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Joe Henricksen: May 2010 Archives

2010 Recruiting Power Poll

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By Joe Henricksen

There are power rankings for anything and everything, including high school recruiting in Illinois. This power ranking, however, is the opinion of one person and one person only and certainly not a consensus. This is the 2010 Recruiting Power Rankings: Illinois prep basketball style.

The Hoops Report has its own formula--stashed away in the noggin of the editor/publisher. But this is a power ranking system in which the Hoops Report concocted, breaking down the 2010 recruiting cycle, combining the quality, impact and varying degrees of significance of recruits with the level of program they are headed to and all things in between.

10. Tennessee State
Tennessee State? Huh? A big .... loooooong .... sigh. ... That's the sound and expression--"Ah, yah, yah"--of coaches throughout the Ohio Valley Conference over the next four years after getting a load of Hales Franciscan's Pat Miller. This is one year after watching Proviso West product Robert Covington average over 12 points and 6 rebounds a game as a freshman for Tennessee State. Miller is a power-packed guard who will be giving opposing teams fits and leave many mid-major programs around the Midwest wondering how they failed to even recruit this kid. Give some credit to up-and-coming assistant coach Dana Ford on this recruiting steal.

9. Rick Majerus
Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus and his staff were able to get some work done in the Chicago area, tapping into the Chicago Public League and signing Foreman star guard Mike McCall, while also securing a blue-collar, old school player in Neuqua Valley's Dwayne Evans. Again, a priority was made to recruit Chicago and the door is open to recruit more for this Atlantic 10 program that is just a five-hour drive from the majority of the Chicago area.

8. Booksmart Schools
Let's see, how will "Prospect A," who is a true student-athlete, fit our basketball system and handle the academic rigor and culture of our fine institution? (Ha! No, I'm not kidding about student-athletes! Quit laughing! There are still plenty of colleges at the Division I level that search for and, in some cases, have to find true student-athletes. They're not worrying about qualifying academically or re-taking the ACT to get to an 18 or 19; they're looking for a shooter or rebounder or big man with an ACT score in the high 20s. Do not snicker. Yes, there are schools like that!).

When your academic requirements are higher than the majority of the other Division I schools you are recruiting against and you truly are trying to find a student-athlete, you just sometimes have to reach more often than others. The talent pool is smaller. But in the case of Illinois' prep basketball talent in the class of 2010, there were some true academic schools who absolutely, positively secured talent. The Hoops Report would be shocked four years from now if Riverside-Brookfield's Sean McGonagill (Brown), Wheaton Academy's Tim Rusthoven (William & Mary) and Kaneland's Dave Dudzinski (Holy Cross) didn't all have stellar careers at their respective schools. And for that, being able to secure the type of overlooked talent others missed on, the booksmart schools were able to land in the Hoops Report Recruiting Power Rankings.

7. DePaul
Here's the point: DePaul needs players! No, the Blue Demons did not break the bank in the state of Illinois, but the former staff, combined with the new staff, still locked up a class that will upgrade the talent in the program. The holdover recruits from last fall, 6-5 Moses Morgan out of Las Vegas and point guard Brandon Young out of Washington, D.C., will be joined by spring signee 6-8 Cleveland Melvin. Of the three, the Hoops Report has only seen Moses play. And he's talented. But checking around with various coaches and people in the business, all three come with some praise and, more importantly, talent and upside. All three should play immediate roles for the Blue Demons and help first-year coach Oliver Purnell begin the rebuilding process.

6. Kareem Richardson
Talk about making a strong push to get in the Hoops Report's annual "Super Six" assistant conversation! The smooth Richardson is helping make Drake basketball a true, viable option for Illinois prep players--and some good ones. Richardson, an assistant under head coach Mark Phelps, was the lead recruiter for both Rayvonte Rice of Champaign Centennial and guard Karl Madison of Springfield Lanphier. Rice, who was the state's Mr. Basketball runner-up, is the bellcow of the recruiting class. He's a proven winner who was about bringing production and versatility to the floor each time out. And for Drake it was Richardson who pulled off a "John Dillinger."

5. Jerrance Howard
Another heralded recruiting class on his watch, accompanied with a whole bunch of high praise, along with a Big Blue suitor and followed up with some more greenbacks. All is good with Howard and Illini recruiting.

4. Illinois Wesleyan
Say what? What? A Division III basketball program can't crack the Class of 2010 power rankings? But yep, coach Ron Rose's recruiting efforts will keep the Titans near the top of the CCIW for the next few years as IWU loaded up on the recruiting front in 2010. In Division I recruiting circles, this is comparable to a Kentucky or North Carolina-type class at the Division III level, beginning with arguably the top Division III prospect in the state, Galesburg's 6-4 Victor Davis. The undersized 4-man should make an immediate impact and be a cornerstone of the program down the road. Plus, Evanston product Eric Dortch is a talent. The 6-4 combo forward has a year of prep school under his belt and a whole lot of strength and versatility. And a late steal was 6-3 shooter Kyle Miklasz of Hersey, who brings size and terrific shooting and scoring ability to the perimeter. Throw in guard Brady Zimmer of Delavan, a small school all-stater who averaged 28 points a game, along with a host of others and Illinois Wesleyan stocked the cupboard.

3. Bryce Drew
Oswego East's Jay Harris ignored bigger suitors and didn't even allow them in the door. And no one was a bigger beneficiary of that loyalty than Valparaiso assistant Bryce Drew, who was in on Harris early, stuck with it, earned the kid's trust and respect, and got it done. Hey, Bryce, skip the Father's Day present this June. No need. Just throw in some game film of Harris for dad and remind him of the job you did in recruiting the high-scoring, sweet-shooting guard. Valpo just doesn't come into Illinois and pluck one of the top dozen players in the class every year. Or ever.

2. Wisconsin
People were tiring of the Hoops Report's Duje Dukan propaganda a year ago. Enough already, Hoops Report! Pleading for any high-major to give the skilled, three-point shooting 6-8 Dukan a look, plenty finally did. And Wisconsin landed not only one player (Dukan) that fits the "Wisconsin way," but two when it wrapped up the Ben Brust Spring Fever Tour earlier this spring. Dukan, among the top five prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2010, will be a player down the road, while Brust could immediately fill a role for coach Bo Ryan, who loses some perimeter punch due to graduation. Remember, these are players that fit Wisconsin. Even more importantly, Wisconsin continues to keep the pipeline from the Chicago area to Madison open.

1. Illinois.
If I'm Bruce Weber I climb to the top of Assembly Hall, raise both my arms, maybe extend my third finger from the left and scream, "How you like me now you recruiting lugheads?" If the last two years didn't disprove the "Weber can't recruit myth," then this 2010 class (and the 2011 commitments) surely did. The Weber bashers will pile on in some other fashion, but it can no longer pull out the poor recruiting card.

Weber will welcome a pair of top 40 talents to campus this fall, including Illinois Mr. Basketball winner Jereme Richmond and a true, bonafide big man in Meyers Leonard. We're talking about upside and talent that make college coaches salivate. And while most people dropped Crandall Head in their rankings, the Hoops Report still kept him high at No. 3 (with an asterisk). Head, who played very little last summer, missed the high school season and has plenty to prove, simply has too much upside. He possesses the physical attributes, including being arguably the best athlete in the Illinois program the moment he steps on campus as a freshman, of players you see playing in elite college programs across the country.

By Joe Henricksen

This is not earth-shattering news, but the Class of 2011 in Illinois boys basketball is as talented of a group as we've seen in this state since 1998. And it's just getting better, while growing in reputation and status.

