By Joe Henricksen

Beware of the scary hired guns

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By Joe Henricksen

These teams aren't seeded among the top four in their sectional, which means none of them are projected to be playing past this week. When the regionals are over Friday night, they are supposed to be getting their uniforms washed and ready to be turned in early next week. But with the firepower of an individual player, who is capable of creating a nightmare for a higher seeded team, we shall see. These players are capable of a knockout punch.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at the players of some lower seeded teams who are capable of carrying their teams to an upset or two. These are the hired guns, capable of taking out the more talked about teams in a blaze of individual stardom. You've been warned.

JAY HARRIS, Oswego East
Has there been a hotter player in the Chicago area over the last three months? The 6-1 sweet-shooting guard can fill the basket up, averaging just under 30 points a game for No. 5 seed Oswego East. He forces defenses to shadow him constantly, opening up avenues for teammates, such as junior point guard Wesley Brooks. The Wolves will get Batavia in the regional opener before getting a shot at No. 4 seed Naperville North in Friday's regional final. Even with all the recruiting commotion surrounding Harris of late, who is the top unsigned prospect in the state, he has kept the schools recruiting him to a minimum. Both Valparaiso and Ball State remain at the top, with New Mexico State, North Dakota State and Virginia Tech the schools that remain in the mix.

This is the player in the junior class everyone will be talking about sooner or later, even with college programs a little slow to pull the trigger. Henry was all about potential and figuring out ways to impact games this past summer on the AAU circuit. But wow, did it all come together for him this winter. Now he's about production and substance, putting up 25 and 10 every night out. He's effective inside and out, with an impressive combination of size, athleticism and a jumper with elevation and a high release point. He's now among the top six or seven prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2011 rankings -- and better than some of the bigger names that have been talked about. And don't be surprised if he were to climb into the top five in the Class of 2011 before it's all said and done. Henry and a young but talented Orr team, a No. 7 seed in the Riverside-Brookfield Sectional, pose quite a scary matchup for No. 2 seed St. Joseph this Friday night in the regional championship.

Anyone who follows the Hoops Report knows how fond it is of Harris, the little warrior of a point guard for coach Donnie Kirksey. He may not be a Player of the Year candidate, but there aren't many players who affect a game more profoundly than Harris. He undermines opponents with his speed and with a bit of anarchy. He battles, competes, wills his team to wins. Heart of a lion who loves the odds being against him, which will be the case this Friday night in a potential matchup with No. 2 seed Mount Carmel as No. 7 seed Hyde Park looks to pull off an upset. Harris, one of the top uncommitted prospects in the state, is heavily involved with Nevada, while Cleveland State, Baylor, Northern Illinois, Toledo and a host of others are active in his recruitment. Harris constantly puts pressure on opposing teams the minute he steps foot on that court, pesky and disruptive defensively and jet-blur quick getting up the floor in transition.

BEN BRUST, Mundelein
If your Deerfield, the No. 2 seed in the Waukegan Sectional, you can't be too crazy about facing a No. 7 seed like Mundelein. The reason is Ben Brust has the potential to go off. Mundelein may not play with the consistency or the type of defense that can put together three or four tournament wins in a row, but with Brust it does have the capability of ending the dreams of a higher seeded team in one night. The Iowa-bound guard is a binge scorer, one of the elite shooters and scorers in the state who would love to go out with a bang.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, which will have its state tournament preview issue out this week, call (630)-408-6709 or email

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Reply to the “Last hurrah for Class of 2010”

The 2010 list is missing one of a select few, of the best PF/C currently in the City of Chicago, and that is Big Mike Gabriel. While, Mike G., continues to enjoy being recruited by several high major programs, and was just selected as one of 20 kids as an all city player, it seems that he did not make this top 40 list.

Recently an astute sports writer lamented to me that basically the Big Man game is over, and it’s all about guards play now a days, due mostly to AAU’s run and shoot mentality that has changed the game up the chain from high school, to college to the pros. It seems that this is true, although deep down I disagree, but even in the evaluation and the subjective lists out there, as this one, this is the case now. Look at ranks 33 through 40, they are all big men, and all lumped together at the bottom, while the guards are considered a more prized and hot commodity soaring to the top. Those same guards are riding on the shoulders of the Big men’s hard work. The same big men that do all the dirt work, the rebounding, the defensive blocks, the fast break initiation, offensive screens, and big muscle in the paint-taking up one or two defenders thereby freeing up the guards to shine in the glory of their illusive three pointer. If a guard shoots 50% , he is considered a God, while for a good Big Man, a normal day at the office can easily score with a 70%+ effectiveness, including getting and 1’s, but still rarely gets the ball, and really never gets the much deserved fan fair that a guard often gets today.

I say, make it fairer. Make it more honest and transparent. Give the big men their dues, and evaluate and rank them based on their relentless and tireless effort, potential and current results on the court.

Perhaps this should not be the last hurrah after all…


Joe: So no Jay Harris to Illinois? I see the list you have and no Illinois? Thanks

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on February 28, 2010 11:46 PM.

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