By Joe Henricksen

August 2012 Archives

Milton Doyle lands at Loyola

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There have been recruiting whirlwinds and then there is Milton Doyle's recruiting world.

The late-blooming 6-4 Doyle, one of the top five prospects in the final Class of 2012 Hoops Report player rankings, has found a home. In a recruiting dogfight that went down to the wire, the former Marshall star chose to stay close to home this time and play for coach Porter Moser and Loyola.

While several programs around the country checked in and tried to get involved, Doyle and his family decided distance would be a factor this time. Doyle visited Loyola last week. He then took an official visit to Wisconsin-Green Bay on Monday and Tuesday. Then he returned to Loyola for another unofficial visit on Wednesday. Now he's a Rambler, offering up a commitment to Moser Wednesday evening as assistant coach Armon Gates put in a lot of work to secure a promising talent.

In accordance with NCAA transfer rules, Doyle will sit out this season and then have four years of eligibility remaining.

The career -- and recruitment -- of Doyle has been unorthodox. He transferred to Marshall from little-known Tilden following his sophomore year. Then before he could showcase his abilities in the Red-West, Doyle broke his wrist and missed his entire junior year. He did open some eyes in the Summer of 2011 with his play at the Reebok Headliner tryout camp in Chicago and then the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia. But he didn't play on the club circuit in the summer prior to his senior year to instead concentrate on academics.

Thus, Doyle remained a rather unknown. Florida International snuck in and nabbed a commitment from Doyle last fall before the kid's talent blew the top off and he became a hot commodity. Coach Isiah Thomas, however, was fired following the season and Doyle was back on the open market.

Virtually out of nowhere, Kansas was involved. Doyle visited coach Bill Self and the KU campus in Lawrence in the middle of May. The scholarship offer was made, he made the grade academically and signed with Kansas. Doyle even went on the KU European basketball trip in August.

The fit at Kansas, however, was not ideal. Rather than waiting it out for an entire school year and basketball season, Doyle and KU quickly came together and decided the best route would be to look elsewhere. Now Doyle has a chance to fully develop and grow into the promising player the Hoops Report projects he will be in the Horizon League.

Doyle was the ultimate sleeper, an underrated talent -- until Kansas started to check in. But he fits the cliché "his best basketball is ahead of him" perfectly. Doyle is just scratching the surface. He's long, wiry, active, extremely athletic and his skill level has improved the more he plays. The slashing guard averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds and nearly 5 assists a game for Marshall coach Henry Cotton this past season. Doyle was terrific in the Chicago Public League All-Star game in April, scoring 20 points in every way imaginable.

Potentially, Doyle could be a difference-maker for Moser and the Ramblers. He joins a solid, young nucleus at Loyola. Cully Payne, the former Schaumburg star, becomes eligible this season after sitting out last year after transferring from Iowa. And Moser pulled in a solid recruiting class in 2012.

The freshmen group at Loyola includes a group with versatility, upside and from different recruiting areas. A pair of Indiana prep standouts in 6-8 Matt O'Leary from Terre Haute and 6-8 Nick Osborne of Muncie, along with 6-10 Jeremy King out of Texas, provide size and versatility along the frontcourt. Guard Keke White of Peoria Manual and 6-4 shooting guard Devon Turk out of Houston provide depth in the backcourt, while Loyola landed a rugged and physical inside threat in 6-6 Tanner Williams of Orion late in 2012.

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Doesn't get any bigger or better than these transfers

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Getting riled up about transfers? While the numbers of transfers has been trending up over the past 10 years with little anyone one can do to slow it down -- as the Hoops Report delved into in a previous transfer blog -- it's obviously been going on for decades.

In addition to the many high-profile transfers the Chicago area has witnessed in recent years, some of the biggest names in Illinois prep basketball history have changed schools at some point in their career. In fact, I might be able to put together an All-Transfer team and play with -- and beat -- the All-I-Stayed-At-One-High-School-For-4-Years Team.

The six uber-talented, high-profile transfers listed below are the six the Hoops Report believes made the biggest impact. All six were McDonald's All-Americans at their new school, with four winning Mr. Basketball their senior year. All six took their team to state at least once, with three winning state championships.

Were there six bigger transfers in state history that made a more monumental impact on the prep game than these six?

Kevin Garnett (Mauldin to Farragut)
There was no bigger transfer than this one back in the mid-1990s. Can you imagine the likes of KG, the top prep player in the country, arriving in Chicago today for his senior year? He wasn't just the best player in the country; he was ELECTRIC!!!!!! (Yes, that deserved six exclamation points.) For a guy like me who sits in gyms all winter long, it would be orgasmic.

During the summer before his senior year, Garnett was involved and in the middle of a racially-charged incident in South Carolina. Garnett soon left Mauldin High for Chicago. And one of the biggest shows in Chicago prep basketball history began. He led Farragut to a 28-2 record and a trip to Champaign. He was Mr. Basketball and the National High School Player of the Year by USA Today. He was MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game and, a few months later, the No. 5 pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. And Garnett began the preps-to-pros wave, becoming the first player to be drafted directly out of high school since 1975.

The nickname "The Freak" is thrown around easily these days. In Illinois high school basketball, KG was the original -- and probably still the only -- freak. That size, length, gracefulness, skill and athleticism all rolled into one highly-charged body and competitive spirit? We only had him for one year in Illinois, but to this day, he's the best and most dominant high school player the Hoops Report has ever watched play in Illinois.

Marcus Liberty (Crane to King)
Most people forget Liberty began his career at Crane. He transferred to King in the fall of his sophomore year after leading the Cougars to a sophomore city title as a freshman. While at King, the 6-8, multi-skilled Liberty became one of the iconic prep players in state history. He helped lead King to a state title as a junior. In four state tournament games during his senior year, which resulted in a state runner-up finish, he poured in remarkable 143 points as the No. 1 ranked player in the country.

• Shaun Livingston (Peoria Richwoods to Peoria Central)
This transfer certainly changed the landscape of high school basketball in Illinois a decade ago. And though then-Richwoods coach Bob Darling always seemed to take the high road, it was controversial in Peoria. Livingston's arrival at Peoria Central for his junior year ultimately led the Lions and coach Chuck Buescher to back-to-back state titles and a combined record of 62-3. The 6-7 pure point guard was a McDonald's All-American, skipped college after signing with Duke, and became the No. 4 pick of the Los Angeles Clippers following high school.

Mark Aguirre (Austin to Westinghouse)
So what would have happened if the roly-poly Aguirre had stayed at Austin in the late 1970s? In a Sports Illustrated article during his freshman year at DePaul, Aguirre was quoted as saying, "If I had stayed at Austin, I probably wouldn't even have finished high school." He made the move to Westinghouse and became one of the state's all-time greats, leading the famed basketball program to a city championship and a trip to the Elite Eight in Champaign his senior year.

Nelison "Nick" Anderson (Prosser to Simeon)
Another transfer people forget about. He played two years at Prosser for coach Gene Ideno, where he averaged 19 points a game as a freshman and 28 as a sophomore. Then he transferred to Simeon, which was fresh off winning a state title in 1984, for his junior and senior years. Even after the tragic death of Ben Wilson in November of his junior year, Anderson still led Simeon to the Elite Eight in Champaign during his junior year. Anderson, who was Mr. Basketball in Illinois and a McDonald's All-American, averaged 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4 blocks and 5 assists for a 27-1 team his senior year. Anderson and unbeaten Simeon lost to King in the Public League championship game.

Quentin Richardson (Brother Rice to Whitney Young)
The Brother Rice faithful at the corner of Pulaski and 99th are probably still reeling from what might have been. For a basketball school like Rice, this was the player to put the program over the top -- if he had stayed. As a freshman, the promising and talented Richardson helped lead the Crusader sophomore team to a 24-0 record. He went to Brother Rice to play with his senior cousin, star Rico Hill. But when Hill graduated and headed to Illinois State, "Q" was off to Whitney Young. He was a star at Young as a rugged rebounding machine who put up double-doubles in his sleep as he played with a non-stop motor. He led the Dolphins to a state championship his senior year and became a McDonald's All-American.

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Morgan Park's Kyle Davis commits to Dayton

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By Joe Henricksen

There are styles, systems and players that fit in basketball. You hope in the recruiting world the player and the college program are a match. When it comes to Morgan Park's Kyle Davis and the University of Dayton, it's ideal.

Davis, the high-scoring guard who is poised for a big senior season, committed to coach Archie Miller on Sunday night. He visited the Dayton campus earlier this month and decided to end his recruitment before taking any other visits.

The attacking style Davis plays with should easily translate to Dayton's offensive style, which is one of the factors that led to the commitment at this time.

"Their style and the way they play was definitely one of the main things I looked at," says Davis, an explosive guard. "They play fun, exciting basketball."

But what separated Dayton from any other program that was recruiting Davis was the warmth he felt from the staff during the recruiting process and while on his visit.

"They opened their arms and had already made me feel like a part of the team before I had even committed," says Davis. "I could see the bond their coaches had, and I can now be a part of that.

"This is a great position for me to be in -- committing at this time. I am sure there are some people that will say I should have waited, that I should have taken more visits. But I really like Dayton. And I am relieved to get it out of the way. Now I can focus on school and what we have to do to go on a state and city run at Morgan Park."

Dayton, a program with a lot of basketball tradition in the Atlantic 10, finished 20-13 a year ago and reached the NIT. The Flyers return leading scorer Kevin Dillard, a former Mr. Basketball winner in Illinois from Homewood-Flossmoor.

With the recruiting efforts of Miller and assistant coach Tom Ostrom, who was the lead recruiter on Davis, Dayton has hit the Chicago area hard since Miller and his staff were hired in April of 2011. Dayton has made the Chicago area a recruiting priority and remain in the thick of things for Simeon's Kendall Pollard. Now Davis will join Dillard as a connection to the city and suburbs.

Meanwhile, Davis is anxious to get back on the floor. After beginning last season at Hyde Park, Davis transferred to Morgan Park during the second half of the season. He sat out the second semester and is counting down the days to the start of practice in November. Davis is the No. 7 ranked player in the senior class in the Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings.

"We have high expectations," says Davis of his Morgan Park team, which includes DePaul recruit Billy Garrett, Jr. "I'm excited."

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The significant impact of transfers in prep hoops

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Transfers. It's more than just a part of basketball, whether you're talking high school or college hoops. Often it can define a season for a particular program.

Earlier this week the City/Suburban Hoops Report took a look at the transfer epidemic and how little there is that can be done to curb the issue. Today, it's a look at the most influential transfers in recent years around the Chicago area. This is actually a short list. The research turned up at least a dozen more decent basketball names of players (and probably a few more that were missed) that moved schools while in high school.

And this list doesn't even include Division I prospects that transferred in from out-of-state locations (Gavin Schilling, JaVale McGee, Eddie Alcantera, Luke Hager, etc.) or left the state (DeAndre Liggins, Jalen James, Aaric Armstead, C.J. Jones, etc.).

How about this transfer nugget? Of the 20 players listed who transferred while in high school and have already played a college game, 15 have either transferred again while in college or not finished their careers with the school they signed with because of some type of "issue". With several of those players still in the early part of their college career, those numbers could still increase. Coincidence? Doubt it.

The Hoops Report starts with a Super Six list of the most influential transfers in recent years, followed by a host of other significant transfers.

