By Joe Henricksen
Call me coach. Call me Vice President of Operations. Call me General Manager or Director of Player Personnel. Call me Jerry West, Jerry Colangelo or simply Crumbs. This is my team I'm building. I will construct it anyway I like.
This team, which will be made up of strictly seniors in the Class of 2010, is not about potential or where they project as college players. The players are not selected because of where they signed or where they rank. These are the guys I want to coach, go to battle with. I don't want shoot-first, selfish players. I will put the pieces of the puzzle together like a mad scientist, finding the right guys for the right roles. These will be my guys, the ones I will win with -- or lose.
Point Guard: Fabyon Harris, Hyde Park
My point guard is going to set the tone for me on both ends of the floor. We're playing up-tempo, breakneck basketball, which is why Harris is ideal. He's going to bring some attitude, hound you and drive you nuts as a pesky on-the-ball defender. He's going to put pressure on your defense with his quickness and dribble penetration. And he's going to stay on the rest of the guys, get in their face, motivate and be my little warrior. That's Fabyon Harris. He's asked to do way too much for his Hyde Park team because, well ... he is forced to. Now he can concentrate on running a team rather than driving the team.
Shooting Guard: Mike McCall, Foreman
Need a guy who will knock down shots on the perimeter but will remain unselfish. McCall fits that role better than any 2-guard in Illinois. He can fill it up, yet is a terrific passer off the dribble-drive, finding teammates spotting up on the perimeter. With this team McCall can spot up and knock down shots. He's also going to be terrific in my halfcourt traps and fullcourt pressure we will apply. He's not afraid, either. He will make a big play when it matters most.
Center: Jereme Richmond, Waukegan
I know, I know, J Rich is out of position here. But we're still at the level where there are study halls, proms, detentions and 6-5 centers -- high school basketball. Plus, I want to coach the most talented senior in the state. I can play Richmond in the middle, where he essentially plays defensively anyway right now. He's the premier shot blocker in the state and a double-figure rebounder. I'll reason with him, get him to accept his role (giggle, giggle, haha!). Imagine getting my 5-man to step out, face the basket and take the big, slow opposing 5-man off the dribble? There will be such a mismatch I'll have opposing teams collapsing in a zone before the half. Plus, I'm going to put the long, rangy Richmond on the front of my fullcourt press and halfcourt traps when we throw that at them.
Small Forward: Duje Dukan, Deerfield
Did anyone think a Hoops Report team would not have Duje Dukan on it? I need a dead-eye shooter with range. With the dribble penetration of Harris and McCall, along with the attention Richmond will draw, Dukan will be the spot-up three-point shooter on auto-pilot. He's one of the elite shooters in the state and has the length, height and release point to get his shot off when he wants. Plus, in a pinch he can handle the ball and is one of the best passing big men in the state. Love his versatility. While it's true he may not quite fit the trapping, get-after-it fullcourt defense we want to throw at teams, he will be fine with this nucleus. Dukan will be at the back end of the press with Richmond at the top.
Power Forward: Jermaine Winfield, North Lawndale
There are bigger names and more true-sized 4-men out there, I know. But I want Winfield. I want his caboose banging around the paint, opponents bouncing off of him. I know what Winfield is and what he brings to the table. He's a junkyard dog. He's going to be my leader through actions. He will get on the floor, set a screen, get that loose ball, putbacks and bring a presence to the floor.
Rayvonte Rice, Champaign Centennial
I need my sixth man to be versatile, a jack-of-all-trades. Rice fits that mold as he can play any of four positions on the floor. He's a strong-bodied wing who can get a little done off the dribble, post smaller plays up on the block, get out and finish in transition and even knock down a three.
Sean McGonagill, Riverside-Brookfield
A perfect complimentary player for this team. He brings Ivy League-smarts and the ability to play both guard spots for me. He can run a team in his sleep, be a coach on the floor and knock down shots for me.
Jay Harris, Oswego East
He's our Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson. Bring him off the bench and he heats up quickly. The combo guard will bring instant offense without being selfish. When was the last time a player scored this many points on as few shot attempts as Harris? Imagine if he forced things? He will fit in perfectly.
Mantas Dubauskas, St. Joseph
About as hard-nosed as you will find. He brings an edge, some toughness and will be our ultimate role guy off the bench, bringing energy and a little size. He plays a little bigger than his 6-5 size and plays with a big chip on his shoulder.