A website called statsheet.com has been keeping tabs of top 100 player rankings from 1998-2009 and how many each state produces on a yearly basis. For our comparison, the years work perfectly as it dates back to the juggernaut class of 1998. The formula the site uses is RSCI Rank, which is basically taking all the recruiting experts and combining their rankings into one big average.

Not surprisingly the two most populated states in the country, California and Texas, rank No. 1 and No. 2, during that time. California has had a whopping 119 players, an average of just under 10 a year, in the top 100. Texas was next with 77 (6.41 per year). What was surprising was that Georgia was third with 65, followed by Illinois with 62 and both Florida and North Carolina with 61.

Based on population and top 100 players per capita, Maryland (with 56 top 100 players) was at the top with 11.2 -- again, based on top 100 players per capita -- followed by Virginia (58 top 100 players) with 8.29, Louisiana (33 top 100 players) with 8.25, Alabama (29 top 100 players) with 7.25 and Georgia (with 65 top 100 players) with 7.22.

The comparisons between the Class of 2011 and the Class of 1998 continue and will be discussed now and throughout this summer and winter. The Class of 1998 produced three McDonald's All-Americans in Whitney Young's Quentin Richardson, Fenwick's Corey Maggette and Peoria Manual's Frank Williams. In the end, the Class of 1998 had nine players in the RSCI top 100 and three players with long, productive, big contract NBA careers in Richardson, Maggette and Simeon's Bobby Simmons. Whether deserved or not, the Class of 1998 had an impressive six players among the top 30:

9. Quentin Richardson, Whitney Young (DePaul)
16. Corey Maggette, Fenwick (Duke)
21. Frank Williams, Peoria Manual (Illinois)
24. Lance Williams, Julian (DePaul)
26. Bobby Simmons, Simeon (DePaul)
29. Michael Wright, Farragut (Arizona)
45. Joey Range, Galesburg (Iowa)
82. Traves Wilson, Moline (Arizona)
92. Dennis Gates, Whitney Young (Cal)

And in the most recently released Rivals.com and Scout.com national rankings of top 100 players in the country, Illinois had nine Class of 2011 players ranked among the top 100, the most the state has had since that storied 1998 class.

The differences between the two classes? The Class of 2011 isn't quite as strong at the top as it's pretty unrealistic to think when the current seniors-to-be graduate a year from now there will be six or seven players among the top 30. Also, the overall depth in the Class of 1998 may have been stronger, with a list of Maine West's Lucas Johnson (Illinois), Rockford Boylan's Damir Krupalija (Illinois), Maine West's Kevin Frey (Xavier) and Whitney Young's Cordell Henry (Marquette) to name just a few of the high stars that were also productive college players at a high level. The likes of Naperville North's Henry Domercant, who became one of the nation's leading scorers at Eastern Illinois, wasn't even among the top 25 players.

But there is no doubt the Class of 2011 will have a chance to improve its stock this summer and throughout the season this winter. We have already seen a pair of Illinois players make huge jumps on the national landscape, starting with the unheard-of-rise of Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives. Honestly, his rise is indescribable and baffling to those, like the Hoops Report, and even those that actually have watched him play.

I remember a recent discussion with a Division III coach who actually saw Davis play as a sophomore. That coach just happened to be watching a random game in 2009 as he scouted a player on an opposing team. He reflects back now and remembers thinking then that Davis was a player to keep tabs on -- as a Division III prospect.

We probably have never seen anything like the meteoric rise of Davis in the history of Chicago area prep basketball. We're talking a Justin Bieber-like rise. Again, unheard of, came out of nowhere, not even discussed or ranked throughout his junior year of high school, while playing in the Chicago Public League. He wraps up his high school season, joins Mean Streets club team, literally blows up at the Nike Spring Showdown in Merrillville and becomes the national story of the spring, impressing all those who watched him, including the national gurus. Now he's in both Rivals and Scout's top 10. Are you kidding?

Another fast-rising player nationally is Mycheal Henry, the Orr star who committed to Illinois earlier this month. There were some attributes Henry showed early last winter while playing for Orr that grabbed the Hoops Report's attention. Last summer he dedicated himself to becoming a fluid, consistent, knockdown jump shooter with range. He did just that and, combined with his ability to finish at the rim with his size and body, his production skyrocketed. He moved from a top 15 player in the class to No. 2 in the Hoops Report rankings heading into January. The Hoops Report soon heard some negative shouts out and the label "mid-major plus" and "he's too high" thrown around about the No. 2 player in the class. But Henry delivered. Big time.

The high-majors soon came calling. Wisconsin offered in February and Illinois followed up with an offer as his stature has continued to grow, both locally and nationally since, with further proof by the most recent national rankings that were released. This was a player who wasn't even a blip on the national radar as recently as a couple of months ago. Now the Rivals rankings have Henry as the No. 18 ranked player in the Class of 2011, while Scout has him ranked No. 66.

The Hoops Report has never been a huge fan of national player rankings. They are fun to look at, crosscheck and debate. However, once you get past those top 25 or top 30 players, who just about anyone can project, it gets really sketchy. There are even eyebrows raised when talking and evaluating the elite. While Anthony Davis is currently (so say the national experts) a top 10 talent in the Class of 2011, you're telling the Hoops Report Robinson's Meyers Leonard couldn't crack anyone's top 30 a year ago? Either the Class of 2011 is sickly talented or the Hoops Report will continue to stay far away from ever doing national rankings. It's just too tough. After seeing and experiencing how difficult it is to cover and evaluate just one state like Illinois over the years, it's hard to fathom how national recruiting analysts even begin to compile their lists and rankings. And considering how little they get to actually see the players in action? Again, a near-impossible chore.

Below are a few of the national rankings and where Illinois players rank. In terms of how the Hoops Report views Illinois players, there isn't a single national ranking the Hoops Report can firmly say it agrees with. That's to be expected as it's usually the case. However, the Rivals rankings may be the best of the bunch, though there are some Illinois players that are too high and some that are too low, including Ryan Boatright of East Aurora. The blur of a point guard with monster scoring ability needs to be much higher than No. 90.

7. Anthony Davis
15. Wayne Blackshear
18. Mycheal Henry
23. Sam Thompson
38. Chasson Randle
51. Mike Shaw
54. Tracy Abrams
57. Nnanna Egwu
90. Ryan Boatright

8. Wayne Blackshear
9. Anthony Davis
37. Chasson Randle
44. Sam Thompson
45. Mike Shaw
66. Mycheal Henry
67. Ryan Boatright
77. Nnanna Egwu
94. Tracy Abrams

12. Wayne Blackshear
38. Chasson Randle
39. Mike Shaw
43. Tracy Abrams
45. Ryan Boatright
55. Sam Thompson

4. Wayne Blackshear
28. Ryan Boatright
30. Mike Shaw
47. Tracy Abrams
56. Chasson Randle
60. Sam Thompson
97. Nnanna Egwu

By Joe Henricksen

The recruiting fortunes of college basketball programs and the type of recruit they land come in all shapes and sizes. These players receive different forms of hype and their signature on a national letter-of-intent can be scrutinized in a number of ways. Here are a few of those wide-ranging type of recruits and their not-always-so-obvious characteristics.

