By Joe Henricksen

Hoops Report's Player Power Rankings: Part II

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By Joe Henricksen

Last month the City/Suburban Hoops Report released its player power rankings, a list of the top prospects in the state of Illinois regardless of class. This Player Power Rankings Part II edition adds several more names to the original list. And no, a Class of 2012 product still hasn't dented the list.

1. JABARI PARKER, 6-8, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: A one-of-a-kind talent. No one playing in the state of Illinois today (well, except Derrick Rose) is wired like Jabari Parker. Parker's will to win, team-first attitude and desire to get better as a player separates him from everyone else. Plus, he's already shown the "I get better when it matters most" gene. And, oh, he's 6-8, skilled, extremely versatile and people are finally beginning to understand he's way more athletic and explosive than given credit for.
So far: Parker has accomplished what we expect great players to do. He has been a part of two state championships for the South Side power Wolverines. He's ranked among the top five players in his class nationally. And he will be a team U.S.A. basketball fixture going forward.
Needs to: Stay grounded and humble. This shouldn't be a problem as this is one of his real strengths. Parker has rare abilities for a player with his size at his age, but maybe even more rare, is how self-effacing and truly modest this kid is, which is a credit to the loved ones around him and a true plus in his favor in his development as a player.

2. Jahlil Okafor, 6-9, C, Chicago (Whitney Young)
Year: Class of 2014
What's to like: Oh, mercy! The quintessential big man doesn't come around very often, but Okafor is the type of player we haven't seen around here in a long time -- an imposing physical presence who will overwhelm high school players in time. He's huge, light on his feet, has an emerging back-to-the-basket game, soft touch around the rim and very great hands. And when you consider his age and the time he still has to develop, the future is a very similar to Parker's: unlimited.
So far: He's only played one varsity season for a loaded Whitney Young program, but he proved his worth in the small role he played as a freshman. Like Parker, Okafor is one of the top players nationally in his class and will be one of the most coveted prospects in the country over the next three years.
Needs to: With great size and good agility, Okafor is not an overwhelming athlete. We're not talking Dwight Howard here; think Brook Lopez. Going forward, he must continue to add to his game. While he will be a dominating figure on the block with his size and feel, if Okafor develops a consistent 12-15 foot jumper? ... It's over.

3. Cliff Alexander, 6-8, C, Chicago (Curie)
Year: Class of 2014
What's to like: He's huge. A true big man with legit size, girth and he moves well for his size. With an ability to finish around the basket with authority on dunks and block and alter shots defensively, Alexander is a coveted big man prospect. The state has produced very few true big men in recent years, but Alexander has a chance to be one of the best that have come through the state. Big Cliff has a chance to be a real force in the paint and a big-time prospect.
So far: A slow start for Alexander as a freshman on varsity, even missing time in December. But Alexander certainly had his moments late in the year, including a 23-point, 8 dunk performance in a Public League playoff win over Marshall. He also had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in a regional win over Richards and 9 points, 13 rebounds in the season-ending loss to Lyons.
Needs to: The big Condor will need to continue to define and shape his body and endurance. When that happens, Alexander will offer game-changing plays on a consistent basis. The development of big men typically takes time, but Alexander is already ahead of the curve.

4. Paul White, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young)
Year: Class of 2014
What's to like: Remember not too long ago when the "point forward" was at the tip of the tongue in the basketball lexicon? (Thank you, Scottie Pippen!). While that terminology has cooled in recent years, point forward certainly comes to mind when watching the versatile and smooth game the long and skilled White brings to the floor. He's a player with size on the perimeter who can handle it, see the floor and make plays.
So far: White was another one of those early middle school hot shot names that pops up way too early in this day of hyping young kids. But he is also one that has grabbed the attention of high-major college coaches and even been offered before he played a varsity minute of high school basketball. His role, both on the club circuit and high school team next winter, will expand greatly.
Needs to: Like so many of those great "point forwards" who have been talked about in the past, White needs to continue tightening up his perimeter jumper and become consistent with his shot. That alone will make all other parts of his game better and elevate his stock and ceiling.

5. Tommy Hamilton, 6-9, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: Since a very young age it's been impossible not to be intrigued by Hamilton's combination of tremendous size and skill. The big-bodied "Big Ham" has the capability of dropping in three-pointers and look good doing it, while also having a nice feel for the game with his footwork and a no-look pass here and there. While he's not your typical big man on the block, his face-up ability for a player his age and size is impressive. He's just so big and skilled.
So far: A bit of an up-and-down first two years of high school and summer play but with some very high peaks. But that is to be expected from a player with size and who is so young. He's been a valuable figure, though not yet dominating one, for one of the most talent-filled high school programs in the state.
Needs to: Keep with the renaissance. It sounds simple, but he must keep playing, work hard, stay in shape and remain focused. If all of those fall into place, Hamilton will live up to the absurd expectations placed on the kid when he was in 7th and 8th grade.