① Jereme Richmond (From North Shore Country Day to Waukegan)
The idea of sending the best player in the state with legitimate high-major college talent to North Shore Country Day out of 8th grade was peculiar to begin with. We know the road the former Mr. Basketball has taken since, which included spending just one year at Illinois, but the move following his freshman year to Waukegan changed the high school basketball landscape. Even in a tumultuous three-year run at Waukegan, which included winning Mr. Basketball and being a McDonald's All-American, there were some glorious results. The Bulldogs won big with Richmond in the program, reaching Peoria twice, finishing second in 2009 and third in 2010 with a combined record of 53-10.

② Wayne Blackshear (Curie to Morgan Park)
What would have been at Curie if Blackshear, a McDonald's All-American and Louisville recruit, had stayed put? In one of the bigger and more controversial transfers in Chicago prep hoops history, Blackshear left midseason of his sophomore year and bolted to play at Morgan Park. Blackshear helped lead Morgan Park to a city championship his junior year and became the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year and McDonald's All-American his senior year. Blackshear provided a bit of a boost off the bench late last season in helping Louisville reach the Final Four in an injury-plagued freshman season.

③ Nate Minnoy (Mt. Carmel to Hales Franciscan)
This one dates back a little in comparison to the other five on this list, but it was a monumental pick-up for the Hales program. The 6-3, 220-pound Minnoy was a monster in high school, putting up impressive numbers for three seasons (an averaged of 18 points and 9 rebounds a game) after transferring from one South Side private school to another following his freshman year. He was an all-stater, helped lead Hales to a pair of state titles (the second one was forfeited) and was the MVP of the 2005 Roundball Classic All-Star game. He started with a bang at Purdue, but he eventually left after one season and attended Schoolcraft Community College before signing with Central Michigan, where he played just one season. He then signed with NAIA Lee University.

④ Marcus Jordan (From Loyola to Whitney Young)
Is there a high school in the country that wouldn't have opened its arms for the son of Michael Jordan and all that comes with that? Jordan left Loyola, where his older brother Jeffery Jordan played and graduated from, to join a powerful Public League team in Whitney Young for his junior and senior years. Jordan was a huge part of a Whitney Young team that claimed the 2009 state championship. The 6-3 guard provided leadership, toughness and was the Dolphins leading scorer. After a very productive three years at Central Florida, Jordan's basketball career is in limbo.

⑤ Carl Richard (From Whitney Young to Richards)
Probably one of the more forgotten about transfers that paid the biggest dividends. The 6-6 Richard was the leading scorer (16 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg) for a team that captured the 2008 state championship. Richard, who started out at Whitney Young before transferring to Richards for his junior year, helped lead the Bulldogs to a two-year record of 56-7. He went on and had a solid career at Indiana State.

⑥ D.J. Cooper (From Hales Franciscan to Seton Academy)
After starting his career at Hales, the dynamic point guard transferred and played his season at Seton Academy. And what a season it was. Cooper took Seton from a really good team to one of the best small school state champions in state history in 2009. During his senior year, Cooper was the catalyst of a 31-2 state championship team, averaging 14 points, 4.5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals a game. Cooper is now a star in the MAC after leading Ohio to the Sweet 16 a year ago as a junior.

Stan Simpson (From Leo to Simeon)
Prior to the start of the 2007-2008 season, the 6-9 big man made the move from Leo to Simeon. His presence inside, along with his 20-plus points a game as a senior, helped Simeon to a berth in the 3A title game, where it fell to Marshall. Simpson signed with Illinois and eventually transferred. He is now playing at Memphis.

Crandall Head (From Rich South to Crane to Rich South)
Everything seemed to be going smoothly (for the most part) for Head as a sophomore. The electric athlete was shining for the Stars, gaining national attention and recruiting interest. Then he made the move to Crane for his junior year. And, really, nothing has been the same since. A knee injury, another transfer, discipline issues and skills that never developed have stalled Head's career. After signing and playing at Illinois, Head has transferred to SMU.

Brandon Spearman (Hales Franciscan to Simeon)
The impact of Spearman, who made the move to Simeon following his sophomore year at Hales, was huge. The 6-3 wing was the catalyst for the Wolverines in March, leading Simeon to a state championship after an up-and-down regular season. Spearman was the only Simeon player to score in double figures that season. As a collegian, Spearman has left Dayton and is headed to Hawaii after a year at a junior college.

Jordan Walker (Champaign Central to Hales to Seton)
Joining D.J. Cooper on the Seton 2009 state title team was the 6-6 Walker, who previously transferred from Champaign Central to Hales, where he sat out an entire season after the move. Walker was instrumental in helping Seton to a state championship.

Ben Brust (From Hersey to Mundelein)
Following his freshman season at Hersey, the shooting guard transferred to Mundelein and capped off a brilliant three years with nearly 2,000 career points. Brust averaged 24.5 points as a senior, scoring 50 or more points twice and 40 or more points five times. Brust, who originally committed to Iowa, is now playing at Wisconsin.

Cully Payne (From Burlington Central to Schaumburg)
As a much-talked-about 8th grader, the point guard committed to DePaul and coach Jerry Wainwright before he even entered high school at Burlington Central. He de-committed from DePaul, committed to Alabama, eventually signed with Iowa, transferred from Iowa and sat out this past season at Loyola. All of this after Payne left Burlington Central to play for coach Bob Williams at Schaumburg.

Diamond Taylor (From St. Joseph to Bolingbrook)
The 6-3 guard was among the top prospects in his class throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons at St. Joseph. He received several high-major offers and committed to Wisconsin. Taylor eventually transferred from St. Joe's to Bolingbrook following his junior year. He also transferred from Wisconsin to Southern Illinois.

Terry Johnson (From Seton to St. Rita to North Lawndale)
After a strong start at Seton, Johnson transferred to St. Rita for his junior year. He then left St. Rita for North Lawndale, where he helped lead the Phoenix to a third-place finish in Class 3A his senior year. Johnson began his college career at Illinois State, transferred to Wisconsin-Green Bay and has since left Brian Wardle's program.

Jamee Crockett (From Rich Central to Crete-Monee)
The current DePaul Blue Demon switched south suburban schools early on in his career and put together a solid senior year, leading Crete-Monee to its best season in school history. Behind Crockett and fellow transfer, Michael Orris (see below), the Warriors won a school record 25 games and won regional and sectional championships.

Michael Orris (From Palatine to Crete-Monee)
The 6-2 point guard stepped in and instantly became the floor general Crete-Monee was missing. As a junior he helped guide the Warriors to a memorable season by reaching a Class 4A supersectional. The buzz within the program was quickly lost with the controversy surrounding coach Matt Ryndak and rough senior year for Orris led to a tough season last winter. Orris is now at Kansas State playing for Bruce Weber.

Mike DiNunno (From Lake Park to Von Steuben)
As a sophomore at Lake Park, DiNunno averaged 17 points a game and knocked down 86 3-pointers. He then transferred to Von Steuben, where he shined in his Public League debut, scoring 19 points in an upset win over Morgan Park in 2006. He wrapped up his career in 2008 at Von Stueben as one of coach Vince Carter's best players.

Michael Haynes (From Corliss to Washington to Fenger)
Sadly and tragically, the always-promising Haynes was shot and killed last month, just days before departing for this Division I stop at Iona. In high school, Haynes started at Corliss and left after his freshman year to attend Washington. Haynes then left an up-and-coming program at Washington, where as a junior he helped lead his team to the city championship game against Simeon and Derrick Rose, for Fenger. But he was ineligible to play his senior year at Fenger.

Quan Conner (From North Chicago to Waukegan)
A lower-profile transfer but one of impact, nonetheless. Conner played a big part in Waukegan's run to Peoria in 2009 and 2010. He was a two-year starter and averaged 10 points a game in a state runner-up finish in 2009. As a senior, Conner was the team's second leading scorer at 14.1 points per game in 2010 when the Bulldogs finished third in the state.

Josh Crittle (Timothy Christian to Hales Franciscan)
After starting his high school career as one of the top prospects in his class in Illinois, he was soon on the move. The 6-8 forward left Timothy for Hales in 2006. He signed with Oregon and played two seasons for the Ducks. He then transferred to Central Florida, where he averaged a meager 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds a game last season. Now he's headed to UIC for his final year.

Josh Humphrey (From Hales Franciscan to Crete-Monee)
Started his career at Hales and then headed to the south suburbs to play for coach Rocky Hill and Crete-Monee, helping put the Warriors program back on the map. Humphrey left the Wisconsin-Green Bay program this past year.

Current prep players who have transferred ...
Kyle Davis (From Hyde Park to Morgan Park)
The impact hasn't been felt yet -- Davis hasn't played a game yet for coach Nick Irvin. But if the Hoops Report had to put money on a particular player being among the top five scorers in the state this season??? Here's a $10 wager on KD.

Jaylon Tate (From De La Salle to Simeon)
The point guard started his first two years at De La Salle and made about as big of an impact as a young player can make on a talented team that was ranked. He left after his junior year and helped Simeon win a state title a year ago and will be the starting point guard for the state's No. 1 ranked team this season.

Javarious Amos-Mays (From Zion-Benton to North Chicago)
After a promising start at Zion-Benton as a freshman, Amos-Mays, a hard-nosed 6-3 wing, transferred to North Chicago. He was a big part of North Chicago's second-place finish in 2A as he averaged nearly 12 points a game for the Warhawks.

Alex Foster (From De La Salle to Seton Academy)
As noted in a previous blog, this is the most significant transfer to date for the upcoming 2012-2013 season. The highly-regarded Foster immediately makes Seton Academy a Class 2A state title contender.

Russell Woods (From Leo to Simeon)
It's expected that when Simeon starts school early next month, Woods will be in the halls. The 6-8 forward provides an immediate presence for a loaded team in search of a fourth straight state championship.

Coming next: A look at the all-time transfer team in Chicago prep hoops history.

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Call it an epidemic, but transfers are tough to stop

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The transfer of Alex Foster from De La Salle to Seton Academy earlier this summer is significant. So far it's the most high-profile in-state transfer to date.

And in ways it does re-shape the landscape of high school basketball in Illinois, particularly for Class 2A programs around the Chicago area and Illinois with visions of bringing home one of the four state trophies next March from Peoria. In all likelihood, Seton will be bringing one of those trophies again this season. With the arrival of Foster, Seton Academy looks more than ready to make another run to Peoria in 2A, with the possibility of improving on last year's third-place state finish.

Foster will likely be one of a few highly-regarded players to move this offseason. Simeon already has picked up a future impact player in 6-4 junior Dante Ingram, who is officially enrolled at the South Side state power after transferring from Danville. In addition, 6-8 Russell Woods, one of the better prospects in the Class of 2013, is expected to be at Simeon and bolster the Wolverines frontline after transferring in from Leo.

Kyle Davis jetted out of Hyde Park in the middle of last season. He couldn't wait. He sat out the remainder of the the 2011-2012 season while he attended Morgan Park and is preparing for his senior year.

There are plenty of other transfers that have either already gone down or will before school opens this fall.

Believe it or not, prior to this past offseason, the amount of transfers -- particularly high-profile transfers -- has actually been a little more quiet the past couple of years. But that's also in comparison to a run of years where we saw a crazy number of high-profile transfers in the Chicago area.

There are currently 400-plus Division I transfers in college basketball. Yes, that number is right and grows by the day ... 400-PLUS TRANSFERS. This year alone! This is an entirely different blog topic and story for a future date, but the movement in high school basketball with players transferring from high school to high school, along with the constant changing of teams in the AAU world each spring and summer, is a microcosm of what is happening at the collegiate level.

It's an ongoing issue, dating back decades. But the transfer of student-athletes, especially in the sports of high school basketball, never seems to slow down or get better.