The Aircraft Carrier
Obvious, isn't it? These are the guys. They will carry the fanbase, the team, the program--well, for at least a year before their arrival and then the one year on campus before they bolt. You know, like Jack Nicholson and Brad Pitt do on the big screen, like Gisele does on the runway, like Bird and Magic did for the NBA in the 80s, like Celine Dion did for Las Vegas, like Jack Tripper on Three's Company (Well, maybe not. I was a Chrissy Snow fan myself. But you understand the significance). When you get a Carmelo Anthony for a year, a Kevin Durant, a Greg Oden, a Michael Beasley, a Derrick Rose, you have your rare Aircraft Carrier recruit. And fans better enjoy their eight months in the classroom (uh, well, maybe four months in the classroom) and 30-plus games on the court.

The Steal
Attention: Every recruit is NOT a steal for that particular school on the day they commit. It only seems that way with the way it's reported. There aren't as many "steals" as one would believe in the recruiting world, though we throw around "recruiting steal" as if it's a pre-requisite in a recruiting story. "The steal" is recognized when a school truly gets the player it has no business getting. You know, when the beautiful Hollywood starlet's non-celebrity, everyday guy boyfriend is first photographed in public with her and everyone goes, "Huh?" followed by "How?" When you get that type of befuddled feeling you know it's a true steal. But often we don't realize how big of a steal it is until after their career: i.e. Stephen Curry and Davidson.

The Power Tandem Recruit
These are rare. The super couple. You just don't find the likes of power couples in the recruiting world like we see in life, where we find the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce, Brad Pitt and Angelina and those annoying couples in the old Doublemint gum commercials, featuring those infamous sets of twins. But when you do? Wow! Family members are the way to go. Look no further than the Crispins at Penn State (oh, forget that; not good enough), Blake and Taylor Griffin at Oklahoma and Robin and Brook Lopez at Stanford. But sometimes a power couple stays true and plays together like AAU and high school buddies Mike Conley and Greg Oden. Results? Ohio State lands in the Final Four a year later. That whole Peoria Manual pipeline back in the 1990s, starting with Sergio McClain and continuing with Marcus Griffin and Frank Williams, worked out pretty well for the Illini. How bad would UIC take a combo package right now similar to Cedrick Banks and Martell Bailey again? A Power Tandem Recruit(s) can help turn the fortunes of a program around sooner than later.

The Super Spring Sale Recruit
Landing the Super Spring Sale recruit is often similar to sitting there watching the NBA Draft Lottery live. Your favorite team has the 1.354% chance of landing the overall No. 1 pick. Very little hope but still worth being excited about after a dreadful season that put your team in this predicament. The commish reveals the cards. And ... Holy $#&^@#*!!!!! ... the odds came in! Your favorite franchise is no longer cursed, jinxed or labeled a loser anymore. The team's fortunes have changed! Get me that season ticket holder phone number! ... Ahhhhhh, but it's 1998, which means your team just got the rights to draft ... Ta-Da! -- Michael Olowokandi with the first pick.

This is the time of year college basketball fans can get a little wee-too-bit giddy over the Super Spring Sale Recruit, mostly due to the sudden blown-away interest a sometimes marginal prospect receives in the spring. The kid is like, "Dang, where were these guys six months ago? I told you guys I was that good." And the fans are like, "Whoa, is it too good to be true to be getting a player this good this late?" Yes, probably.

That's how this spring fling goes a lot of times. College programs become desperate (players transfer out, flunk out, are driven out, pout themselves out, etc.) where they will dip down a level to fill a void or particular need. However, because of the interest and recruiting buzz (there is little left after November these days) surrounding the prospect, the fanbase believes they are getting something they're not. Something like getting the new, revamped Domino's Pizza and believing that, because they told you it's new and improved as a result of listening to their customers, it's going to be better. Suddenly this player is the Calvin Brock Award-winner in the class. Wasn't too long ago where DePaul and Illinois fans were both in a blather over Brock as his recruitment winded down.

The Bandwagon Recruit
Their recruitment might be blown up with false pre-tenses, ignited by an AAU coach or just one big, ignorant college program showing "interest"--or simply bravado--and other Johnny-come-lately programs suddenly get involved. "What? Big State U came calling? Coach Henry Iba is interested? The Globetrotters called?" He must be good. Now a half dozen high-major programs are interested, even though four of those schools have never seen him play, and the recruitment of Jesus Shuttleworth EXPLODES!

The early hype carries a lot of weight recruit
These guys are out there, the ones who get early hype in their career and people fall all over and rave about. You know, when they start dribbling between their legs at 6 years old or--POW! BLOW UP and become the REAL DEAL in an 8th grade all-star game featuring a bunch of other 5-8 adolescents!!!!!! These recruits are a lot like those one-hit wonders, like Lipps, Inc. with "Funkytown" and Devo with "Whip It" in the early 1980s or a Biz Markie with "Just a Friend" or Candyman's "Knockin' Boots" in the 1990s. Make it big early and, hopefully, ride it out as long as you can--in these two cases signing that first big record deal or getting to November of your senior year when they can officially sign that letter-of-intent. When this happens a college program realizes they have just inked the player that will never be better than the 13th man.

Big boy comes calling, Little guy left behind recruit
This may date me a bit, but remember the 1986 film Lucas? (It was filmed locally here in the Chicago area in suburban Glen Ellyn). This movie storyline best illustrates this type of recruit. The popular jock in the movie, "Cappie," woos the new girl away from Lucas (a.k.a. Leukaplakia), a socially inept 14-year old who experiences heartbreak for the first time. Translation: you feel sorry for the low-major plus or mid-major school (Lucas) that put in all the work, only to see the high-major (Cappie) swoop in and nab the prospect.

The "Snicker" Recruit
How many out there have been snickered at? Your siblings do it. Your jealous neighbor does. Don't you do it with your inlaws? Well, these are the recruits everyone says nice things about--even rival college coaches of the school the player committed to or signed with. Of course they say nice things. They want the kid in their league. You hear the bland descriptions with no true evidence: "he's a nice player" (but in what way?) and "he's going to do good things" (but what?) and "he fills a role" (future manager or needed transfer for a lower-level school?) and "he brings a lot to the table." That last one is my favorite. And what specifically does he bring to the table? Isn't that really just a polite way of saying he doesn't do anything particularly well or, to be more blunt, HE JUST AIN'T THAT GOOD? But really what's happening is people are snickering behind the poor sap program that landed the less-than-desired recruit that no one really wanted.

Clock starts ticking on Class of 2012

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By Joe Henricksen

Maybe it's just unfair the Class of 2012 has to follow up the Class of 2011, which features a potential dozen-plus high-major players. Maybe it's unfair the much ballyhooed Class of 2013 is right on their heels, a class that is a year younger but hyped to the 10th degree. The Class of 2012 has taken some hits from local and national evaluators and college coaches, who have been a little slow in throwing around scholarship offers to this group of juniors-to-be.

While there will certainly be fewer high-major players in this class, there is some intriguing talent that maybe is just beginning to blossom. A lot more eyes will be on the Class of 2012 this summer as the class looks to establish itself on the recruiting landscape.

When it comes to the recruiting cycle, the clock will start ticking this summer for many of the top prospects in the City/Suburban Hoops Report's Class of 2012 player rankings. Here is a look at the Hoops Report's top 15.

