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Joe Henricksen: June 2011 Archives

IBCA provides one last look at Class of 2011

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By Joe Henricksen

After last year's Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's debacle of an all-star game, particularly the 2010 big school matchup, it was great to see a little pop back in the game Saturday night at Illinois Wesleyan.

A year ago there were depleted rosters with no-shows and nearly all the big-named players missing. And to top it off, one of the few big-named prospects who played was even booed (in a high school all-star game?!?!?!) for, uh, being ultra-selfish -- even for all-star game selfish standards. Basically, it was a train wreck for a game that has so much potential.

The 2011 version, however, was a step up in talent. Regardless of how the players were persuaded, the bottom line is the combination of a very deep and talented senior class in Illinois and 14 Division I players on the two big school rosters made the game that much more appealing. Yes, the play was all-star ragged and the minutes were split up pretty evenly, but a good-sized crowd and the presence of some quality talent did at least make it an all-star game atmosphere.

After taking in the IBCA all-star practices, scrimmages and the game, here are some Hoops Report all-star weekend observations:

EGWU AND RANDLE SHINE: Without question the two most impressive players were Nnanna Egwu of St. Ignatius and Chasson Randle of Rock Island. When you combine overall production, talent, assertiveness and potential after watching these two over the weekend, Egwu and Randle were at a different level than everyone else.

Egwu, the North MVP, is quite possibly the most overlooked prospect nationally. Yes, he floats around national top 100 lists. But as the Hoops Report has stated before, national evaluators didn't see the true Egwu last July -- he was nursing an injury the entire month. And how many national evaluators checked in on a St. Ignatius game this past winter when he was healthy?

There is a reason the Hoops Report vaulted Egwu to the No. 3 spot in the Class of 2011 this past winter. At the end of the day -- in this case at the end of their college careers -- Egwu will show he was undervalued as a prospect. When was the last time fans got into watching a player run the floor?!?!?!? He's obviously more than a big man impressively beating guards down the floor; he's a 6-10 kid with a blossoming face-up game and a defensive presence. There is certainly work to do for Egwu, especially since he's only been playing the game for a little over four years, but the sky is the limit for this kid who soaks up coaching like a sponge and wants to improve.

Randle is about as college-ready as any player in the Class of 2011 and was a big recruiting prize for coach Johnny Dawkins and Stanford. This is a pretty polished prospect for his age who does so many things as a player to help his team win. Throw in the off-the-charts character and team-first attitude and Randle is a unique player.

What was interesting to see in the IBCA all-star game was Randle being so aggressive and assertive in an all-star setting. This type of game is not ideal for an unselfish player like Randle, yet he was "the guy" for the South, along with O'Fallon's Roosevelt Jones, and adapted to the all-star game setting.

SOMETHING TO PROVE: If there was a player that looked as if he had something to prove, it was O'Fallon's Roosevelt Jones. The Butler-bound star, who is an absolute stat-sheet stuffer, can sometimes be the forgotten man playing in the southern part of the state. Plus, an early loss in state tournament play this past March limited his statewide exposure as a senior. But the South MVP is a brute force with his strength and improving skills. He impacts games in a different way, with his competitiveness and high-running motor playing a big part in his overall production.

SHAW STILL SOLID: There is a lot to like about Mike Shaw. The De La Salle product, who has probably been looked up and down, poked, prodded and analyzed more than any other player in the class since he entered high school, has a chance to be a really solid Big Ten player. When he's committed to doing what he does best, he thrives in that role as a hard-nosed, around-the-basket rebounder and finisher.

FOUR AMIGOS: When you're around Illinois' four recruits -- Egwu, Shaw, Mycheal Henry and Tracy Abrams -- it's easy to see why coach Bruce Weber is excited to coach them. No, there isn't a McDonald's All-American in the group. You could argue there may not be a top 50 player nationally in the bunch (the Hoops Report would certainly put Egwu in the top 50). But there is definitely a bond and chemistry between them. It's not developing, it's there. They get along, love being around one another, joke, kid, have fun and are coachable. Taking all the talent from the equation, these four are great kids and another reason why the Class of 2011 is special in its own way.

COMING UP (PURPLE) ACES: A Hoops Report favorite, Mundelein's Ryan Sawvell, is a solid recruit for Evansville. Sawvell is a workhorse with a non-stop motor. And he is more skilled and more athletic than people realize. He had the dunk of the game on a tomahawk alley-oop and added a little 10-foot jump-hook. Sawvell was impressive over the course of the weekend. Plus, another Evansville recruit, Lincoln's Jordan Nelson, is probably the purest shooter in the class. He dropped in 14 points with his smooth jumper.