6. Kendall Stephens, 6-4, 2G, St. Charles (East)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: The Hoops Report admits to having a thing for Stephens as a player early on and hasn't let up. The Hoops Report hype, however, is warranted. The Purdue commit is the Illinois high school version of UConn's Jeremy Lamb. He possessed a high-major quality at a young age: a silky smooth perimeter jumper with a feathery touch and range. He has that ideal height, length and wingspan of a big-time 2-guard. Plus, he's grounded, works hard on his game, has great bloodlines and is barely scratching the surface as a player.
So far: After showing flashes and promise late in his freshman year, Stephens blossomed this past season as a sophomore. He averaged 17 points a game and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc. Several high-majors took notice and he committed to Purdue, where his father Everette Stephens starred in the 1980s.
Needs to: Physical development and maturity will take care of any lingering issues of how big of an impact he can make at the high-major level. He will add weight and strength in time. When he does that, along with improving his overall ballhanding, Stephens will reach the level the Hoops Report envisions down the road.

7. Kendrick Nunn, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Simeon)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: An exciting talent who brings terrific athleticism and shooting ability to the 2-guard spot. He has range and a quick, fluid release when his feet are set. When Nunn is playing at a high-level, he's a game-changer with his shooting and ability to finish in transition.
So far: Burst on the scene this year with some high-level performances, including leading the Wolverines in scoring in wins over Gary Lew Wallace, Morgan Park and Hillcrest. As a sophomore, averaged just over 8 points a game for Class 4A state champions and has emerged as a consensus top five talent in the impressive sophomore class.
Needs to: Must become a bigger weapon and force off the dribble, both in creating for himself and others. Playing the point guard position for Meanstreets should enhance his ball skills development. In addition--and this should come with age and more experience--Nunn must become more consistent and get it done night after night.

8. Milik Yarbrough, 6-4, WF, Zion-Benton
Year: Class of 2014
What's to like: At first glance and against players his own age, he simply overpowers players with his combination of size and skill--in getting to the basket and around the rim. However, he's made big strides with his perimeter range, becoming a monster offensive versatile threat for such a young player. Difficult player to label due to his versatility. And what sets him apart from other young prospects is his ability to score in a variety of ways.
So far: When it comes to statistics and productivity, Yarbrough put together the most impressive season of any freshman in the state. He sports high-major interest and offers, is among the top players in his class nationally and ranked as the No. 3 freshman in the state by the Hoops Report. This spring and summer he will become a hot name on the circuit.
Needs to: Like so many young talents, coming to play every day for 32 minutes is not always a given. Yarbrough must improve the motor. In reality, his willingness to play hard has come a long way. Hopefully, Yarbrough continues to grow -- both his father, Del, and brother, Marcus, are in the 6-7 to 6-8 range -- so he can become that talented true wing with size.

9. Sterling Brown, 6-4, 2G/WF, Maywood (Proviso East)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: Much like with Kendall Stephens of St. Charles East, Brown offers that look of a player who is just starting to put it together and offers so much upside and potential. He's long, rangy, athletic and has shown an ability to slash and knock down shots.
So far: Put together a very solid season, especially for a sophomore, and added bits and pieces to his game over the past 6-8 months. Brown became more assertive on both ends of the floor and showed a very respectable mid-range game. He's not yet as productive as his L.A. Lakers brother Shannon Brown was at the same stage and age, but his upside is enormous.
Needs to: He simply has to put it all together. There are definitely hurdles--added physical development is needed and consistency when it comes to overall production and shooting range--but he possesses so many impressive tools.

10. Jalen James, 6-3, PG, Chicago (Hope)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: The classic high ceiling prospect that is just starting to put it all together and join the list of elite prospects in the state of Illinois. He has terrific size for the point guard position and a good feel. But more than anything, James just has that smooth, cool look of a player as he glides up and down the floor with his size, length, skill and feel.
So far: Little-known prospect up to this point when it comes to the other names on this list. But that will change quickly. James led Hope Academy to a regional title and sectional championship game appearance in Class 1A. While doing so he rapidly developed into one of the top prospects in the heralded sophomore class.
Needs to: James, maybe more than any other player on this list, needs to take advantage of the competition offered up this spring and summer while playing with the Illinois Wolves. He must also maintain his focus and not get caught up in the attention that is--and will surely continue--coming his way.