1. Jay Simpson, 6-8, PF, Champaign (Central) ... There were many who questioned Purdue for the early offer to Simpson (including the Hoops Report), but make no mistake about it: Simpson is a high-major big man. No, he's not your typical "top player" typer in the state of Illinois, but he's progressed very nicely. While conditioning has been an issue in the past, he is playing harder, more consistent and remains a big-bodied 4-man with a jumper and skill level college coaches covet.
2. Derrick Randolph, 5-7, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... Aside from the physical dimensions (i.e. limitations), there may not be a more complete player in the class. He's tough, competes, has the best handle in the class, will annoy anyone on defense, runs a team and will knock down shots with his much-improved jumper.
3. Aaron Simpson, 5-10, PG/2G, North Chicago ... Although a bit on the small side for a 2-guard, here is arguably the best scorer in the class. He's capable of scoring in bunches, both with his shot and off the bounce. Still trying to progress in becoming a legitimate combo guard with point guard traits.
4. Curtis "C.J." Jones, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Orr) ... He's just a player who brings tenacity, energy and a fire to the floor every time he steps on it. Another guard in the class who is trying to show he's capable of running a team from the point guard position. While the mid-range game and attacking the basket are strengths, extending his range is a work in progress.
5. Charles Harris, 6-3, WF, Lake Forest (Academy) ... Blessed with the physical traits (size, length, athleticism) and the upside that will open college coach's eyes. While still developing and a bit raw, he continues to make strides in all facets of his game and show he's more than just a slasher. Has the potential to be a big-time, disruptive perimeter defender.
6. Antonio "Bobo" Drummond, 5-10, PG, Peoria (Central) ... May not have the true upside of a lot of young players, but Bobo is the prototype point guard who handles it, creates and makes good decisions. His perimeter shot is getting better. Just has a knack for making plays.
7. Tim Williams, 6-7, WF, Homewood-Flossmoor ... Passes the look test. Still looking to develop the offensive skill set and to grow into his body to be a true difference-maker, but he has the make-up to blossom over the next 12 months. Has the frame to pack on weight and become a physical specimen in time.
8. Jerron Wilbut, 6-2, 2G, Downers Grove (South) ... This tantalizing prospect has grown as a player in a short period of time. Possesses the shooting stroke, range and athletic gifts to become a big-time scorer on the wing. Still learning how to play and understand the game.
9. Steve Taylor, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Simeon) ... For a player with his size he has the unique combination of power and quickness. He's becoming a better finisher as he devotes more time to the game, but he is far from refined.
10. Anthony Beane, Jr., 6-1, PG, Normal ... In a class filled with small guards, Beane offers some size, athleticism and a mature game at the point guard position. A versatile lead guard who can distribute, score and shoot it with some consistency. Maybe the best-kept secret in the class who is poised for a breakout summer.
11. Keith Carter, 6-0, PG, Maywood (Proviso East) ... A point guard who has scoring and playmaking ability. He's more shifty with a change of pace dribble than a blow-by explosive guard. High character prospect and the next star out of the Maywood school.
12. Aaric Armstead, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Hales Franciscan) ... Has plenty of appealing aspects to his game that translates nicely to the next level, including size on the perimeter and range on his jumper, which has improved. He has the body and skill set to be more than just trigger happy perimeter jump shooter.
13. Jelani Neely, 5-9, PG, Chicago (Simeon) ... When he's content with running a team and being the point guard, Neely is awfully sound and a solid distributor. Though his size and slender build is a concern projecting forward, he has the vision and ability to deliver passes and run an offense.
14. Jermaine Morgan, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... Big man with a long, lean frame who can get up and down the floor. While he has developed as a player and made strides on both ends of the floor, he's still raw on the offensive end.
15. Austin Angel, 6-4, 2G/WF, Rockford (Boylan) ... A big, strong wing with size and the ability to knock down shots and shoot with range. His feel for the game is an asset that will help him overcome some of his physical limitations. How much quicker and athletic he can become will determine how high a level he can play.

Ready to rise
These prospects are quickly climbing the Hoops Report's player rankings.
Tyrone Sherman, 5-10, PG, Homewood-Flossmoor
Brian Bennett, 6-8, PF, Plainfield (East)
• Anthony "A.J." Avery, 6-6, WF, Chicago (St. Rita)
• Treyshawn Jones, 5-8, PG, Chicago (Hyde Park)
Rashaun Stimage, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Farragut)

R-B Summer Shootout loaded

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By Joe Henricksen

With the club basketball circuit's spring season coming to a close at the end of this month, and the all-important July evaluation period still a ways off, plenty of high school action is on tap this June. And there will be no better event with more high-profile teams than the Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout.

The R-B Shootout, which will be held June 5-6, is always one of the top events of the summer. However, the addition of a new fieldhouse this year will upgrade the event with more action than ever before. The field of teams is absolutely loaded, highlighted by several teams that figure to be among the preseason top 10 teams in Illinois next November and others that will litter the state rankings.

Whitney Young, which will return highly-regarded Sam Thompson and 6-8 Tommy Hamilton among others, will be among the top ranked teams in Illinois after winning the 2009 state title and finishing second in 2010. Homewood-Flossmoor welcomes back the majority of its team, including a super sophomore group, and will be at R-B, along with defending 3A state champ Hillcrest.

Benet Academy and Glenbard East, two of the top teams in the western suburbs, will be joined by Tracy Abrams and Mount Carmel and Nnanna Egwu and St. Ignatius out of the Catholic League. The list goes on and on, including the host school R-B, Evanston, New Trier, St. Joseph, St. Patrick, Neuqua Valley, Proviso East, St. Rita, Morgan Park, Curie and York. A total of 32 teams will go at it over two days of action. Each team will play three times on Saturday in pool play, beginning at 9 a.m., with tournament games being played on Sunday.

20 players to watch at the R-B Summer Shootout
Sam Thompson, 6-6, WF, Sr., Chicago (Whitney Young)
Tommy Hamilton, 6-8, PF, So., Chicago (Whitney Young)
Derrick Randolph, 5-8, PG, Jr., Chicago (Whitney Young)
Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, WF, Sr., Chicago (Morgan Park)
Markee Williams, 5-8, PG, So., Chicago (Morgan Park)
Billy Garrett, Jr., 6-1, PG/2G, Chicago (Morgan Park)
Tracy Abrams, 6-0, PG, Sr., Chicago (Mount Carmel)
Adonis Filer, 6-2, 2G, Sr., Chicago (Mount Carmel)
George Marshall, 6-0, PG, Sr., Chicago (Brooks)
Keith Carter, 6-0, PG, Jr., Maywood (Proviso East)
Nnanna Egwu, 6-10, C, Sr., Chicago (St. Ignatius)
Johnny Hill, 6-3, 2G, Sr., Lombard (Glenbard East)
Jerron Wilbut, 6-3, 2G, Jr., Downers Grove (South)
Will Sullivan, 6-2, 2G, Sr., Elmhurst (York)
David Sobolewski, 6-0, PG, Sr., Lisle (Benet Academy)
Frank Kaminsky, 6-10, C, Sr., Lisle (Benet Academy)
Ryan Jackson, 6-1, PG, Sr., Riverside-Brookfield
Julius Brown, 5-9, PG, Sr., Country Club Hills (Hillcrest)
A.J. Avery, 6-6, WF, Jr., Chicago (St. Rita)
Garrett Jones, 5-10, PG/2G, Evanston

Purnell secures first commitment

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By Joe Henricksen

Oliver Purnell landed his first commitment as head coach at DePaul, gaining a verbal commitment from Crete-Monee's Jamie Crockett. The 6-4 highly-athletic wing committed to the Blue Demons on Tuesday.

Crockett, who in March told the Hoops Report Dayton was very high on his list, shows Purnell and the Blue Demons are poised to target Chicago area kids.

