By Joe Henricksen

January 2010 Archives

Unsung Harris lighting it up

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By Joe Henricksen

Playing in the far western suburbs in the Southwest Prairie Conference can have its disadvantages. Just ask Oswego East's Jay Harris.

So while the Chicago media praises the exploits of the Jereme Richmonds and Wayne Blackshears of the prep basketball world and the local media in the far western suburbs gets hung up on East Aurora's Ryan Boatright and Neuqua Valley's Dwayne Evans, all Harris has done is light up the scoreboard and evolved into the high school version of Monta Ellis.

There was the 32 points he scored on Boatright and East Aurora in an 83-78 win and the 35 spot he put on Peoria Central in December. He hung 47 on Plainfield North and 36 more against Willowbrook in the last couple of weeks. And this past Friday night he was 10-of-11 from the field (often against a box-and-one defense) for 27 points in a huge conference win over rival Oswego, which vaulted his Wolves to 15-4 overall and into a tie for first place in the Southwest Prairie. For a kid who had to have people call him Jay because everyone was spelling his given name -- Jordon -- incorrectly all the time in the papers and internet, he's doing just fine now in making a name for himself. The problem is few people have gotten out to watch Harris.

Harris, a 6-1 combo guard, has been one of the most electrifying scorers in the state after averaging just under 18 points a game as a junior. The senior guard is averaging 28 points a game while attracting more and more interest from college programs. While schools like Ball State and Valparaiso may have a leg up on Harris due to being in on him hard and early and extending offers, the word has spread and the interest has skyrocketed. Wichita State, New Mexico State and Creighton have shown interest, while several others have and will be steadily climbing into the picture with sudden interest.

"Those five schools have definitely shown the most interest," says Harris of the aforementioned Division I schools, "with Ball State and Valpo being right there at the top."

Harris, though, still says he's figuring it all out and is just glad the doors have been opened. Those doors have swung open wide as the smooth, slender scoring guard is one of -- if not the -- top uncommitted prospect in the state, along with Julian guard Walter Lemon and the Hyde Park duo of Phillip Jackson and Fabyon Harris.

Harris just seems a whole lot more comfortable, at ease and dominating with his high school team than he did during the AAU season. The interest from colleges following the summer was mild and the November signing period passed, but there was no panic for Harris. And that has carried over into the season. He's not forcing things -- remember, he took just 11 shots against Oswego and just one attempt the entire first quarter -- while still getting his points in the end.

"I've calmed down and I've let the game come to me," says Harris of a change in his game. "Plus, playing in front of crowds like this [against Oswego] is a lot different than playing AAU where no one is watching. This feels really good right now. The notoriety I am starting to get is great. This is my senior year and I want it to be special, and right now we're winning and with this win we're tied for first."

Things are certainly coming together for Harris, who also has improved his academic standing in the classroom. The Hoops Report has projected Harris as a really nice fit at the mid-major level, a no-brainer when it comes to playing in a league like the Mid-American Conference or Horizon League, where he could really flourish.

Harris, who is among the top 20 prospects in the senior class, is at his best by putting the ball in the hole with a quick and consistent jumper, particularly off the dribble, that doesn't need much space to get it off. He is one of the best shooters in the state, regardless of class. Whether he's shooting from 20-23 feet or his developed mid-range, pull-up game, his shot and release are soft. Opposing teams are completely focusing on him defensively -- rotating different players at him, playing gimmick defenses -- so he's under pressure most of the time and still finds a way to hit shots virtually every game. With his perimeter shot and creativity off the dribble, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense with his offensive abilities. Although he lacks natural body strength and will always be on the thin side, he still will need to find a way to pack on some strength.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

No. 1 college team in to see Jabari Parker

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By Joe Henricksen

Just a day after falling to South Carolina on ESPN, the nation's top-ranked college basketball team in the country was in Chicago watching Simeon freshman sensation Jabari Parker. Kentucky assistant coach Rod Strickland, the former DePaul and NBA star, took in the Simeon-Julian game Wednesday night.

Although Kentucky has not officially offered Parker, look for the Wildcats to join the growing list of big-time suitors who have already offered the 6-5 freshman. Illinois, Northwestern, Florida, Kansas, DePaul, Washington, BYU and Oregon State are a few of the college programs that have offered the young star. Strickland, who has been recently mentioned as a possible candidate for the DePaul job this offseason, watched Parker score a team-high 15 points while once again showcasing his all-around skill package. DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett was also in to watch the Simeon-Julian matchup.

Parker remains one of the true future jewels in Illinois high school basketball. Whether it's Parker or Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton -- go ahead and put them 1a and 1b in the Class of 2013 rankings -- you're talking about two players who have lived up to unrealistic expectations placed on them as freshmen.

In watching Parker several times this season, you just come away so impressed with not only his skill level, but how he carries himself. He remains grounded, has such a desire to win and wants to make those around him better. In time, as he gains age, maturity and respect, he's going to be a big-time leader and a player others will want to follow.

There is so much to like for a player so young. The Hoops Report has compared his style and game to that of Paul Pierce, a skilled, highly versatile player on the wing with a tremendous feel for the game and feathery release and touch. His shot is pure from beyond the arc, smooth from mid-range, and he displays a bag of tricks offensively typically not seen from a player his age. Again, for an inexperienced player, Parker already has a knack for creating, seeing the floor and finding others. He's big-bodied and with his off-the-charts basketball sense understands how to use his body in shielding the ball and drawing contact.

Parker may not be what you would call a freak of an athlete, but he's above-average by high-major standards. Plus, he's not one to go out and one-up or show-up an opponent with a dunk or high-flying athletic move. He uses his athleticism when he needs to. When you combine that above-average athleticism with the skill level and the fact he's a student of the game who studies past greats, he's only going to get better -- scary better.

As far as recruiting, the stakes will be high. However, the recruitment won't be a wild sideshow as we've seen with other big-named Chicago players. Jabari and his father, Sonny Parker, have a plan and have said they are in no rush to end things, with the trusted circle of the recruitment including only Jabari, his mother, his father and Simeon coach Rob Smith. They want to help showcase and highlight other players Jabari will be playing with, both with his high school team and on the summer AAU circuit.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, call (630)-408-6709 or email hoopsreport@yahoo.com

Q & A time for teams at Young Shootout

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By Joe Henricksen

With February right around the corner there are many teams throughout the city and suburbs still searching, still figuring out just who and what they are. This Saturday at the Whitney Young Shootout, a few of these teams will have a chance to answer some questions prior to the stretch run of the season.
 
