By Joe Henricksen
In July there is basketball life after the Anthony Davis hoopla, where all the high major talent is going and AAU hot spots like Las Vegas and Orlando. Here is a quick Hoops Report rundown of July basketball beyond the high-major discussion.
• Meanstreets 17s
The arrival and emergence of Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives this spring, the state's top-rated prospect, lifted Meanstreets to another level this past July. In one of the better tournaments in the country, Meanstreets knocked off Howard Pulley in the semifinals and Dallas Showtyme in the championship of the Hoop City Classic Top 20 Championship. That came after a strong showing in Highland, Ind. Meanstreets then capped off the summer by sharing the title at the Chicago Hoops End of Season Showdown in Merrillville.
• Wolves 17s
When selecting the state's premier AAU team it's difficult not to go with the Wolves. While playing one of the tougher schedules, the Illinois Wolves went 44-4 as a team and 20-2 in July. In addition, the Wolves didn't lose a single game to a team from Illinois, which included a pair of wins over Meanstreets. The Wolves are blessed with tremendous individual talent, with several high-major players, but coach Mike Mullins' club picked up win after win this past spring and summer and always do so in a respected way. Throw in the fact that Chasson Randle of Rock Island missed a large chunk of time playing with the national team, while big man Nnanna Egwu of St. Ignatius has battled an injury and been very limited in July, and the success they've had is all that more impressive.
• Wolves 16s
The younger Wolves team also enjoyed great success, piling up an impressive 18-0 record in July and reaching five straight championship games heading into the final tournament of the summer in Merrillville. While it's been noted the Class of 2012 is not nearly as talented as the Class of 2011 or Class of 2013, the Wolves have as much talented depth as any 16-and-under team
• Young Ferrari impress
While young and still under the radar in terms of AAU fanfare, the 14-and-under Ferrari team put together a terrific July, which included a runner-up finish at nationals in Orlando. Ferrari, which boasts the 1-2 punch of 6-8 Jahlil Okafor and 6-6 Paul White, beat Team Arkansas in the quarterfinals and Spiece Indy Ice in the semifinals but fell to Houston Select 2014 in the title game, falling 64-54. In the 14-and-under Super Showcase, Ferrari reached the Silver Division semifinals.
Biggest 2011 Stock Raiser
• Darien Walker, Chicago Simeon)
While he played a significant role for a state championship team as a junior, including 9 points and 5 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action in the state title game, Walker remained off the radar until this summer. Walker, always known as a tough competitor, showed an ability to not only defend on the perimeter but score in different ways on the offensive end this summer with Meanstreets. He is a complete 2-guard who will defend, rebound, finish at the basket and knock down shots. The interest in Walker has skyrocketed with his play in July.
Other players in the Class of 2011 whose stock jumped in July
• Nick Zeisloft, Lyons Twp.
The 6-4 shooter played a key role in Lyons Township's successful 26-2 season this past winter, including a couple of games where Zeisloft made big plays and key shots with the Hoops Report looking on. This summer, however, Zeisloft went from unknown to a prospect with solid mid-major interest with his play this July with the Full Package club team. Talk about doing damage and shining at the right moment. The player who was projected as being on the Division II/Low-Division I bubble by the Hoops Report heading into the summer, Zeisloft put on a few shooting displays in front of college coaches that instantly earned attention and praise, including an offer from Bradley and interest from Illinois State.
• Deji Ibitayo, Rich Central
As the Hoops Report expected, Ibitayo's athleticism, body and, most importantly, improved play and production opened the eyes of college coaches in Milwaukee, Orlando and Merrillville while playing with the Illinois Defenders. He scored 25 points in a near-upset over Meanstreets in Merrillville. The 6-3 über-athlete often finishes in eye-opening fashion and is capable of defending three different positions. While his skill level is a work in progress, his handle is much better and he showed a willingness to compete and get after it against top-level competition. Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Division II Lewis were the first to offer, with Nebraska, North Dakota and Akron showing considerable interest. Ibitayo was invited to the Indiana Elite Camp in August and several low-Division I and mid-major schools have sudden interest after a stellar July.
• Ryan Jackson, Riverside-Brookfield
The 6-1 combo guard impressed with his ability to score in a variety of ways, including a much-improved perimeter jumper, and bringing a competitive nature to the floor each time out. Jackson is not afraid and showed the type of hustle and all-out-effort coaches can easily warm up to. Both Chicago State and Army have offered, with others very interested. Division II Lewis University remains a player in the recruitment of Jackson.