How many of these transfers taking place in Illinois high school basketball have anything to do with:

A. The family is growing and needs a bigger home, thus they leave the district they are in to find a suitable home.
B. Mom or dad needs to move because of a new job or a job transfer.
C. The family would like a better school district, maybe a more diverse district, for their son.
D. There is a change in the family structure and status.

There are surely a few legitimate transfers that fall under A, B, C or D over the years when it comes to a "basketball player/student-athlete" changing schools. People do move, even ones with basketball-playing sons. But they are far and few between. Then it's a matter of trying to sort out each and every transfer. Not easy.

There is certainly a case to be made for whose place it is for anyone to tell a parent or family where they should live or why they should move or what school they should send their child to. It's for this reason that those people who shout "something has to be done about all these transfers" really don't have a lot of room to talk. Many can assume the reasons behind the moves, but only certain people truly know the reasons and factors behind the decision.

And do you think the IHSA has the manpower and the access to chase down all the facts for every transfer of a student-athlete in the state, to investigate the legitimacy of every move? I'm not talking just the high-profile ones. There are transfers on a much smaller basketball scale, as well as others that are strictly sports related as well.

Yes, I know, where there is smoke there is usually fire. But to investigate these transfers takes an inordinate amount of time (Or maybe you were thinking they would only look into basketball transfers?). And then there is the whole proving a family is sending their kid to a different school for basketball reasons only.

There are those who have told me the IHSA needs to institute a rule like they have in college, where every student-athlete must sit out one year if they transfer schools -- no matter the reason. So you're going to tell the out-of-state family or a family in Bloomington or Aurora or the Quad Cities, whose father has a new job in the Chicago area or has been involuntarily transferred, that his son or daughter can't play sports next year if they move to Gurnee? Or Schaumburg? Or Tinley Park, Lincolnshire or Joliet? Or if they move to the city and the family wants his son to attend St. Ignatius or Whitney Young?

Or, again, are we just going to have a basketball-only rule and police in place for student-athletes that transfer? Please.

But what this blog is about and what the real beef out there is, at least publicly, relates to basketball. It's happening in other sports, too, but the central focus and the total number of transfers -- and, no, I have no statistics to back this claim up -- sure seems to be basketball. And it always has been.

The movement of student-athletes in high school for the sole purpose of basketball is more common now than ever. The majority in the basketball world blames the AAU culture and influences. Though it has been going on for quite some time, particularly in the city, it's now almost becoming accepted.

This comes down to personal beliefs. This comes down to whether you believe that reason alone -- basketball and the success and notoriety that may or may not come with it -- is enough to get up and move your household, uproot the academic setting and environment the student is already in, disrupt the comfort level he has at the school and leave friends and teammates behind. Is basketball worth all that?

There is also the little elephant in the room, which is showing student-athletes how easy it is to get out of something. All of these high school transfers show the student-athlete that they can easily get up and leave when something doesn't go their way. Really, when it gets down to it, the basketball transfer occurs as a result of this. When things go bad -- a player's minutes decrease, their role isn't what mom or dad want it to be, their team isn't very strong, they aren't playing the right position, they disagree with the coach, there is a problem with an administrator, there is an eligibility issue, they don't think the coach is doing enough to develop the player, or they don't think the coach is promoting the player enough and on and on and on -- they pack up and leave.

It's become easy. It's become accepted. It's a mentality that has taken on a life of its own, beginning with how easy it is to switch AAU teams -- and listening to those AAU people who are in their ear. It starts the moment kids are freshmen in high school and now, sadly, it extends all the way to leaving a college program after a year or two.

Coming next: A look at the many high-level players that have transferred in recent years from Chicago area high schools and the impact they had at their new school.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

And your top 25 prospects in 2013 ...

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By Joe Henricksen

The momentum of July is slowly wearing down -- thankfully. It typically takes a month or so to cleanse ourselves from the outpouring of July hyperbole and all the gaga-ing that takes place. The banter and wordplay surrounding the rise and fall of prospects, often overboard during those three evaluation weekends in July, has subsided. Reality begins to set back in with many of the prospects as we roll into the fall months.

Now the Class of 2013 is closing in on making decisions, with several already committed and others setting up visits in the next couple of months prior to Signing Day in November. As we go through September and October, college coaches will check in on the seniors one last time in fall open gyms. There will be more offers handed out, but in many cases the biggest and best offers a kid in the Class of 2013 will receive have been made. The ball is in the court of the prospects in the home stretch.

So this is where the Hoops Report sees the Class of 2013 following July, with a few subtle shakeups and shifting among the top two dozen or so players in the class.

We no longer have the prep school-bound trio of Gavin Schilling (from De La Salle to Findlay Prep), Tommy Hamilton (from Whitney Young to IMG) and A.J. Riley (from Peoria Manual to La Lumiere) to rank. What we have is a top 25 list of the very best college prospects in the senior class in Illinois.

It really doesn't happen as much as you would think, but Simeon's Jabari Parker is going to end up holding the top spot from the day he entered high school as a freshman to the day he graduates. That much we know for sure.

When it comes to No. 2? The Hoops Report hates ties (Yes, that means you soccer!) or for players to share spots in rankings. It should be cut and dry, right? You ask the simple question of, "Who is better: Player A or Player B?" But the reality of the rankings is it doesn't matter in many cases. In this case, when it's thisclosebetweenafewplayers, there is no rankings gospel; the fact is they are all high-major prospects at right about the same level.

You could argue any of three players to put No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4: Belleville East's Malcolm Hill, Simeon's Kendrick Nunn and Proviso East's Sterling Brown. In the eyes of the Hoop Report, they are interchangeable as prospects, though it would have been nice to see if Hill could have distanced himself from this pack if he would have been healthy and playing in July. (The Hoops Report believes that would have happened).

As a college program, depending on your need and fit, you can't go wrong if you're trying to secure the No. 2 player in Illinois and land any of the three. And when you really get down to it, when talking purely prospects, you could go ahead and throw Kendall Stephens of St. Charles East into that group as well. He's going to flourish down the road at the college level.

The Hoops Report believes there are six -- yes, just six -- clear-cut, no-brainer high-major prospects in the Class of 2013. Yes, there are more that can play at the high-major level, based on the role they can provide, some untapped potential they still possess and finding the right college system and fit, but those are the guys that follow behind Parker, Hill, Nunn, Brown, Stephens and Morgan Park's Billy Garrett.

Today is a look at the Hoops Report's Baker's Dozen, the top 13 prospects in the Class of 2013 following the summer and as they head into their senior year. Another dozen will be revealed tomorrow to complete 2013's Top 25.

1. Jabari Parker, 6-8, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
What more do you want the Hoops Report -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to write about him? We will wait for him to heal and get healthy. We will wait to see where he decides to go to college. We will wait to see if he can win a fourth state title. And we will wait to see where he ends up among the all-time greats in state prep basketball history.
2. Malcolm Hill, 6-6, WF, Belleville (East)
The Illinois recruit lands at No. 2, over Nunn and Brown, due to the fact that he may have just a slight bit more untapped upside. Unfortunately, Hill was out of action due to a blood clot all of July. Whether fair or not, it doesn't help the reputation nationally when you're out of action. But a terrific junior campaign should lead to a monster senior year. He's bigger, better and getting more versatile.
3. Kendrick Nunn, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Simeon)
An active summer included grabbing another gold medal while playing for Team USA's FIBA under-17 world championship team and narrowing his list to five schools: Illinois, Memphis, Ohio State, Marquette and UCLA. Nunn may have slipped a bit by some nationally, falling outside the top 50 (No. 56 by ESPN.com and No. 54 by Scout.com), but you just know what you're going to get with Nunn -- a high-level athlete with toughness and a finisher at the rim who is capable of knocking a shot down.
4. Sterling Brown, 6-5, WF, Maywood (Proviso East)
The versatile Brown didn't have what you would call an eye-popping summer, at least not in comparison to his big-time state championship game performance in March. But he was steady and consistent. Many national rankings continue to miss the boat as he wasn't even included in ESPN.com's recently released top 100 (Scout.com has him No. 75). Brown just gets better over time, which was talked about in a previous Hoops Report blog late last month.
5. Kendall Stephens, 6-5, 2G, St. Charles (East)
To the dismay of some, mostly in his early years of high school, the silky smooth shooter has been a fixture in the Hoops Report's top five players in the class since his freshman year. There aren't many players that bring the features that translate to the next level as Stephens does -- high-level shooter with size and length at 6-5. When you surround Stephens with other dynamic players at the college level, he's going to thrive for coach Matt Painter at Purdue.
6. Billy Garrett, Jr., 6-4, PG, Chicago (Morgan Park)
He may not have had the summer that put him on the national map as he did in the summer of 2011, but he remains the same player: calm and cool with an understanding of the game and the ability to knock down a shot. In a state that is lacking point guards, Garrett is the best in 2013 -- by far. He's clearly DePaul's biggest in-state recruit since Oliver Purnell took over at DePaul. Now, can he get a player or two to join him?
7. Kendall Pollard, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
He's now more than just a tough, physical lockdown defender. He's expanded his offensive game and is more athletic. Pollard jumped into the top 10 after a sterling month of June while playing with his high school team, which college coaches didn't get to see. Now he has a surplus of schools courting him.
8. Kyle Davis, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Morgan Park)
The high-scoring guard put up some impressive performances over the course of the summer. With his lightning quickness and explosiveness, he will grab your attention and turn your head in a gym. In the open court and in transition, he's a fabulous get-to-the-rim finisher. The playmaking ability and decision-making is still a work in progress. Davis could excel in the right type of system and style in college. An official visit to Dayton is on tap this weekend.
9. Alvin Ellis, 6-4, WF, Chicago (De La Salle)
When perimeter shots are falling for Ellis, he clearly shows he's a top 10 player in the class. That jumper has improved over the past 12 months. The long, athletic wing still has plenty of room to grow as a player, which is another positive. He will get better. Northwestern, Minnesota, Kansas State and Wichita State are at the top of his list of schools.
10. Ben Moore, 6-7½, PF, Bolingbrook
There were no two players who enhanced their stock in the senior class more this past summer than Kendall Pollard and Ben Moore. Moore may have a bit more untapped potential and upside left in the tank than many of the players on this list. That's what is so intriguing and is why this coveted mid-major prospect is now receiving some looks (and an offer from SMU) from high-major programs. He just keeps climbing. They wonder how good can this long, active and bouncy kid who can put it on the floor be in two or three years?
11. Alec Peters, 6-7, WF/PF, Washington
Plain and simple, he's the best shooter in Illinois. Yes, he's limited athletically. But when you're 6-7, fundamentally sound with a good I.Q., crafty and can shoot the ball the way he does, you're a wanted man. He plays the game right and is a must-get recruit for any mid-major plus type program involved with him.
12. Nate Taphorn, 6-7, WF, Pekin
In so many cases in recruiting the "fit" and "style" of a college program is lost in the recruitment process. Taphorn found an ideal one with Northwestern. While he still needs to add weight, strength and mature physically, a lot of that will come in time. Right now he's a skilled wing at 6-7 who can shoot it and pass it. He's still in the process of getting comfortable creating for himself.
13. Marquise Pryor, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Orr)
He bounced around a bit on the AAU circuit this spring and summer, but no matter where or when he played his strengths were showcased. He's an athletic, rugged rebounder with an impressive college-ready body. Although limited offensively, he has some Jonathan Mills in him, the former star at North Lawndale who is now playing at Southern Miss. The ball just finds Pryor.
14. David Cohn, 6-2, PG/2G, Elmhurst (York)
Really not sure if enough people, including college coaches and basketball people in the Chicago area, appreciate Cohn and the player that he is. The Colorado State recruit played on a loaded and guard-heavy AAU team, yet still found his moments to shine here and there. Quicker and more athletic than you think, this combo guard is a scorer. You may find someone who plays just as hard as Cohn, but you won't find anyone who plays harder.
15. Russell Woods, 6-8, PF, Chicago (Simeon)
Long, agile big man with athleticism who runs the floor. He looks the part but sometimes leaves you wanting more. Right now must impact games using those strengths to rebound, block shots and finish explosively around the rim. But he remains a work in progress offensively and lacks polish.
16. Alex Foster, 6-7½, PF, South Holland (Seton Academy)
The transfer from De La Salle to Seton immediately makes the Sting a state threat in 2A this season. When he sets his mind to being a bruising throwback interior player, he is much more productive and appealing. Foster, who has Tennessee, Memphis, Minnesota and Auburn, among others, on his list of suitors, boasts a little combination of size, power, athleticism and skill in the post. He's a player who doesn't need to play with the ball to be a factor.
17. Paris Lee, 5-10, PG, Maywood (Proviso East)
The Illinois State commit will be an absolute energizer for any team he plays on, putting pressure on opponents at both ends of the floor. He's so comfortable being part of a team and carries a confidence. Love his moxie. After playing last season mostly off the ball, Lee is showing an ability to run a team this summer while still possessing the ability to put the ball in the hole.
18. Jubril Adekoya, 6-6, PF, Tinley Park (Andrew)
We're talking about a productive, old school player here in an evaluation/recruiting world that is saturated with players with potential and upside. At the end of the day, Adekoya fills a stat sheet and gets things done. The Valpo recruit rebounds, competes and brings zero baggage. He just needs to continue to make strides with his overall skills.
19. Jaylon Tate, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Simeon)
A little overlooked right now by some mid-major college programs in need of a point guard. Tate has a solid grasp of the game and the position, while his suspect jumper has improved. After playing a somewhat limited role last season for a state championship team, Tate will take over the lead guard spot this year.
20. Jared Brownridge, 6-1, 2G, Aurora (Waubonsie Valley)
The ultimate shooter who can stretch a defense with legit range, a quick, compact release and consistency. He excels at catch-and-shoot and moves well without the ball -- think Steve Kerr-like. With those attributes, along with improvement putting the ball on the floor, Brownridge is a coveted Missouri Valley-type prospect, even as a bit of an undersized 2-guard without a lot of athleticism.
21. Moshawn Thomas, 6-8, PF, Chicago (Hyde Park)
Still remains a project with upside. Tough to trust right now on the offensive end, but he's an athletic big who, when he's playing hard with a motor, can impact games around the basket with his rebounding and finishing on putbacks and dunks.
22. Andrew McAuliffe, 6-8, PF, Northbrook (Glenbrook North)
The Davidson commit is more skilled than you think, with the ability to use both hands around the basket and step away from 12-15 feet. Plays smart, plays hard. Overall agility and vertical athleticism are limited. A player in this senior class who chose a perfect college fit and the ideal level of basketball to enjoy success in the Southern Conference.
23. Sean O'Brien, 6-6, 2G/WF, Mundelein
One of the real overlooked prospects in the Chicago area who doesn't get a lot of pub -- or at least enough of it. As somewhat of a late bloomer as a prospect, he's still morphing into the player that he will become. What jumps out at you is his versatility and that combination of skill and size out on the perimeter.
24. Lexus Williams, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Marist)
While he has always done a nice job of making his teammates better with natural point guard instincts, Williams' offensive abilities have taken a nice jump forward. Williams, who will sign with Valparaiso in November, has such a good command of the game and his team.
25. A.J. Patty, 6-8, PF, Westchester (St. Joseph)
His look, length and ability to run the floor and be active at his size grabs your attention and keeps you coming back. Still in the process of figuring out how to impact games at a high level. Additional weight and strength as he physically matures will only help as his slender frame prevents him from getting his game off at times.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