Von Steuben vs. Brooks at 11:30 a.m.
Question: Is Brooks ready to turn the corner?
While Brooks did get off to a slow start, people forget this team--while experienced--is still young with the nucleus being juniors. The Eagles appear to be putting things together at the right time, but a win over a ranked Von Steuben team would be just another stepping stone and confidence builder for Chris Head's club. Head has yet to turn this team into his typical defensive machine, but you just get the sense it's almost there.

Question: Can Von Steuben lock up a No. 1 seed in the sectional?
No one ever seems to take this particular Von Steuben team seriously, but coach Vince Carter's club is still in position to possibly secure a top seed in the Niles West Sectional. Von Steuben, which still feels the sting from a close loss to Foreman that decided the Red-North, owns a win over Glenbrook North. Von and GBN figure to be the 1-2 seeds at Niles West. Nonetheless, a win over Brooks would be a sectional resumé builder for Von Steuben at the right time of the season.
 
Lincoln Park vs. Niles Notre Dame at 1:30 p.m.
Question: Can Notre Dame get over the hump?
Niles Notre Dame has played a very tough schedule and been competitive, yet the Dons are looking for a signature win that can instill the confidence needed to be a factor in March. Notre Dame has some difference-making talent in senior Shawn Wallace and rising 6-4 junior Quinton Chievous that can surely make things interesting in the postseason, but getting on a role between now and the regional opener is imperative. That could start this weekend.

Question: Can Lincoln Park play the role of spoiler?
No one will pick Lincoln Park to win a regional in the loaded Proviso East Sectional a month from now, but the Lions have shown enough resolve and competitiveness to possibly pull off a surprise. But much like Notre Dame, Lincoln Park could use a marquee win and put together a string of wins. Big man Mike Gabriel and guards Dimarco Nash and Greg Tucker give the Lions the potential to put a scare into a higher-seeded team.
 
Seton Academy vs. Curie at 3:30 p.m.
Question: Is Seton a Class 2A threat despite a rough regular season?
Seton coach Ken Stevenson has preached to his team, even with the losses this season, that they will be primed and ready for a tournament run in March. After all, the defending 2A state champs have played a Class 3A and 4A schedule in preparation for the Class 2A tournament. This will be yet another good measuring stick for Seton as it gets out of the Catholic League for a day.

Question: Will Curie be able to lock up a top four sectional seed?
In no particular order, Whitney Young, Foreman and De La Salle presumably have the top three seeds locked up in the Proviso East Sectional. It will be big to secure the No. 4 seed to avoid having to play any of the top three in a regional final. Curie has played well since dropping two at Pontiac in late December and has played the type of schedule that could vault them into the No. 4 seed. The Condors handed talented Glenbard East its only loss of the season and has also beaten Bogan, Hyde Park and East Aurora.
 
St. Ignatius vs. North Lawndale at 5:30 p.m.
Question: Is Lawndale good enough to return to Peoria?
After Jon Mills, John Taylor, Terry Johnson, Zilijan Jones, Donte Dangerfield and Miles Mayfield, who combined to average 59 points last season in leading the Phoenix to a third-place finish in Class 3A, all graduated, most thought a return to Peoria this season was slim. Not so fast. Coach Lewis Thorpe's team has been more than a surprise; they've evolved into a 3A contender.

Question: Does Ignatius have the guard play to be better than a .500 team?
For the last several years no one has wanted to play St. Ignatius in March due to its combination of talent, coaching and style of play. That hasn't changed, but the guard play has not been consistent enough. At some point the Wolfpack, led by the junior tandem of 6-10 Nnanna Egwu and 6-4 Tyrone Staggers, will need to get solid play from its backcourt and take a big step forward if it plans to be a legit threat come state tournament time. Maybe this date with North Lawndale is the perfect remedy.
 
Whitney Young vs. St. Joseph at 7:30 p.m.
Question: Is St. Joe's good or REALLY good?
Little does anyone realize St. Joseph has lost just once since Thanksgiving -- to Whitney Young. The Chargers are in the midst of a rugged road swing, which included wins in Milwaukee and at St. Patrick last week, with four straight road dates--at Notre Dame, Whitney Young, St. Viator and Batavia--on the horizon. If Gene Pingatore's team still has just one loss since Thanksgiving 10 days from now, we'll have our answer to the question.

Question: What do we make of the Whitney Young loss to Crane?
Whitney Young showed us last year it's not about the regular season. Coach Tyrone Slaughter is not afraid to beef up the schedule, make his team better and be as prepared as possible for March. So don't look too much into the loss to Crane. This is still the most talented team on paper in the state of Illinois, but some of the key parts are inexperienced and maturing as players. This will be a rematch from the Proviso West Holiday Tournament quarterfinals, where Young won 58-51.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

How prep basketball is supposed to be

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By Joe Henricksen

These were regular-season games? In January? Wow.

When you see as many games and are in as many gyms as the Hoops Report is in all winter, it's easy to appreciate a night like Friday night. The Simeon-Bogan battle was an intense scrap in front of a big, energetic crowd that included a big comeback and overtime finish, while the Lyons Township-Oak Park clash was what high school basketball is supposed to be all about.

In this day of the apathetic prep sports fan and the "I'm-too-cool-teen" to attend a Friday night basketball game, which leads to many dead and empty gyms in January and February, last night was a revelation, a step back in time in LaGrange.

Coach Tom Sloan's Lyons Township basketball team is riding a wave of momentum that comes with 15 consecutive wins to start the season. But what transpired Friday night at LT was straight out of Cameron Indoor Stadium with a feel of IHSA's March Madness in the air. The atmosphere was nothing you would expect for a regular-season game, even if it was for the West Suburban Silver lead.

The stage was set early on. You begin to get the feeling something special is in the air when you're forced to park 12 blocks from the school and the line to get into the gym is 50 deep a half hour before the tip. The Lyons Township gym, one of the best in the Chicago area, was filled with just under 4,000 fans, including upwards of 800-plus students. The "Blackout" featured all the fans dressed in black and waving black towels as 1,500 towels were given to the students and fans.

