By Joe Henricksen
They aren't household names in the prep hoops world around Illinois. They don't play for Simeon, Whitney Young, St. Joseph or Proviso East. But they are quality hoopers in the senior class who small college programs at the Division II and NAIA level are hoping -- selfishly hoping -- stay relatively under wraps this July.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report was impressed with their play this past winter and continues to be impressed with all they've done this spring and summer. Here is a look at several talented players in the Class of 2013 who hope to open some eyes over the next three weekends of the July evaluation period.
➤ Brad Zaumseil, Barrington
"He's a pure point guard with a great feel," says Mike Weinstein, Zaumseil's club coach of Fundamental U. "People underestimate him. He's pretty fearless."
He's a little slender and on the small side, but he's a lead guard who has a very good handle, quickness and will knock a shot down. He grabbed an offer from UC-Davis early on and has generated interest from the likes of Cal-Poly, Cornell, Bucknell, Princeton, Elon, Bucknell, North Dakota State and Miami-Ohio among others.
➤ Waller Perez, Morton
This versatile wing is skilled, with the ability to handle it, shoot it and pass it. He slashes to the basket and can step out to the three-point line. A player that gets better and better, mostly due to a work ethic his high school coach, Tony Martinucci, says is second to none.
"He's such a hard-working player," says Martinucci of his 6-4 senior. "He has gotten better on his own, putting in the time, taking a lot of pride in his game and working hard. He's a throwback and a student of the game."
Perez, who is a straight-A student in the classroom and among the top five in his class academically, averaged 15 points and just under 9 rebounds a game last season as a junior. Playing with the Illinois Wolves this July, look for the interest in Perez to increase after picking up an offer from Pan-American earlier this month.
➤ Miles Simelton, Oswego
The 5-11 scoring point guard has matured as a player and as an athlete. He's a slender but jet quick, athletic scorer who has impressed with the Illinois Attack this spring and with his high school team in June. The four-year varsity player will break people down off the dribble and knock down shots with an improved perimeter jumper. Of all the players on this list, Simelton is probably the one most capable of turning the head of a coach on a given day with his scoring, quickness and athleticism. He will prove to some coach this July that he can play Division I basketball.
➤ Kevin Kozan, Providence Catholic
He's a fun player to watch with his scoring ability and outstanding range on his jumper. Evan as a point guard, he needs to be accounted for as a scorer as he has the ability to create his own shot on the perimeter very well with good lift and a quick release. The kid is a competitor and pretty fearless. The 5-11 senior guard can go on a scoring binge that will open eyes with his shooting prowess.
"Kevin is a fierce competitor and a gym rat," says Providence coach Tim Trendel. "He loves to play the game and has a ton of upside to his game."
➤ Marvin Grant-Clark, Glenbard East
A part-time player off the bench as a sophomore for a team that finished third in the state in 2010, Grant-Clark started and came on during the second half of the season as a junior this past season. Now the 6-4 wing with athleticism and a terrific basketball body has blossomed with his high school team over the past month. He's more aggressive, is a force getting to the rim and has refined his skills, including a jumper out to the three-point line.
"He's really turned the corner," says Glenbard East coach Scott Miller.
➤ Jovan Mooring, Hillcrest
The 6-1 guard missed most of June with an ankle injury, but he's now healthy and a go for July. Another scorer in this group who has a knack for making shots, even difficult shots from the perimeter and with range. Think high school version of Vinnie Johnson -- circa 1980s Pistons. He can heat up an offense. Mooring can shoot it and score in bunches as he averaged just over 15 points a game as a junior. He also knocked down 56 three-pointers for coach Don Houston last season.
Aside from his scoring and shooting ability, Houston points out a couple of other qualities that he, as a coach, has come to appreciate in his scoring guard.
"He has a high basketball I.Q.," says Houston. "He's a leader. He's going to hold his teammates accountable because he's always going to do his part. I do think his recruitment will pick up."
➤ Juozas Balciunas, Lemont
When you watch Balciunas it's almost impossible NOT to like him with his approach to the game. There is so much to like with this tough-minded, physically strong and savvy point guard who plays calm and under control. He's a point guard who just gets it, both the game and the position. Last season, Balciunas was the Southwest Suburban Blue Player of the Year after Lemont knocked off Hillcrest late in the season to gain a share of the title. He averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists a game. Now he's a small college recruiting attraction.
➤ Maurius Hill, Homewood-Flossmoor
At 6-5 he's the quintessential undersized 4-man who gets more done than players a few inches taller. What Hill lacks in height he makes up for in tenacity and playing hard each time out. He competes and battles, uses his big body well, finishes around the basket and gets on the glass. Plus, he has the chance to perform under the Meanstreets umbrella this July.
"He's tough around the rim, has a very quick first step to the basket and can knock down the 15-foot jump shot," says H-F coach Jim McLaughlin. "With all of that, along with being 6-5, 220 pounds, he is a true power forward. He presents a lot of matchup problems. Plus, he does all the dirty work on the defensive end. He understands how to help, the importance of taking a charge and is truly a beast on the defensive glass."
➤ Brandon Jenkins, Proviso East
Although seniors Sterling Brown and Paris Lee grab most of the attention of the returning Pirates, Jenkins played a valuable role in the second half of the season for coach Donnie Boyce en route to a state runner-up finish last March. An electric athlete, Jenkins is a glider in transition and a big-time finisher at the rim. He's still figuring out how to play the game and his perimeter shot is coming along, but this 6-4 wing's elite level athleticism allows him to constantly impact games. Still a relative unknown, Jenkins is clearly one of the top 40 prospects in the Class of 2013.
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