By Joe Henricksen
There is no question the DePaul Team Camp, held earlier this week at Attack Athletics on Chicago's near-West Side, is a valuable tool to the Blue Demons basketball program. The opportunity for coach Oliver Purnell and the DePaul staff to get that many talented teams and prospects together for two days is an advantage few college programs anywhere in the country are granted.
In addition to it being an advantageous chance to evaluate players -- there are four high-level games going on at once in the same gym for two straight days -- it's a time for Purnell and the staff to see, get to know, introduce, further establish and build relationships with prospects, coaches, parents and Chicago's "basketball people" in a laid-back atmosphere.
Here is what the Hoops Report took in while attending the DePaul Team Camp for two days earlier this week.
➤ With the absence of Simeon's Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn and Young's Jahlil Okafor, who were all playing with the U.S. National Team, the top two prospects in the camp were in the Class of 2014. While Curie's Cliff Alexander, among the top 15 players in the country in his class, was the event's top prospect, the second best prospect was Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop.
After a slow start in the opener against Morgan Park on Monday, the 6-8 Bates-Diop continued to acclimate himself to the surroundings and showcase his versatility and off-the-charts length. As Bates-Diop continues to physically develop and become more assertive and comfortable as a player, his game will go to a completely different level than it is right now. He just oozes potential. He's a player with a strong work ethic, zero maintenance and one who clearly has room to grow physically and as a player. He's caught right now being in between a promising face-up 4-man and a legitimate wing, but he has the ability, tool package, size and a good enough combination of quickness and athleticism to become both at the high-major level in time. Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, DePaul and Kansas State have offered, with Louisville and several others showing a lot of interest.
➤ The Hoops Report will continue to scream it from the mountain top: TYLER ULIS IS A HIGH-MAJOR POINT GUARD. Marian Catholic's 5-7 (maybe 5-8) point guard is the ultimate quarterback. And nothing has changed since the Hoops Report's diatribe on Ulis back in December in this very space. The kid is special, but that December blog, which may appear as if Ulis is my own son, sums up every thought and belief the Hoops Report has of the player some high-major will ultimately give the green light to.
➤ Speaking of past blogs, the superlatives the Hoops Report threw Kendall Pollard's way in a blog a couple of weeks ago need to be repeated. The Simeon senior is putting it together as he prepares to show college coaches this July just how far he's come as a player. Every mid-major plus program in the country should be on Pollard, who may be playing himself into a bottom-end high-major player as we speak. He's lost weight and is more explosive. He's more confident and comfortable on the offensive end.
➤ Give credit to Springfield Lanphier's Larry Austin. After missing the cut for USA Basketball -- he made the team last year -- Austin traveled home from the tryouts in Colorado and made the trip to Chicago for Day 2 of the DePaul Team Camp to play with his high school teammates. That says a lot about Austin. The 6-1 guard is still a work in progress in terms of establishing himself as a true point guard at the highest level, but he did show off an improved jumper. It's clear Austin has put some time in with his jump shot since helping lead Lanphier to Peoria this past March. Austin was terrific in his first game against Farragut on Tuesday, which may have been the best the Hoops Report has seen Austin play. Although Austin wasn't as productive in the next few games, his game and development has improved.
➤ There is some serious talent on Chicago's West Side as Orr figures to be one of the top teams in Chicago and a state threat in Class 3A, but there isn't a player in the program -- past or present -- with as much upside and potential as Tyquone Greer. The 6-6 wing is still figuring it all out in terms of understanding the game and knowing when and how to impact games on a regular basis, but he's blessed with a whole lot of tools. Greer is long, athletic, shoots it well from the three-point line and is getting to the rim more and more, both in transition and in the halfcourt. Greer still projects higher than a few of the more ballyhooed prospects in the Class of 2014 in the eyes of the Hoops Report.
➤ With Simeon's big guns either playing with Team USA (Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn), absent or resting here and there, it was time for promising D.J. Williams to showcase his abilities. Williams has sprouted another inch and is probably a 6-6 wing now as heads into his sophomore year. He had some very impressive moments for Simeon on Tuesday, particularly with his perimeter jumper. Williams is right there as a top 2015 prospect with Stevenson's Jalen Brunson, the Hoops Report's No. 1 player in the sophomore class, and St. Rita's Charles Matthews.
➤ When it comes to blossoming 2014 prospects, Morgan Park's Josh Cunningham could very well be the one who blossoms as much as any junior over the next 12 months. There's a lid on Cunningham right now when it comes to college programs and national evaluators, but he has a plethora of talents he is able to tap into as a long, agile, athletic 6-5 wing. He's just scratching the surface and must polish up his skills, but he's clearly among the top dozen prospects in the junior class.
➤ Just keep doing what you're doing, Alvin Ellis. The De La Salle senior continues to get a little more steady and consistent as he matures as a player. He's slowing down his thought process in the halfcourt and with his decision-making, while showing that he can still attack the basket -- still his greatest strength -- and be aggressive when he needs to be. When he avoids rushing things, gets his feet set and squared up to the basket, he knocks down shots with range on a more regular basis.
➤ Morgan Park's Kyle Davis remains that disruptive force when he's in his comfort zone of attacking the basket. The point guard skills still are coming along as he tries to become a legit combo guard, but he understands his situation.
"I just want to show how I've changed my game, that I'm a better skilled point guard," says Davis.
Davis says he has a wide range of offers and listed Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Dayton, USC and Florida State as the six schools who he hears from the most.
➤ The Hoops Report still doesn't quite know what Tevin King is as a specific player -- a point guard? 2-guard? combo-guard? who cares? -- but the Providence St. Mel junior is just that: a player. The 6-1 guard is tough, robust, plays hard, takes contact and gets to that rim.
➤ The player the Hoops Report continued to constantly be drawn to over the two days was Proviso East's Javon Carter. You can read a previous blog from earlier this week and get a closer look at Carter, his exploits at the DePaul Team Camp and his potential right here.
➤ Proviso East point guard Paris Lee continues to shine, just as he's done all spring once the ball was put in his hands following the graduation of Saint Louis recruit Keith Carter. The little fella makes opposing ballhandlers wince bringing it up the floor against him with his quick, pesky defensive prowess. Plus, he gets you buckets from the point guard position. Forget the size. Lee is the ideal mid-major point guard.
➤ Chatham Glenwood made the trek up to Chicago as highly-regarded 2014 prospect Peyton Allen and the Titans went up against some unfamiliar foes. With suspect quickness, foot speed and body type, the 6-4 Allen will need to continue to knock down perimeter shots -- Allen's strength -- at a high rate to garner more offers from the likes of Iowa and Oklahoma State.
➤ There were several out-of-nowhere talents at the DePaul Team Camp who grabbed the Hoops Report's attention. Add a couple of names to the list in 2014. Farragut junior Ashawn Jones, a 6-2 guard, is a flat-out player. Jones is a smooth guard with scoring ability who just goes and makes plays. In addition, keep an eye on North Chicago junior Jayqan McCloud, a 6-1 guard who missed last season with an injury but is very talented and promising.
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