The game lived up to the electric atmosphere the crowd provided. Lyons Twp. knocked off Oak Park in a down-to-the-wire 57-52 win. And LT ended it in style, with a Dan Lalonde breakaway dunk at the buzzer that sealed the win and sent the crowd into a frenzy as the students stormed the floor. Again, both the setting and atmosphere were unique and special, especially in this day and age.

The Lions, who will host a sectional this March that will include Simeon, Morgan Park and Mount Carmel among others, has chemistry, karma and some nice ingredients. First, Sloan can do some coaching. Second, the senior group, led by Lalonde, point guard Jimmy Stamas, Justin Phipps and shooter Austin Looson, has put their personal agendas aside and welcomed a talented junior group. That skilled junior group is what puts the Lions at another level. The trio of 6-2 Nick Zeisloft, 6-5 Nick Burt and 6-3 Spencer Mahoney have all come up big at different times this season (the three combined for 28 points and 16 rebounds Friday night), while 6-4 Eric Powers is another junior rounding back into form after missing seven weeks with an injury.

Bogan continues to impress
Chalk up another impressive win for Bogan this season, which now includes victories over Rock Island, West Aurora, Morgan Park, Vocational and now Simeon. The Bengals, who overcame a 13-point 4th quarter deficit to beat Simeon in overtime Friday night, improved to 18-6 overall and remain in the hunt in the state's toughest conference -- the Chicago Public League's Red-South. Coach Arthur Goodwin's club has a toughness about them that starts with senior Rico Richardson and the active Darius Gholston.

Richardson, who has had plenty of superlatives thrown his way, sets the tone. The Hoops Report doesn't project the 5-9 point guard to be the type of college prospect many others have him projected to be, but he's one heck of a high school lead guard. The Kansas transplant is calm, leads, is under control and obviously finds ways to help his team win, but he's limited when projecting him out as a college player. When the updated Class of 2010 player rankings come out Richardson will be in the 20-25 range.

But the best player on the floor was a freshman. Simeon's Jabari Parker is so special and a pleasure to watch. He will make freshmen mistakes with a turnover or missing a defensive assignment that will subside with more experience, but the 6-5 do-it-all was brilliant in the first half of play when Simeon opened up a double-digit lead. Parker showcased his feathery touch and total skill package throughout the first two quarters when he scored 14 of his game-high 16 points. Unfortunately we didn't see a lot of Parker in the second half or down the stretch as he was on the bench. And those that question if Parker is a superior enough athlete? His baseline dunk that put fans in a tizzy, in which he switched hands and dunked lefthanded, would quiet that nitpicky group.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

The Decade of Illinois Prep Basketball

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By Joe Henricksen

Four-class basketball. Preps to the pros. Simeon's back-to-back titles. Schaumburg upsets Thornwood. Gordie Kerkman and West Aurora win first state title. Shaun Livingston. Hales forfeits state title. Derrick Rose. Michael Jordan's son. Seneca wins 64 straight. Jon Scheyer's 21 points in 75 seconds. Banks, Bailey and Westinghouse. Gene Pingatore and Steve Goers passing Van Scyoc.

These were a few of the coaches, players, teams and storylines that made this past decade of high school basketball memorable.

This week's issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report broke down the entire decade of high school basketball in Illinois, looking back at a decade of prep basketball starting with the 1999-2000 season and ending last year. Along with the issue and a breakdown of the decade, differences of opinion and spirited debate followed. The stories ranged from Decade Player of the Year to Program of the Decade to Decade's Top Stories and Storylines to a dozen other topics of intrigue. In addition, the Hoops Report broke down the top 75 winningest programs of the decade (among large schools in Illinois). Here is just a quick snapshot and sampling of the issue and a look back at the decade, including the top 10 winningest programs of the decade.

Player of the Decade
Simeon's Derrick Rose
The choice wasn't as easy you think, with Rose getting the edge over Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer. Rose, though, was a two-time state champion, made the decade's biggest shot (game-winning basket to give Simeon the 2006 state title) and became a city and state icon.

All-Decade Team
Derrick Rose, Simeon
• Arguably one of the top five high school players the state has ever produced.
Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central
• As skilled of a point guard as we've seen. A two-time state champ and McDonald's All-American.
Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North
• Won a state title, reached Peoria three times and one of only five players to score 3,000 career points.
Dwyane Wade, Richards
• Hoops Report Player of the Year in 2000 and maybe best remembered for scoring 95 points in two games in one day at a tournament at St. Xavier.
Eddy Curry, Thornwood
• People forget how dominating he was as a prep player. Capped off career by scoring 28 points in McDonald's All-American game.

All-Decade Second-Team
Darius Miles, East St. Louis Sr.
Dee Brown, Proviso East
Shannon Brown, Proviso East
Pierre Pierce, Westmont
Sherron Collins, Crane

Program of the Decade
Simeon
The Wolverines won the most games in the decade and reached Peoria four times, winning two state titles and finishing second once.

Decade's Winningest Programs
1. Simeon .........................................(251-65)
2. Zion-Benton ................................. (250-63)
3. West Aurora ................................. (246-53)
4. Hillcrest ........................................ (245-48)
5. Lincoln ......................................... (242-78)
6. Rockford Boylan .......................... (238-66)
7. Rock Falls .................................... (235-71)
8. Curie ............................................ (233-68)
9. Neuqua Valley ............................. (226-74)
10. North Lawndale ..........................(224-60) *
Homewood-Flossmoor ...............(224-69)
Leo .............................................(224-76)
(* North Lawndale has one less season due to not starting its program until the 2000-2001 season.)

Decade Flashforward
It appears as though Whitney Young is here to stay as a power for the foreseeable future. The Young basketball program just has too many positive variables going forward for the Dolphins not to be among one of the consistent, dominating programs of this next decade.

And from an individual standpoint, we're off to quite a start with the freshmen trio of Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton, Simeon's Jabari Parker and De La Salle's Alex Foster in a very talented Class of 2013. And the next big thing in Illinois prep hoops? How about Jahlil Okafor, a 6-7 powerfully built 8th grader (yes, that's the Class of 2014 if you're counting) in the northwest suburbs? You will very likely find Okafor playing in the Chicago Public League next season as one of the elite freshmen players in the country. Throw in Springfield's hotshot 8th grade guard Larry Austin in the mix and we have a starting five of Austin, Okafor, Hamilton, Foster and Parker going forward.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

Wisconsin nabs Marshall

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By Joe Henricksen

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and assistant coach Howard Moore continue to hit Illinois hard. The Badgers locked up George Marshall of Brooks on Tuesday.

