By Joe Henricksen

Opening weekend winners: Part I

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One down, two to go.

The July evaluation period is broken down into three separate, roughly, 96-hour weekends. The highlight of the first weekend is the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam, where both the Mac Irvin Fire and Meanstreets teams played.

While coaches and evaluators gawked some more at the big man tandem of Curie's Cliff Alexander and Young's Jahlil Okafor, St. Rita's Charles Matthews was enhancing his reputation in the Class of 2015 and Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis was one of the buzz-worthy performers (which the Hoops Report highlighted in yesterday's blog).

With one evaluation weekend in the books and another on the horizon, the City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at some of the first weekend winners after taking in action at the NY2LA Next Level Invitational early in the period and finishing up the final three days at the Chicago Summer Challenge. The Hoops Report will look at some more opening weekend winners later this week.

Winner: Brandon Hutton, 6-5, De La Salle
Maybe the biggest individual winner of the weekend in the Class of 2015 while starring for the Illinois Stars this past weekend. This kid's engine didn't stop. That alone opened eyes.

Every college coach is now looking for that Kawhi Leonard-like typecast, which Hutton fits into as a high school player. And with that non-stop motor, along with spectacular athleticism and a made-for-college body, it's easy to overlook the fact he's an undersized 4-man in a wing's body right now.

While Hutton continues to try and morph into a true wing, he's an absolute monster on the glass, defends, is an impressive above-the-rim finisher and plays with energy and brute strength. But he's far from a polished perimeter player, though he's slowly making strides in many areas. A clear fast-rising prospect in the junior class.

Winner: Aaron Jordan, Plainfield East
The 6-3 junior -- another member of the Illinois Stars -- put together an outstanding sophomore season with little fanfare. He opened eyes in the spring and nabbed plenty of offers, including a high-major one from Wisconsin following his performance at the Badgers' elite camp. But what impressed the Hoops Report this past weekend was the fact he went out and played, competed and produced at a high level with a very sore ankle that had kept him out of action for two weeks.

When prospects aren't anywhere close to 100 percent, many will sit out with so many college coaches' eyes watching. They don't want to take any chances. Jordan played through it, noticeably limping but still scoring and impacting games. And this wasn't one of those half-hearted convenient limps when a shot doesn't go in or a mistake was made.

While Jordan is wired to score the basketball, he does so in a variety of ways with reliable three-point range, a mid-range floater and the ability to put it on the floor and create scoring opportunities for himself. He is clearly among the top five prospects in the Class of 2015 in Illinois and is a high-major prospect.

Winner: Jeremiah Tillman, 6-8½, East St. Louis
It seems "real deal" is thrown around loosely. But, mercy, is this kid an enormous bundle of talent in an already true big man's body. And he is a little over a month removed from eighth grade. May not have eye-popping athleticism, but he's already 6-8½ -- I repeat: Already 6-8 and some change. He moves extremely well and features a back-to-the-basket game with advanced footwork and skill for a big man his age. He is without question the top young prospect in the state of Illinois and a player who will be highly ranked nationally -- a top 10 type national talent -- the moment 2017 rankings start churning out.

Winner: Class of 2017
The City/Suburban Hoops Report has been searching high and low for 2016 prospects to rave about; it hasn't happened. The Class of 2017 players in Illinois -- yes, they're just incoming freshmen -- that impressed this past weekend were plentiful. In addition to the aforementioned Jeremiah Tillman of East St. Louis, who was arguably the biggest highlight of the weekend, here are some other names to watch this winter and over the next four years in Illinois.
Nojel Eastern, Evanston. The 6-1 guard was profiled last week by the Hoops Report. He continue to display his upside and talent over the course of the weekend. With his basketball intellect and feel for his age, Eastern is a fun one to watch.
Jamal Nixon, Fenwick. It's early but coach Rick Malnati has, potentially, his best talent since coaching Matt Lottich at New Trier. The Hoops Report is a big fan of Nixon, a 6-3 wing with the Illinois Wolves. He's a versatile threat who looks the part already.
Manning Patterson, North Lawndale. As expected with any young prospect, he's a raw big man. But he's blessed with early size and a great body. He played with energy and has the coveted upside.
Mahir Williams, Proviso East. A fun one to watch. A true 5-10 point guard with a high-level of toughness and a natural feel with his handle, passing and vision. He turned some heads playing with Young and Reckless.
▪ Lucas Williamson, Whitney Young. There were times the 6-1 guard played two age groups up with the Illinois Wolves. He may not be flashy, but he's smooth, advanced and does a lot of different things well.

Winner: C.J. Carr, Rock Island
The mighty-mite started fast at the NY2LA Next Level Invitational and, apparently, never let up in leading his Quad City Elite team to a weekend title. He may be just 5-6 (maybe 5-7?), but he's always been a catalyst when the Hoops Report has watched him with Rock Island this past winter (and in the month of June) or with Quad City Elite this past spring on the AAU circuit. The Hoops Report has had Carr on that small college scholarship/Division I fence; this weekend pushed him over to the Division I side. College coaches will have to get over his size, but Carr is a bonafide Division I point guard prospect. He just makes play after play after play.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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1 Comment

Hey Joe, I know Oswego is right up your back yard. Have you seen Isaiah Richardson play. 2017 kid who played varsity basketball and football this summer.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on July 16, 2013 2:22 PM.

The curious case of Tyler Ulis was the previous entry in this blog.

Opening weekend winners: Part II is the next entry in this blog.

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