"Purnell came in and did and said the right things with Jamie," says Crockett's club coach Mike Irvin of the Mac Irvin Fire program. "He [Purnell] is trying to do the right thing in recruiting city and Chicago area kids. Jamie is one of the best athletes in the country, and it's a chance for him to play in the Big East and in front of his friends and family."

Crockett, who is the No. 18 ranked player in the Hoops Report Class of 2011 player rankings, has shown this spring an improved jumper from the perimeter, though he must gain consistency with it. He also must continue to make strides in putting the ball on the floor. He's a high-major athlete who will wow you at times with his high-flying finishes at the rim.

While this may not be the blockbuster recruit DePaul fans may have been hoping for in the Class of 2011, it shows a certain degree of importance of recruiting the Chicago area by Purnell and his staff.

Illinois lands Mycheal Henry

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By Joe Henricksen

Illinois fans have been waiting for a pure shooter to enter the program for a number of years, one that can not only knock down shots but rise up and get his own. Well, one is on its way.

Orr's Mycheal Henry, one of the best shooters in the state of Illinois regardless of class, gave a verbal commitment to coach Bruce Weber and Illinois on Monday. No disrespect to the likes of Trent Meacham and Richard McBride, the program's best three-point shooters over the past four years, but Henry is in a completely different class as a player and shooter.

"I just really connected with the coaching staff," said Henry, who enjoyed a terrific visit to Illinois this past weekend. "I like the facilities, the school, the environment and the players. I feel relieved and comfortable with this. It's like a monkey is off my back."

A lot of credit again must go out to assistant coach Jerrance Howard, who was on a mission this winter and throughout the spring in trying to land the coveted Henry. He quickly built a relationship with Henry that went a long way in landing the sharpshooter from Chicago. Bruce Weber was also involved early on, taking in Henry action late this season.

Henry, who vaulted into the Hoops Report top 10 in the Class of 2011 as the calender turned to 2010 and was soon offered by both Wisconsin and Illinois, finally gives Weber and the Illini that player who can consistently stretch a defense. Henry's elevation on his shot and high release point are of high-major caliber as he's capable of getting his shot off, whether it's spotting up on the perimeter, coming off screens or step-back threes. He's a shooter.

Aside from Henry's shooting, his most attractive quality of a player may be his willingness to improve and get better. He is a revelation in this day of prima-donna prep stars. This kid has no ego, wants to be coached and is humble. He knows he has work to do with his overall handle and is in the process of polishing up those skills. Henry, though, has the body, athleticism, size and shooting ability to be an impact player.

After transferring from Morgan Park to Orr following his freshman season, the progression began. I remember my first real glance at the upside and potential in January of his sophomore year, watching an Orr-Whitney Young game and thinking once this kid figures it all out he's got a real chance. He was raw, a slasher and finisher around the basket with a developing mid-range game.

Last summer, following his sophomore year at Orr, Henry was an intriguing prospect, a player mid-major programs coveted and were just hoping would stay at their level. And for some time it appeared that may just happen. There was certainly a process in putting it all together for Henry. Last summer, despite the vast potential, the results were inconclusive as his game had some holes and the production was very inconsistent. However, throughout the summer and fall Henry made it a point to make a huge jump in one area: shooting the basketball.

The season started in November and he took off in December. The production became the norm, with 20 and 12 in a win over Crete-Monee and 21 and 12 in a win over Gary Westside. He was special in the Public League Holiday Tournament in a pair of games the Hoops Report took in, including 30 points, 9 rebounds, 5 block shots and seven three-pointers against Foreman in the quarterfinals. When Jan. 1 rolled around the Hoops Report, with no reservations, moved Henry into the No. 2 spot in the Hoops Report player rankings in the Class of 2011.

The commitment of Henry now gives Illinois three players already locked up in the Class of 2011, joining Mount Carmel guard Tracy Abrams and St. Ignatius big man Nnanna Egwu. Illinois, which has now tapped into the Chicago Public League with the Henry commitment, continues to do a terrific job of locking up top in-state talent. The staff made Henry feel comfortable, something prospects have repetitively stated as being a key part in offering up early verbal commitments to Illinois.

Bruce Weber is on the verge of putting together three straight banner recruiting classes, with the likes of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tyler Griffey, Meyers Leonard, Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head and the soon-to-be class of Abrams, Egwu and Henry.

Illini hot after Kyle Cain?

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By Joe Henricksen

Recruiting never stops. The majority of the letter-of-intents are signed and dry by November. However, in the spring it can get a little wild as college programs are scurrying around trying to fill holes and get a late steal.

Another recruiting frenzy is beginning to stir as former T.F. North star Kyle Cain is back on the board after gaining his National Letter of Intent release from Rhode Island and would be a 2010 recruit. Cain, a 6-7 power forward with a knack for rebounding and finishing around the basket, spent this past season polishing his skills and adding weight and strength at New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire. Now he's being courted by a host of schools, including Gonzaga, Alabama and West Virginia. If you believe internet reports, Kentucky has inquired, so says CBSsportsline. Oregon, DePaul, UNC Charlotte, Houston, Xavier and many others have checked in.

Now the University of Illinois is getting heavily involved with Cain, who may be just what the doctor ordered for a program looking for a presence and some toughness and rebounding. As talented as Illinois is heading into next season -- with a blend of experience, incoming talent and skill -- a strong, tough rebounder would fill a void for coach Bruce Weber. Assistant coach Jerrance Howard has gone to work on Cain in a short period of time.

Cain had a solid senior year at T.F. North, but it was after the season -- playing with the Illinois Warriors in AAU ball during the spring and early summer -- where Cain showed how much he had grown as a player. Cain was recognized as the Hoops Report's sleeper in the class, moving up into the top 20 in the final player rankings and settling in at No. 16.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report was enamored with Cain's progress and wrote about it approximately a year ago in an April 26, 2009 blog. Here is that blog entry ...

Attention college coaches, be sure to keep tabs on Class of 2009 star, T.F. North's Kyle Cain, over the next year or two. This is not the same player you -- or the Hoops Report -- may have watched last summer or even this past winter while playing with his high school team. While he was good all season for T.F. North, he's been great since.

While the youngsters stole the show on Saturday in Merrillville, it was the play of Cain that continues to impress the Hoops Report. The 6-7 Cain has been an absolute monster each and every time he's played this spring.

Cain, who had committed to Detroit last fall, will now be heading to either a junior college or prep school. He has been so impressive since the completion of his senior year that the Hoops Report believes there is no question he will be a coveted recruit next year and be an impact mid-major plus college player. And at this rate who knows, he could end up even higher.

He is athletic with an impressive body and improving skills. Cain's aggression and explosiveness is better than ever. He has the power and strength to mix it up inside and clear space, while also having the willingness to run the floor effectively. He uses his length and athletic ability to block and alter shots. He rebounds and competes. He finishes with authority around the basket and is dunking everything.

If he does land at a prep school and has four years of eligibility as a 2010 recruit .... wow. With an extra year to mature and further develop his game, could he turn into another Joey Dorsey-type player? Dorsey was a raw, physical specimen who went to Laurinburg Prep before landing at Memphis and helping the Tigers to the Final Four.

UWGB nabs Johnson; McKinnie to EIU

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By Joe Henricksen

A couple of Chicago area products made their college decisions official on Friday. Terry Johnson, who starred at North Lawndale a year ago, will make the move from Illinois State to Wisconsin-Green Bay, while up-and-coming Alphonso McKinnie of Marshall will be headed to Eastern Illinois.

