By Joe Henricksen
Any class that boasts Jabari Parker, the nation's top-ranked player, is going to be special. The Simeon star will forever carry the Class of 2013 -- today, tomorrow and for years to come when looking back.
And any class that follows the ho-hum Class of 2012 is going to look pretty darn good. For the sake of comparison, last year's senior class featured just three high-major signings, including Simeon's Steve Taylor to Marquette, Marshall's Milton Doyle to Kansas and Crete-Monee's Michael Orris at Kansas State. Plus, four of the top eight players in the Hoops Report's 2012 rankings didn't qualify and are headed the junior college route.
Fast-forward 12 months and the Class of 2013 could potentially churn out 10-12 high-major players, including three -- Belleville East's Malcolm Hill (Illinois), St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens (Purdue) and Morgan Park's Billy Garrett (DePaul) -- who have already committed.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at the Class of 2013's Sweet 16 -- the top 16 college prospects in the senior class as we head into July. What this list shows is the quality depth in the senior class, where players like Andrew's Jubril Adekoya, Proviso East's Paris Lee, Waubonsie Valley's Jared Brownridge, Peoria Manual's A.J. Riley, Simeon's Jaylon Tate and a couple of others, who are all solid mid-major to mid-major plus prospects, could be interchangeable with a few on this list.
1. Jabari Parker, 6-8, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
What other superlatives and awards can be thrown his way? A special talent with character and class to go with it. He's a program-changer at the next level with his combination of size, skill, versatility and great basketball I.Q. All that is left in the next 12 months is to decide where he will end up among the list of state's all-time great players.
2. Malcolm Hill, 6-6, WF, Belleville (East)
A consensus top 100 player nationally, the Illinois commit has great size on the wing and is adding to his offensive game. He can get to the basket, draw contact, get to the line and knock down free throws. Has the size, length, body and frame to eventually evolve into a true physical force on the perimeter. Unfortunately, Hill will be out all of July as he was recently in the hospital with a blood clot in his arm.
3. Kendrick Nunn, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Simeon)
He may be a bit of an undersized 2-guard at the high-major level, but there are attributes with Nunn that college coaches covet and that translate easily: high-level toughness and athleticism. Plus, Nunn has the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and is in attack mode in transition, as a finisher at the rim and defensively when he wants to be. He's an unselfish player who plays with the right mindset.
4. Sterling Brown, 6-5, WF, Maywood (Proviso East)
What excites you about Brown is the fact he's really turned the corner over the past four months, while still possessing the clear and obvious upside. Brown is more assertive, confident in his improved skill level and his body has filled out. A monster season awaits for Brown, whose stock nationally will pick up very soon.
5. Kendall Stephens, 6-5, 2G, St. Charles (East)
The slender shooting guard is starting to fill out physically and beginning to play with more assertiveness. You can't help but be enamored with the natural feathery release and touch on his jumper. The thing is pure and projects to be a big-time weapon when he's surrounded by other talented players. When you add his range, size and length, Stephens is able to get his deadly three-point shot off when he wants. The Purdue commit is a top 100 player nationally.
6. Billy Garrett, Jr., 6-4, PG, Chicago (Morgan Park)
A calming presence with the ball in his hands as Garrett understands the point guard position and just finds ways to make plays. He makes the right play and is comfortable with the ball when the game is on the line. Although he lacks ideal athleticism for a high-major guard, he will distribute, knock down shots and is just sneaky good.
7. Gavin Schilling, 6-8, PF, Chicago (De La Salle)
When you possess the type of body, size and athleticism Schilling brings to the table, it's eye-opening. The athletic 4-man needs to refine and add to his limited offensive game. His feel and footwork need to improve, but Schilling is a commodity with his physical attributes and with room to grow as a player.
8. Kyle Davis, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Morgan Park)
He remains more of a scoring 2-guard than even a true combo guard, but he's a big-time finisher with his explosiveness in the open court and at the rim. Davis makes plays and attacks opponents on both ends of the floor. An inconsistent perimeter shot and growing playmaking ability are the areas of concern.
9. Kendall Pollard, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
He's a different player than he was just a few months ago. No player has improved and raised their stock in the eyes of the Hoops Report more in the senior class since the end of the season in March than Pollard. He's trimmed down, his skill level has improved and he's evolved into a more complete and confident player. Still hangs his hat on his toughness and ability to defend multiple positions, but he can do more now.
10. Alvin Ellis, 6-4, WF, Chicago (De La Salle)
A player who would thrive in the right style and system at the next level. Long and active with above-average athleticism, Ellis put together a solid junior year while improving his perimeter jumper. While he still needs to become more consistent with his shot and understanding of the game, Ellis is a terrific finisher in the open court. The big plus is Ellis has not come close to reaching his ceiling.
11. Tommy Hamilton, 6-9, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young)
An important July ahead for the player who was once regarded as one of the elite prospects in the state -- and nation. Injuries have been an issue, but the skill level--perimeter shot, footwork and passing for a player his size--still remains promising. He's not a great athlete and he must get in top shape to impress.
12. Alec Peters, 6-7, PF, Washington
Is there a better shooter in the senior class? Quintessential face-up 4-man who can step out and extend defenses with his clean and pure shot. Peters is crafty, has a toughness about him and plays with a high basketball I.Q. He lacks the athleticism you would like, but Peters is an ideal mid-major/mid-major plus prospect and is a must-get for programs at that level.
13. Marquise Pryor, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Orr)
Quite possibly the best rebounder in the senior class. Though he has limited skill at this point and isn't the most refined player, Pryor is tough, athletic, possesses a great body, is willing to go to work on the block and is always around the basketball. Think a bigger, slightly better version of Jonathan Mills, the former North Lawndale star now at Southern Miss.
14. David Cohn, 6-2, PG/2G, Elmhurst (York)
One of those Hoops Report favorites who finally is getting the respect and attention he has deserved. A scorer who is a combo guard -- but not by default; he can play both positions effectively due to his better-than-you-think gitty-up with the ball in his hands and off-the-ball scoring ability. He's a perfect mid-major plus guard prospect.
15. Alex Foster, 6-7, PF, South Holland (Seton Academy)
He's been a big name on the basketball radar since the day he entered high school as a 6-7 freshman. Now Foster will take his game to Seton Academy for his senior year. He has his limitations, but Foster looks the part, has a nice body and when he's committed to being a physical force around the basket, he's at his best.
16. Nathan Taphorn, 6-7, WF, Pekin
Long, skilled and versatile, Taphorn, who sports an offer from Northwestern and a number of mid-major and mid-major-plus offers, can stretch a defense with his perimeter shooting ability. He needs to gain weight, strength and another level of toughness, but Taphorn still has room to grow physically and as a player.
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