By Joe Henricksen
Another day at an event where once again the evaluating principles show how much they've changed. While the Milwaukee Next Level Invitation lacked an abundance of high-major talent, the player with the biggest upside at the event was a freshman-to-be, 6-4 Class of 2013 star Peter Jok of Roosevelt High School in Des Moines (via Sudan in Africa). That's what the City/Suburban Hoops Report took from the two days spent in Milwaukee -- that the best college prospect had yet to play a high school basketball game.
It's very rare the Hoops Report talks much about out-of-state players, but in this case it's hard not to after so much attention has been paid to the terrific Class of 2013 trio of Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton, Simeon's Jabari Parker and De La Salle's Alex Foster out of Chicago. As talented as the trio of Hamilton, Parker and Foster are, Jok is better. And that's saying an awful lot. Of course we're talking about kids just out of 8th grade, so a lot will change over the next four years. It's still difficult sometimes to talk -- and praise -- players this young. But it's the nature of the recruiting business as we have seen over the last few years.
On Tuesday in Milwaukee Jok squared off with one of Chicago's 2013's best -- Alex Foster and a very talented Meanstreets AAU team. Jok, who will play with his older brother on the Des Moines Roosevelt team this winter, was scary good, even guarding Foster for parts of the game. When you consider his age, it's amazing how effortless he is putting the ball in the hole. He has a beautiful release and rotation and already seems automatic from the perimeter. Whether it's from beyond the arc, pull-up game, putting it on the floor and getting by people, using the glass, drawing contact and finishing, he's an absolute force. Then throw in his length, athleticism and beautiful feel for the game, and it's hard to imagine many -- if any -- players his age better at this point.
So both Iowa and Iowa State will guard its borders as best they can, knowing it will be nearly impossible to fend off the heavy hitters that will be coming in to woo Jok. Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard was glued to the Foster-Jok matchup. Make it four offers in the Class of 2013 that Illinois will have extended.
Other Next Level Invitation thoughts
• Here are a few quick observations from the two days spent in Milwaukee...
Mike McCall of Foreman, the No. 5 ranked player in the Hoops Report Class of 2010, was hot and cold in Milwaukee in the three games the Hoops Report caught of his Illinois Heat team. Though he will entertain high-major interest, the ideal fit for McCall remains a mid-major plus school such as the Atlantic 10 or a prized high-level mid-major power. McCall's teammate, 6-1 Tommy Woolridge, has solidified himself as a Division I player.
• Speaking of the Illinois Heat, the younger team received a sterling effort from Curie point guard Asante Smiter. He was tough as nails against a solid All-Iowa Attack team. Smiter is tough as nails and knocked down shot after shot from beyond the arc. Smiter and Leavon Head of Mundelein are playing solid basketball together in the backcourt.
• The Illinois Kings remain one of the Hoops Report's favorite teams to watch with the way they play the game on the AAU circuit. Highlighted by the play of Riverside-Brookfield point guard Sean McGonagill, the Kings play hard, compete, play together and the right way. McGonagill was brilliant on the opening day of play in Milwaukee, showing why he is an ideal Ivy League/Patriot League prospect. He came back to earth a little on Tuesday, but the Hoops Report is convinced he can play somewhere at the Division I level.
What a backcourt Riverside-Brookfield will have this winter with McGonagill and junior Ryan Jackson, who was solid in Milwaukee while playing with Team NLP. People forget Jackson is playing an age level up with the Team NLP 17 team.
• After catching a couple of Iowa Attack games, Donivine Stewart of Limestone remains a solid mid-major prospect. He just knows how to play and overcomes his limitations (lack of size and athleticism) with smarts and an ability to find ways to get things done.
• The Rising Stars Gold 16 team has a few prospects of intrigue in the Class of 2011. Mundelein's Ryan Sawvell continues to open the Hoops Report's eyes and is one of the real overlooked players. He has a great motor, above-average athleticism, some size and length at 6-6 and versatility. Mycheal Henry of Orr just has to put it all together and refine his skills. The body, athleticism and potential are there.
• The Hoops Report has talked a lot recently about Rockford Boylan's Austin Angel, a 6-4 wing who plays with the Rising Stars Gold 15s. But it was his Rising Stars teammate, 6-7 Connor Boehm of New Trier, who has stood out of late. He has a nice skill level, with touch around the basket and the ability to step out, to combine with some power and strength.
• There was some question who Proviso East guard Keith Carter would be playing with as recently as last week. The Hoops Report's No. 1 Class of 2012 prospect made the trip with Team NLP and teamed with Aaron Simpson of North Chicago in the backcourt.