UW-Green Bay coach Brian Wardle has earned a glowing reputation around the Chicago area from both his playing days at Hinsdale Central in the late 1990s and from recruiting the area as an assistant coach over the past several years. Now he's making his mark as a head coach -- a first-year head coach who has been on the job for less than a month.

Wardle played a pivotal role in landing Johnson, who will sit out next season as a transfer and have three years of eligibility remaining. Johnson and his family spent the past two days in Green Bay. The comfort level, style of play and the presence of Wardle, along with the respect they had for the young coach, turned out to be the difference in landing Johnson.

Johnson, a 6-0 combo guard who helped lead North Lawndale to Peoria and a third-place finish at state as a senior, spent this past season playing behind a senior-dominated backcourt at Illinois State. After averaging 14 points a game for a North Lawndale powerhouse as a senior in high school and being among the top 15 prospects in Illinois in the Hoops Report's Class of 2009 player rankings, Johnson played in 22 games this past season at ISU, averaging 2 points a game in limited action.

McKinnie, meanwhile, emerged this past season and remained one of the best-kept secrets in the Chicago area. When the season began he was nowhere to be found in the Hoops Report player rankings and an unknown prospect. He began making his mark and opening some eyes in December, beginning with a 21-point performance at Chicago State in a loss to Von Steuben in the CPS Boys Basketball Holiday Showcase.

After a solid and productive senior year, where he averaged over 11 points and nearly 9 rebounds a game, the 6-7 athletic 4-man ended up the year as one of the top 35 prospects in the class. Today he's one of the true sleepers in the class, a late bloomer with untapped potential.

While still raw offensively and needing to gain some weight and strength, McKinnie is long and active. He rebounds, is active around the basket on both ends of the floor and continued to improve his overall skill level over the course of the season.

McKinnie will join a program that has made steady progress over the past few years, improving from seven wins in 2008 to 12 victories in 2009 to winning 19 games this past season. Coach Mike Miller returns the nucleus of this past season's team as he points this program in the right direction and continues to make an impact recruiting the Chicago area over the past couple of years.

By Joe Henricksen

Ben Brust, the high-scoring guard from Mundelein, is staying in the Big Ten after all. The 6-2 scorer committed to a Wisconsin program that has been -- and remains -- hot and heavy after Illinois prep prospects. Brust signed with Iowa last fall but was released following the departure of Iowa coach Todd Lickliter following this past season.

After going through what he did with Iowa, Brust was enamored with and felt good about the stability of coach Bo Ryan at Wisconsin and the security he would have playing under the veteran coach. In addition to the atmosphere, environment and the chance to play in the Big Ten, Brust will have an opportunity to provide minutes early on in his career. Wisconsin graduates guards Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. There is especially a need for a player to fill the role of Bohannon off the ball and Brust can provide that.

While regarded as a terrific shooter, Brust is a better-than-you-think athlete and a true scorer. He has range, moves well without the ball and, as it can be said so many times with Wisconsin recruits, fits what they do.

Brust became quite a commodity once he was released from his letter-of-intent at Iowa. High-major programs across the country inquired about Brust with dozens of offers flowing in from the mid-major level on up.

Wisconsin now has a pair of players from the Hoops Report's Top 10 in the Class of 2010 heading to Madison. Deerfield's Duje Dukan, the No. 5 ranked player, signed last fall. Now Brust, the No. 7 ranked player in the class, will join him. The Badgers also have a commitment from junior guard George Marshall of Brooks and are heavily involved with both Orr's Mycheal Henry and Benet Academy big man Frank Kaminsky.

Size = Offers ... Kaminsky nabs big one

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By Joe Henricksen

First, Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives opens eyes, drops jaws and shoots up local and national rankings with high-major offers flowing in. Now another Class of 2011 prospect is grabbing high-major attention. Benet Academy big man Frank Kaminsky received an offer from Wisconsin on Thursday, according to Illinois Wolves coach Mike Mullins.

While Kaminsky is obviously not near the story or talent of Davis, he has certainly made big strides in the last year -- even in the last two months. A week after Wisconsin and previous commitment Devon Hodges of Bolingbrook parted ways, Kaminsky grabs an offer from the Badgers.

The 6-10 Kaminsky is still trying to become more of a factor in the lane and on the block, but he is certainly skilled enough to step out and knock down the 15-20 foot jumper. His physical strength should only get better as he adds weight to his 6-10 frame. Of all the systems out there, Kaminsky does project to the type of big man Wisconsin has brought in over the years and had success with. Kaminsky now has offers from Bradley, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. We shall see if this offer from Wisconsin jump-starts the recruitment of Kaminsky.

The Kaminsky offer brings a recruiting subject to the table: the recruitment of the high school big man. College programs look high and low, near and far for big men. They look in small towns, big towns, white, black, foreign or domestic. They look under rocks. They look for anyone who is 6-8 or bigger that can run (sometimes), chew gum and, hopefully, do both. Then they hope they have grades. And this isn't just at the Division I level. You should see some of the big men Division III programs bring in, just hoping they can develop into a player at some point in their four years on campus.

Take the state of Illinois as an example. The Class of 2010 was actually a good year for big men in the state of Illinois, with 7-foot Meyers Leonard of Robinson obviously the cream of the crop and rare breed of big man we've seen in this state. There were six players total in the class who were 6-8, considered a true 4-man or 5-man and qualified academically who are heading off to a Division I program next fall. Now you think about all the college programs in Illinois and throughout the Midwest that circle around the state of Illinois like vultures trying to recruit the state. They are all in search of a kid with size.

The Class of 2011 has fewer big men and the Class of 2012 has very little size or true post players. Are tall people simply not re-creating in this state? Paging all tall people throughout Illinois ... Paging all tall people throughout Illinois ...

There .... Are .... No .... Big .... Men!

So college programs take them when they find them. And when they do find one who is talented it's a feeding frenzy. Coaches salivate, get giddy, cross their fingers they can hold onto them prior to signing day.

And there are times they take big men that, quite frankly, they aren't even 100 percent sold on. If they are going to swing and miss on a prospect, you better believe it's going be one that is 6-9, 6-10 or bigger. A lot of times the hope is to bring them in, redshirt them for a year and wait three years for them to develop into a viable option. There have been some tremendous big man stories over the years, where a program rolls the dice and has come up big three, four or even five years later.

A perfect example is Northern Iowa big man Jordan Eglseder, the ultimate project. The 7-foot, 280 pound center out of Bellevue, Iowa just capped off his career as one of the top big men in the Missouri Valley. But this came after a slow (6 minutes a game as a freshman) but effective progression at the mid-major level. Everyone remembers Ali Farokhmanesh's shot that killed Kansas in the NCAA Tournament and vaulted UNI to the Sweet 16, but it was Eglseder's development and, ultimately, presence that elevated UNI during the 2009-2010 season. And all because UNI rolled the dice on a big man early in the recruiting process, before others even were involved.

There are more eyes on kids with size today than maybe ever before. Who knows, maybe there are less of them. I don't know. I think back to different big men from years past that, if they were in the market today, what level would they be recruited at? I can think back to the Class of 1999 when a tall, string of a talent named Brad Korn was being recruited out of middle-of-nowhere Plano, Illinois. Korn, who is now an assistant coach at Southern Illinois, was 6-8, pushing 6-9, skilled, with a soft touch and could shoot the heck out of it. He was courted by the local mid-majors, namely Northern Illinois, Illinois State and Southern Illinois. He chose to play for coach Bruce Weber at SIU and enjoyed a solid career. But what level would he have been recruited at today? A 6-9 kid who can run the floor with a pure shot out to 22 feet? You tell me.

