By Joe Henricksen

These 2014 prospects poised to break out

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Quvenzhané Wallis.

Heard of her?

She's that 9-year-old (pronounced Kwah-VEN-jeh-nay) who made a name for herself in 2012 as the young star of the indie end-of-the-world fantasy "Beasts of the Southern Wild." She was just 6 years old when she shot the film, but she would become the youngest-ever Best Actress Oscar nominee.

Wallis is one of several that broke out over the past 12 months, including Frank Ocean, Ryan Lochte, The Book of Mormon, Mike Trout and The Lumineers.

There are always breakout performances. Every year. And that includes high school hoops prospects looking to raise their stock.

Last year's breakout performers, whether it was during the early April evaluation period or through their play in the super-exposed July period, included Bolingbrook's Ben Moore, Washington's Alec Peters and Mundelein's Sean O'Brien in the Class of 2013.

Now, several players in the current junior class -- the Class of 2014 -- are looking to take center stage and showcase themselves in front of coaches and recruiting analysts.

With the recruiting calendar changing a year ago, those players are able to do that sooner than later. While college coaches migrate to Atlanta this weekend for the biggest college coaching job fair, they are all just a couple weeks away from getting back out on the road and watching players in two live April weekends at the end of this month.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report believes coaches should be checking out these six in the Class of 2014 and will be coming back for more after watching them.

These six prospects have received varying degrees of college interest and project to different levels as college players. But they are all currently overlooked and will soon be earning a whole lot of respect and attention with their play in the coming months.

Here are six players poised to break out this offseason.

■ JayQuan McCloud, North Chicago
He's been the Hoops Report's poster boy this past season as the breakout player in the Class of 2014 -- and he did nothing to disprove that he's poised to do just that. The Hoops Report gravitates to players who can score and shoot the basketball, which is McCloud's strength.

The smooth 6-2 guard plays with a natural flow. He shoots it with range, elevation and has a pretty release. This past season he averaged 17 points and knocked down 44 three-pointers for a Warhawks team that reached the Class 3A super-sectional.

You can count the offers for McCloud right now on one hand. That will change very soon.

■ Kurt Hall, North Chicago
The 6-4 Hall was a rock for the Warhawks this season, averaging 18 points a game and over 9 rebounds a game.

A difficult player to project, but he's just a player who produces. A hybrid forward in the mold of a Kawhi Leonard-type at the high school level. He plays with a motor and has an attacking style. He may not fit any one position, but Hall is productive and versatile. He will post up and get to the rim off the dribble in the halfcourt. Then he will show an ability to step out and knock down a 3-pointer.

■ Louis Adams, Jr., Orr
The unsung prospect among Orr's three talented juniors, which includes 6-8 Marlon Jones and 6-7 Tyquone Greer. There were moments this season where Adams shined and opened eyes. He's now poised for a breakout offseason on the AAU circuit for Meanstreets. An electric athlete with some nice perimeter size at 6-3, Adams simply needs to refine some of his skills and show an ability to knock down shots on a consistent basis.

■ Josh Meier, Richards
The least heralded player on this breakout list and biggest under-the-rock prospect. The 6-7 junior turned the corner midway through his junior season and put up 17 points and 12 rebounds a game for coach John Chappetto's Bulldogs. He's received very mild interest from Division I programs but is ready for some showcase moments this spring and summer while playing with IBA. Meier has good size and strength, finishes around the basket and is sneaky athletic. Plus, he competes at a pretty high level.

■ Marcus Bartley, Decatur MacArthur
Of all the players on this list, the 6-4 point guard is the most recognizable among college coaches heading into the spring. Nonetheless, he hasn't garnered nearly enough attention for what he is and for what he can become.

Bartley is a smooth, natural point guard who has blossomed while under the radar in central Illinois. Although he must gain some much-needed strength, Bartley brings terrific size to the point guard position, along with right mindset and vision. He's a no-brainer, must-have mid-major plus prospect in the eyes of the Hoops Report, who might just be ready to bubble over into that bottom end of the high-major spectrum.

■ C.J. Rivers, Cahokia
This combo guard has made a huge jump in the Hoops Report player rankings over the past 12 months. Rivers, who helped the Comanches to a third-place finish in Class 3A this past season, has a whole lot of intangibles to go with his skill set.

The 6-3 junior plays unselfishly, has size, a good feel, versatility and is an outstanding student academically with character. Rivers should have way more attention from college coaches than he's received up to this point.

"He's a coach's dream," says Cahokia coach Darian Nash. "He works so hard and does everything you would want on and off the floor."

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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Enjoy the read Joe.

Where does Milik Yarbrough rank now in the class of 2014? I saw him put up 41 on St Viator in the sectional semifinal this year. That kid's ceiling is unbelievable. I read in the News Sun that he averaged 23pts and 11 boards a game and could potentially break the Lake County scoring record next year as a 4 year productive starter for the varsity team.

There was so much fanfair for him early on, that it seems he is now under-appreciated. He did make 3rd team all-state, but I thought he could have been 2nd team.

Regardless, this kid deserves some press!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on April 4, 2013 12:36 PM.

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