The 6-0 point guard, who is among the top dozen prospects in the Class of 2011, is a heady player with a high basketball I.Q. and always seems to have the game under control. Marshall is a versatile offensive player, with a nice pull-up, mid-range game and also capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc. He's at his best, however, creating and distributing for others with his playmaking skills.

Marshall established a connection with the coaching staff and thought playing and going to school in Madison was the perfect fit.

"I developed a great relationship with coach [Howard] Moore and really think I can reach my full potential playing for coach Ryan," said Marshall, a classy kid with no baggage. "Wisconsin had the right balance of basketball and academics. It felt right and didn't think there was any need to wait."

Wisconsin, who signed Deerfield's Duje Dukan last fall and already has Bolingbrook big man Devon Hodges committed in the Class of 2011, will graduate two guards who play major minutes -- Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon -- this year. Current sophomore guard Jordan Taylor will be a senior and Class of 2010 recruit Josh Gasser, a 6-4 point guard, will be a sophomore when Marshall arrives on campus in the fall of 2011.

Our former prep stars as an All-American trio?

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By Joe Henricksen

After Ohio State's Evan Turner put on a show in a marquee win over Purdue this week (32 points), the versatile 6-7 talent put his name right back in the discussion as an All-American candidate after missing six games. And when you include Sherron Collins of Kansas and Jon Scheyer of Duke in that same discussion, you're now talking three potential college basketball first-team All-Americans who starred right here in Illinois as prep stars.

How special would that be? When was the last time three players from one metropolitan area were all first-team All-Americans together? But that's where we could see Scheyer, a Glenbrook North product, Collins of Crane and St. Joseph's Turner when the postseason awards come out at the end of this season.

Now lets put this into perspective. Since the heyday of Illinois products being represented on college All-American teams, which was the late 1970s and early 1980s, the state has had a total of three -- count them, three! -- AP first-team All-Americans that were products of Illinois: Dwyane Wade (Richards) in 2003, A.J. Guyton (Peoria Central) in 2000 and Hersey Hawkins (Westinghouse) in 1998. And in that time there were a total of three second-team AP All-Americans (Dee Brown in 2005 and 2006; Luther Head in 2005; Ken Norman in 1987).

The state of Illinois had quite a run of AP college All-Americans in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with Rickey Green (first-team 1977), Dave Corzine (second-team 1978), Ronnie Lester (second-team 1979), Mark Aguirre (first-team 1980 and 1981), Isiah Thomas (first-team 1981) and Terry Cummings (first-team 1982). But in the last 27 seasons since 1982? Just three first-team AP All-Americans (Wade, Guyton and Hawkins) and only three second-team selections (Norm, Brown and Head).

We digress back to the current state of college basketball. We're talking a real possibility of three Illinois products (maybe four if you count Kansas State's Jacob Pullen of Proviso East) landing on the first and second AP All-American teams.

You figure Kentucky freshman sensation John Wall has one of the five spots locked up, with Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, Syracuse's Wesley Johnson and Texas' Damion James, along with the aforementioned Illinois trio, all in contention for the final four spots. Turner's injury certainly hindered his chances, but with a big second half of the season those six games he missed will be easily forgotten. In numerous midseason All-American teams by media outlets, I have seen both Scheyer and Collins placed on different first-teams. It's not too far fetched to believe all three could be on that first team together. Heck, Proviso East product Jacob Pullen, who is putting together an outstanding season for a likely NCAA Tournament team in Kansas State, is pushing for third or second-team All-American status.

Turner, who played both his high school ball at St. Joe's and his AAU ball for Mike Mullins and the Illinois Wolves with Illinois' Demetri McCamey, is averaging a double-double at nearly 19 points and just over 10 rebounds a game. He's also putting up 5.6 assists, 1.5 steals and over 1 block shot a game. Maybe most impressive is he's shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. Those are All-American numbers.

Scheyer has been nearly flawless in keeping Duke among the top 10 teams in the country. His move to point guard has been instrumental in Duke's success. The 6-5 senior has an almost eye-popping 5-1 assist to turnover ratio (98 assists and only 20 turnovers on the season), which is tops in the nation, along with averaging just under 20 points a game. In a recent seven game stretch the former Illinois Mr. Basketball winner averaged 25 points and nearly 8 assists a game.

Then there is Collins, who unfortunately always seemed to be playing in the shadows of Simeon's Derrick Rose and Scheyer during his high school days as the two of them were playing in Peoria and winning state championships. Now Collins has a national title at Kansas and is the leader of a team many believe could win another. Collins might not have the numbers of Turner or Scheyer -- though he's averaged 26 points over his last three games -- but his presence on the floor for the Jayhawks is immeasurable while averaging 16 points and 4.3 assists a game.

A big reason the three are in the All-American discussion is they are veteran college players. Scheyer and Collins are four-year players and Turner is in his third season in Columbus. With the continued cycle of early defections from college to the pros, players with talent and experience like the Illinois trio possess is often a rare commodity. These three have been rewarded and Illinois high school basketball fans are enjoying turning the television on and seeing three of America's best players right from their backyard.

Blackshear remains on top of 2011

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By Joe Henricksen

Typically, the junior season of high school is when you see many players blossom, step up and pull away from their peers as the development of others plateaus. Already in the last six months we've seen Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear emerge from the pack a bit in terms of being the premier college prospect in the Class of 2011. And in December the Hoops Report watched unsung Mycheal Henry of Orr develop into the player the Hoops Report thought he could become.

There have been plenty of players who have jumped the player rankings while others have dropped. That will continue between now and when they sign with colleges next November. We are still talking about high school kids, teenagers who are still in the process of developing, both physically, mentally and with their skills. Here is another look at the Class of 2011 in regard to where they project as college prospects at the midway point of their junior season.

1. Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park) ... Has raised his game to another level with more consistency and production. His body is college ready with strength and athleticism, while his perimeter jumper is very much improved. There is certainly some fine tuning necessary, including improving a face-up game that lacks creativity, but he's an enormous talent who is a national type of recruit for Louisville.
2. Sam Thompson, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... Of all the top prospects in the class he may be the furthest from reaching his ceiling -- partly due to being a late developer and partly due to having such a high ceiling. Long, agile, effortless athlete with versatility; think a young Stacey Augmon. As he matures and becomes a consistent offensive threat, look out.
3. Mycheal Henry, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Orr) ... Has the body, athleticism and is a player in the class that has made positive and considerable strides. He's in the mold right now, though, of getting things done around the basket or falling in love with his much-improved three-point shot. Still needs to put it on the deck better, create for himself and get to the basket more but was an absolute standout over the holidays. For player comparison sake: Rudy Gay-like. His recruiting will soon pick up steam. He has as much potential and upside as anyone in the class.
4. Tracy Abrams, 6-1, PG, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) ... Many don't appreciate all that he brings to the table, including toughness, maturity and presence. His explosiveness at the guard spot is coveted, though he's been hobbled all year with a bum ankle. A scorer who is evolving into a point guard and distributor.
5. Chasson Randle, 6-2, PG/2G, Rock Island ... Calm, cool, collected combo guard who has matured and grown as a player and with his versatility. Players love playing with him as he's unselfish and team-first type. Won't wow you in any one area, but he's awfully good in a lot of different areas and is probably best off the ball.
6. Ryan Boatright, 5-11, PG, Aurora (East) ... An extremely quick, explosive player with a cockiness and confidence necessary to play at a high level. He's blessed with a big-time scoring burst and just has a natural feel for the game that constantly puts pressure on opponents. Lacks ideal weight and strength but is so difficult to defend and stay in front of. If he can stay composed, play within himself and control his emotions, the sky is the limit.
7. Nnanna Egwu, 6-10, C, Chicago (St. Ignatius) ... A rough go of it in the high school season with teams focusing on him and not having the type of guard play needed to be able to fully utilize him. Still very much a work in progress, particularly offensively. But just gets better and better with his face-up jumper and jump-hook.
8. Mike Shaw, 6-8, PF, Chicago (De La Salle) ... Maybe the most scrutinized player in the class. Great body, runs the floor well for his size and solid character kid. He will stick his nose in it on the boards but is still looking to make that next jump as a player. Could be former Missouri player DeMarre Carroll-type player at the next level.
9. James Siakam, 6-6, PF, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) ... Out for the season with a six fractures in his face. He may lack the size, the polish and a go-to move, but this undersized 4-man plays bigger than his size with long arms and eye-popping hops. Love the thought of him adding 15-20 pounds to an already solid frame. Plays with passion and is comfortable banging, hustling and utilizing his strength and athleticism.
10. Bruce Baron, 6-2, PG/2G, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) ... Stock is rising for this power-packed combo guard who is still streaky with his shot but who takes contact and uses body well. He's tough and has an edge. Good strength that allows him to get where he needs to. Is he a natural distributor and playmaker?
11. George Marshall, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Brooks) ... Will knock down shots. Has good vision and feel. Solid basketball I.Q. who understands the game. He does lack ideal size and is not a top-level athlete, but he is simply a rock solid player. For comparison sake, Marshall has some Eric Maynor in him if anyone remembers the former VCU point guard.
12. Abdel Nader, 6-6, WF/PF, Skokie (Niles North) ... Ridiculously long athletic combo forward who is still in the process of figuring it all out. Runs the floor well, active and is becoming more productive (24 and 31 points in pair of holiday tournament games) but still too inconsistent and needs to establish an on-court presence.
13. Dre Henley, 6-6, WF, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) ... An extremely skilled and versatile wing with a nice physical package. He can do a little of everything -- pass a little, handle it and knock down a shot -- but what does he hang his hat on? A bit heavy legged which limits his first step, his overall athleticism and lateral quickness defensively.
14. Phillip Greene, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Julian) ... Yes, he can be a little wild and erratic offensively, but he's extremely quick off the dribble, plays at full throttle and can put points on the board in bunches with a three, getting to the basket or mid-range game. Slight frame gives defenders the advantage of bodying him and taking away his driving lanes.
15. Macari Brooks, 6-1, 2G/WF, Richton Park (Rich South) ... Will play with some heart, enthusiasm and will win you a dunk contest. An off-the-charts athlete who is evolving into a basketball player, but he still has to make considerable strides in the skills areas.
16. Jacob Williams, 6-5, WF, Chicago (St. Patrick) ... Impressive physical tools, with a combination of size, length and athleticism. Talent is there but skill package needs to be polished up. Smooth player but sometimes too smooth.
17. Donivine Stewart, 5-10, PG, Bartonville (Limestone) ... Classic gym rat who, despite a lack of elite athleticism and quickness, finds ways to draw contact and get to the line where he knocks down free throws. He may not be a natural point guard as he's certainly more of a scorer than a distributor.
18. Julius Brown, 5-8, PG, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) ... A competitor at a key position who is exceptional at getting into the lane or pulling up with a very effective pull-up, mid-range jumper. Creative and a distributor. Due to his size he will have a tougher time attacking the rim at the next level.
19. Luke Hager, 6-7, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... Role has been limited on loaded Whitney Young team, but his ceiling and upside is very high. A long, bouncy, versatile and promising talent who still has to prove he has the killer instinct and edge to play at a high level.
20. Andrew Jordan, 6-5, WF, Peoria (Manual) ... Still trying to expand his game and become more of a true perimeter player, which he will have to be at his size. Has the length, athleticism to be a big-time perimeter defender if he wants to be, but the skill level needs improvement.
21. Roosevelt Jones, 6-3, WF, O'Fallon ... High energy, constant motor allows him to put up numbers. He can be a force on the glass, especially for a player his size. He's not real comfortable yet on the perimeter, but he's improving and starting to knock down shots.
22. Quentin Chievous, 6-4, WF, Niles (Notre Dame) ... Stock is soaring for this long, active wing with great bloodlines (father starred at Missouri and played in the NBA). His game is tailor-made to be a scorer as he matures both physically and mentally as a player.
23. Johnny Hill, 6-3, 2G/WF, Lombard (Glenbard East) ... Blossoming player who has more upside than anyone on a talented Glenbard East team. Thrives in the open floor and gliding to the basket. Release point is low and a little slow on his jumper but shoots it very effectively. Needs to add weight and strength.