FORGOTTEN MAN: He's not talked about much, but Fremd's Zach Monaghan (22.3 ppg as a senior) is a terrific recruit for South Dakota State. The 6-2 guard's strength is his shooting ability, but he also has a better feel that will ultimately get him on the floor sooner than later for the Jackrabbits. Monaghan put together some solid work during the IBCA weekend.

SMALL COLLEGE: Division I programs should certainly keep an eye on Oregon's Sam Ford, a 6-2 highly athletic guard who will be going the junior college route for two years. And When it comes to small college recruits, University of Chicago has a potential difference-maker at the Division III level in Rock Island's Royce Muskeyvalley.

One last hurrah
The IBCA All-Star Game was yet another chance to watch a just-graduated senior class display their talents one last time. Remember, every one of these players are teenagers who are still maturing and growing as players -- even in the three months since they last played their high school season. Weight and strength has been added, skills have been refined, attitudes have been changed. Yes, even in that short period of time. The effort and commitment put in by these players -- over the past three months and over the next four years -- has and will show how they live up to any rankings place on them as high school prospects.

After taking in the IBCA all-star practices, scrimmages and the game itself, there were a couple of subtle changes in the final rankings from a month ago. The development of players is so fluid. And this particular class is a special one.

There were 18 players that signed with high-major programs. While you can certainly debate if all 18 were legitimate high-major players (no, they all aren't high-major worthy), there were probably a few more that didn't sign with high-major programs that maybe could have. When the dust settles in two years -- after several go the junior college and prep school route -- we could be looking at a class with 60-plus Division I players that were produced in the Class of 2011.

Here is one last look at the top 30 prospects in the Class of 2011.

Class of 2011
1. Anthony Davis, 6-10, PF, Chicago (Perspectives) ... Kentucky
2. Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park) ... Louisville
3. Nnanna Egwu, 6-10, C, Chicago (St. Ignatius) ... Illinois
4. Ryan Boatright, 5-11, PG, Aurora (East) ... Connecticut
5. Mycheal Henry, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Orr) ... Illinois
6. Chasson Randle, 6-2, PG/2G, Rock Island ... Stanford
7. Sam Thompson, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) ... Ohio State
8. Tracy Abrams, 6-1, PG, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) ... Illinois
9. Abdel Nader, 6-7, WF/PF, Skokie (Niles North) ... Northern Illinois
10. Mike Shaw, 6-8, PF, Chicago (De La Salle) ... Illinois
11. Frank Kaminsky, 6-11, PF/C, Lisle (Benet Academy) ... Wisconsin
12. David Sobolewski, 6-1, PG, Lisle (Benet Academy) ... Northwestern
13. Johnny Hill, 6-3, 2G, Lombard (Glenbard East) ... Illinois State
14. Roosevelt Jones, 6-3, WF, O'Fallon ... Butler
15. Bruce Baron, 6-3, PG, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) ... Oregon
16. George Marshall, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Brooks) ... Wisconsin
17. Jamee Crockett, 6-4, WF, Crete-Monee ... DePaul
18. Derrick Marks, 6-2, PG/2G, Plainfield (Central) ... Boise State
19. Dre Henley, 6-6, WF, Chicago (De La Salle) ... Northern Illinois
20. Ryan Sawvell, 6-8, PF, Mundelein ... Evansville
21. Julius Brown, 5-8, PG, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) ... Toledo
22. Quenton Chievous, 6-4, WF, Niles (Notre Dame) ... Tennessee
23. James Farr, 6-8, PF, Evanston ... (Prep School/Committed to Xavier)
24. Dylan Ennis, 6-1, PG, Lake Forest (Academy) ... Rice
25. Max Bielfeldt, 6-7, PF, Peoria (Notre Dame) ... Michigan
26. Aaron Armstead, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Hales Franciscan) ... Wisconsin-Green Bay
27. Macari Brooks, 6-1, 2G/WF, Richton Park (Rich South) ... DePaul

28. Greg Mays, 6-8, PF, Crete-Monee ... Wisconsin-Green Bay
29. Keifer Sykes, 5-8, PG, Chicago (Marshall) ... Wisconsin-Green Bay
30. Nick Zeisloft, 6-3, 2G, LaGrange (Lyons Twp.) ... Illinois State

It's official: Jaylon Tate to Simeon

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By Joe Henricksen

Maybe the worst kept secret in Chicago prep hoops became official today -- Jaylon Tate is headed to Simeon. The talented junior guard, who starred the past two seasons at De La Salle, is officially a part of the two-time defending state champs.

With Tate in the fold, the stable of talent coach Robert Smith currently has -- and in the future -- makes Simeon the clear-cut favorite to win state titles over the next two seasons. That would put the Simeon basketball program in rare company, with only Peoria Manual's four consecutive state championships in the 1990s equaling the rare possible feat Simeon could accomplish. But there is plenty of basketball to be played over the next two years before talk of a Manual-like four-peat can be discussed.

