By Joe Henricksen
There are power rankings for anything and everything, including high school recruiting in Illinois. This power ranking, however, is the opinion of one person and one person only and certainly not a consensus. This is the 2010 Recruiting Power Rankings: Illinois prep basketball style.
The Hoops Report has its own formula--stashed away in the noggin of the editor/publisher. But this is a power ranking system in which the Hoops Report concocted, breaking down the 2010 recruiting cycle, combining the quality, impact and varying degrees of significance of recruits with the level of program they are headed to and all things in between.
10. Tennessee State
Tennessee State? Huh? A big .... loooooong .... sigh. ... That's the sound and expression--"Ah, yah, yah"--of coaches throughout the Ohio Valley Conference over the next four years after getting a load of Hales Franciscan's Pat Miller. This is one year after watching Proviso West product Robert Covington average over 12 points and 6 rebounds a game as a freshman for Tennessee State. Miller is a power-packed guard who will be giving opposing teams fits and leave many mid-major programs around the Midwest wondering how they failed to even recruit this kid. Give some credit to up-and-coming assistant coach Dana Ford on this recruiting steal.
9. Rick Majerus
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus and his staff were able to get some work done in the Chicago area, tapping into the Chicago Public League and signing Foreman star guard Mike McCall, while also securing a blue-collar, old school player in Neuqua Valley's Dwayne Evans. Again, a priority was made to recruit Chicago and the door is open to recruit more for this Atlantic 10 program that is just a five-hour drive from the majority of the Chicago area.
8. Booksmart Schools
Let's see, how will "Prospect A," who is a true student-athlete, fit our basketball system and handle the academic rigor and culture of our fine institution? (Ha! No, I'm not kidding about student-athletes! Quit laughing! There are still plenty of colleges at the Division I level that search for and, in some cases, have to find true student-athletes. They're not worrying about qualifying academically or re-taking the ACT to get to an 18 or 19; they're looking for a shooter or rebounder or big man with an ACT score in the high 20s. Do not snicker. Yes, there are schools like that!).
When your academic requirements are higher than the majority of the other Division I schools you are recruiting against and you truly are trying to find a student-athlete, you just sometimes have to reach more often than others. The talent pool is smaller. But in the case of Illinois' prep basketball talent in the class of 2010, there were some true academic schools who absolutely, positively secured talent. The Hoops Report would be shocked four years from now if Riverside-Brookfield's Sean McGonagill (Brown), Wheaton Academy's Tim Rusthoven (William & Mary) and Kaneland's Dave Dudzinski (Holy Cross) didn't all have stellar careers at their respective schools. And for that, being able to secure the type of overlooked talent others missed on, the booksmart schools were able to land in the Hoops Report Recruiting Power Rankings.
Here's the point: DePaul needs players! No, the Blue Demons did not break the bank in the state of Illinois, but the former staff, combined with the new staff, still locked up a class that will upgrade the talent in the program. The holdover recruits from last fall, 6-5 Moses Morgan out of Las Vegas and point guard Brandon Young out of Washington, D.C., will be joined by spring signee 6-8 Cleveland Melvin. Of the three, the Hoops Report has only seen Moses play. And he's talented. But checking around with various coaches and people in the business, all three come with some praise and, more importantly, talent and upside. All three should play immediate roles for the Blue Demons and help first-year coach Oliver Purnell begin the rebuilding process.
6. Kareem Richardson
Talk about making a strong push to get in the Hoops Report's annual "Super Six" assistant conversation! The smooth Richardson is helping make Drake basketball a true, viable option for Illinois prep players--and some good ones. Richardson, an assistant under head coach Mark Phelps, was the lead recruiter for both Rayvonte Rice of Champaign Centennial and guard Karl Madison of Springfield Lanphier. Rice, who was the state's Mr. Basketball runner-up, is the bellcow of the recruiting class. He's a proven winner who was about bringing production and versatility to the floor each time out. And for Drake it was Richardson who pulled off a "John Dillinger."
5. Jerrance Howard
Another heralded recruiting class on his watch, accompanied with a whole bunch of high praise, along with a Big Blue suitor and followed up with some more greenbacks. All is good with Howard and Illini recruiting.
4. Illinois Wesleyan
Say what? What? A Division III basketball program can't crack the Class of 2010 power rankings? But yep, coach Ron Rose's recruiting efforts will keep the Titans near the top of the CCIW for the next few years as IWU loaded up on the recruiting front in 2010. In Division I recruiting circles, this is comparable to a Kentucky or North Carolina-type class at the Division III level, beginning with arguably the top Division III prospect in the state, Galesburg's 6-4 Victor Davis. The undersized 4-man should make an immediate impact and be a cornerstone of the program down the road. Plus, Evanston product Eric Dortch is a talent. The 6-4 combo forward has a year of prep school under his belt and a whole lot of strength and versatility. And a late steal was 6-3 shooter Kyle Miklasz of Hersey, who brings size and terrific shooting and scoring ability to the perimeter. Throw in guard Brady Zimmer of Delavan, a small school all-stater who averaged 28 points a game, along with a host of others and Illinois Wesleyan stocked the cupboard.
3. Bryce Drew
Oswego East's Jay Harris ignored bigger suitors and didn't even allow them in the door. And no one was a bigger beneficiary of that loyalty than Valparaiso assistant Bryce Drew, who was in on Harris early, stuck with it, earned the kid's trust and respect, and got it done. Hey, Bryce, skip the Father's Day present this June. No need. Just throw in some game film of Harris for dad and remind him of the job you did in recruiting the high-scoring, sweet-shooting guard. Valpo just doesn't come into Illinois and pluck one of the top dozen players in the class every year. Or ever.
People were tiring of the Hoops Report's Duje Dukan propaganda a year ago. Enough already, Hoops Report! Pleading for any high-major to give the skilled, three-point shooting 6-8 Dukan a look, plenty finally did. And Wisconsin landed not only one player (Dukan) that fits the "Wisconsin way," but two when it wrapped up the Ben Brust Spring Fever Tour earlier this spring. Dukan, among the top five prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2010, will be a player down the road, while Brust could immediately fill a role for coach Bo Ryan, who loses some perimeter punch due to graduation. Remember, these are players that fit Wisconsin. Even more importantly, Wisconsin continues to keep the pipeline from the Chicago area to Madison open.
If I'm Bruce Weber I climb to the top of Assembly Hall, raise both my arms, maybe extend my third finger from the left and scream, "How you like me now you recruiting lugheads?" If the last two years didn't disprove the "Weber can't recruit myth," then this 2010 class (and the 2011 commitments) surely did. The Weber bashers will pile on in some other fashion, but it can no longer pull out the poor recruiting card.
Weber will welcome a pair of top 40 talents to campus this fall, including Illinois Mr. Basketball winner Jereme Richmond and a true, bonafide big man in Meyers Leonard. We're talking about upside and talent that make college coaches salivate. And while most people dropped Crandall Head in their rankings, the Hoops Report still kept him high at No. 3 (with an asterisk). Head, who played very little last summer, missed the high school season and has plenty to prove, simply has too much upside. He possesses the physical attributes, including being arguably the best athlete in the Illinois program the moment he steps on campus as a freshman, of players you see playing in elite college programs across the country.