The evaluation calendar for college basketball prospects doesn't end in July, especially for those in the Class of 2015, 2016 and 2017. But a player, particularly those in the Class of 2014, who can jump through that July window of opportunity before it closes does wonders for his immediate and not-too-far-in-the-distance future.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report will break down the month of July a little more later this week, but here are the Hoops Report's biggest breakout performers of the month. The majority of the following players were far from unknowns, but they've enhanced their stock significantly.
➤ Fenwick's Scott Lindsey: July's biggest stock riser
You want your July breakout star? Fenwick's Scott Lindsey is your guy.
Every young prospect develops differently and at their own pace. And the multi-faceted 6-5 Lindsey is the perfect case in point.
When watching Lindsey in July, it's easy to see it's all starting to come together. Always capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter, Lindsey has diversified his game. He's more confident and comfortable putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket.
"When I first saw him he was a shooter rather than a scorer," says first-year Fenwick coach Rick Malnati. "Now he's scoring in a variety of ways. He's handling the ball better and with more confidence. A lot of this is his maturation from his junior to senior year, but he has a young guy's body still and his confidence is still growing.
Lindsey isn't the most celebrated senior in the state, and he didn't play for a national AAU program like the Mac Irvin Fire, Meanstreets or Illinois Wolves. But no player in the senior class in Illinois had made a better impression on college coaches and evaluators and raised their stock more this July than Lindsey. When the post-July player rankings are released, Lindsey will be among the City/Suburban Hoops Report's top 15 prospects in the Class of 2014.
The attention and adoration is still coming after putting together a breakout July with Illinois Old School on the AAU circuit. Programs that have joined Indiana State, a school that offered Lindsey a year ago, in offering Lindsey are Hampton, IUPUI, Drake, Nevada, NIU, Utah State and Albany. But a boatload of schools have inquired as he continued to impress in recent weeks, including Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Creighton, Illinois, Iowa, Bradley and Oregon State.
"I'm enjoying it right now," says Lindsey of his breakout status and college attention. "I really thought I would have a school and decision made in August, sometime after the July period. But now I'm going to have to push back that decision."
➤ Class of 2015 prospects that demanded attention
They've all been heard from at some point in their first two years of high school and were on someone's radar before July. Although they're all projected at different levels, these seven prospects improved their play, rose to the occasion and enhanced their stock as much as anyone in the Class of 2015.
■ Brandon Hutton, De La Salle
The Hoops Report isn't sure if Hutton is gas-powered, diesel-powered or electrically powered, but the 6-5 forward's motor doesn't stop or need re-charging. Oh, Hutton can still be a tad bit wild and, at times, a bull in a china shop when asked to do certain things out on the perimeter. But he plays at a very high level in several areas that project to the next level. He defends, rebounds and finishes with great strength at the rim. He's blessed with a college-ready body and showcases eye-popping athleticism. He remains a hybrid-type forward (a tweener, if you will), but his overall production has grown by leaps and bounds.
■ Luwane Pipkins, Bogan
Look up the definition of a mighty mite and you get this: A person of small stature with a high energy level, who is willing to be obnoxious in displaying that high energy level. For opposing guards, the 5-9 Pipkins is an obnoxious baller and is a mighty mite in the truest sense. After putting together a big sophomore campaign for Bogan, Pipkins had a mild spring. But he terrorized foes in July, harassing them with his on-the-ball defense and competitiveness, while shooting and scoring at a high rate. Pipkins also has terrific shooting range. He plays with a spirit and a confidence you would love to instill in others.
■ Tyler Hall, Rock Island
Anyone who follows the Hoops Report knows it gets enamored with players who can really shoot it and score. Boy, can this slender 6-3 guard do that. Blessed with a quick, concise, fluid shooting stroke, Hall gets his shot off quickly, can shoot it with range and does so without needing much space. The perimeter jumper is effortless. Although Hall will need to gain more strength and fill out physically, he's already one of the purest shooters in the junior class who is still developing his overall floor game. Hall raised his stock as much as any player in the Class of 2015 with his play this summer.
■ Christian Williams, Decatur St. Teresa
Sample size is a term often used to negate a positive argument for an up-and-coming player. But for Williams, it kind of adds to his potential and projection. You wonder what he will and can become with more seasoning and playing a higher level of competition on a more regular basis. Already skilled with combo-guard qualities and size at a legit 6-4, Williams showed flashes this July of a player who has been vastly underrated among prospects in the junior class. Williams will bring the ball up against pressure, penetrate a defense and get to the rim, knock a shot down and plays with a body that's easily going to fill out and be ready for college. The body language still needs to exude a more competitive fire, but it's coming.
■ Aaron Jordan, Plainfield East
The Hoops Report raved about the 6-3 guard in this Hoops Report story back in April. But even after a stellar sophomore campaign with little fanfare or attention (Jordan averaged 15.5 points a game while shooting nearly 50 percent from beyond the three-point line this past season), he took it upon himself to make strides as a player. Now? He's solidified himself as a high-major prospect who sports offers from Illinois and Wisconsin. Simply put, Jordan knows how to get buckets as he's evolved from a solid three-point threat to a player who is capable of putting it on the floor and creating more comfortably. Throw in high character and a work ethic, and Jordan is the No. 4 prospect in the Hoops Report's Class of 2015 player rankings.
■ Harrison Niego, Lyons Twp.
Oh, the Hoops Report gets tired of the "look test" part of recruiting by this time of the year after watching Player A, B and C look the part but go three weeks without getting anything done. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Niego is not a jet-quick, turn-the-corner guard. No, he's not going to throw down in transition or overpower opposing guards with strength. But moving on ... This kid flat-out produces at a high level and in "basketball ways" that you can easily appreciate. And for anyone who tells the Hoops Report he's scrawny, we'll come back with he's scrappy. But more importantly, Niego is a cerebral player with knockdown shooting ability and whose passing skills can sometimes be overlooked. He has terrific court awareness.
■ Julian Torres, Bolingbrook
Of all the names on this 2015 list, Torres is probably the most unfamiliar name. He's a big who will get on the block, but he's still developing. But the 6-8, 250-pound junior looks to have made the leap from project to prospect. Torres is playing with a better motor, dropped a few pounds, looks lighter on his feet and is so much more of a presence inside than he's been in the past. His startling progression started with his high school team at the Morris Shootout in late June and continued through July. This week alone the likes of Iowa, San Jose State, SIUE and IPFW have called to check in on the developing big man. With such a premium on true back-to-the-basket players, Torres will be watched closely, starting in fall open gyms and throughout his junior season this winter.
➤ Class of 2016 July Breakout Performer: Nate Kennell, Metamora
AAU basketball is exactly what the doctor ordered when talking about a young basketball prospect from Metamora, a football school in a central Illinois town about 15 miles northeast of Peoria. Nate Kennell, a 6-5 sophomore, would have eventually been discovered. But playing with the Illinois Wolves in the AAU world speeds up the process for this rising prospect.
Although he played varsity basketball as a freshman, Kennell was a relative unknown heading into July. But he's gone from pre-July obscurity to one of the better prospects in the state of Illinois in the Class of 2016. Kennell just kept knocking down perimeter shots, again and again again, one event after another.
Kennell has plenty of work to do in expanding his overall game, but he's a high level shooter with good size and has been consistently productive. Plus, he plays hard and really seems to have advanced court awareness.
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