With another weapon like Tate in the mix, however, the Wolverines add a piece to a team that already returns the top three prospects from last year's state title team. Simeon, which beat Warren this past March to capture the school's fifth state championship -- and fourth under Smith -- will welcome back an impressive amount of talent that includes:

Jabari Parker. The 6-8 junior is the top player in the state of Illinois regardless of class, ranked by some as the No. 1 prospect in the country and is the top player for the U.S. National Team.
Steve Taylor. The top-rated prospect in the Class of 2012 in Illinois, the 6-7 Taylor sports several high-major offers and is the lone senior in Illinois ranked in anyone's national top 100.
Kendrick Nunn. Another member of the U-16 U.S. National Team, Nunn is the Hoops Report's No. 3 ranked prospect in the Class of 2013 and is a future high-major player.
Jaleni Neely. A varsity veteran who has put together a solid spring and is a pure point guard. Neely, who already sports Division I offers, knows the Simeon system and understands his role. A recent injury, however, is cause for concern.
Kendall Pollard. This little-known junior is ready to blossom. He's a versatile 6-5 player who can get a little done inside and on the perimeter and has been playing well until an injury slowed him down of late.
Jaylon Tate. The 6-1 point guard is among the top dozen prospects in the Class of 2013 and played a pivotal role in De La Salle's success the past two years.

The cupboard on the lower levels certainly isn't bare. A pair of 6-4 freshmen -- Dennis Williams and Brandon Hutton -- will be fixtures for the Wolverines in time and be highly-coveted prospects as well. Williams, in particular, has a chance to be Simeon's next big thing with continued development.

Jalen James commits to Illinois

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By Joe Henricksen

The rise of Jalen James was coming fast. And the Illinois coaching staff realized it and made a strong push for the rising point guard from Hope Academy. While on campus Wednesday for the Illinois Team Camp, James committed to coach Bruce Weber.

James had not planned on committing early, saying he wanted to wait it out until after his junior year. But the idea of playing close to home, with Chicago area players he knows and the relationship he established with the Illinois coaching staff made it all feel right. The idea of committing wasn't on his mind, but he admitted things changed quickly.

"The relationship I have with coach Weber and coach Jerrance was definitely a factor," said James in regard to his early commitment. "Plus, I know all the freshmen that are there right now. I have played with them and can't wait to play with them in the future. My style of point guard play, being a pass-first point guard, will fit in well with all the young talent they have in place. It's close to home and my family can see me play. That's it. I'm done. I'm going to Illinois."

James, the No. 10 ranked player in the Hoops Report's loaded Class of 2013 in Illinois, is one of the top point guard prospects in the state. He brings size, versatility and a whole lot of untapped potential. It's that potential and the unknown that makes James intriguing as he is just beginning to blossom as a player. However, there remain some holes he needs to fill. First, he's not very explosive with the ball and he must find a way to improve a very suspect jump shot.

With senior Sam Maniscalco and freshman Tracy Abrams handling the point guard duties for Illinois this year -- and the likes of sophomore Crandall Head in the mix to potentially play minutes at the lead guard spot if needed -- there is a need for a pure point guard in the program. James, a 6-3 junior, will provide that point guard presence when he arrives on campus in the fall of 2013.

This is the first verbal commitment for Weber and his staff after landing a stellar Class of 2011. Assistant coach Jerrance Howard again played a key role in the recruitment of James. Howard was one of the first high-major assistant coaches in on James, taking in a Hope Academy game last December at the Jacobs Holiday Tournament. James has come a long way in a short period of time, especially with his play this spring while playing for Mike Mullins and the Illinois Wolves.

James just has that natural look and feel a basketball player brings to the floor, gliding up and down the floor with ease. But as noted, he's not exceptionally quick or explosive and is limited offensively. He's a handle the ball, run your team, pass-first point guard who is not comfortable right now making plays.

James handles it and likes to push the tempo in transition, where he can use his length and savvy to create opportunities for himself and others. He has shown an ability to keep his head up, survey the floor and make the decisions a point guard needs to in running a team. He always seems to be in control.

James, who admits he is a bit banged up after a busy spring on the AAU circuit and playing in both the DePaul and Illinois Team Camps this week, will be taking time off as he prepares for the July evaluation period.

"I am going to shut it down," said James. "I am going to hit the weights and [protein] shakes and get ready for July. It is pretty nice to know the recruiting part is over and it's done."

Stimage rising, Orr's youth, Schilling out ...

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By Joe Henricksen

A whole lot from the high school basketball scene this past week, so lets get to it ...

