By Joe Henricksen
When the City/Suburban Hoops Report's post-July reviews come out, the player that will be making the biggest jump in the Class of 2010 is Deerfield's Duje Dukan. While the Hoops Report has questioned his foot speed and lack of quickness, he simply makes up for his shortcomings in so many other ways.
The highly-skilled Dukan, who is the son of Chicago Bulls Supervisor of European Scouting Ivica Dukan, reminds the Hoops Report of a Toni Kukoc-type. Ironically, Ivica Dukan played 14 years professionally in Europe and even played with Kukoc for one year in Split, Croatia. He began working for the Bulls in 1991 and even helped in Kukoc's transition to America.
The younger Dukan is a versatile 6-8 perimeter player who can shoot, pass and dribble. He has a solid handle for his size and, with his combination of size and length, is able to get shots off when he wants to. He is one of -- if not the best -- shooter in the state of Illinois. He can catch-and-shoot, shoot coming off screens or shoot off the dribble. The classic pick-and-pop player.
The $100,000 question is will he be able to defend more athletic players at a higher level as his lateral quickness and foot speed are issues? He does have trouble defending the post right now and the quick athlete on the perimeter. But you know what? There are players on every college basketball roster right now who can't guard. Every team, typically, has one guy they have to hide on the defensive end. In the right system, Dukan could absolutely flourish. He can play a number of positions on the offensive end (as Kukoc did), anywhere from a point forward to a face-up 4-man if need be. He brings some intelligence to the game, along with a skill package that is tough to match for a player with his size or his age.
Dukan's AAU coach, Steve Pratt of Full Package, is stunned in the lack of higher interest in Dukan. And after recently watching Dukan in both the Chicago Summer Classic and at the Milwaukee Summer Jam, the Hoops Report agrees. Right now George Washington, Miami-Ohio, William & Mary and Wisconsin-Green Bay are pursuing Dukan the most. Those schools -- and others at that level -- should be salivating at the thought of getting a player like Dukan. With a solid showing in Las Vegas next week, look for that interest to pick up. While a higher level school may have to wait for him to develop more strength and mature as a player, Dukan's upside is greater than the majority of the kids in this class.
More from Full Package
And speaking of the Full Package program, there are a couple of others whose upsides are so bright. In the Class of 2011, 6-6 Abdul Nader of Maine East has been talked about in this blog as one of the real sleepers in this class. He's coming quick. The athletic and freakishly long Nader is starting to tap into that potential and get more and more done on the floor. He still has to get more done on a consistent basis, improve his skill level and play with some more energy, but he's now among the top 25 college prospects in the junior class.
Class of 2012 star Charles Harris, a raw 6-4 perimeter player, has a chance to be special. He has a long way to go, but he will have plenty of college programs paying close attention to his progress at Lake Forest Academy with the upside he brings to the table. When it's all said and done in a few years, Harris could be at or near the top of the Class of 2012 rankings.
Tommy Hamilton and NBU
While the young D Rose All-Stars pulled out of the Milwaukee Summer Jam, NBU out of Chicago came in its place and made a strong showing. Tommy "Big Ham" Hamilton, who is headed to Whitney Young, showed again why he's among the top players nationally in the Class of 2013. The 6-7 freshman-to-be is just so skilled for his size and age. Everyone who watches sees the potential, with the ability to use his size, body and soft touch around the basket or stepping out and knocking down the three-pointer with a great release and rotation on his perimeter shot. However, his most underrated attribute is his ability to pass the basketball, especially from the high post. Hamilton looked to be enjoying himself and having fun on the floor and with his teammates, which is exactly what he should be doing. That is especially good to see with all the talk and hype surrounding him in the early part of his career.
In addition to Hamilton, another Whitney Young prospect showed a lot of promise and pure athleticism in Milwaukee. Sophomore Nate Brooks, a 6-4 athlete who looks like he could grow, will certainly be a contributor for the Dolphins down the road and emerge as a college prospect. He is a finisher with that length and athleticism and he can really run the floor.
And while the Hoops Report has raved about Keith Carter of Proviso East and Bobo Drummond of Peoria Central in the Class of 2012, don't shortchange Mt. Carmel's Malcolm Hill-Bey. The 5-9 sophomore ran the point for NBU and may have the best handle of any player in the state. He also is willing to get out and defend fullcourt. The Tracy Abrams and Hill-Bey will form one of the top backcourts in the state next season -- and certainly the best young backcourt.
Singing the Kings praises
Yes, it's become a common theme here in the City/Suburban Hoops Report to sing the praises of the Illinois Kings AAU program. But after another terrific showing in Milwaukee, it's difficult not to. The Kings, led by the tandem of Riverside-Brookfield guard Sean McGonagill and Justin Phipps of Lyons Twp., put together a run at the Summer Jam in Milwaukee. This team is not blessed with the abundance of Division I talent other programs are, but they just keep winning. In Milwaukee, the Kings advanced further than the other high-profile teams in the tournament, beating both Full Package Elite and the Milwaukee Spartans. But on Wednesday, playing its fourth game in 24 hours, the Kings fell to 43 Hoops in the quarterfinals.
McGonagill continues to be closely watched -- probably even over-evaluated by college coaches at this point. The kid just plays, gets things done time after time, no matter who he's up against. Yes, he certainly has his limitations athletically, but there have been a whole lot of other non-productive players that have signed Division I scholarships who didn't have the intangibles McGonagill has. Phipps, meanwhile, is the undersized 4-man who gets after it with physical strength, a high motor and productivity. He's the perfect Division II player.
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