley Park's Gerald "Jelly" Dorsey will be a prime Division II target if he doesn't attract low-Division I interest. Gaines has always had the length and athleticism. While he's improved his handle, the 6-3 wing still has a ways to go with his perimeter jumper. But the Hoops Report loves the potential of the No. 26 rated player in the Class of 2010. Dorsey is a jet. He's undersized at 5-7 but constantly puts pressure on opposing defenses and can score in bunches.

• You simply have to watch Richards junior Brandon Snowden enough to fully appreciate all that he brings to the table. Here is a player that is all about production. Every time the Hoops Report watches him he gets things done. He was terrific as a junior for coach John Chappetto at Richards. He may be undersized on the wing at 5-10 or 5-11, he may not be a drop-dead shooter, and he's not a point guard. But he is always around the ball, can defend three different positions, beats people off the dribble in the halfcourt, finishes, is an outstanding rebounder and is freakishly strong and power-packed for his size. Right now he would be an ideal Division II recruit.

• On the recruiting front, Division II Wisconsin-Parkside landed a gem in Homewood-Flossmoor's Jeremy Saffold. The 6-5 wing came on strong for H-F down the stretch and then was fantastic in both the Chicago Hoops Tip-Off Classic and at the Nike Spring Showdown in Merrillville in late April. Look for both Saffold and St. Charles East's 6-7 Kevin Senechalle to be great recruiting steals for coach Luke Reigel at Parkside ... Batavia senior David Bryant, a 6-4 shooting guard, will be headed to Lewis University to join Proviso West standout athletic guard Tremel Owens.

The Windy City Classic will continue Sunday with tournament play at UIC.

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

Another look: Updated Class of 2011 rankings

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By Joe Henricksen

A couple of years ago the Class of 2011 was billed as the "next great class" in Illinois, rivaling the state's best classes and the best we've seen since the Class of 1979 and the Class of 1998. Now these players are halfway through their high school careers with an important summer ahead of them. It's time to re-evaluate.

Yes, it's still a quality class with a potential dozen high-major prospects. At this point, though, it's not in the same class with 1998. While the class is strong and balanced without much separation between the elite players, it lacks the absolute, no-doubt-about-it star power at the top and the overall depth the Class of 1998 featured. This class could have as many as eight or nine players that could crack the top 100 nationally when they are seniors. However, there is not a top 10 national talent in this class, maybe not even a top 25 if the class is strong nationally. There is no Corey Maggette or Quentin Richardson (top 10 talents in 1998) or a Darius Miles, Shaun Livingston, Derrick Rose or even a Jereme Richmond.

Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams has held the Hoops Report's top spot in the class for the last year due to his combination of upside, competitiveness, toughness, athleticism and production thus far as a player. But there is really very little separation between the top five prospects in this class at this point in their young careers. So much will change, however, over the next 12, 15, 18 months.

What this class does have are a number of rare, wow-type athletes, both in the big names (Tracy Abrams, Wayne Blackshear) and the second-tier guys (Macari Brooks, Mycheal Henry, Jamie Crockett). The Hoops Report does see a drop after James Siakam and the top 11 players in the class.

Here is a list of the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2011. The Hoops Report will list the next 25 later in the week.

1. Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park) ... The physical package is impressive, with the big, physical body on the perimeter and the great athleticism. He is strong along the baseline and around the basket, but there is still much work to be done on his skills.
2. Tracy Abrams, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) ... Hoops Report has compared him to UCLA's Darren Collison, a quick, athletic guard with terrific upside. He competes at a high level, will defend from end to end and brings more toughness than any of the other elite prospects in this class. Has the capability with the hand and foot speed to become a lockdown, on-the-ball defender.
3. Sam Thompson, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... The sky is the limit for this extremely long, versatile, athletic wing who will get his chance to shine this winter with Whitney Young. While this notion can sometimes be scary, no player in the class has more untapped potential. He's just a fawn who is still figuring it all out.
4. Chasson Randle, 6-2, PG/2G, Rock Island ... A solid, composed combo-guard who doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well but does a lot of things well. He's average athletically (by high-major standards) but shows the ability to get by his man. Has a mid-range game and is getting to the basket much more consistently. But he must get physically tougher and extend his range and get better and more consistent from beyond the arc.
5. Ryan Boatright, 5-11, PG, Aurora (East) ... Hoops Report loves Boatright. No player in the top 10 in this class has been as productive on a regular basis as Boatright. He's a jet with the ball and has worked on and greatly improved his perimeter shot. He still has to be able to handle bigger, stronger, more physical guards.
6. Mike Shaw, 6-8, PF/WF, Chicago (De La Salle) ... Played well in Merrillville a couple of weeks ago as he tries to embrace what he is as a player and gain more consistency. He will show the flashes of a unique talent -- facing up to the basket and knocking down shots, a good handle for his size, etc. -- but is still searching to become that productive player on a consistent basis.
7. Dre Henley, 6-5, WF, Chicago (De La Salle) ... If he continues to progress at the rate that he has -- and pops a couple of more inches -- look out. A big-bodied, versatile wing capable of playing multiple positions and being an all-around offensive force.
8. Nnanna Egwu, 6-9, C, Chicago (St. Ignatius) ... Fast-rising big man has made tremendous strides in the last 18 months and is improving at a rapid rate. If the next 18 months are anything like the last, Egwu will be moving up quickly. Already a defensive presence, Egwu is still unpolished and very raw offensively. Still, he's bursting with potential, runs the floor exceptionally well and seems to have competitive spirit.
9. George Marshall, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Brooks) ... The kid can flat-out play the point guard position. He just gets it, with a great feel and understands the game and his role. Plus, he's a scorer and very smooth offensive player, capable of scoring from anywhere on the court. He's efficient, unselfish and an underrated passer.
10. James Siakam, 6-6, PF, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) ... He will bang, grab rebounds, a very good athlete, has decent hands and seems to be pretty competitive. Great body. He's an undersized four-man who needs to continue to polish his one-on-one post moves and develop that consistent mid-range jumper.
11. Donivine Stewart, 5-11, PG, Bartonville (Limestone) ... He certainly doesn't wow you, but he does have a presence about him with all that he gets done despite his physical limitations.
12. Jacob Williams, 6-5, WF, Chicago (St. Patrick) ... There is no question sitting out his sophomore year stunted his progress, but he's getting back into form and remains a prospect of intrigue due to his versatility. A long, lanky, smooth athlete with a great deal of upside. Right now it's about production and getting things done at a consistent level.
13. Mycheal Henry, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Orr) ... Another superstar athlete with length, wingspan and upside. He's still very raw and is probably more of an undersized four-man right now than a true wing. He needs to mature as a player. The package is all there; it just needs to be unwrapped.
14. Phillip Greene, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Fenger) ... Opening eyes with his ability to score in a variety of ways. Made a huge jump in the rankings as he heads into the summer.
15. Jay Parker, 5-8, PG, Harvey (Thornton) ... A point guard with the handle and burst to put pressure on the opposition. He has great lateral quickness and foot speed. Still a bit streaky with his jumper.
16. Hayden Hoerdemann, 6-1, 2G, Bloomington (Central Catholic) ... Hard-nosed, high motor guard who can really stroke it from the perimeter. Competes at a high level. Some will be concerned about how much development he has left and a lack of big upside.
17. Macari Brooks, 6-2, 2G/WF, Richton Park (Rich South) ... An absolute jaw-dropping athlete and electrifying dunker with explosiveness and quick hops. Really excels in transition, finishing the break with impressive dunks and around the basket. He's made strides with his perimeter shot as his jumper has looked better this spring. He must work hard on his skill set.
18. Jamie Crockett, 6-3, WF, Crete-Monee ... He may not look the part but he's an athletic specimen, a jump-out-of-the-gym player with a strong frame. He's a sensational finisher around the basket, both in the halfcourt and in transition. His skills need a lot of work, including extending his range and improving his handle on the perimeter.
19. Andrew Jordan, 6-5, WF, Peoria (Notre Dame) ... An elite level athlete whose skills lack considerable polish. He does bring a number of attributes to the table due to his athleticism, body and length.
20. Tywon Pinckney, 5-10, PG, Chicago (Simeon) ... Steady point guard who can get into the lane and make plays. Has developed a mid-range game. A gritty defender who is willing to do just that -- defend. Lacks pure explosiveness and size.
21. DeShawn Greer, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Simeon) ... Solid, all-around wing prospect who does a little of everything but nothing truly special. He will rebound, defend a little, and he's effective around the basket. Lacks great range but his mid-range jump shot is gaining consistency.
22. Devon Hodges, 6-7, PF, Romeoville ... He is a long and agile post player who has a soft touch. He looks like he will grow and add weight, but he's still mechanical and not real smooth. This Wisconsin commit has a ways to go to be a true Big Ten player.
23. Julius Brown, 5-8, PG, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) ... He's a true point guard with the handle and mentality to excel. He's very limited offensively, though, due to his diminutive size and lack of shooting ability. Must work on his mechanics.
24. Kevin Gray, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Brooks) ... Shows excellent flashes and has length and fluidity. Disruptive and active defensively. Runs the floor very well. Consistency should improve with experience.
25. D.J. Tolliver, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Farragut) ... Bigger, athletic guard that defends on and off the ball with his size, athleticism and length. Excellent rebounder for his size. Still needs to fine tune his skills, including ballhandling, but is certainly a rising prospect with upside.

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