Add the Hoops Report to the Rashaun Stimage Fan Club.

Stimage jumped on the scene last summer on the AAU circuit, with his tenacity, activity and blue-collar work ethic becoming his calling card. A solid start to his junior season at Farragut was thwarted by a broken right hand -- he missed a month of the season and was slow to bounce back. But he came on late, scoring 20 points with 11 rebounds and two dunks in a regional final win over Morton. And he's continued to play well this spring and summer, jumping into the Hoops Report's top five prospects in the Class of 2012.

Yes, the Class of 2012 is less than ideal for high-level college programs looking for talent, but the 6-7 Stimage boasts a lot more upside than the majority of players in the class. Stimage is an ultra-active, athletic 4-man on both ends of the floor. He rebounds, attacking the offensive glass and getting plenty of his offensive production from his sheer will to stay after it on the boards and keeping the ball alive around the rim. He's quick off the floor, blocking shots and beating other big men down the floor.

In addition, Stimage's skill level has improved. He has shown an ability to knock down a face-up jumper, though he's still inconsistent with it at this point. But Stimage will step out and hit a three-pointer.

Look for Stimage's stock and reputation to grow this July while playing with the Mac Irvin Fire.

Orr's talented young players
Last season was not what coach Louis Adams and the Orr Spartans had anticipated, not with the return of all-everything Mycheal Henry. Orr never could get it going a year ago when heavy expectations were placed on the program for the very first time.

While Ball State commitment C.J. Jones, a tough, hard-nosed guard, returns for Adams, it's the talented young players in the program that will make Orr a dangerous team next winter. There is no better talent at Orr than sophomore Tyquone Greer.

The Hoops Report became enamored with the 6-5 wing after taking in the Orr-Young sophomore game last winter. He was long, gangly and knocked down shots. Since that time he has certainly refined his game. Greer has the size, length and shooting stroke for a young player that will immediately jump out at you. He's been among the Hoops Report's top dozen college prospects for the past six months, yet is still just making a name for himself as he has a long way to go before maximizing his talent and reaching the high ceiling he possesses.

After getting a heavy dose of Orr at both the Hoop Mountain Tournament at West Aurora over the weekend and at the DePaul Team Camp early this week, it's impossible not to appreciate the junior tandem of 6-6 Marquise Pryor and fiery point guard Jamal McDowell. Both are rising prospects in the Class of 2013, with Pryor already one of the better rebounders in the class. He's always near the ball and is a big-bodied, athletic 4-man who brings some toughness.

But perhaps no player brings more toughness than McDowell. Put McDowell on my team any day of the week. The 5-9 point guard, who is also a standout football player as a bull-dozing running back, is so strong. Plus, he competes at a higher level than just about everyone he plays against.

With the foursome of Jones, McDowell, Pryor and Greer, along with senior guards DeShawn King and D.J. Jones, Orr could be a surprise this season in the Red-West.

Transfer Schilling fractures wrist
As reported in a previous Hoops Report blog, 6-8 Gavin Schilling has transferred in to De La Salle after spending a year playing with the German Basketball Academy. Schilling, who started his high school career at Loyola Academy as a freshman, showed his potential as a freshman before moving to Germany. While it has been nearly 18 months since the Hoops Report last watched Schilling -- and it was just a small sampling at the DePaul Team Camp -- it's easy to see that Schilling is among the top 15 prospects in the loaded Class of 2013.

The good news: You better believe Schilling will enhance De La Salle's hopes next winter.

The bad news: Schilling fractured his wrist Tuesday at the DePaul Team Camp and will be out all of July.

Downers South different with Wilbut
Although it appeared Downers Grove South standout Jerron Wilbut would be headed to La Lumiere Prep School next year, he instead will remain a Mustang. The 6-2 athletic guard vaults Downers Grove South to a different level. Wilbut was outstanding in action at the DePaul Team Camp and is clearly the No. 2 prospect in the class behind Simeon's Steve Taylor.

La Who?
The much ballyhooed La Lumiere basketball team came to the De Paul Team Camp with a lot of buzz. With two Illinois products -- Champaign Central's Jay Simpson and Peoria Central's Bobo Drummond -- part of the program, along with a host of other big-name players, including 7-footer Obij Aget, La Lumiere lost to a Simeon team that didn't have Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn and Kendall Pollard.

Speaking of Simeon, senior point guard Jelani Neely is playing some of the best basketball of his career. And the talent keeps coming for coach Robert Smith. The Hoops Report loves the look of 6-4 freshman Dennis Williams. And there is still nothing official regarding star 2013 point guard Jaylon Tate's transfer to Simeon.