Dust has settled on the Class of 2013

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By Joe Henricksen

The momentum of July is slowly wearing down -- thankfully. It typically takes a month or so to cleanse ourselves from the outpouring of July hyperbole and all the gaga-ing that takes place. The banter and wordplay surrounding the rise and fall of prospects, often overboard during those three evaluation weekends in July, has subsided. Reality begins to set back in with many of the prospects as we roll into the fall months.

Now the Class of 2013 is closing in on making decisions, with several already committed and others setting up visits in the next couple of months prior to Signing Day in November. As we go through September and October, college coaches will check in on the seniors one last time in fall open gyms. There will be more offers handed out, but in many cases the biggest and best offers a kid in the Class of 2013 will receive have been made. The ball is in the court of the prospects in the home stretch.

So this is where the Hoops Report sees the Class of 2013 following July, with a few subtle shakeups and shifting among the top two dozen or so players in the class.

We no longer have the prep school-bound trio of Gavin Schilling (from De La Salle to Findlay Prep), Tommy Hamilton (from Whitney Young to IMG) and A.J. Riley (from Peoria Manual to La Lumiere) to rank. What we have is a top 25 list of the very best college prospects in the senior class in Illinois.

It really doesn't happen as much as you would think, but Simeon's Jabari Parker is going to end up holding the top spot from the day he entered high school as a freshman to the day he graduates. That much we know for sure.

When it comes to No. 2? The Hoops Report hates ties (Yes, that means you soccer!) or for players to share spots in rankings. It should be cut and dry, right? You ask the simple question of, "Who is better: Player A or Player B?" But the reality of the rankings is it doesn't matter in many cases. In this case, when it's thisclosebetweenafewplayers, there is no rankings gospel; the fact is they are all high-major prospects at right about the same level.

You could argue any of three players to put No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4: Belleville East's Malcolm Hill, Simeon's Kendrick Nunn and Proviso East's Sterling Brown. In the eyes of the Hoop Report, they are interchangeable as prospects, though it would have been nice to see if Hill could have distanced himself from this pack if he would have been healthy and playing in July. (The Hoops Report believes that would have happened).

As a college program, depending on your need and fit, you can't go wrong if you're trying to secure the No. 2 player in Illinois and land any of the three. And when you really get down to it, when talking purely prospects, you could go ahead and throw Kendall Stephens of St. Charles East into that group as well. He's going to flourish down the road at the college level.

The Hoops Report believes there are six -- yes, just six -- clear-cut, no-brainer high-major prospects in the Class of 2013. Yes, there are more that can play at the high-major level, based on the role they can provide, some untapped potential they still possess and finding the right college system and fit, but those are the guys that follow behind Parker, Hill, Nunn, Brown, Stephens and Morgan Park's Billy Garrett.

Today is a look at the Hoops Report's Baker's Dozen, the top 13 prospects in the Class of 2013 following the summer and as they head into their senior year. Another dozen will be revealed tomorrow to complete 2013's Top 25.

1. Jabari Parker, 6-8, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
What more do you want the Hoops Report -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to write about him? We will wait for him to heal and get healthy. We will wait to see where he decides to go to college. We will wait to see if he can win a fourth state title. And we will wait to see where he ends up among the all-time greats in state prep basketball history.
2. Malcolm Hill, 6-6, WF, Belleville (East)
The Illinois recruit lands at No. 2, over Nunn and Brown, due to the fact that he may have just a slight bit more untapped upside. Unfortunately, Hill was out of action due to a blood clot all of July. Whether fair or not, it doesn't help the reputation nationally when you're out of action. But a terrific junior campaign should lead to a monster senior year. He's bigger, better and getting more versatile.
3. Kendrick Nunn, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Simeon)
An active summer included grabbing another gold medal while playing for Team USA's FIBA under-17 world championship team and narrowing his list to five schools: Illinois, Memphis, Ohio State, Marquette and UCLA. Nunn may have slipped a bit by some nationally, falling outside the top 50 (No. 56 by ESPN.com and No. 54 by Scout.com), but you just know what you're going to get with Nunn -- a high-level athlete with toughness and a finisher at the rim who is capable of knocking a shot down.
4. Sterling Brown, 6-5, WF, Maywood (Proviso East)
The versatile Brown didn't have what you would call an eye-popping summer, at least not in comparison to his big-time state championship game performance in March. But he was steady and consistent. Many national rankings continue to miss the boat as he wasn't even included in ESPN.com's recently released top 100 (Scout.com has him No. 75). Brown just gets better over time, which was talked about in a previous Hoops Report blog late last month.
5. Kendall Stephens, 6-5, 2G, St. Charles (East)
To the dismay of some, mostly in his early years of high school, the silky smooth shooter has been a fixture in the Hoops Report's top five players in the class since his freshman year. There aren't many players that bring the features that translate to the next level as Stephens does -- high-level shooter with size and length at 6-5. When you surround Stephens with other dynamic players at the college level, he's going to thrive for coach Matt Painter at Purdue.
6. Billy Garrett, Jr., 6-4, PG, Chicago (Morgan Park)
He may not have had the summer that put him on the national map as he did in the summer of 2011, but he remains the same player: calm and cool with an understanding of the game and the ability to knock down a shot. In a state that is lacking point guards, Garrett is the best in 2013 -- by far. He's clearly DePaul's biggest in-state recruit since Oliver Purnell took over at DePaul. Now, can he get a player or two to join him?
7. Kendall Pollard, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Simeon)
He's now more than just a tough, physical lockdown defender. He's expanded his offensive game and is more athletic. Pollard jumped into the top 10 after a sterling month of June while playing with his high school team, which college coaches didn't get to see. Now he has a surplus of schools courting him.
8. Kyle Davis, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Morgan Park)
The high-scoring guard put up some impressive performances over the course of the summer. With his lightning quickness and explosiveness, he will grab your attention and turn your head in a gym. In the open court and in transition, he's a fabulous get-to-the-rim finisher. The playmaking ability and decision-making is still a work in progress. Davis could excel in the right type of system and style in college. An official visit to Dayton is on tap this weekend.
9. Alvin Ellis, 6-4, WF, Chicago (De La Salle)
When perimeter shots are falling for Ellis, he clearly shows he's a top 10 player in the class. That jumper has improved over the past 12 months. The long, athletic wing still has plenty of room to grow as a player, which is another positive. He will get better. Northwestern, Minnesota, Kansas State and Wichita State are at the top of his list of schools.
10. Ben Moore, 6-7½, PF, Bolingbrook
There were no two players who enhanced their stock in the senior class more this past summer than Kendall Pollard and Ben Moore. Moore may have a bit more untapped potential and upside left in the tank than many of the players on this list. That's what is so intriguing and is why this coveted mid-major prospect is now receiving some looks (and an offer from SMU) from high-major programs. He just keeps climbing. They wonder how good can this long, active and bouncy kid who can put it on the floor be in two or three years?
11. Alec Peters, 6-7, WF/PF, Washington
Plain and simple, he's the best shooter in Illinois. Yes, he's limited athletically. But when you're 6-7, fundamentally sound with a good I.Q., crafty and can shoot the ball the way he does, you're a wanted man. He plays the game right and is a must-get recruit for any mid-major plus type program involved with him.
12. Nate Taphorn, 6-7, WF, Pekin
In so many cases in recruiting the "fit" and "style" of a college program is lost in the recruitment process. Taphorn found an ideal one with Northwestern. While he still needs to add weight, strength and mature physically, a lot of that will come in time. Right now he's a skilled wing at 6-7 who can shoot it and pass it. He's still in the process of getting comfortable creating for himself.
13. Marquise Pryor, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Orr)
He bounced around a bit on the AAU circuit this spring and summer, but no matter where or when he played his strengths were showcased. He's an athletic, rugged rebounder with an impressive college-ready body. Although limited offensively, he has some Jonathan Mills in him, the former star at North Lawndale who is now playing at Southern Miss. The ball just finds Pryor.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

School is starting! These 10 programs can't wait

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By Joe Henricksen

Some high school students start school this week, most of them next week and the majority of Chicago Public Schools will open their doors after Labor Day. And, yes, it's the start of football season. But the start of the new school year means basketball practice officially begins in less than three months.

