By Joe Henricksen

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

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11 Comments

I watched Egwu play in the scrimmage games in the afternoon. He passed the ball poorly and had poor shot selection. He may do well in the drills, but he needs to make his teammates better. Otherwise, he will just be double and triple-teamed, as he was in those scrimmage games.

Are there anymore events like this coming up soon?

REMEMBER ANONYMOUS THE YOUNGSTER IS BEING CRITIQUED ON
HIS POTENTIAL IN THE EYES OF THE RECRUITER OR TALENT
EVALUATOR, WHAT YOU SEE AND WHAT THEY SEE, MAY BE TWO
DIFFERENT THINGS, AT ST. IGNATIUS THIS YOUNG MAN IS HIGHLY
THOUGHT OF, I CAN TELL YOU THAT, AND BEFORE HE GOES TO
ANOTHER STATE, EVERY MAJOR COLLEGE IN THE AREA IS GOING
TO GIVE THIS YOUNGSTER THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT!
YOU SEE HIM PLAYING CLUB BALL, NOW YOU HAVE TO SEE HIM
PLAY HIGH SCHOOL BALL!

I was watching #7 a small guard with great handles. This kid just needed some coaching and he would outshine any of the big time guards mention. This kid had strength and basketball IQ and most of all when he spoke to me the kid he had manners. Yes Sir. If this was for all to shine why or the same names coming up. Did the no name really have a chance? I don’t think so this is a waste of parent’s money. If this program works show me where the unknown player gets the ink. I would like to know where the unknown kid that not the biggest kid can get a chance. I’m talking about the 5’8 guards’ etc.

NOW MR. EGWU IS ON HIS WAY TO U OF I FOR AN UNOFFICIAL
VISIT!
CONGRATS AND KEEP UP THE GREAT EFFORT!

Mike Gabriel, 6’7” 220 junior, some say arguably the best Center in Illinois regardless of class, and ranked top 5 Center in Illinois by others, was at the Reebok Tryout camp. He dominated against all other centers and scored 20+ points per game and countless rebounds to go with several blocked shots per game. Mike also got very positive feedback from each coach on the floor on each of the workout stations. Yet, he was not selected. Why? What happened?…How could it be that someone that impressed so many people and played harder than anyone else, yet still does not get selected. Is it politics? Or just plain Favoritism & nepotism?
The selected names may deserve this, but so does Mike Gabriel. He should have been the first name on the list, to recognize his effort, hard work and intensity. It was not to be. Yet, somehow three of the five selected just happen to play on the same AAU team that the camp director also just happen to coach at. Draw your own conclusion here. I have concluded that this was an obvious and plain favoritism. I am sure there were other more deserving kids that were also stepped over. Is this what Reebok really stands for? Is this the reputation that Reebok wants to be associated with?…
This was a really embarrassing display of nepotism that gave the Chicago 2009 Reebok headliner tryout camp & the Rebook brand a black eye.
Terribly disappointing.

Regards,

Fred Gabriel

DEAR MR. GABRIEL
I READ YOUR COMMENTS AND I FEEL YOUR PAIN, I SAW YOUR
SON PLAY AT THE BIG DIPPER TOURNEY!
PLEASE TAKE WHATEVER HAPPENED AT THIS CAMP AS FUEL FOR
THE NEXT CAMP, YOUR SON IS A QUALITY BALLPLAYER, SOMETHING
GREAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN FOR HIM, AND WITH A GREAT PARENT
BY HIS SIDE, HE CAN'T LOSE, AS YOU KNOW MR. GABRIEL, EVEN
THE GREAT MICHAEL JORDAN WAS CUT FROM THE VARSITY AS A
SOPHOMORE IN HIGH SCHOOL, KEEP YOUR CHIN UP AND CONTINUE
TO DO WELL AND YOUR SON WILL GET THE SCHOLARSHIP AND
ACCOLADES HE TRUELY DESERVES!
YOUR SON PLAYS FOR A GREAT HIGH SCHOOL AND THE COACH IS
TOP OF THE LINE, MOST OF HIS PLAYER'S RECEIVE VERY GOOD
SCHOLARSHIPS TO PLAY COLLEGE BALL, KEEP UP THE FIGHT,
AND USE ANY NEGATIVE AS FUEL FOR THE NEXT COMPETITION!
MIKE GABRIEL ONE OF THE TOP BIG MEN IN THE STATE OF
ILLINOIS!

Thank you sir.

You are right. Mike is improving daily and now man handles most centers.

Thanks again for your kind remarks. I just wish that people would be more objective and leave out the politics and favortism.

Best Regards,

Fred.

IAM TRYING TO GET MY NAME OUT THERE IN THE NATION SO I CAN MAKE THE 2011 MCDONALDS ALL AMERICAN TEAM

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on May 17, 2009 2:16 PM.

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Egwu's ascension is astonishing is the next entry in this blog.

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