Johnnie Vassar to Morgan Park?
Despite the loss of star Wayne Blackshear, who is off to Louisville, Morgan Park figures to still be among the top handful of teams in the Chicago Public League. The Mustangs, led by junior standout and DePaul commit Billy Garrett, Jr., could get a whole lot better if Johnnie Vassar is in the fold when school opens next September.

Vassar, a highly-explosive and talented point guard, is a Chicago native who has been going to school at Lawrence Academy, a prep school located in Massachussetts. The 5-10 Vassar played with Morgan Park at the DePaul Team Camp this week and has the playmaking ability and tools to become an elite guard over the next three years. A Garrett-Vassar backcourt for coach Nick Irvin would be one of, if not, the best in the state over the next two years.

Another home run for DePaul?
A year ago the DePaul Team Camp at Attack Athletics was a home run. Coach Oliver Purnell and his staff were able to get all the movers and shakers in prep basketball under one roof for a get-to-know-DePaul party. The two-day camp a year ago was a huge success.

This year's DePaul Team Camp at Attack Athletics was at least a stand-up triple. Although some of the high-profile players, most notably U.S. National Team members Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn of Simeon, Springfield Lanphier's Larry Austin and Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor, were unable to attend, it was still a terrific opportunity for the Blue Demons staff to get a first-hand look at prospects. Plus, it was a chance to interact and socialize with players, coaches and Chicago basketball "people."

With the new NCAA rule limiting how far a college basketball program can leave campus to conduct camps, the team camp concept is a huge advantage for a DePaul program -- right here in Chicago with all the talent in the world in its back yard. Purnell and his staff hopes to soon land an impact recruiting class of Illinois prospects. There is no question that, locally, the Class of 2013 is a monstrous recruiting opportunity for DePaul and a chance to land difference-makers that could make the rebuilding process a little quicker.

Combs is one to watch

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By Joe Henricksen

Since the year 2000, the Thornwood basketball program has produced a Mr. Basketball winner and NBA Lottery Pick in Eddy Curry, numerous Division I players, churned out five seasons of 25-plus wins, made four trips to Peoria and claimed a pair of state runner-up finishes (2001 and 2003).

But since coach Bob Curran left the Thunderbird program following the 2006-2007 season, Thornwood basketball has dealt with coaching turnover and has hovered around the .500 mark with just one regional title game appearance in the last four years.

Although most people are unaware outside the south suburbs, Thornwood basketball has something to be excited about again -- Darrell Combs.

Although very underappreciated by the masses, Combs has long been among the Hoops Report's top 15 prospects in the Class of 2012. He received his first offer from Loyola last week and, in the eyes of the Hoops Report, remains one of the best-kept mid-major secrets in the much-maligned Class of 2012 in Illinois. He averaged 19 points and four assists a game last season as a junior.

With Combs returning next season and some stability provided by coach Paul Slavich, who went 16-12 last year in his first season as head coach after 15 years coaching at the lower levels, Thornwood has something to build on. And Combs is looking forward to building his own reputation over the next six weeks.

"I'm just real excited for the opportunity," Combs said of playing with his Meanstreets team during the July evaluation period. "I'm anxious to get on the court and show what I can do -- and not just to the show the people in Chicago that I can play, but others as well in July."

What the 6-1 Combs does best -- and what college coaches will come to appreciate -- is put the ball in the hole. The slender, smooth, fluid combo guard can often look effortless in putting up impressive scoring totals and in a number of ways. Combs can put it on the floor and shoot it with range. He can slither to the basket in the open court and knock down shots with an evolving mid-range game in the halfcourt. He's a naturally gifted scorer.

What Combs also hopes to show going forward is an ability to lead. He believes this is an area he's made his biggest strides as a player and teammate.

"I think I have really improved in terms of being a leader, my work ethic and knowing what it is that I need to in order to help my team," says Combs. "Now I want to find a school that fits me, fits my talent and style of play."

The Days of Our De La Salle

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By Joe Henricksen

"Like sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives."

As a little kid growing up in a house with two older sisters, the soap opera "Days of Our Lives" was a constant at noon on NBC back in the day. In current day prep hoops in Chicago -- at least recently -- De La Salle has brought a little of that same soap opera drama. But why?

There hasn't been a day in the past few weeks, it seems, where a De La Salle basketball rumor hasn't surfaced.

Jaylon Tate is transferring? (True) Alex Foster may follow? (Not true) Tommy Hamilton to De La Salle? (Not true) A big German is transferring to De La Salle? (True) Jaylon Tate wants back? (Huh?) ... And there are more of these types of rumors where they came from.

This isn't "Days of Our Lives." It's De La Salle. It's high school basketball! I feel for you, Tom White. Is this what the veteran coach signed up for years ago when he got into high school coaching?