Whether it was a lightning bolt finish at the end of last season that figures to carry over into 2012-2013 or simply the return of a strong nucleus of talent, there are several Chicago area basketball programs who are anxious for the first bell of first period to ring this school year. That's because a highly-anticipated season is right around the corner.

These aren't the only programs energized for the 2012-2013 season, but here is a look at 10 programs who certainly have the calendar date of Nov. 5 circled, the first official day of high school basketball in Illinois.

Simeon. Duh, this one is obvious. Even a potential Chicago teacher's strike would be taken care of by November. Wouldn't you be chomping at the bit to get after it with the return of Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn, along with a loaded supporting cast, as the Wolverines prepare for a run at a fourth straight state championship? This is history-making stuff, with the chance for Simeon to equal Peoria Manual's state record four straight state championships in the mid-1990s.

Proviso East. You didn't think the Pirates were going to go away, did you? First, it's no doubt going to be difficult to match last season's magical run, which included a 32-1 record and a state runner-up finish. But coach Donnie Boyce's program has the pieces to at least try, with the return of 6-5 Sterling Brown, a coveted high-major prospect, and returning guard Paris Lee, who is committed to Illinois State. Look for highly-athletic Brandon Jenkins and junior Jevon Carter to emerge this season as big-time offensive weapons.

Washington. This program may not be in the Chicago area -- it sits just a few miles east of Peoria -- but it boasts a star in 6-7 Alec Peters, one of the state's elite coaches in Kevin Brown and returning talent from a 2012 3A sectional finalist. And, oh, Brown's team was a chemistry class in action this summer as the fine-tuned Panthers rolled to a 32-2 record, winning practically every shootout and camp tournament it played in this past June, including shootout titles at Peoria Richwoods, Lincoln and Illinois Wesleyan. Washington will be one of the 3A favorites in March.

St. Joseph. There is no question this is the most talent legendary coach Gene Pingatore has had at St. Joe's since the Demetri McCamey-Evan Turner days. The roster is filled with blossoming players. The return of 6-8 senior A.J. Patty, senior wing Ronald Lewis and juniors Paul Turner, Michael Brooks and Karriem Simmons is a start. But when you add the promising sophomore backcourt of Jordan Ash and Glynn Watson, the Chargers could make a run at a Catholic League title. The big question: How difficult will it be to replace under-the-radar star Reggie Johnson, who graduated and is now at Miami-Ohio?

Marist. Remember that team the Hoops Report felt so good about last March? The RedHawks went on to upset Curie in the regional final and Bogan in the sectional semis before falling to Simeon. Coach Gene Nolan welcomes back his top three players in Valpo-bound point guard Lexus Williams, 6-0 senior guard L.J. McIntosh and unheralded Nic Weishar, a rugged and versatile 6-5 junior. Plus, Marist will have a pair of players in Jack Barry and Will Brennan who gained experience last season. Senior guard Zack Niemiera had a solid summer and promising sophomore guard Jeremiah Ferguson transferred in from Wheaton Academy.

Waubonsie Valley. Neuqua Valley has averaged nearly 25 wins a season over the past eight years. Playing with its first group of seniors in school history, coach Bob Vozza's Metea Valley team won the Upstate Eight Valley, 25 games and a regional title a year ago. Now it could be Waubonsie Valley's turn, which could have its best team since the 2001-2002 team went 28-2 if the point guard play is steady and consistent. The program certainly has its best player in school history -- sweet shooting guard Jared Brownridge, one of the top 20 prospects in the Class of 2013. Brownridge is not the only talent returning from an 18-9 team. Both Bryan Jefferson, a 6-6 senior, and 6-6 junior Jack Cordes are poised for breakthrough seasons after playing key roles a year ago. Plus, guard Dylan Warden and 6-4 Javares Steward return as the Warriors will be the team to beat in the Upstate Eight Valley.

St. Viator. This team and program will be heading into the season with their chest out a little more after winning a school record 25 games, going unbeaten and winning its first outright East Suburban Catholic title and capturing a regional championship. A team that went 10 deep a year ago will welcome back six players, including highly-thought-of Ore Arongundade, a 6-1 junior, and sophomore point guard Mark Falotico. Plus, with Arongundade and Falotico on varsity, the sophomore team still managed to go 17-8 a year ago. While it will be difficult to match last year's success, a promising run will continue for coach Mike Howland and the Lions.

Orr. A year ago the Spartans were the No. 1 sectional seed but were stunned by No. 8 seed Wheaton St. Francis in the regional final. That bitter taste lingers but is offset by the fact Orr is loaded with talent. If that talent comes together and stays intact, this has the potential to be the best Orr team in school history. The trio of 6-7 Marquise Pryor, 6-8 Marlon Jones and 6-6 junior Tyquone Greer forms a frontline of Division I talent. Add tough, veteran point guard Jamal McDowell and 6-2 sophomore guard Lou Adams, who was recently offered by Pan American.

Whitney Young. What people forget is the Dolphins, who battled injuries a year ago, were a bunch of pups last year with the sophomore trio of 6-10 Jahlil Okafor, 6-9 Paul White and point guard Miles Reynolds all playing pivotal roles. Young did win a regional title before falling to Simeon in the sectional semis, but this junior nucleus is back. And keep an eye on emerging Joseph Toye, a 6-4 athletic wing with loads of promise. But with Okafor, a consensus top five talent nationally in the Class of 2014, coach Tyrone Slaughter has something no other coach in the state of Illinois possesses: a true, refined, polished and unstoppable back-to-the-basket force down low.

Normal U-High. Along with the aforementioned Washington, here is another central Illinois program with huge expectations after finishing second in Class 2A a year ago. The bad news is U-High moves up in classes this year and will compete in 3A. The good news is 6-8 junior Keita Bates-Diop, one of the top 30 players in the country in the Class of 2014, is back and better. Plus, senior Nick Schroeder and a pair of up-and-coming juniors, 6-5 Malik Wildermuth and 6-6 Kane Wildermuth, all return from a 28-win team.

And at the other end of the spectrum ...
The fortunes have changed for a few programs in the Chicago area. The news certainly isn't all dire, but for various reasons these teams have been dealt some difficult circumstances and have lost a little buzz heading into the 2012-2013 season.

Mundelein. Coach Richard Knar's program was supposed to be on the list above. But ... The news of Robert Knar's blown ACL in late July is still resonating. This was a team that would have been ranked among the top 20 teams in the Chicago area and picked to win the North Suburban Lake -- with a healthy Knar, the high-scoring guard who is committed to Northern Iowa. It's a no-doubt-about-it punch in the gut to a program with such high expectations. And even with several other key players returning, it's nearly impossible to overcome and reach the levels anticipated. There is still talent at Mundelein, led by Division I prospect Sean O'Brien, but a 20-win season is more realistic than the potential 28-30 win season the Mustangs may have enjoyed with a healthy Knar.

De La Salle. When the 2011-2012 school year ended in June, De La Salle was forecasted as a preseason top top five team for the 2012-2013 season. The perimeter was going to feature a talented and veteran group in Division I prospect Alvin Ellis, shooter Marcus White and tough-minded Demarcus Richardson. The frontcourt would be anchored by the Division I tandem of 6-7 Alex Foster and 6-8 Gavin Schilling, with 6-8 Justin Earls coming along behind them. Now Foster (now at Seton), Schilling (Findlay Prep) and Richardson (Curie) are elsewhere, leaving coach Tom White's club a marginal top 25 team. What a difference three months makes.

Warren. There will certainly be a different look at this power-packed program. The last two years the Blue Devils won a whopping 57 games, including a state runner-up finish in 2011 and back-to-back North Suburban Lake titles (23-1 in two years). Over the past eight seasons Warren has averaged 24 wins a year under coach Chuck Ramsey. This year? You better believe North Suburban Lake rivals are licking their chops. Ramsey has stepped down as coach after two stellar decades as head coach and is now the head coach at College of Lake County. And the cupboard is as bare as it's been in years. Warren graduated all five starters from a year ago. The good news is Warren hired a solid young coach in 32-year-old Ryan Webber, who guided Moline to a 23-9 season a year ago and has a 142-63 record in seven seasons (four at Moline and three at Byron).

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

De La Salle hit hard but Alvin Ellis staying put

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By Joe Henricksen

This is where we are at now in high school basketball in the Chicago area: A newsworthy story written on a player who is STAYING at his high school, rather than transferring.

With that being said, kudos to you, Alvin Ellis!

No program has been hit as hard or devastated more by transfers than De La Salle and coach Tom White. The veteran coach has lost a bundle of talent over the past 15 months in this basketball culture we now accept.

Jaylon Tate, who played on the varsity for White his freshman and sophomore years, transferred to Simeon last year and will be the starting point guard for the state's No. 1 ranked team this season. Highly-regarded Alex Foster, a 6-7 senior, departed for Seton Academy earlier this summer. Gavin Schilling, a high-profile transfer to De La Salle last summer, is also gone after one year. The 6-8 forward is going the prep school route and will be at Findlay Prep in Nevada this school year.

That's three players all ranked among the top 20 prospects in the Class of 2013 in Illinois who have left De La Salle. Now word is out that senior guard Demarcus Richardson will be transferring to Curie.

Which brings us back to Ellis, the talented 6-4 wing who, despite rumors he too was leaving the South Side private school, steadfastly remains at De La Salle.

"He's staying put," says Alvin's father, Alvin Ellis, Sr., of where his son will be this fall when school opens. "You can put that out there. He will be at De La Salle for his senior year."

The only real option the Ellis family explored was the possibility of attending IMG Academy in Florida, a training facility for athletic, academic and personal development in Bradenton. But Alvin Ellis, Sr. said his son "really wanted to stay at De La Salle."

"He wants to stick this out," says the dad. "He wants to stay and see what he can do this year at De La Salle and finish what he started."

So Ellis will embark on a senior campaign, along with fellow senior guard Marcus White and others, as the front man for a program whose high hopes have been fragmented.

Again, news of a high school kid staying put probably shouldn't be a story, but with the onslaught of transfers -- from role players to high-profile prospects -- it sadly is. And along with that comes a respect and admiration for Ellis, who is in an odd situation where so many of the classmates and friends he came to play with at De La Salle have left. It would have been easy for Ellis to jump ship.

They will all be attending different high schools when school begins this fall, but the trio of Foster, Tate and Ellis remain linked. All three just wrapped up their club basketball careers playing together with a loaded Meanstreets team on the AAU circuit. And though they all started their high school basketball path together at De La Salle as prized and promising freshmen, they will be finishing up their final year of high school apart.

During the 2009-2010 high school basketball season, the Hoops Report spent a night watching the De La Salle sophomore and varsity teams play early in the year. There was plenty of young talent on display, while veterans Mike Shaw and Dre Henley anchored coach Tom White's program. Tate and Foster both played significant minutes and roles at the varsity level that night, while Ellis starred on the sophomore team. It was impossible not to be impressed with the abundance of young talent at De La Salle at that time. Meteor fans and alums were feeling giddy. College coaches were flocking to the gym two blocks east of U.S. Cellular Field.

