By Joe Henricksen
Adonis is a complex figure of Greek mythology. This fall Adonis Bailey of Richards began as a myth, almost a tale with no proven factual basis. But there is no fiction or half-truth about Bailey's talents.
It's not very often a player makes a name for himself in a high school fall league, but that's exactly what the unheralded Bailey has done throughout the South Suburban Fall League the last couple of months. Although there are a few more well known and bigger names, Bailey has been the eye-opener and arguably the best player in the league. He's averaged over 21 points a game and nearly five assists in seven weeks of fall league play.
The 6-3 Bailey isn't a relative unknown. He's completely unknown. He began high school attending Shepard as a freshman and sophomore. While he did play lower-level basketball there, an injury cut short his sophomore season. He transferred to Richards and sat out his junior year due to eligibility issues. And he didn't play AAU ball in the spring or summer. He's now poised for a breakout year for coach John Chappetto and the Bulldogs this winter after word began to spread this fall of his vast potential and talent.
Maybe it's because he hasn't played varsity basketball, missed out on the AAU scene or simply hasn't played the game much, but what jumps out at you when watching Bailey, aside from his physical abilities, is the high energy and relentlessness he plays with. He's full throttle and would absolutely thrive in an up-tempo, ball-trapping, get-up-and-down full-court style.
Chappetto, who led his program to a state championship in 2008, sees the same from Bailey.
"It appears to me when I watch Adonis play that he is trying to make up for all the lost time in each and every single game he is playing," says Chappetto. "He plays with a desire to be the best player on the floor. As a player he wills himself to run faster, jump higher, and play without fear. He is an incredible athlete who plays the game with an energy I haven't seen before."
While he's still learning exactly how to play defense, he still manages to get his hands on so many balls with his quickness and length. His quick leaping ability and energy translates to being a terrific offensive rebounder, particularly on his own misses, as he's always around the rim.
Offensively his shot is far from pure and his mechanics and release point need a little work, but he is capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter. But he's an absolute force in the open court, on the wing off the dribble and getting to the basket. He's a decent ballhandler who is an excellent finisher as his athleticism allows him to finish at the rim with ease. While still very much a work in progress, he's far from raw and is filled with untapped potential. With a little individual desire, work ethic and two years at a junior college program, Bailey, who has shot up the rankings this fall and is now among the Hoops Report's top 25 prospects in the Class of 2010, can be as good as he wants to be. He's no myth.
Harris comes up big
Oswego East's Jay Harris has been solid in the South Suburban Fall League and was a difference-maker in his team's semifinal win in the league playoffs. At certain times Harris can look effortless on the offensive end and be a real force with his perimeter shooting ability. The 6-0 combo guard was lights out in his team's semifinal win with a game-high 27 points. He also came up big at the end. With his team down by one point, Harris knocked down two game-winning free throws in the closing seconds. Harris, who had an up-and-down summer with Old School on the club traveling circuit, is a solid low-Division I prospect at this point.
South Suburban Fall League Observations
A junior who has opened eyes this fall is Tevin Harris of Providence St. Mel. The 6-4 undersized 4-man possesses great athleticism and a terrific body and frame for a player his age. He has a ways to go in terms of skills and knowing how to play, but he is a physical and athletic specimen... A couple of other juniors who have played well in the South Suburban Fall League are 6-2 Wes Koral of Joliet Catholic and 6-3 Demetrius Mobley of Immaculate Conception. Koral, who put together a nice season a year ago as a sophomore, can really shoot the basketball. While he's not real fluid he does have a nice feel for the game. Mobley is a versatile threat on the wing with some scoring ability.... Evergreen Park's Darius Welch, a 6-1 senior guard with some length, can look impressive and should be one of the better players this winter in the South Suburban Red.... While Argo figures to challenge for the top spot in the South Suburban Red, the trio of Bailey, underappreciated 6-0 senior Brandon Snowden and sophomore shooter Dean Danos keeps Richards as the team to beat until further notice. Snowden, who did just about anything and everything for Richards last season, is a competitor and intangibles guy who has really made strides with his perimeter shot.... Marian Catholic's Dominic Jackson is a talented guard who would be an ideal fit at the Division III level or the junior college route. He has some room to grow as a shooter, but he can slash, get to the basket, has a mid-range game and plays hard.... Marist shooter Kyle Maggio, who hit a huge shot for his team down the stretch in semifinal action, is another nice Division III prospect.... The Hoops Report has been a fan of St. Rita guard Lane Barlow. He brings some strength and size to the point guard position and has improved his ability to knock down shots. He is a player first-year coach Gary DeCesare can lean on this season in Catholic League play.
Finally, a huge tip-of-the-cap goes out to Kevin Devitt, the organizer of the South Suburban Fall League. All fall long Devitt's South Suburban League has made it easy for those in attendance, whether it be college coaches, scouts or fans, to watch and evaluate the players and games in this extremely organized league. It would be wise for other spring and summer leagues and tournaments to take a page out of Devitt's book in terms of running and doing things the right way and the passion he brings to prep hoops.
The first issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, which is now beginning its 15th year of publication, is due out in two weeks. To subscribe or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630)-408-6709.