"I love my profession," says White, whose team went 22-3 a year ago. "Are there tough days? Sure. But I wouldn't trade it for anything."

When the season ended with a sectional loss in March, there was scuttlebutt being tossed around that high-profile players may be moving on -- and not just seniors Mike Shaw (Illinois) and Dre Henley (Northern Illinois). There was talk of talented, young players leaving the De La Salle program as well.

There were discussions, a sit-down or two with players, coaches, families. It was decided everything was status quo, the nucleus would remain intact and the Meteors would be in everyone's preseason top five next season.

Then the Jaylon Tate bombshell hit in late May.

The talented Class of 2013 point guard was out, done with De La Salle, transferring to another school. It hit the basketball program hard, from the coaching staff all the way down to the players themselves. Publicly, White has said all the right things. Privately, the witty and affable White has to feel a bit blindsided and probably even a little hurt.

This is a coach that truly looks out for his players, looks out for kids and has their best interest -- both in basketball and beyond. He works hard for the De La Salle players, doesn't meddle with their college choices, only offering answers to the questions they may have in helping them in the recruiting process. This is a program, a team, a school and an educational environment that is pretty close-knit.

With the arrival of Shaw and Henley four years ago, along with continued efforts within the program to elevate De La Salle basketball and its presence, White has helped make the school and basketball program attractive. De La Salle, located a stone's throw east of U.S. Cellular Field on Chicago's South Side at 35th and Wabash, offers structure, discipline, solid academics and now a high-profile schedule and opportunities in basketball.

The program presents itself in a particular way, with players wearing sport coats and ties, qualifying grades and scores for college scholarships and a show of respect. The Meteors have won two sportsmanship awards at tournaments the past two years.

"It's hard for me to believe that there are many places that have their students better prepared for college than De La Salle," says White, who has three college-aged kids of his own. "Our students are college ready when they leave here. Plus, we have some pretty good basketball being played."

The Meteors have won five of the last six conference championships in the Chicago Catholic League and four straight regional titles. They've traveled to play in various high-profile events and tournaments around the country, gaining both cultural and basketball experiences along the way. De La Salle has become a viable option for families searching for a combination of academics, discipline and hoops in the city.

Yet there still remains discussion about the present and future of De La Salle. As far as the other rumors, as of today Foster is staying put. Rumors circulated again last week that the 6-7 junior would be heading to Seton Academy next year, but those were put to rest earlier this week. And yes, De La Salle has added a talented big man in 6-8, 220-pound Gavin Schilling, a transfer student from Germany.

White believes there are a number of factors and reasons kids and their families discuss transfer options and, sometimes, end up moving to a different school. At De La Salle, which is a private school founded in 1889, it sometimes can be about the expenses. Typically, though, there is a whole lot more to the transfer equation.

There is what White calls the "sensationalism" of high school basketball today.

"Kids say they are transferring, it's news," says White. "And they love to be in the media."

There is the AAU culture.

"Kids become friends during the AAU season and end up wanting to play together during the high school season," White points out. "That happens. Plus, there are adults and AAU coaches, I think, that sometimes push kids to form these all-star type of teams."

And there is a different mentality among some players and their parents today. When tough times hit, many are more willing to pick up and move than to deal with it and learn lessons along the way.

"When something goes wrong or they don't want to be coached or disciplined a certain way, or they are playing a different position than they think they should be playing, or things just aren't quite right, it seems to me that more and more they are just moving on," White says.

The loss of a standout like Tate, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2013, will certainly be a big hit to the fortunes of De La Salle next season. However, the addition of Schilling, combined with Foster on the interior, will give the Meteors size not many high school programs possess.

Schilling spent the past year playing with the German Basketball Academy from Urspring, which has produced several Division I players and participated in the City of Palms Classic in Florida last December. Prior to his stint in Germany, Schilling spent his freshman year playing at Loyola Academy and on the young Chi-Town Diablos club team.

At one point, the Hoops Report had Schilling among the top 20 prospects in what is an impressive group of players in the Class of 2013. Schilling is a very good athlete who absolutely looks the part with his solid build and frame.

Adding Schilling to an already solid nucleus will only improve a De La Salle team that will surely be one of the more talented in the Chicago area next season and the Catholic League's top team. Schilling joins fellow highly-regarded juniors, Foster and 6-4 Alvin Ellis, to form a terrific trio over the next couple of years. Plus, junior guards Marcus White and Demarcus Richardson will take on expanded roles after the departure of Tate.

Now the Meteors just hope to focus on basketball and player development this summer and out of the soap opera that is high school basketball in the city of Chicago.