The Hoops Report remembers walking out of the gym that night feeling it would be Ellis, the kid playing on the sophomore team, that would ultimately be the top prospect among De La Salle's "Big Three" by the time they were all seniors. At that time the 6-7 Foster was the rage and Tate was shining as the fearless point guard on the varsity. Although it could be debated by some, as we head into the 2012-2013 season, it's indeed Ellis who is the highest ranked of the three in the Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings. Ellis is the best prospect with the most upside of any Meteor in the past decade.

Now Ellis, who will undoubtedly have a few more suitors try to jump in the mix after wrapping up his AAU summer, has four schools that stand out: Northwestern, Kansas State, Minnesota and Wichita State.

"There could be a few more that jump in, but right now our focus will be on the four that are on the table and that we want to get to know better," says Alvin Ellis, Sr. "Alvin visited Northwestern, and we want to get to Kansas State, Minnesota and Wichita State. Those are really the four we're looking at."

There will certainly be one player the Hoops Report will be rooting for this winter: Alvin Ellis. With all coach Tom White and the program have been through over the past year or so, you better believe that will be one emotional Senior Night when Ellis plays his last home game for his coach and the fans of De La Salle.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

What if we could assemble a Team Illinois?

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By Joe Henricksen

It's August, the slowest basketball month of year, and I'm still thinking hoops. My creative juices, out-of-the-box thinking is flowing.

In the Olympic spirit, I had a dreamy vision the other day while watching USA Basketball in London. What if in my make-believe-world there was this massive prep event in the United States centered on high school basketball? All 50 states put their top high school talent together, were coached up in a couple of mini-camps in preparation for the event and then competed in play-in pools until we had the top 16 states matched up in a tournament format?


Fabulously fun!

Each state would put together its best "team" possible. The roster could include anyone in high school -- seniors, juniors, sophomores or incoming freshmen. The competition could take place every two years.

Sure, there would be some games similar to the USA-Nigeria debacle, the 156-73 drudgery a few days back -- say Illinois vs. Hawaii or Texas vs. Wyoming in pool play games? -- but it would be a whole lot of fun when we got down to the final 16 or the quarterfinals.

On paper, Texas would be the favorite in our U.S. Basketball States Cup Challenge (Yes, that's the name I came up with just as I was typing seconds ago, so we'll go with it. No real thought put into it. Name suggestions anyone for our make-believe national prep basketball event?).

But again, on paper, Texas would potentially feature Julius Randle, the No. 2 player in the country behind Jabari Parker of Simeon, along with Andrew and Aaron Harrison, twin brothers from Texas who are among the top five players in the country. There is also Duke-bound guard Matt Jones and another top 20 talent in guard Keith Frazier.

Yep, that's five Texans among the top 30 players in the country in the senior class, including three of the top five. And that's not even including two more Texans -- Emmanuel Mudlay and Justise Winslow -- who are among the top 10 players nationally in 2014. And, oh, a top five talent in 2015, Mickey Mitchell, is from Texas, too.

Yes, Texas is ridiculously loaded with elite high school talent and would be the heavy favorite in Vegas. But right now, the summer of 2012, Illinois could piece together a pretty special team of its own, one that would be in that second group behind favored Texas. The likes of Illinois, California, New Jersey, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia, New York and Virginia would make a solid tournament nucleus.

So let me pretend to be Jerry Colangelo-like, the director of USA Basketball, as I assemble the ideal roster to contend in the U.S. Basketball States Cup Challenge. This is my blog, so this is my baby. There will surely be some debate on the final roster. No problem. (Just remember, people, it's make-believe! So you crazy parents out there, don't get all riled up. There really isn't any potential two-week, cross-country trip out there for your kid!)

There will be careful thought put into the construction of our Illinois team. It can't simply be the best "prospects" out there. We can't just go with the "wow factor" with the big names as we piece this group of 12 players together. The players have to fit, have the right attitude, become a cohesive unit. Sure, we need a few stars for sure, but we need a true point guard and ballhandlers, the designated shooter, the role-playing tough guy, some size inside, the defender, etc.

Here we go ...

We immediately have the luxury of having the cornerstone of this year's team in Simeon's Jabari Parker and Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor. Talk about two ideal players to build around.

Both Parker and Okafor have national team experience playing on gold medal-winning USA Basketball teams in their age group. Parker is the No. 1 prep player in the country, brings size at 6-8 and tremendous versatility. We can play Parker at a number of different positions, create mismatches all over the floor and, if we want, go really big in size or go small and versatile.

And with Okafor we have a true, legit 6-10 ½ monster on the block who will be a matchup nightmare. There are few states who are going to be able to put a true back-to-the-basket difference-maker in the middle like we can with Okafor, who must be accounted for every single minute he's on the floor.

What I like most about Parker and Okafor on this type of team, however, is that even with the "top dog" label they will receive, these two are unselfish stars. They will do whatever it takes for Team Illinois.

With Parker and Okafor locked in, it's time I turn to the point guard position. When assembling an all-star type group it's imperative to find the right point guard. Remember, this team needs to come together because winning is a priority, which is why the point guard position is critical. Anyone who reads this blog religiously knows exactly who Joe Henricksen, Director of Team Illinois Basketball, wants running his team: Tyler Ulis.

The 5-8 junior from Marian Catholic will be Team Illinois' starting point guard. He brings all the intangibles I need in a lead guard, including the most important one: making those around him better. He makes the decisions you want to be made. He's a pure point guard. And if you look throughout the state of Illinois, there really aren't many of those around. This is the guy.

For the most part, I want my wing and 4-man to be interchangeable pieces, which is why Parker is so nice to have as he can easily swing between the two. With a big man like Okafor, along with the occasional post-up ability of Parker, we need room for them to operate. We don't need another down low, on-the-block traditional 4-man clogging things up.

That brings me to Keita Bates-Diop of Normal U-High, the fast-rising 6-8 junior who brings length, athleticism and the versatility we need. Like Parker, he can play both forward spots. As a 4-man he can step away from the basket, face up and be the multi-dimensional guy we need. He has the length to disrupt things in a variety of ways. We don't have to label Parker or Bates-Diop as they both can play either of the forward spots efficiently for what we need them to do at those positions.

The 2-guard spot will come down to a pair of players: Simeon's Kendrick Nunn and St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens. These two will complement one another well. Between the two of them we will get everything we need from our 2-guard.

Nunn, a 6-1 senior, is the big-time athlete with toughness. He will defend, make plays at the rim and in transition. Plus, he has USA Basketball experience. Stephens brings length at 6-5 and will be one of our most valuable shooters with his perimeter shooting ability. When you put Stephens on the floor with the likes of Ulis, Parker and Okafor, you'll see the best of him as he's surrounded by elite talent. He will help space the floor.

So we have Ulis at the point guard position, with Okafor in the middle, Parker and Bates-Diop at the two forward spots and then Nunn and Stephens interchangeable at the shooting guard position. We have half the team assembled. The remaining six spots need to be players who will fill roles -- and accept those roles -- while filling any holes we may have.

First, we need another knockdown shooter to bring off the bench. Right now we have Stephens as our best, most consistent 3-point shooter. I want Alec Peters of Washington, the 6-7 senior who is arguably the best shooter in the state. He brings size and can get his shot off when he wants. With the likes of Parker and Bates-Diop, Peters won't get a lot of time. But he is on this team for one reason: shooting. And with that an ability to stretch a defense. If we're scuffling from the perimeter, having trouble scoring and shots just aren't falling, we'll plug in Peters. Think Kyle Korver.

Our backup big man is going to be Curie's Cliff Alexander, one of the premier prospects nationally in the Class of 2014. There will be few states, if any, who can bring a player of this size and quality off the bench. Alexander is the big body and rebounder we need, athletic and an interior presence.

Alexander will be able to spell Okafor sufficiently. With the way we want to play and run things offensively, I'm not sure if Okafor and Alexander on the floor together will happen all that often. But the option is there to go big if we have to with a frontline of Okafor, at 6-10 ½, Alexander at 6-9 and Parker at 6-8.

For this team, at this time, for specific purposes, I have to put Kendall Pollard of Simeon on this team. There may be other players ranked higher or are considered higher-level "prospects," but Pollard is ideal for the make-up of this team. He won't be asked to do a lot on this team, but he will be great in practice and off the bench. He has a little size at 6-5. He has some versatility in that he can play both forward spots. And, most importantly, he has the ability to defend multiple positions.

If Julius Randle or Aaron Harrison are killing us in our matchup with Texas, I have no problem putting Pollard in there to disrupt their flow and get them out of sync offensively for a stretch. And Pollard, with his combination of strength, size, athleticism, toughness and instincts, can do just that.

This next roster spot is tricky. We either need a quality, veteran guard who can knock down a shot from the perimeter and run a team from the point guard position, or we need a slasher who can create a little and get to the rim. That leaves us with one spot among these three: Morgan Park's Billy Garrett, Belleville East's Malcolm Hill and Proviso East's Sterling Brown. Since Hill is still recuperating from an injury, we're going to have to go with either Garrett or Brown. Tough call.

But the faith I have in our final two players at the end of the bench (keep reading), who are both guards, leads me to taking Brown. Here is another true versatile player for us off the bench, who has also shown the ability to come up big when it matters: last year's state championship game vs. Simeon.

Our backup point guard needs to be able to come in and change the tempo, put relentless pressure on opposing guards and wreak havoc in the limited minutes he will receive playing behind Ulis. I'm going with Paris Lee of Proviso East, who brings ultra-quickness, energy, a positive attitude and will be a pesky, defensive dog. The kid is a winner and has an infectious positive personality for this team off the bench.

I want our final spot taken by a young player. If we're going to be doing this competition every two years, Team Illinois will need a holdover in the sophomore class for the summer of 2014. This player will gain valuable experience in 2012. He may not be asked to do a ton as probably the 11th or 12th man, but who knows how he will respond.

The young talent we're going to bring along is Charles Matthews of St. Rita. The 6-4 guard is versatile, gives us some length on the perimeter and will certainly be one of our go-to guys when the 2014 team is assembled. He can play both guard spots if needed.

So that leaves us with a roster that looks like this.

Point Guard
Ulis will be our starter, probably play anywhere from 24-26 minutes a game, with Lee as his primary backup playing 6-8 minutes. We have Mathews around as well if needed.

Shooting Guard
The bulk of the 32 minutes will be split between Nunn and Stephens. In a pinch and if we wanted to go really big, we could slide Parker in at the 2-guard spot. In pool play games, where we should dominate, Matthews can gain some valuable minutes here as well.

Center
Okafor will get 25-plus minutes in the middle, with Alexander backing him up. We don't have a lot of depth at this position, but we don't need a lot when you have Okafor and Alexander.

Power Forward
With how we want to play, we'll start Bates-Diop at the 4-spot. But we have a variety of players we can plug in here, including Parker, Pollard, Peters and even Brown if we want to go with a small, quick lineup.

Small Forward
Parker will play all over, but he will take the majority of the minutes on the wing. We also have Pollard and Brown backing him up.

What I love most about this team is that we have bonafide stars in Parker and Okafor, along with a ton of versatility. There are so many different types of lineups we can put out there with this group. Concerns? Lets take a look at a couple of potential concerns with this team.

The one area we may be lacking is that ideal, quintessential skilled and athletic wing who can just go break any defender down and get his points when he wants to. Then again, we have the nation's No. 1 prospect at the wing position. We are also pretty small at the point guard position with both Ulis and Lee.

The Format
First, I have to tinker with the evaluation calendar for basketball to make this work. So lets pretend in our make-believe hoops world that we can go back in time here in 2012.