The recruitment of size is a cross between a game of poker and Risk.

Small college programs hitting it big

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By Joe Henricksen

The months of April and May are busy for small college basketball programs and the coaches that run them. This is the time they are reeling in prospects, whether it's at the Division III, Division II or NAIA level.

Locally, Lewis University, a Division II basketball program in Romeoville, has secured a pair of recruits with local ties that have put together impressive seasons in the junior college ranks. This week head coach Scott Trost nabbed high-scoring 6-1 guard David Luster, a Seton Academy product who starred at Johnson County Community College this past year. Luster, a 6-1 guard, has terrific shooting ability and shoots it with range. The 6-1 guard shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc this season and knocked down 67 three-pointers while averaging over 20 points a game. Luster, who made a school record nine three-pointers in one game, led the Kansas Jayhawk Conference in scoring this past season and was an all-conference selection.

Former Chicago St. Patrick star Jerome Robinson, a wiry, active, athletic 6-6 forward, averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds a game this past season at Morton College. Word is Robinson will soon be making it official that he, too, will be a Flyer. The Hoops Report loved Robinson's upside in high school as it was only a matter of time before he physically matured, grew into his body and elevated his production.

Trost also locked up St. Joseph's Mantas Dubauskas, a hard-nosed, blue-collar 6-5 forward who will instantly bring toughness to the Flyers. Dubauskas had a solid senior year for coach Gene Pingatore.

Another Division II school, Quincy University, will welcome Glenbrook North shooter Austin Weber. The 6-5 Weber joins a program that finished 23-9 last season and earned a berth into the NCAA Division II National Tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

At the Division III ranks, perhaps no school has brought in a better class featuring Illinois prep players than coach Ron Rose at Illinois Wesleyan. The Titans enjoyed a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III National Tournament and are cashing in on that success on the recruiting trail.

Illinois Wesleyan secured perhaps the premier Division III in-state recruit in Galesburg's Victor Davis, who could evolve into the "Big Baby" of the Division III ranks. The 6-4 Davis is strong and powerful, rebounds well and will cause mismatches on the floor at the Division III level with his combination of strength and burst for a player his size. In addition, Rose will welcome Eric Dortch, another big, agile threat who played his high school basketball at Evanston and has improved his face-up game since playing for the Wildkits and a year of prep school. And Brady Zimmer, a 6-3 combo guard from Delavan, has a nice upside and brings depth to the Wesleyan backcourt.

Prospect point guard Joe LaTulip, Oswego's 6-4 Andrew Ziemnik and Edwardsville's 6-9 Nick Anderson are other solid in-state recruits heading to Illinois Wesleyan.

Maine South was good to Augustana, a perennial CCIW power. Augustana gets a sleeper in big man Kevin Schlitter, who missed all of this past season with a knee injury. The 6-8 Schlitter, though, brings a big body and a soft touch. He enjoyed a stellar junior year, averaging 13.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a game while shooting a school record 65 percent from the field. In addition, Schlitter's teammate, P.J. Killean, will join him at Augustana. Killean is a versatile, throwback type who did a little of everything for coach Tony Lavorato's Hawks, averaging 10.6 points and over four rebounds and four assists a game. Sharpshooter Austin Lusson of Lyons Township is also a part of a six-man recruiting class that includes three out-of-state players.

Washington University in St. Louis, a Division III power, will welcome an awfully good tandem at the Division III ranks in Fremd's Chris Klimek and St. Viator's Alan Aboona. The 6-5 Klimek is versatile, will defend multiple positions and brings all the intangibles a coach covets. Aboona, meanwhile, is one of the Hoops Report's underrated talents in the Class of 2010. The point guard had a sensational individual season, averaging 16 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds a game, while helping his team to a Class 3A sectional title. Academically, Aboona scored a 32 on his ACT and sports a perfect GPA. Kevin Bischoff, a solid 6-1 point guard from Normal, is also headed to Washington U.

North Central in Naperville was also able to land a potential difference-maker in Normal West's Brad Hallstein. The 6-8 Hallstein had a terrific season, received plenty of interest from scholarship-level schools, and brings both size and a shooting touch to North Central. Also part of the North Central recruiting class is Landon Gamble of Lockport, a 6-4 player who plays bigger than his size. These two are a part of a big and talented North Central class.

Another CCIW school, Elmhurst, went downstate and secured a pair of prospects in 6-5 Nick Sanford of Decatur St. Teresa, who was a 2nd team all-state selection in Class 1A/2A, and guard Sam Ficker of Jerseyville. Justin Phipps, a rugged 6-5 rebounder from Lyons Twp., also joins the Bluejays next season.

In the never-ending search for quality big men, no matter what level you coach at, Division III Lake Forest will welcome 6-7 Bledi Dervishi of Downers Grove South.

Six-piece nugget from Spiece

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By Joe Henricksen

The Spiece Run-n-Slam All-Star Classic was a loaded event this past weekend and arguably the top spring event on the calendar, especially when it comes to Illinois representatives. Here is a look at six quick nuggets (team and individual) from this past weekend.

1. Anthony Davis
What more can anyone say about the rapid and preposterous rise of Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives? After his coming-out party in Merrillville at the Nike Spring Showdown, Davis left little doubt about his whopping upside after showing all that he offers in Fort Wayne.

Davis is an absolutely intriguing and unique story when you think about a player arriving on the scene this late in his career, especially in a basketball city like Chicago with so many eyes and mouthpieces out there. You just can't help but be captivated by the upside of Davis, who is raw and a bit limited due to his lack of weight and strength but possesses such great potential. His height at 6-10 and wingspan at over 7-feet, which is the first thing you are drawn to, already allow him to be a factor. His crazy length allows him to finish around the rim offensively and by altering and blocking shots on the defensive end. He has very good hands. Then you throw in the ability to run the floor and the skill level for a player with those type of dimensions and you start thinking big things as a prospect. He's never going to be an overpowering type, but he can certainly be a finesse type of 4-man.

While the Class of 2011 was already deep and balanced among the top seven or eight players, Davis gives the class a big boost at the top. After just one weekend of action at a high AAU level in Merrillville, David vaulted into the top 10. Now, in just two weeks, he has catapulted himself to the No. 2 spot behind Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear. In fact, when it's all said and done Davis could be the top prospect in Illinois when the July evaluation period concludes.

Now there is absolutely nothing normal about his recruiting. I remember watching Davis in Merrillville and thinking, "This kid has no idea what's about to hit him in the next two months." Well, it's starting. There are phone calls and offers from programs who have never seen him play. Davis and his family have to be thinking, "What the heck is happening?"

2. Phillip Greene
The 6-2 Julian guard is the one player in the class making a push into the upper-echelon of top prospects in the Class of 2011. He has that perimeter combination you covet: speed and athleticism. Plus, he just knows how to put the ball in the hole. At least once or twice a game he will make a brilliant play that shows the amount of potential he has. He shows an ability to finish in transition and in traffic, especially in ISO situations, and will knock down shots from the perimeter with regularity. He is still adjusting to when the tempo slows and making the proper reads and decisions. However, Greene has proved he's made strides in a lot of areas and is the No. 10 player in the Hoops Report player rankings.

3. Meanstreets
Well, considering the two aforementioned players -- Anthony Davis and Phillip Greene -- were the first two stories in this blog, is it any wonder that Meanstreets has had so much success? This team advanced deeper into tournament play than any other Illinois team in the Gold Division. Meanstreets fell to Indiana Elite, the eventual champion, in the semifinals. And when Hillcrest point guard Juice Brown was given an opportunity, he made the most of it. Brown's teams win. It was just a little over a month ago when Brown led Hillcrest to a Class 3A state title.