Another busy weekend of summer hoops

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By Joe Henricksen

Another busy weekend of prep hoops, which included college team camps, high school shootouts and Team USA tryouts, concluded with a bevy of odds and ends. Here is a quick Hoops Report weekend wrap-up.

U-S-A! U-S-A!
As mentioned in the previous Hoops Report blog, the young talent in the state of Illinois will be showcased this summer on a national stage. Simeon's Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn, two of the top prospects in the loaded Class of 2013 in Illinois, and Class of 2014 stars Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young and Larry Austin of Springfield Lanphier, all made the U.S. U16 National Team.

While it's a tremendous honor for the four standouts from the state of Illinois and the experience will be invaluable, what may be most significant in making any national team is the opportunity to get better and grow individually. Look for these four players, with the national team experience under their belt, to make big strides between now and the start of the next basketball season.

UIC doing it right
The UIC basketball coaching staff put together a two-day team camp on campus this past weekend, featuring 24 teams on Saturday and 24 different teams on Sunday. This is new to the UIC program but an absolute no-brainer event that will only help in the rebuilding of the basketball program.

Coach Howard Moore and his staff were able to get some of the elite basketball programs, players and coaches on campus and evaluate prospects along the way. There were 90 games played over the two days, with Orr capturing the Gold Division title on Saturday and Oak Park winning the Gold Division title on Sunday.

While this past weekend won't generate any more wins next season for the Flames, it's a big step toward establishing relationships and helping put the UIC basketball pieces back together. The two-day camp was an opportunity to get the UIC basketball name brand out among the players and coaches in the city and suburbs. This is a program that seems to understand the nuances of building a program and is taking advantage of having the facilities and talent base in its back yard.

York combo guard David Cohn, a rising Class of 2013 prospect, and unknown John Jones, a 6-8 Class of 2012 power forward from Powerhouse Charter in Chicago, who moved to Chicago from Barbados, picked up scholarship offers from UIC over the weekend.

Brunson a real eye-opener in 2015
There may not be an incoming freshman who will have a bigger impact on his varsity team this winter than Stevenson Class of 2015 star Jalen Brunson. That's because it's been awhile since the Hoops Report has seen a player this young who is that poised, composed and has this high of a basketball I.Q. Brunson, a 5-9 lefty who already is capable of knocking down shots with range, just has a unique, natural feel for the game that allows him to see plays and make reads before they materialize, keeping him one step ahead of the opposition.

Unfortunately today, it's very rare that a high school player just gets it and understands the game. And for Brunson to have that at this age says an awful lot and a fun player to watch -- even as an incoming freshman.

The son of former Temple star, NBA player and current Chicago Bulls assistant coach Rick Brunson, the freshman-to-be has been the most impressive player in his class to date that the Hoops Report has watched this spring and summer.

Oak Park looking good
A year ago coach Matt Maloney relied heavily on underclassmen. As a result the Huskies finished under the .500 mark at 10-13. However, with the return of highly-regarded athletic guard Ka'Darryl Bell, along with several others who saw significant time a year ago, Oak Park has the look of one of the most improved teams in the Chicago area next season.

With Lyons Township finally coming back to the pack in the West Suburban Silver after a sensational two-year run -- the Lions went 23-1 and claimed back-to-back titles -- Oak Park will be favored to win the league. The Huskies won the UIC Team Camp title on Sunday, with Bell and Gabe Levin leading the way. Levin, a versatile 6-6 senior, is one of the real underrated players in the Chicago area.

If a good, young group of players in the Class of 2013 can make significant strides this offseason, Maloney's club could return to the 20-plus win mark as it did in 2009-2010 when the Huskies finished 22-6.

Some love for Stimage
Farragut's Rashaun Stimage is talented and should be talked about more when the discussion turns to the top 10 or 12 prospects in the Class of 2012. The 6-7 Stimage is athletic, active and knows what he is as a player -- a 4-man who gets after it, rebounds and is adding to his overall skill level. The injury last year that forced him to miss a large chunk of the season certainly hurt his development, but Stimage is one of the top dozen prospects in the class.

Warren wins Oswego East Shootout
While Warren still has some issues heading into next season, most notably an ability to consistently score and avoiding complacency after making a run to the state title game a year ago, coach Chuck Ramsey's club won the Oswego East Shootout over the weekend.

Plain and simple, Warren is bigger than virtually every team it will face this season, led by the inside tandem of 6-8 Darius Paul and 6-8 Nathan Boothe. But Jovaughn Gaines, a 6-3 athletic wing, is Warren's biggest weapon at this point. When Gaines is playing well and consistently producing on both ends of the floor, Warren is a different team.

In a shootout field that included Downers Grove South, Glenbard East, Oswego, Plainfield South and Neuqua Valley among others, it was Warren, Hinsdale Central, Bolingbrook and Glenbard West in the semifinals. Warren knocked off both Hinsdale Central and Glenbard West to claim the title.