I'm going to eliminate the final weekend of the current AAU evaluation calendar in July. Thus, the AAU basketball evaluation periods for college coaches will include two weekends in April (as it is right now) and the two current long weekends in July. We're going to open one week in June, where college coaches can go evaluate true, traditional high school events of their choosing, which could include shootouts, tournaments and camps with their high school teams.

College coaches will also be allowed to follow and evaluate our U.S. Basketball States Cup Challenge in the final 15 days of July.

There are 50 states. We will have 16 different pools with 3 states in each pool, playing two games each before tournament play includes the top 16 states from across the country. That number obviously equals 48, so we have to eliminate 2 states. Here's how we will do that ...

We're going to put the eight worst states in two separate play-in pools. The last-place team in each pool will be eliminated from U.S. Basketball States Cup Challenge competition. These eight states are the ones who have produced the fewest top 100 players since 1998. There are four -- Hawaii, Vermont, Montana and Idaho -- who have not churned out a single top 100 talent during that time. There are four others who have produced just a single top 100 player, according to consensus top 100 lists: Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming.

I know, you basketball junkies are so wanting to know what one player each of those states has produced since 1998. Here goes:

■ Wyoming produced Wake Forest star James Johnson in 2007, who was ultimately drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2009 with the No. 16 pick. He was out of the Wyoming hoops hotbed of Cheyenne East High School.

■ Gonzaga nabbed Colorado's 2006 Prep Player of the Year Matt Bouldin from ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch, a 6-4 guard and the lone top 100 player out of Colorado since 1998 (before Chauncey Billups' time starring in Colorado in the mid-1990s).

■ In 1998, Kansas signed the top player out of North Dakota -- 6-1 guard Jeff Boschee, a McDonald's All-American who became a four-year starter for Roy Williams.

Wes Wilkinson was a borderline top 100 player out of Nebraska in 2002, but the 6-8 forward was top 100, nonetheless. He signed with Nebraska and put together a decent career.

What state has produced the most top 100 talent, according to the rankings, since 1998? It's California in a landslide, followed by Texas.

Back to our format ... The 16 pools will be headed by a "top seed," which in 2012 our 16 top-seeded teams --which will be separated in 16 different pools -- will be (in no particular order): Illinois, Texas, California, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Alabama.

After the conclusion of pool play, we will bring the top 16 teams to Chicago (Remember, this is my baby!) for a week to play out the 16-team tournament bracket. The winning state then gets to host the tournament in two years.

There. Done. Some very difficult decisions in assembling the team. Already second-guessing myself at a couple spots.

Now, who's going to coach our Illinois team? Suggestions?

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

Hoops Report's July rewind

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By Joe Henricksen

I knew it. The bad, negative karma I put out a few days ago about July basketball in this very blog would get me. Just like that my air conditioning goes out. While it's 90-plus degrees and humid outside, I'm pouring out money to the air man as he's made four return trips to get it up and running to no avail.

As I type and construct this very blog in this upstairs office, it's stifling outside and it's a sauna inside the house. I suppose at this time I should tell you I will be outside in my pool in a matter of minutes so you won't feel too bad for me, but hey, still dealing with some difficult sleeping conditions at night being forced to the basement.

Even with all the turn-your-stomach issues you have to deal with in the July hoops world, there are positives. Players are noticed, their hard work pays off and scholarships are offered. There is an opportunity to watch and play against names you've read about over the past year or two. There is a chance for some players to compete at a higher level and learn a little more about themselves they otherwise would never have a chance to. Some kids get to experience a trip to another part of the country that is completely foreign to them.

Locally, here are some of the storylines the Hoops Report enjoyed over a busy month of July -- and throughout the summer -- when it comes to the exposure specific players received, the growth some showed and the play of a few teams on the club circuit.

Hoops Report's Co-Summer Player of the Year
Yes, Jabari Parker of Simeon is the reigning Mr. Basketball in Illinois and remains the premier prospect in the class. But he battled injuries all summer long and missed July. Thus, we head to the junior class and tab a pair of co-MVPs for the summer: Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop and Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor.

Keita Bates-Diop, Normal U-High
The more you watched the 6-8 junior in July, the more you realized this promising prospect was turning into the player many envisioned he would be. The Hoops Report pointed out that growth, promise and continued development in a lengthy blog breakdown following the Summer Jam in Milwaukee last month, which you can go back and read right here.

While rankings have become so far too important for individual players -- and "their people" -- we still all analyze them and break them down when released. Bates-Diop, will surely rise a tad from his current national rankings (No. 36 by Rivals.com and No. 43 by both ESPN.com and Scout.com) when the "national experts" release them after his play this past July. This is just a guess from the local guy, but look for Bates-Diop to be in the 20-35 range nationally.

When it comes to the Illinois Wolves, Bates-Diop is arguably the best prospect coach Mike Mullins has ever had. Actually, it's probably not even an argument. Yes, that includes Evan Turner, who is now playing with the Philadelphia 76ers. At the same stage of their development -- the summer before their junior year -- Bates-Diop is clearly ahead of where Turner, the former St. Joseph and Ohio State star, was as a prospect.

Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young
There is no debate about the big fella. He's great. He's dominant. He's productive. He's still getting better. And he's big. Really big. When watching him for the first time, he's not gliding by you like a prized thoroughbred, but he's a specimen, nonetheless, a specimen with talent, instincts and a will to improve and do what is best for his team. If someone wagered a battle with me right now that Okafor, before he graduates from Whitney Young, will be one of the top 10 prospects ever produced out of Illinois, I probably wouldn't put any money against that happening. Some tall kids are expected to play basketball. Some tall kids are destined to play basketball for a living. Okafor falls in the latter. Lofty praise, I know.

Hoops Report's Biggest Stock Riser • Class of 2013
Kendall Pollard, Simeon
If there was a June award for "Biggest Stock Riser" for just the Hoops Report, then it would have been Pollard. That's when he solidified himself. But college coaches didn't get the new-and-improved Pollard until July. While the Hoops Report has raved about the 6-5 senior's development as a player since he wrapped up the regular season with a state championship in March, college programs have taken notice as well. He's climbed into the Hoops Report's top 10 players in the senior class and has a bevy of offers, including a recent one from Virginia Tech. He has visits set up with both Dayton and North Texas, while LaSalle, Illinois State, UIC, Southern Illinois, Toledo, Gonzaga and Oregon State are all involved.

Hoops Report's Biggest Stock Riser • Class of 2014
Michael Finke, Champaign Centennial
Sean O'Mara, Benet Academy
The attention that came slowly for O'Mara, along with the arrival of Finke as a prospect, was highlighted in a July blog on the two big men following the Summer Jam in Milwaukee. Now both are front and center as high-major big man prospects who are smiling from ear to ear with the recent attention. There is no better example of what a few weekends of evaluations in July can do for a player and their reputation, especially when you're 6-8 or taller.

When July began, Finke, the 6-8 junior, was the Hoops Report's No. 41 ranked prospect in the Class of 2014 and was barely a blip on the radar of college coaches. Now, one month later after showcasing himself in July, he's among the Hoops Report's top 20 prospects in the class and is sporting double-digit offers, including high-major offers from Wisconsin and Iowa.

It's not as if O'Mara, the Benet Academy big man, has been this anonymous figure on the high school hoops scene. The 6-9 junior's name has been discussed regularly, even among the top 10 prospects in the class for quite some time now. But the fact is college coaches took some time -- too long for many -- to get on board. Heading into July, O'Mara had one scholarship offer (from UIC). At the conclusion of July he was sporting double-digit offers, including offers from Illinois, Marquette, Virginia, Boston College, Xavier, UIC, Loyola, Iowa State, SIUE, Saint Louis and Southern Illinois.

Hoops Report's Biggest Stock Riser • Class of 2015
Roosevelt Smart, Palatine
While coaches came and checked out the more heralded Jordan Ash of St. Joseph when checking in on the Illinois Wolves, most couldn't help but be excited about the play and upside of Smart. The Hoops Report was convinced of his combination of talent and upside as well. With the addition of some range on his jumper, the 6-2 guard is evolving into one of the more complete, versatile players in the class with a mid-range game, an ability to get to the basket and growing instincts the more he plays. Smart's progress was highlighted in a Hoops Report blog late last month, but his stock among college coaches is just beginning to grow.

Other players whose stock rose in July
Whether it was in the eyes of the Hoops Report or the college coaches evaluating them, here is a list of players from Illinois whose stock rose during the three weekends in July:

Ben Moore, Bolingbrook (Class of 2013)
There is no question Moore is one of the handful of players in the state, regardless of class, whose stock jumped the most in July. He emerged this past winter as a mid-major prospect, but the 6-7 (closer to 6-8) 4-man took advantage of the July stage to enhance his stock and reputation. As a result, particularly with an eye-opening performance in the final weekend in Las Vegas, Moore has climbed into that mid-major plus level type prospect in eyes of college coaches. The offers and interest keep pouring in as SMU, Illinois State, Colorado State, Bradley, Toledo, UC-Irvine, UW-Milwaukee, Loyola, Detroit, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, SIUE and IPFW have all offered. Iowa, Creighton, Northwestern and Saint Louis are all showing interest.

Miles Simelton, Oswego (Class of 2013)
Sometimes kids just go out and do what you think they're capable of doing. This, taken from a pre-July evaluation period Hoops Report blog:

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.

Simelton did just that, picking up offers from Chicago State and Miami-Ohio while drawing interest from a handful of other Division I programs at the conclusion of July. He was the catalyst for an Illinois Attack team that wasn't always the first team college coaches were drawn to in July, but he showed that it pays off for college coaches to continue looking under every rock.

Ethan Happ, Taylor Ridge Rockridge (Class of 2014)
Oh, Bo, I think you did it again. Wisconsin wrapped up Happ, a player the Badgers are excited about and who will fit in well in Madison, before he became a more prized prospect among college coaches and hyped by the masses. He's a top 10 prospect in the Class of 2014 after showcasing himself in July.

Marcus Bartley, Decatur MacArthur (Class of 2014)
It's not as if Bartley, the junior point guard, has exploded the way Peoria Irish teammate Michael Finke of Champaign Centennial has in the past month. But the Hoops Report continues to be impressed with this true point guard with height at 6-3. He will continue to inch his way up the ladder in the junior class. And there are college programs taking notice, with North Dakota State, Eastern Illinois and Tennessee-Martin both offering the smooth and skilled lead guard.

Glynn Watson, St. Joseph (Class of 2015)
With Watson you're talking about the consummate floor general, a position that has been lacking in the state of Illinois over the past few years. The 5-11 pure point guard has a knack for getting where he wants on the floor, including a constant presence in the paint off the dribble, where he is able to make those around him better. As his perimeter jumper becomes more reliable, his stock will continue to grow.

Joseph Toye, Whitney Young (Class of 2015)
Of all the players listed in this blog, the athletic 6-4 wing is probably the least heralded. Nonetheless, he impressed the heck out of the Hoops Report when taking in his games this July. As a freshman this past spring, Toye led Whitney Young to a city track title as he scored 28 points (No, there is no City/Suburban Track Report) in three jump events, winning both the high jump (6-4) and triple jump (44-3 ⅓). Then he went and played in an AAU event later that day. Yes, he's athletic. But he can shoot it with some range and his skills are getting better.

