By Joe Henricksen
Larry Butler's Illinois Spot-Lite Fall Showcase at Plainfield Central High School on Sunday drew a solid collection of talent, both young and old. There were some big names on hand, including Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams and East Aurora's Ryan Boatright to name a few, but the City/Suburban Hoops Report will focus on a few of the players who have been overlooked a bit or are up-and-coming prospects.
This is certain: Northern Colorado came into Chicago and stole an absolute warrior in Hyde Park point guard Fabyon Harris. The diminutive Harris is a jet, tough as nails, gets after it defensively, competes as hard as anyone and is so difficult to stay in front of. Harris was once again his solid self at the Spot-Lite Fall Showcase. If he can show the ability to knock down shots on a consistent basis and learn how to balance playing under control while still staying aggressive, then Harris could turn out to be one of the real steals as he's headed to a conference (Big Sky) where he can be an impact player.
Big man gets better and better
Another player in the Class of 2010 that impressed was Seton Academy's Chris Olivier. The 6-7 post has improved over the last 12-18 months as much as any big man in the state. He has gone from a Division II/ marginal Division I player a year and a half ago to a player who can play at the mid-major level in the right fit. Although he still has his limitations athletically, he has become a much more valuable player on the offensive end with developing post moves and a soft touch around the basket. He's competing harder and has become much more assertive. A lot of credit goes to Seton Academy head coach Kenny Stevenson who has put in a lot of time with Olivier.
Olivier just returned Saturday night from a visit to Bowling Green, the school that is now in front to land the Seton big man. Olivier will visit Northern Illinois in the next couple of weeks before making a final decision as NIU, Bowling Green, Fairfield and Prairie View have extended offers.
Prospect of intrigue
Sandburg big man D.J. Bennett remains one of the more intriguing prospects in the senior class. There aren't many players bigger, longer and more athletic than Bennett. The 6-8 big man runs the floor, is ridiculously long, is an eye-popping athlete and has a college body. He's still as raw as can be as he's played very little basketball in his career and the speed of the game can give him fits, but he is the perfect candidate for a program that is willing to take its time with him and teach him how to play. The prep school or juco route may be ideal for Bennett.
Class of 2011 sleepers
While the Hoops Report has touted 6-7 senior Lee Skinner of Glenbard East as one of the truly underrated players in the Class of 2010, the junior duo of point guard Zach Miller and wing Jonny Hill are two more reasons why the Rams will be the preseason favorite in the DuPage Valley. Both played well in the Spot-Lite Fall Showcase, particularly Miller who is the consummate point guard with great vision and who can't be left alone beyond the arc. He's smart, competes and overcomes his lack of size with a terrific basketball I.Q.
Miller's team went 3-0 and boasted a bunch of talented juniors to keep an eye on, including rapidly rising 6-6 Michael Turner of Chicago Lab, 6-7 Josh Piper of Champaign Centennial, 6-2 Kyle Anderson of Newark, 6-5 Jack Ryan of Glenbrook South, 6-7 Devon Hodges of Romeoville and 5-8 point guard Michael Powell of Brooks.
Turner has to develop physically, but he's long and has a nice soft touch around the basket and facing up out to 15-17 feet. He's simply a bundle of untapped potential. While Piper may not fit the mold athletically, he gets a lot done and is very proficient offensively, capable of knocking down a three-pointer or mid-range jumper.
The Hoops Report continues to be impressed with Anderson, the little-known 2-guard from Newark. Labeled a sleeper and one to watch a year ago by the Hoops Report, Anderson continues to be at his best slashing to the basket and finishing at the rim with his above-average athleticism. On this day Anderson showed his improved jumper, knocking down shots from beyond the three-point line. As Anderson's skill level improves -- he needs work on his overall handle and consistency with his jumper -- his stock will continue to climb.
Yet another player in the Class of 2013
The much-heralded Class of 2013 is certain to have more than its share of players impacting the varsity level this winter. And the list of prospects grows by the week. Trey Lewis, a 5-7 point guard from Lincoln-Way North, is another name to watch in the class. Head coach Bob Curran, the former Thornwood coach, may have his first player to build his program in coming years.
A big thanks goes out to Larry Butler for putting together a solid and well run event.
The first issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report is due out in mid-November. For more information or to subscribe call (630)-408-6709 or email firstname.lastname@example.org