24. Jay Parker, 5-8, PG, Harvey (Thornton) ... Very quick and shifty with the ball, good ballhandler who has point guard abilities. Still can go through some hot/cold streaks offensively and must overcome his lack of size.
25. Jamie Crockett, 6-4, WF, Crete-Monee ... A physical marvel who is very developed for his age and blessed with big-time athleticism but still a bit of a 'tweener. A solid finisher around the basket who must improve his outside game.
26. Derrick Marks, 6-2, 2G, Plainfield (Central) ... Has a bit of an old school game with different dimensions, including a very developed mid-range game and a body that can take some contact. Although he may not have elite explosiveness, finds ways to separate from defender. Committed to Albany.
27. Ryan Sawvell, 6-7, PF, Mundelein ... Mobile, active, pretty bouncy player who runs the floor and plays with some passion and desire, especially on the boards where he rebounds well out of his space. Capable of knocking down a three-pointer or finishing on an alley-oop. True back-to-the-basket moves a work in progress.
28. DeShawn Delaney, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Carver) ... Maybe not knowing exactly what he is is his forté. He's not this, he's not that ... but he's just a player who puts up 20 and 10 every game (he averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks in the Kankakee Tournament). In a game the Hoops Report took in earlier this year against Julian, Delaney, a monster on the glass and around the rim, was the impact player on the floor.
29. Adonis Filer, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) ... MVP of the Pekin Holiday Tournament has a combination of power and quickness. Shows flashes of lock down, on-the-ball defense with his strength. He's made strides with his jumper but must become more consistent with it and tighten up his ballhandling as ball protection can be an issue.
30. Aaron Armstead, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Hales Franciscan) ... Still developing as a player but love his skill package. He can handle it on the perimeter and has a very nice looking stroke with range. Will still vanish and coast from time to time during a game and battles some inconsistency.
31. Will Sullivan, 6-2, 2G, Elmhurst (York) ... Has worked hard to become a better, more consistent and fundamental player. He does a lot of things well, including a solid mid-range game. Remains an inconsistent finisher and shooter from three and may not possess the smoothness you would like from a perimeter player, but nonetheless has made strides in all these areas.
32. Jamari Traylor, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Julian) ... Jumped out with his performance in December, including a solid effort in CPS Holiday Tournament. Sculpted body for a junior with supreme athleticism. A big-time body who is raw but active. Will continue to climb the charts with development.
33. David Sobolewski, 6-0, PG, Lisle (Benet Academy) ... Quickness and athleticism does not stand out, but has very good court vision and passing ability. He will knock down shots while also making the right play and pass, including big shots and plays.
34. Keith Gray, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Brooks) ... For his height he has an intriguing package of mobility and leaping ability. He can really run the floor and is up and around the rim more as he's becoming more active. Still a little light, raw and unpolished.
35. Mike Turner, 6-7, PF, Chicago (University) ... A combo forward who possesses a soft touch with a wingspan and ability to run the floor. Needs to get physically stronger. His face-up game and outside shot are good but needs more consistency.
36. Kyle Anderson, 6-2, 2G, Newark ... Hoops Report sleeper has opened eyes with his body, athleticism and ability to finish around the rim. His range extends to the three-point line, but he's best at getting to the basket. He must tighten up his handle and become stronger with the ball, raise his level against top-level competition and avoid lackadaisical tendencies.
37. Max Bielfeldt, 6-7, PF, Peoria (Notre Dame) ... Brute strength and a base as solid as a rock are his calling cards. Though he is limited athletically he eats up space, uses his body and sets a big screen. Fundamentally sound player who understands rebounding, sealing his man and getting rebounds in his area despite being a below-the-rim.
38. Devon Hodges, 6-7, PF, Bolingbrook ... Wisconsin commit is an on-the-block player who can establish a base and position. He's finishing better, though he has limitations and is still a work in progress development wise. How high is his ceiling?
39. Hayden Hoerdemann, 6-1, 2G, Bloomington (Central Catholic) ... Plays hard with a motor that doesn't stop and will knock down shots (scored 38 in holiday tournament final with six three-pointers). Knows how to play. A little undersized and lacks the athleticism you desire for a true 2-guard at the next level.
40. Josh Piper, 6-8, PF, Champaign (Centennial) ... May not pass the immediate eye test and lacks athleticism, but he is a skilled big man with a nice frame. The face-up 4-man can shoot it and is pretty fundamentally sound.
41. Garrett Jones, 5-10, 2G, Evanston ... A small, bullish 2-guard who can put points on the board in a variety of ways, though he's not a true point guard or distributor.
42. Jordan Nelson, 5-11, PG, Lincoln ... One of the purest shooters in Illinois with range and quick release; scored 31 and 29 in the final two games at Collinsville Tournament. Plays point guard for his high school team and is showing he can distribute while remaining a scoring lead guard. He has some quickness but athleticism and strength could be an issue for him.
43. Dominique Walls, 6-4, PF, Chicago (Hales Franciscan) ... Dunks everything. A walking pogo-stick who brings momentum-changing plays to the floor with the ability to block shots, follow-up dunks, steals. Biggest question right now is what position will he be able to play at the next level?
44. Darien Walker, 6-2, 2G, Chicago Simeon) ... Brings some toughness and strength on both ends of the floor and an improved jumper. On a team loaded with top prospects, he's the unsung player.
45. Zach Miller, 5-9, PG, Lombard (Glenbard East) ... A heady, smart true point guard who, if you watch him enough, will appreciate his passing, shooting and decision-making. He lacks the size and ideal athleticism you want in the position, but he makes plays and wins games.
46. Aqui Shareef, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Hyde Park) ... Just a baby in terms of learning the game and how to play. Another prospect sorting out just who he is in terms of a position, but he's effective around the basket and trying to get more comfortable facing up.
47. Kevin Gray, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Brooks) ... Still coming into his own as a player as big men are slower to develop. But like his brother, Keith, an agile, run up and down the floor big man who is active. Still needs refinement offensively and weight and strength.
48. Kourtney Darby, 6-4, PF, Chicago (St. Patrick) ... Brings his lunch bucket to work and gets stuff done; hard-nosed competitor who rebounds, defends and does some dirty work while improving his skill level. Still has to shed the 'tweener label but has time to do so.
49. Ryan Jackson, 6-2, PG, Riverside-Brookfield ... Point guard with some size, strength and nice feel for the game but plays off the ball for his high school team quite a bit with Sean McGonagill in control. Unselfish player capable of scoring in a variety of ways.
50. D.J. Tolliver, 6-3, WF, Chicago (Farragut) ... Talented and mature player with a nice frame for a perimeter player. When he plays aggressively he's a factor both defensively and around the rim, getting to the basket and finishing. Still needs to improve his perimeter shot and overall consistency.