Luwane Pipkins, Bogan (Class of 2015)
There is no reason for the Hoops Report to say anything more right now about Pipkins than it did in a July blog with the entry, "I LOVE LUWANE PIPKINS." So, here it is from that July 17 Hoops Report blog:

I love how he competes. I love how he terrorizes opponents. I love how he gets his hands on more balls defensively than any guard in Illinois, regardless of class. I love how tough he is. I love how much he loves to play. I love that he can knock a shot down. Yes, the sophomore guard from Bogan is small, but he is certainly among the top prospects in the Class of 2015. The 5-8 Pipkins just needs to figure out how to play the point guard position, run a team better and avoid trying to do too much.

Hoops Report's Favorite Summer Team
Illinois Attack
(Full disclosure: Yes, I live in the area where every player for the Attack goes to high school in the western suburbs, but putting that aside ...) How can you not be impressed with what this club program did this past summer? Rodney Davis, the former East Aurora great in the 1980s and star at Northern Illinois, did a fantastic job coaching the Illinois Attack 17U.

Illinois Attack could only play the teams they were pitted against at the Milwaukee Summer Jam, where it reached the championship game of the Gold Bracket. Illinois Attack went 3-0 in tournament play, including a win over Alec Peters and the Peoria Irish in the semifinals. They ended up as co-champs when Southern Select had to leave the event early.

Then behind the guard play of Oswego's Miles Simelton, Oswego East's C.J. Vaughn and Neuqua Valley's Jabari Sandifer, Illinois Attack stunned three high-profile teams to win the GRBA National Championships. Illinois Attack knocked off the heralded Illinois Wolves, The Family out of Detroit and MBA Select to capture the title.

Remember, this team headed into July without a single Division I scholarship kid, yet it won a title in Fort Wayne, co-champs in Milwaukee, went 17-2 in July and won its final 12 games of the evaluation period. While Simelton did pick up a couple of Division I offers, it's easy to appreciate a group of kids that have stuck together in this AAU climate and made the most out of their opportunities.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

Mundelein, Knar suffer devastating blow

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By Joe Henricksen

There are very few coaches who get to enjoy the pride, fun and unique experience of coaching their son. Mundelein coach Richard Knar has experienced it all coaching his sons, Dickie and Robert, over the years. But the potential for a magical season -- Robert's 2012-2013 season -- will not happen.

Robert Knar, a senior who is committed to Northern Iowa and will sign with the Panthers in November, suffered a freak injury while playing in Orlando on the AAU circuit in late July. The injury was worse than originally thought as the Knar family found out late Friday afternoon it was a torn ACL.

"I haven't had a chance to even think about it as a coach," says Richard Knar. "My only concern is Robert and how he's handling this."

With the return of high-scoring Knar this season, along with Division I recruit Sean O'Brien, super athlete Chino Ebube and 8 of the 10 players from a year ago, Mundelein figured to be among the top 15 teams in the Chicago area when the season began.

Last season Knar averaged 22.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.4 steals for a team that reached the Class 4A sectional final and won 26 games. Knar, who knocked down a whopping 103 three-pointers on the season, poured in 31.7 points a game in the final three state tournament games last March.

The numbers Knar has put up over three years at the varsity level are astronomical, including 1,897 career points through his junior year. He was poised to shatter every Mundelein basketball record, become the all-time leading scorer in Lake County history -- former Deerfield star Ryan Hogan is the county's all-time leading scorer with 2,406 points -- and be among the all-time scorers in state history.

With a season similar to a year ago, Knar's point total would have been in the neighborhood of 2,600 to 2,700 career points. There have only been 17 players in state history to have scored 2,600-plus points in their career. Knar would have had a shot to crack the top 10 all-time scorers in state history.

With all the personal records, accolades and historical numbers that Knar would have achieved during his senior year, his dad says that wasn't even on his son's mind when he was told the news of his season-ending injury.

"He was sad, but he's more mad," says Richard Knar of his son's immediate reaction. "He's mad because all he cared about and all he talked about was how he wouldn't be able to play with his friends and teammates. He has been playing with this group since 5th grade and was looking forward to playing his senior year with them and trying to win a state championship."

Robert looked at the calendar immediately, planned out his rehab as best he could and thought he might be able to return in March -- and lead the Mustangs to Peoria.

Ironically, Richard Knar went through this exact same thing with his daughter, Toni. In the fall of her senior year a few years back, just ahead of what was to be a promising girls basketball season with the majority of the top players returning, Toni suffered a season-ending ACL injury.

Knar will first rehab the knee in order for the swelling to go down in preparation for surgery.

"As a dad I did go through this with my daughter," says Richard. "You just feel awful for them."

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

Kendrick Nunn's final five

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By Joe Henricksen

Simeon's Kendrick Nunn has narrowed his list to five schools. The final five standing, in no particular order: Marquette, Illinois, Memphis, UCLA and Ohio State.

Kendrick's father, Melvin Nunn, says the process now will be about getting to know these final five programs and coaching staffs. Nunn will set up official visits and take his time before narrowing it down to "two or three schools," says Melvin.

"He wants to experience the recruiting process," says Melvin Nunn of his son Kendrick, who has been busy all summer playing with not only his high school and Meanstreets AAU team, but also the U.S. National Team. "It's a big decision. He will take his time, set up some visits and narrow it down to two or three schools. Then he will decide."

Kendrick Nunn, who helped lead Simeon to a state championship the past two seasons and is among the top 50 prospects in the country, will be looking at four main criteria, according to Melvin Nunn:

1) The make-up of the roster.

2) The relationship with the coaching staff.

3) The team's style of play.

4) A program that is going to win.

After playing for a state championship team at Simeon and a gold medal team the past two summers with the U.S. National Team, the fourth criteria on the list will be important. Nunn is used to winning.

"Losing is like a cancer and it will beat you down," says Melvin. "Kendrick wants to be a part of program that is going to win."

And Melvin wants his son to win, too.

"Believe me, I don't want to be in those stands watching Kendrick lose and walking out of those arenas like that," Melvin says with a laugh. "But we will look at everything as he narrows it down."

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

Another July in the books ... Thank goodness

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By Joe Henricksen

There will be some positive stuff in here. I promise. It may take awhile to get to some of it, but the Hoops Report WILL eventually talk about the big winners and July hits from this past month. But first ...

This is seriously the time of the year -- the beginning of August, with the July AAU calendar behind us all -- where I just want to let it rip. I mean go with a blog entry that would infuriate the masses but make me feel better. And you know what? If I were to REALLY let it rip, I think a whole bunch of people out there would agree.

If you follow politics, even somewhat, you get the idea of how I feel at the conclusion of July. If you take in too much political banter, especially during a presidential election year -- via cable television, radio talk heads, listening to political "experts" or reading national news magazines -- you begin to feel a little ill, some stomach turning exists, or you're simply disgusted by it all. Ultimately, you just have to distance yourself from it. (Just as you do with the obnoxious drunk at the party or bar, too much reality TV and the majority of female Cub fans).

Look, I understand the purpose of the club basketball scene. In some cases it allows the top players around the country to square off with one another. The EYBL formula, with so many of the top programs under the Nike umbrella playing one another several times a year, is pretty impressive. There are those moments when the ideal matchup, with loaded, talent-filled rosters, takes place. But they are far and few between -- and often take place when the players and teams are dead tired at the end of the weekend after playing six or seven games.

The July club scene also just so happens to be the time when college coaches can take in dozens of games and evaluate x-amount of prospects in one single weekend. And do it again the next weekend. ... And the next. It has its benefits.

I've always believed that when it comes to evaluating talent there must be a mix of watching them in the AAU setting -- against top players, superior athletes, etc. -- and the high school environment, where wins really matter, gyms are packed in March and the stakes are high, team defense is played, more realistic game situations are presented, players are in their comfort zone, coaches make adjustments and young players play out of their own age group.

But the watered-down events and the dozens of ho-hum teams (and that's just in Illinois!) on this AAU scene quickly bore me. First of all, every single stinking event needs to have super pool play -- PLEASE?!?!?! -- where the top teams play one another from the start. Then go put them all in what turns out to be pretty much meaningless tournament brackets and figure out who the winner is. There are too many games, too many teams, too many players, too many tournaments to care too much about results.

Hey, team names with "Elite" or "Select" or "Stars" don't always mean what they say. (By the way, even the majority of the AAU team names need an upgrade. We need more D.C. Assaults, Iowa Barnstormers ... Now THOSE are cool, creative names).

But who doesn't love a 70-27 game in the middle of July with everyone on the floor playing half-ass and the coach of the team down 43, playing with a 5-man who is a shade over 6-feet tall screaming, "YOU GUYS DON'T WANT IT ENOUGH!!!!

(I did come up with a Euro-style system for AAU/club basketball in a rant last August in this very blog. It didn't happen).

Then there is the eye-popping, head-spinning (I'll just say sickening) cash flow streaming from everyone who steps in the doorway of any AAU event in July. I talked to a high-major head coach the first weekend of July. He says, "Joe, do you realize I went to one game at three different events in the past day here in the Chicago area and paid $750?" Yes, the 'ol mandatory college coaching fee that must be paid to enter the gym, ranging anywhere from $200 to $300 per coach (Plus, in many cases, additional money for a second and third coach from the same college program).

A father drives to watch his son play one game on a Saturday in July. He brings his wife, his mother (grandma) and his high school daughter. He says to me, "They want me to pay $60 to go watch my son play one game today. ... $60 for one AAU game!" Sure, that makes sense, $15 a person for a day of summer AAU ball.

Then there is the "everyone is a Division I player" hyperbole throughout this glorious month because, you know, there are roughly 4,500 Division I college basketball players and 67,564 high school players who think they are -- or someone tells them they are. Everyone is "blowing up" in July! Everyone.

Oh, it's not just the parents, the kids, the AAU people, the media, the tweeters and the endless list of recruiting gurus. Some of you college coaches need to take some of the blame, too. Some of the offers you guys throw out there after one July day or weekend? Mercy!

Some coaching staffs simply reach in July. And it's why there is so much turnover in the coaching profession. Then there are some of you coaches that don't work real hard (Come on, you know who you are!) and have a big, gigantic magnifying glass on kids in July. You hope there has been plenty of evaluation prior to watching a kid in July, because that player's one or two performances in July are magnified like no other. And when the kid plays well that one day? It reminds me so much of the new-hot-chick-in-school syndrome back in high school. She's new and different, looks great that first day ... and then? A couple of weeks seeing her in study hall and the lunch room and, well, she's not that great.

I just think some college coaches are tricked. At these AAU events, some of them resemble the scene at the club in the movie "Hall Pass," where the character Coakley teaches the two married men a thing or two about how women can trick you into thinking they're hotter than they really are. Same with AAU. "Its an illusion," Coakley tells them. "It's when an '8' surrounds herself with less attractive women to make herself look like a '10'" These AAU kids and coaches are doing it to you, college coaches! Look through Coakley's window-boxed hands. You'll see!

Then there are the tweets. Gotta love those July tweets. There are only so many tweets you can read where someone "throws one down." Who freaking cares?!?!? That dunk better be one of epic proportions. I mean to warrant a tweet on a dunk it has to be one of those over-the-top, privates-in-your-defender's-face dunks.

Or this tweet: "Billy Jumper dropin dimes, shooting it. Made 2 3s. Mad skills. Blow'n UP! He's crazy good!" These tweets go on, endlessly through a weekend, during an entire event.

The tweet wasn't followed with another one saying: "He sucked 2 hours earlier, now doing it gainst slow, 5-9 kid & his twin brother who both destined to be cut from JV team in 4 months."

But that's July.

I promised there would be something positive at the end of the blog. Couldn't make it happen. I had planned to include a list of the biggest winners and stock risers from the July evaluation period. I lied. Sorry. Check back tomorrow. Promise I'll be more positive.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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