11. Russell Woods, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Leo)
Year: Class of 2013
What's to like: He brings a lot of old fashioned 4-man qualities in that when he wants to he can rebound with just about anyone, work hard around the basket, will take a charge (he led Leo in that category as a sophomore) and is willing to get after it and defend the post. Look for Woods, who will have quite the college-ready body in a couple of years, to dominate the lane at the high school level over the next two years. He can take a little pounding and has a high-running motor. He also has a pretty good understanding of the game and finds a way to be around the ball. Woods looks the part of a typical productive college 4-man.
So far: While Leo had an uncharacteristic 15-12 season, Woods certainly had his moments where he opened eyes and gained the attention of scouts and college coaches. He may not have put up monster numbers as a sophomore, but he showed he can be a handful on the glass and one of the better prospects in the state going forward.
Needs to: Must still fully develop his game. He has some skills but many offensive subtleties are not yet second nature. Though he will surprise opponents as a lefty, he must continue to work on his off-hand to be more effective around the basket and finishing at the rim. And his mid-range, face-up game will need to continue to evolve to keep opposing defenses honest.

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18 Comments

Either Jabari Parker is using Joe Henrickson as his pseudonym writing these articles or someone has totally lost their objectivity. The gushing over this kid has become comical to say the least. 'A one-a-of-kind talent?' What skills do this kid possess that would make him one-a-of-kind? In your assessment of the kid, he is the only one you've listed with not one thing basketball-wise on your Needs to list. Really? There is nothing wrong with his game? He doesn't need to work on anything at all to improve? WOW!!

Joe, it is abundantly apparent you like this kid and his loved ones as you put it, as evidenced by your reaction to anyone's criticism of the kid's game. However, your promotion of this kid has reached a level total subjectivity, to put it mildly.

It is abundantly clear there is really only one person fixated on Jabari Parker that is you, Darnell. You continue to use Parker in all your examples of all that is wrong with youth, education and basketball in the city.

Let me see. Jabari Parker is the freaking No. 1 ranked player in the entire country, won a state championship, is part of the national team, shows complete modesty when he plays and is coveted by Duke, North Carolina and Kansas. Yeah, Darnell, we see those types come around Illinois all the time.

Still no final evals for 2011?
You're killing me Joe!
Redbird fans need some chest-pounding material.
It was a (very) long season...

Great read above.

Darnell, what parts of Parker's game would you like to see him improve upon going forward? I'm a downstate fan, so I don't see much Chicago ball unless they make it to Peoria, but I was fortunate enough to see Parker's game against Benet @ UIC. I was sold.

Of course he isn't perfect. Any 6'8 15/16 year old is still getting use to controlling their body, but JP is so far ahead of anyone his age in the state, and it isn't even close.

As a high school basketball fan I kind of like reading about the best player in the state and the player who is ranked first in his class in the entire country. AND HE PLAYS RIGHT IN OUR BACK YARD! Be appreciative Darnell. And keep writing great stuff Joe.

No Paul Turner? Where would he fall Joe on this list? Thanks for your great work.

Actually, I think Jabari is a very good basketball player! Do I think he is legendary or one of the best, absolutely not! We live in a time of media driven hype and some of us get caught up in it. I've been around this game a long time and I've seen legendary high school players. I saw Mark Aguirre, Isiah Thomas, Glenn Rivers, Mitchell Anderson, Marcus Liberty, Jamie Brandon, Kevin Garnett, Ronnie Fields, and of course Derrick Rose just to name a few. These were legendary high school athletes who dominated their peers and you knew the minute you saw them that they extraordinary talents not based upon projections or scouting services. They were simply some of the greatest and you knew it and they left no room for argument. I lived in the Virgina area for awhile and I saw Allen Iverson in high school and prior to his freshman season at Georgetown and I knew immediately that he was the best high school guard I'd ever seen.

As a guy who understands the game very well, I don't get that with this kid. Again, he's good, very good but he doesn't belong in the conversation of the best. Scouts and scouting services create a bunch of hype and lead some to believe that some of these kids are way better than they actually are. We just did this very same thing with Jereme Richmond, he received all the very same accolades that Parker is currently receiving and he was supposed to be the next great one. He is the only the second two-time Sun Times player of the year, the other being Quinn Buckner. His name was thrown around with the best that this state has ever produced. And in the end it was mostly hype.