• Zach Monaghan, Palatine (Fremd)
While considered a hot commodity among high-level small college programs heading into the spring and summer, Monaghan put himself into the Division I discussion with flashes of offensive productivity this July for Team NLP. The 6-1 Monaghan can still be streaky, but when his shot is falling and he has his mid-range, pull-up game going, he can be awfully tough on the offensive end.
Biggest 2012 Stock Raiser
• Ka'Darryl Bell, Oak Park
After having a limited role as a sophomore for Oak Park this past season, Bell is poised to take off this winter after a strong summer with his high school team and Full Package club team. The 5-11 point guard put on some impressive displays of speed and athleticism from the lead guard position. Iowa was the first big school to jump on board with an offer for a player that is now among the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2012. Bell can break people down, get into the lane and create. As his perimeter jumper gets better and more consistent along with his decision-making, his stock will only rise.
Other players in the Class of 2012 whose stock jumped in July
• Jacoby Roddy, Peoria (Manual)
There were certainly questions surrounding the 6-5 Roddy as to how effective he could be at the next level as an undersized 4-man. Those doubts were quieted, especially in the eyes of the Hoops Report. Roddy, who showed size is not a factor, will be one of a handful of players that will make a significant jump in the Hoops Report's 2012 player rankings. Southern Illinois was on this one before anyone else with an offer earlier this summer, but the interest should include a wave of mid-major and mid-major plus schools. There aren't many players who compete at a higher level than Roddy, who plays with the Illinois Wolves. Roddy's body is sculpted, particularly for a player who hasn't even played his junior year yet. He has the frame to add even more weight and strength while being an above-average athlete.
• Darrell Combs, Thornwood
This smooth combo guard put together a solid season as a sophomore for Thornwood, but he's significantly added to his game since then. The smooth Combs is more than just a dead-eye perimeter shooter. The 6-1 Combs is doing a whole lot more off the bounce and slithers through defenders in getting to the rim. He has improved his stock in the Hoops Report's eyes as much as anyone in the Class of 2012.
• Marcus Posley, Winnebago
It's tough to get a whole lot of attention early in a career playing outside the Chicago area, especially for a school with an enrollment of less than 600 students located southwest of Rockford. Nonetheless, Posley, who is a three-sport star in football, basketball and track, was part of a team that went 31-1 but fell to Peoria Manual in a supersectional loss as a sophomore last March. Posley impressed, scoring 20 points in the overtime defeat. Plus, Posley is often overlooked on his own Pryme Tyme AAU team with the more heralded Fred Van Fleet of Rockford Auburn running the show at point guard. But Posley has really impressed the Hoops Report. He has a burst to get in the lane and finish at the rim while also being capable of knocking down a three-pointer. Plus, he plays with energy. There is a lot to like about Posley.
Biggest 2013 Stock Raiser
• Andrew McAuliffe, Northbrook (Glenbrook North)
The big man may not be the most graceful or explosive athlete, but at 6-7 he is skilled and fundamentally sound. He gained valuable experience playing varsity as a freshman and had a terrific summer with the Rising Stars as he opened the eyes of college coaches. He uses both hands exceptionally well, especially for a player his age, while being an efficient scorer and rebounder around the basket. If McAuliffe gets to 6-9 or taller he becomes an instant high-major prospect.
Other players in the Class of 2013 whose stock jumped in July
• Kendrick Nunn, Chicago (Simeon)
This impressive young player certainly wasn't a well-kept secret heading into the summer; Nunn has been a known commodity in the loaded Class of 2013 since he stepped foot in Simeon. However, Nunn sparkled at times playing with his age group, showing the potential to be the No. 2 prospect in the class before it's all said and done -- behind Simeon teammate Jabari Parker. Nunn has perimeter size, athleticism, scoring ability and a jumper with range that, in time, will be a lethal weapon.
• Jabari Sandifer, Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
Thus far the ingredients for a young player to gain exposure early on in his career -- playing on the varsity as a freshman and playing with a high-profile AAU team -- have not played a part in Sandifer's reputation growing. So the Hoops Report will go ahead and do what it can. The kid can play. He will get his chance this winter with Neuqua Valley, while his stock could soar next spring and summer with Illinois Attack. But make no mistake, Sandifer is a smooth 6-1 point guard prospect and is among the top 10 players in the Class of 2013.