By Joe Henricksen
The all-important July evaluation period, where Division I college coaches are finally able to get out and watch prospects in tournaments around the country, begins July 6. And there will be plenty of coaches flocking to the Chicago area for a few events.
Interestingly, prior to Rockford Auburn's Fred Van Vleet committing to Wichita State on Monday, there wasn't a single player in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 Top 25 that had offered up a verbal commitment prior to the July evaluation period. The Hoops Report can't ever remember, at least not in the past several years, when there hasn't been multiple players in the top 25 committed at this point in the summer.
There are a number of reasons and factors behind this:
• Weak class. The Hoops Report -- and others -- have pounded this home this spring: the Class of 2012 is a weak one, especially when looking at the top dozen or so prospects in comparison to other years. College coaches are certainly aware of the drop in overall high-level talent in the state and are carefully doing their homework. A big reason for the lack of commitments is there haven't been a whole lot of offers from college coaches thrown around in comparison to past years.
• Still star-gazing. There are still a ton of players envisioning themselves playing at the highest level in college, yet the amount of players who realistically can hope to play at the high-major level can probably be counted on one hand. So these players wait. ... and wait ... and wait some more. They aren't about to commit to a low-major plus or a mid-major school before trying to get noticed by high-major programs in July.
• Academic hurdles. There are more than a few top players in the class who have put themselves in a hole academically. We again have a number of players who didn't take things seriously the first couple of years in high school. As a result, you better believe college programs are skeptical of putting out an offer to a prospect who may need two years of junior college or a year at prep school, especially when talking about a sub-par class talent-wise.
Here is a look at three Chicago area tournaments that all figure to offer up quite a bit for basketball fans and college coaches in the coming week.
773 Hoops Tip-Off Classic
Where: Riverside-Brookfield High School
When: July 6-8
Locally, a lot of eyes will be on several Illinois teams. PrymeTyme, Illinois T-Wolves, Illinois Warriors and a young Ferrari team headline the event.
Where: York High School
When: July 9-11
This is arguably the top tournament in the Midwest, at least when it comes to catching a glimpse of the best players from the state of Illinois. Virtually all the top AAU programs in the state will be on hand, including the Illinois Wolves, Mac Irvin Fire, Illinois Warriors and Meanstreets, with several elite out-of-state club programs also participating.
King James Summer Showcase
Where: Waukegan High School
When: July 9-11
A variety of club programs from around the Midwest, including teams from Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and others, head to the Chicago area. PrymeTyme, Rising Stars, Illinois Old School, Wolverines and Team NLP are a few of the many Illinois programs playing.