And for those who say he is being recruited by the Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, so was Sean Dockery. If I'm not mistaken, he was ranked by some scouts/scouting services as the number 1 player in the country going into his junior year as well.

Whether or not this kid is one of the best remains to be seen and if I'm wrong I'll be the first to admit that. But time will tell.

Darnell - you're the one obsessed with Jabari Parker, as you are the only one to negatively comment about him everytime. Scout.com doesn't rank a kid number 1 in the nation for nothing. He led his team to a state title, plays on team USA, even if he's not number one in the country, he's number 1 in Illinois - and I don't know how you can make an argument otherwise. Actually, I'm not sure why you would argue otherwise, unless you're a fan of a close Simeon rival - kind of like how I bash Lebron for his "Decision", but deep down know that he's an unbelievable talent (not to compare Lebron to Parker, just to make sure my words aren't twisted Darnell).

I'm also a big fan of Milik Yarbough. Joe's right, most productive freshman year of anyone. Who is he playing AAU with, Joe?

Nice article

LB

Anyone who is putting Sean Dockery and Jabari Parker in the same sentence or even as a comparison can't go on here and talk about being a knowledgeable basketball mind. So you think every single scout and every single college coach in the country are wrong?

What is this dude Darnell talking about? This isn't some marginal, questionable player we are talking about. This is a kid who is nearly 6-8, skilled as any player around, a pedigree, accomplishments no sophomore has had around here in a long, long time, and getting better and better. Stop the foolishness.

First of all, Jereme Richmond was never talked about in the same way Jabari Parker is. Second, Jereme Richmond was never the No. 1 ranked player in the country. Third, Jereme Richmond's character and intangibles were never discussed the way Jabari Parker's are. Fourth, Darnell has ripped a high school kid for months on this blog and is clearly the one who is right?

Darnell, I was stationed in Virginia during that time and I will say Allen Iverson was the second best guard I have ever seen in high school. I also played against him at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton,VA. For me Derrick Rose and Jason Kidd are tied for 1st. As for Jabari Parker he's a great player and will be an NBA player sooner rather than later. Darnell doesn't like anything to come from Simeon so take it with a grain of salt, lol. As for Jereme Richmond stop hating on the kid, I actaully know him and have talked to him. He was nothing but very respectful to me with yes sirs and no sirs. And he's going to make the Taylor Bells who badmouthed him eat their words. Word is Richmond is a solid first round pick and might move into the Top 15.

I just want to thank all of you who have supported our son.Yes he still has a lot to work on being the best that he can be,there is always room for improvement.Remember he is only a sophmore with all this attention on a state and national levels.We can't control those local,national writers, and college coaches on what they say about Jabari.He is representing his family,church, community,school,state,and country.That is why Jabari goes to Siminary at 5:30am then goes to school and has straight A's this marking period.It is not always about basketball in our home.This is my last post,I am moving on now.

Darnell, I get where u are coming from... I don't see where u r "ripping" this kid, actually READ u say he's very good. U gotta understand some of these guys have never seen what ONE-OF-A-KIND looks like up close and personal. I also have never seen jabari just TOTALLY DOMINATE A GAME WHERE I WALKED AWAY SAYING, WOW THAT KID WAS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE GYM... Jabari is super fundamentally sound and 1 DAY will about amongst the best this state has possibly seen, he's just not there YET... Now-a-days too much is given off POTENTIAL and not what's ACTUALLY DONE ON THE FLOOR...

Tarheelblue: This guy Darnell has ripped the Parker family and Simeon in many posts. He's been critical of where the Parker's sent their son to school, how they've handled him, etc. Go back and read his posts. How about this one he wrote about Parker specifically in one of his messages .... "prostituting would probably better describe it. I'm certain all of the principles involved; Slaughter, Smith and Sonny Parker, just to name a few, are all making money off of this kid's talent." ... He has no knowledge and last I knew wasn't the parent of Jabari. Who by the way is a terrific student. The point is, of all the kids and talents to pick on, this is the one he chooses to?

This is a stupid back and forth debate. Facts are facts. Parker is the state's best player. Now he's the nation's top-ranked player. The accolades he has received speak for themselves. There are certain kids that deserve attention and hype. And when one of our own is considered to be the best player in the country, that's very rare. Even in this great state of high school basketball.

Parker is the real deal on and off the court. He has been a pleasure to watch for two years and will be a pleasure to watch for two more.

I am happy to see Cliff Alexander make this list. He is legit!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on May 13, 2011 10:09 AM.

Class of 2013 has that look was the previous entry in this blog.

Chicago State putting pieces together is the next entry in this blog.

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