4. Team Ferrari
While the 16-and-under Ferrari team was bounced a little earlier than they would have liked, falling to Spiece Mo Kan in the second round of the Gold Division playoffs, this is one of the most talented 16-and-under teams in Illinois. Derrick Randolph sets the tone. The 5-6 sophomore, who is anxious and primed after missing plenty of action this past winter, sets the standard for this team. He sets the temperature in the room with his hustle, energy and tenacity. Orr's C.J. Jones is another talented guard and a top five player in the Class of 2012, while Homewood-Flossmoor's 6-7 Tim Williams and Simeon's 6-7 Steve Taylor and Whitney Young's 6-7 Jermaine Morgan give this team some size and punch around the basket.

5. Surprise, Surprise
Here are a few individuals and teams that have opened eyes this spring and continued to in Fort Wayne over the weekend.
Derrick Randolph, Whitney Young ... He's 5-6 and the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2012. (See the Hoops Report's previous blog for more on the little Dolphin dynamo).
Dylan Ennis, Lake Forest (Academy) ... The 6-1 athletic point guard with a strong and long body still battles some some consistency issues, both with his shooting and in taking care of the ball, but Ennis put together solid back-to-back weekends overall between his play in Merrillville and Fort Wayne. Ennis is an Akron commit who will make a jump of about 20 spots in the Hoops Report Class of 2011 rankings.
James Farr, Evanston ... Maybe the unsung prospect right now in the Class of 2011. If the 6-7 face-up 4-man, who has a nice jump-hook when he is in the paint, pops another inch or two, look out. Farr has the ability to consistently knock down shots from the perimeter and shined at times in Fort Wayne playing with the Rising Stars. Really like his progress and upside as a potential mid-major prospect.
Jack Ryan, Glenbrook South ... While not ultra-smooth, the 6-6 wing is crafty in a lot of different ways and had a productive weekend for the Rising Stars Gold. Ryan finds a way to get to the basket and finish. His versatility, along with academics, could make him a viable option for Patriot League and Ivy League programs.
Frank Kaminsky, Benet Academy ... After watching Kaminsky in two sectional tournament games, the strides he has made in this short of time is impressive. He has become a bigger factor on the floor, more of a presence. And he has certainly peaked the interest of college programs who are constantly in desperate need of size.

6. Rising Stars Gold
No, this is not an earth-shattering story here. This is just one to give some recognition to a team that has flown under the radar due to some injuries and roster changes over the past month, including the loss of Orr star Mycheal Henry. There has been plenty written about the Big Three in Illinois AAU basketball already this spring. And while the Illinois Wolves, Mac Irvin Fire and Meanstreets are the most talented trio of teams in the state, checking in at No. 4, when it's all said and done, will likely be the unsung Rising Stars Gold. First, however, they must get healthy.

Ryan Sawvell of Mundelein, the team's top prospect, has been out all spring with an injury but will be returning to action this week. When you add the 6-7 Sawvell and 6-6 Pete Szostak of Glenbrook North, who also missed action at Spiece, to the mix of Glenbrook South's Jack Ryan, Glenbard East's Johnny Hill, Evanston's Garrett Jones and shooter Brayden Teuscher of Rockford Christian, the Rising Stars Gold will be a formidable group come July. Without Sawvell and Szostak the Rising Stars reached the quarterfinals of the Silver Division playoffs, largely behind the play of Evanston's James Farr.

Little Randolph a Big 1 in 2012?

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By Joe Henricksen

The City/Suburban Hoops Report came oh so close to doing the unthinkable: putting a 5-5 point guard at the top of the rankings in the Class of 2012. Oh, OK, we'll give him 5-6. But that's how much the Hoops Report values Whitney Young's Derrick Randolph, a little tough-minded, hard-nosed, put-his-foot-on-your-throat point guard who plays with Ferrari on the AAU circuit.

In the end, when the Hoops Report's updated Class of 2012 rankings do come out, Champaign Central's Jay Simpson, a Purdue commitment, will be No. 1, followed by Randolph in the No. 2 spot when it comes to college prospects in the junior-to-be class. When was the last time the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the class were separated by 14 inches? You can't help but factor that in the equation when looking at the top two prospects.

Randolph is tiny but strong. No one will take the basketball away from him. He will run a team in the halfcourt and can also push the tempo with speed from end to end while staying in control. He will hound you and make you change directions defensively for 94 feet. He has a heart the size of Texas and a toughness and confidence that permeates through to his teammates. Where he has made his biggest leap is with his perimeter shot. He will hit the pull-up, mid-range jumper, which he does a great job of using rather than getting too deep in the lane, and has added range out to the three-point line. In a 39-point win over the Mac Irvin Fire 16s this past weekend at the Spiece Run-n-Slam in Fort Wayne, Randolph drained six three-pointers.

When you appreciate Randolph the most, however, is at the end of the game. He is one you can guarantee left it all on the floor. You don't have to worry about whether he will bring it every day. A prime example came Saturday morning in pool play. In the closing minute of a 9:30 a.m. game that was already decided with Ferrari holding a comfortable lead, the opposing team, nonetheless, attempted to roll the ball up the floor while the clock was stopped. Randolph immediately raced up, dove on the floor to grab possession and called a timeout. This is at 9:30 a.m. in an AAU tournament when many players were yawning and others sleepwalking.

When it comes to little guards, the Hoops Report has never been too big of a fan as far as playing at the high-major level. The tiny ones have to be special. Maurice Acker, the former Hillcrest point guard, and Hales Franciscan's Jerome Randle, who starred at Cal, come to mind. I remember 5-7 Rashon Burno out of St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City. He came in the same recruiting class as Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons and Lance Williams in the late 1990s and started 68 games at point guard for DePaul. Randolph is a more potent version of Burno, who ran a team and defended the heck out of you but was very limited offensively. Randolph has those special characteristics.

Now he's looking to show them off.

"I waited my turn," says Randolph, who is poised to take over the point guard duties at Whitney Young. "Listening is the key to success. I have listened to my coaches and those around me, and I feel I'm ready to do the things that are expected of me. I just want to be a leader. I want to make my teammates better."

And as far as the negatives and questions he hears about his height disadvantage?

"My heart makes up for my height," Randolph says matter-of-factly. "Hearing that is certainly a motivation for me. Don't tell me I'm too small."

The Hoops Report won't. Nor should college coaches.

Class of 2012
The Hoops Report's updated Class of 2012 rankings will be out shortly, but here is a sneak peak at the top 10.
1. Jay Simpson, 6-8, PF, Champaign Central
2. Derrick Randolph, 5-6, PG, Chicago Whitney Young
3. Aaron Simpson, 5-10, 2G, North Chicago
4. Charles Harris, 6-4, 2G/WF, Lake Forest (Academy)
5. Bobo Drummond, 5-10, PG, Peoria (Central)
6. Tim Williams, 6-7, WF, Homewood-Flossmoor
7. Jerron Wilbut, 6-2, 2G, Downers Grove (South)
8. Steve Taylor, 6-7, PF, Chicago Simeon
9. C.J. Jones, 6-0, 2G, Chicago (Orr)
10. Keith Carter, 6-0, PG, Maywood (Proviso East)

A recap of what the Hoops Report took in this past weekend at the Spiece Run-N-Slam Tournament will follow later this week.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Joe Henricksen in May 2010.

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