Player toughness immeasurable and undervalued

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By Joe Henricksen

Maybe college coaches are learning their lesson. A year after many coaches said De La Salle's Derek Needham couldn't do this or couldn't do that, they are warming up quite nicely to Hyde Park's Fabyon Harris, the Hoops Report's breakout senior who previously was vastly overlooked but whose recruiting stock has shot through the roof. Now he's a hot player with a hot name and game. The same can be said for Hales Franciscan's Pat Miller, the talented but often overlooked Tennessee State recruit who is finally getting his due.

But first, we digress back to Needham. There were a few (but far too few) college coaches who loved Needham. However, throughout Needham's prep career many college coaches, particularly those at the mid-major level, stated during the evaluation process all different types of quirks they had with the 5-10 guard. I heard from them he couldn't shoot it well enough. I heard from them he wasn't a true playmaker. I heard from them he was too small. I heard he was ... well, you get the point.

In some regard he may have been many of those things, but he still did all of them just enough. And then there were his qualities, which was a burst off the bounce and his physical strength that allowed him to get into the lane and where he wanted to on the floor. But there was an ingredient that wasn't measured and is often difficult to quantify from the outside: toughness. Needham was blessed with both physical and mental toughness, something so needed when players try to make that adjustment to the college game and college coaching.

Fairfield coach Ed Cooley raves about Needham, who is in the midst of putting together a terrific freshman season. Siena and Niagara were all the talk in the MAAC, a league that has been on the rise and is starting to get the notoriety. But with the quick emergence of Needham, Fairfield (10-3) will be in the hunt as well. Needham is playing 34 minutes a game and averaging 16 points, 5.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and over 2 steals a game.

Which brings us back to players like Miller, the MVP of the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament, and Harris, the diminutive point guard for Hyde Park. Harris has made the same impression on the Hoops Report as Needham did -- and maybe more. While the Hoops Report had Needham ranked No. 19 and ahead of several of the bigger-named players in the Class of 2009 (two of which have already left and transferred from the schools they originally signed with), Harris has also climbed into the Hoops Report's top 20 in his class. Little, tiny guards are a dime a dozen and typically I get scared off by them, probably because there are so many that don't make it at the next level. And Harris is certainly smaller than even Needham, both in height and weight. But the toughness intangible in Harris, who has maybe more mojo than any player in the class, helps overcome the size deficiencies. He's certainly special in his own way.

Miller, too, brings immeasurable toughness. Ironically, many of the same exact questions I heard in regard to Needham I heard again with Miller this past summer and fall from college coaches. But Miller was even more overlooked than Needham. He mirrors Needham in many ways, from his weaknesses to his strengths, as well as the fact he is compact and physically as strong as any guard in the state.

More and more toughness is becoming a key, especially with so many players being babied and coddled at a young age in getting wooed to their respective AAU programs and even high school. Throw in all the hype and superlatives young players now receive, and it's easy to lose the edge and become a little soft.

College coaches will quickly brand and label a kid soft, which scares them off that particular player's recruiting trail. And now more than ever, college coaches can't be sure of how a player will react to adversity once they get them on campus as freshmen. College coaches now need to fully appreciate the toughness as much as they run scared of the softness.


Ultimate Warriors
These are the players in Illinois who, regardless of where they signed or where they project as college prospects, bring the ultimate toughness and competitiveness needed. The list is mostly made up of unyielding seniors who have proven their mettle; underclassmen have to prove it, though some of them have.

Fabyon Harris, 5-8, PG, Sr., Chicago (Hyde Park)
• see above
Pat Miller, 5-10, PG, Sr., Chicago (Hales Franciscan)
• see above
Jermaine Winfield, 6-4, PF, Sr., Chicago (North Lawndale)
• No player is willing to do whatever it takes more for his team; rugged, physical, old-school player who is about getting as much done in any way he can.
Tommy Woolridge, 6-1, 2G, Sr., Chicago (Foreman)
• The Eastern Illinois recruit brings it every time he steps on the floor and is willing to showcase that toughness on the defensive end.
Reggie Smith, 6-0, 2G, Sr., Harvey (Thornton)
• There is a reason a player who may lack the ideal skills necessary signed with a Big East school: jaw-dropping athleticism, an inner-desire and willingness to play hard.
Tracy Abrams, 6-0, PG, Jr., Chicago (Mt. Carmel)
• As far as high-profile players go, he may be the toughest of the bunch in the Class of 2011, which is one reason he excelled at such a high level as a freshman. Plus, he plays through pain. A great, classy kid who will rip your heart out to get a win.
Derrick Randolph, 5-6, PG, So., Chicago (Whitney Young)
• Is there a player with a bigger heart? Tough-as-nails point guard overcomes his lack of size with the heart of a lion.
Roosevelt Jones, 6-3, WF, Jr., O'Fallon
• Hoops Report hasn't seen a lot of Jones but has loved the tenacity he brings to the floor and his robust game when it has watched him. Just a hard-nosed get-it-done type.
James Siakam, 6-6, PF, Jr., Carbondale (Brehm Prep)
• This is about all you need to know: The rugged and ruthless power forward played nearly an entire game with six fractures in his face last month. He had a five-hour facial reconstruction surgery the next week. He gets after it, takes a hit and his motor never seems to stop.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 15th year of publication, email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709

Holiday hoops rewind

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By Joe Henricksen

The high school basketball action was heavy over the last two weeks with holiday tournaments being played across the state. A complete holiday tournament recap will be in next week's issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, but here is a quick holiday hoops recap.

Best Team
Whitney Young
The Dolphins have the most individual talent in the state and are playing up to it, especially considering how many players are experiencing their first true taste of varsity basketball and are playing in new roles. Whitney Young remains unbeaten after winning the strongest holiday tournament in the state.

