By Joe Henricksen
While the Class of 2012 in Illinois may not be considered a recruiting bonanza for college basketball coaches, there is still plenty of talent and some key, valuable building blocks for college programs. Many of the top players in the senior class are sorting out where they will play next year. With the November signing period just around the corner, the City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at where the top 10 uncommitted senior prospects stand with their respective recruitments.
• Rashaun Stimage, Farragut
There aren't many who like Stimage and his potential as much as the Hoops Report. The bouncy and athletic 6-7 Stimage, who is the Hoops Report's No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2012, continues to have high-major programs sniffing around on the West Side. "A lot of them are still involved in the recruiting process," says veteran Farragut coach Wolf Nelson of the several high-major and mid-major plus programs who have come in to see Stimage work out this fall. "People don't realize until they see him how good he is. He doesn't even realize how good he can be." Stimage, however, will likely end up as a highly coveted junior college recruit.
• Jerron Wilbut, Downers Grove South
The versatile and athletic Wilbut has been among the Hoops Report's top five prospects in the Class of 2012 for quite some time. The physical tools and potential are all there while he matures as a player. The plan for Wilbut will be to play out his senior year as he becomes consistent and productive, both on the floor and in the classroom. Wilbut, who will lead a Downers Grove South team that will likely be ranked among the top 10 teams in the Chicago area in the preseason, will wait for the spring signing period. Currently, a dozen-plus schools are monitoring Wilbut's progress, including strong interest from the likes of Dayton, DePaul, Florida State, Cleveland State, Missouri State, Indiana State and TCU.
• Marlon Johnson, Joliet West
Last spring Johnson burst on the scene after showing strides in the second half of the season for Joliet West. The long, 6-9, athletic Johnson is the Hoops Report's No. 5 ranked prospect in the Class of 2012 and oozes with upside. The cliché "his best basketball is ahead of him" fits Johnson to a T and makes him such an intriguing prospect. Illinois State has offered Johnson, with Missouri State, Valparaiso and Eastern Illinois showing a lot of interest. Johnson, who is planning on visiting Illinois State and Valparaiso soon, will likely end up a prized junior college recruit.
• Keith Carter, Proviso East
The former Loyola commit will be visiting Saint Louis officially on Thursday. Although Saint Louis has yet to offer Carter, the interest is high and the interest is mutual. Northern Illinois and Ohio remain involved, while TCU has started to inquire on the 6-0 point guard who put together a solid and consistent summer on the AAU circuit with Team NLP. "I know Keith is in no rush," says Keith Carter, Sr. But with a visit to Saint Louis on deck -- and if an offer were extended -- who knows how quickly things could materialize.
• Akeem Springs, Waukegan
A top 15 prospect in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 rankings, Springs has a whole lot going for him as he's also an outstanding student academically. A host of mid-major programs are waiting to see if Springs lands at his preferred school -- Yale. Springs visited Yale in June and is awaiting to see if his stellar academics and test score match up with the high Ivy League standards. Siena, Canisius, Gardner Webb and the University of Long Island are all in the mix as well.
• Tim Williams, Homewood-Flossmoor
The recruitment of Williams is different than all the others on this list as he's also a very recruitable football prospect. Williams, who plays quarterback, will lead the H-F football team into a Class 8A playoff game Friday night at Marist, so the immediate focus is finishing the football season strong -- and staying healthy. The 6-8 Williams plans to sit down after the football season and first decide if he's going the football or basketball route. "I will probably wait a few weeks after football and then decide what sport," says Williams. "It will be based on my personal preference and what schools have offered and are recruiting me." As a skilled 6-8 forward, Williams is an intriguing prospect, with Indiana State and IPFW having offered and actively involved, with Saint Louis showing interest.
• Eddie Alcantera, Hales Franciscan
The plan for the big-bodied, athletic 6-4 wing was to play out his senior year and wait until the April signing period. That plan is intact, especially after Alcantera missed nearly all of the July evaluation period with an injury and he becomes an even bigger focal point at Hales with the departure of Aaric Armstead.
• Denzel McCauley, Rock Island
The big 6-8, 225-pound McCauley has been somewhat of a forgotten man after transferring out of Rock Island following the basketball season and then returning to coach Thom Sigel's program this fall. McCauley offers size, skill, upside and takes up space in the paint after helping lead the Rocks to the Class 3A state title last March. He averaged 10.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the field as a junior. In the last four postseason wins last March, McCauley averaged over 13 rebounds a game, including 17 boards in the state title game victory. The interest is mild right now for McCauley, who expects to wait until the spring signing period.
• Jaleni Neely, Simeon
Aside from Proviso East's Keith Carter, Neely is the best available point guard prospect in the class. The 5-10 lead guard, however, suffered a knee injury in June that kept him out of action all summer and fall. He is expected to be cleared to play sometime in November and be an integral part of Simeon's run to a potential third straight state championship and national title as the No. 1 team in the country, according to ESPN. Look for Neely's recruitment to heat up among low-major plus and mid-major programs this winter.
• A.J. Avery, St. Rita
There have been plenty of inquiries and a host of schools who have popped in to see the 6-7 Avery this fall, but Western Michigan has clearly made the biggest push. Avery took an unofficial visit to Western Michigan last weekend and returned to Kalamazoo for an official visit on Wednesday. Western Michigan has already landed Illinois prospects Darius Paul of Warren and Charles Harris of Lake Forest Academy this past week.