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.
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