Hidden Gems
The trio of Lyons Twp., Glenbard East and Deerfield are now a combined 34-2 after capturing their respective holiday tournaments.
• Lyons Twp. ... Yes, LT is still unbeaten after rolling through the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York. The average victory margin for the Lions at York was 20 points. There is no star but a whole lot of chemistry and teamwork. Heck, their highest-profile player, 6-5 Justin Phipps, has accepted his role coming off the bench and has emerged as arguably the best sixth man in the Chicago area.
• Glenbard East ... Though ranked in the Hoops Report's preseason rankings, it took a convincing win over Neuqua Valley in the title game at Elgin to open most people's eyes. The Rams are one basket away from being unbeaten.
• Deerfield ... The Wheeling Tournament champs have a difference-maker in Duje Dukan and veterans surrounding him. That combination will make the Warriors dangerous throughout the second half. The Jan. 14 showdown with Glenbrook North now becomes a must-see for north suburban basketball fans.

Best Player
Jereme Richmond
Sure, the motor still fluctuates from high to low too much, but the gifted 6-7 Waukegan star put together his most impressive performance when it mattered most. When Richmond is special, Waukegan is a different team. In the win over Simeon he was dominating on both ends of the floor, put forth the effort and came away with his fourth double-double of the tournament. His title game line in the win over Simeon included 23 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks as he played the full 32 minutes. He was a man in the second half, particularly on the boards and altering shots around the rim.

In the tournament, Richmond averaged 25.5 points, over 14 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game while shooting 65 percent from the floor (29 of 60). And in two games the Hoops Report took in he had several more blocked shots than he was credited for on the official stats.

Top Performance
Ray Lester
The rugged big man from Crete-Monee put his team on his back and carried it into the title game of the Big Dipper Tournament. Of all the games the Hoops Report took in over the holidays, Lester's performance in the semifinal win over the host school, Rich South, was the most dominating. With teammate Jamie Crockett out with an injury, Lester was a manchild and refused to let his team lose. He scored 37 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and converted clutch, multiple three-point plays. If there is one player the Hoops Report has been wrong about in the Class of 2010 it's Lester. The North Carolina A&T recruit has simply gotten better and better and has been an absolute rock for Crete-Monee, with productive and dominating performances virtually every night.

Recruiting Steal
Pat Miller to Tennessee State
The holiday tournaments showcased the signed and unsigned prospects in the Class of 2010. And after a sterling performance in leading his team to the Big Dipper title game, Hales Franciscan's Pat Miller showed why he is rated so high by the Hoops Report. Miller tore up the Big Dipper averaging 26 points a game and being named tournament MVP. In what could turn out to be a real recruiting steal out of Illinois (a la Derek Needham to Fairfield a year ago), Tennessee State swooped in and nabbed Miller in the fall while a lot of other college programs a whole lot closer slept on the physical, power-packed guard. Miller became the first player to score over 100 points in the four-game tournament since another Hales star, Jerome Randle, did so in 2005

Stepping Up
Although Foreman lost to Whitney Young in what could be a preview of things to come in the city playoffs in February, the Hornets enjoyed a December that proved their worth. Led by big-time scoring guard Mike McCall, coach Terry Head's club has shut the mouths of the critics with a CPS Holiday Tournament title, which included a win over Simeon, and a second-place finish at Proviso West. A 7-1 record in arguably the two most talent-filled tournaments, including a 20-point win over North Side nemesis Von Steuben, says something.

Surprise Team
Should we just quit calling Vince Carter's Von Steuben team "surprising" and "dangerous" and "stubborn" and "blue-collar" and "hard working" and all those other descriptive descriptions and simply say they're good? In a matter of four days at Proviso West the Panthers beat two teams previously ranked among the top five, handing Hillcrest its first loss of the season and then beating Glenbrook North in the third-place game to improve to 8-3.

Hidden Under the Tree
Dominique Walls, Hales Franciscan
The backcourt duo of Pat Miller and Jamie Adams are the key cogs for Hales Franciscan, while the Armstead brothers -- Aaron and Aaric -- are talented young prospects college coaches come to see, but the long, highly active and unbelievably bouncy Walls is a backbreaker for opponents. The little-known Walls, a 6-4 junior, provides momentum-bursting plays with his athleticism, including put-backs, tip-dunks, steals and blocks.

Class of 2010 Holiday Stock Raiser
The slender, high-scoring Jay Harris of Oswego East came up huge at the East Aurora Holiday Tournament, scoring 32 points in a win over Ryan Boatright and East Aurora and then pouring in 35 in the title game matchup with Bobo Drummond and Peoria Central. Harris, a versatile scorer and shooter with range, has Ball State, Valparaiso and North Dakota State heavily involved, with Creighton picking up interest. Hoops Report loves kids who can score and Harris can do it with the best of them. Look for the recruitment of Harris to pick up big-time steam over the second half of the season.

Class of 2011 Holiday Stock Raiser
Locally, Mycheal Henry of Chicago Orr has made considerable strides and was awfully impressive in the CPS Holiday Tournament. The 6-5 junior has cemented himself as one of the top 5 prospects in the junior class. Henry is shooting the ball extremely well, with range and a high release point on his jumper. When you combine that strength with the fact he has the high-major body and athleticism, he is, you guessed it, a high-major player. It's only a matter of time before high-major schools are all over Henry.

And though the Hoops Report did not see any of the action at the Centralia Holiday Tournament, more than a few people, including a couple of college coaches, relayed some superlatives when talking about the play of Roosevelt Jones of O'Fallon. The 6-3 junior is quickly climbing the Class of 2011 rankings as one of the more highly productive and energetic players in the class. In four games at Centralia the 6-3 wing averaged 20.5 points and 10.3 rebounds a game while shooting 65 percent from the field (34 of 52). While he lacks a perimeter shot, Jones is highly effective in getting to the basket and is a monster on the boards for a player his size with his tenacity and nose for the ball, particularly on the offensive glass.

Class of 2012 Holiday Stock Raiser
The sophomore class as a whole has had a difficult time distinguishing itself as a group, but Aaron Simpson of North Chicago was one that did over the holidays. Already regarded as one of the better sophomores in the state, Simpson has shown he's one of the best scorers in the Class of 2012. The 5-11 sophomore led his team to a third-place finish at the State Farm Holiday Classic, scoring 20-plus in three of the games and averaging just over 22 points a game in the tournament.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 15th year of publication, email hoopsreport@yahoo.com or call (630)-408-6709.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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