A few other thoughts from the Oswego East Shootout ...
• Keep an eye on Oswego junior Elliot McGaughy, a 6-1 combo guard who again showed his ability to impact a game in a number of ways with his play at both the Oswego East Shootout and the UIC Team Camp on Sunday. McGaughy is a talent with an ability to put the ball in the hole. He continues to get better as his understanding of the game and approach improves.
Plainfield South has a couple of very solid small college prospects in seniors Eddie Presniakovas and 6-6 Will Nixon. Presniakovas is a terrific shooter and scorer, while Nixon is a blue-collar workhorse around the basket. Plainfield South, which won a conference title a year ago and finished 20-8, Oswego and Plainfield East will be the three teams to watch next season in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
• He is tiny -- probably all of 5-4, maybe 5-5 -- but it's impossible not to like the way South Elgin's Jake Maestranzi plays the game and competes. The Class of 2013 point guard plays like a seasoned veteran, probably due to playing at the varsity level as a freshman and sophomore and playing with the Illinois Wolves this past spring. He directs South Elgin's dribble-drive offense, takes care of the ball, plays unselfishly, knocks down free throws (85 percent last season) and is getting better and better with his perimeter shot.

Iggy continues to surprise
After a solid showing at the Riverside-Brookfield the first weekend of June, St. Ignatius continued its strong summer showing by claiming the Runnin' Rebel Shootout title at Ridgewood over the weekend. St. Ignatius knocked off Elgin in the semifinals and beat Niles North in the championship game.

There were many who could have written the Wolfpack off after losing 6-10 all-stater Nnanna Egwu and mainstay Tyrone Staggers to graduation. St. Ignatius, playing a very difficult schedule this past season, finished 20-8 behind Egwu and Staggers. But a non-descript nucleus, led by senior guards Brian Howard and Jack Crepeau, returns for coach Rich Kehoe. Big man Peter Ryckbosch, a 6-7 senior, has been a factor in the opening two weeks of summer play. The Wolfpack look as if they can be a bigger factor than anticipated in the Catholic League.

U.S. National team features Illinois stars

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By Joe Henricksen

There is no doubt the young prep talent in the state of Illinois is impressive. And the USA Basketball Men's U16 National Team shows just how talented.

Following three days of practices featuring 27 of the top 16-and-under players in the country, Team USA selected four players from the state of Illinois, including a pair of teammates from one high school -- Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn of Simeon.

The USA U16 National 12-player team, which was selected by the USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team Committee, also includes Whitney Young's 6-9 Jahlil Okafor and Springfield Lanphier guard Larry Austin.

The U.S. U16 squad will remain at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train through June 17 prior to departing for Cancun, Mexico to compete in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

College coaching dust has settled

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By Joe Henricksen

As the college basketball season comes to a close in March for programs across the country, there is a whirlwind of movement in the coaching ranks. This year in particular, there were major shifts locally (Northern Illinois, Bradley and Loyola all with new bosses in place) with both head coaches and assistants that will certainly impact recruiting the Chicago area and the state of Illinois.

College basketball programs, especially across the state of Illinois and across the midwest, try to find their in, their connection, their niche to recruiting the state, city and suburbs. There are plenty of times where the impact a coach can have on this geographical area plays a part in the college coaching hiring process.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at the various changes in the college coaching ranks, where coaches with local ties ended up and how it has impacted the recruiting landscape here in Chicago and the state of Illinois.

Northern Illinois
The one school that has made the quickest impact in recruiting the state's talent is Northern Illinois, which hired Michigan State assistant coach Mark Montgomery. In a relatively short period of time, NIU has taken a big jump forward this spring as the Huskies landed both De La Salle's Dre Henley and Niles North's Abdel Nader, along with Keith and Kevin Gray from Brooks. Montgomery has himself a quality staff, which began by retaining up-and-coming Todd Townsend from the previous staff. Townsend is quickly establishing himself as a respected, hard-working assistant who has pounded the Chicago area.

In addition, Montgomery's staff includes Jon Borovich, a bright assistant who worked under Brian Gregory at Dayton for four years. Plus, Lou Dawkins, a successful high school coach in Michigan joined the staff. Dawkins coached another top NIU spring recruit, highly-regarded 6-2 guard Marquavis Ford of Saginaw, Mich. While the state of Illinois will be NIU's strongest recruiting pool, between Montgomery and Dawkins, look for the Huskies to hit the state of Michigan hard as well with all the ties and connections those two have built over the years.

Loyola has three Chicago-area natives on its coaching staff, starting with Loyola head coach Porter Moser, who was raised and went to high school (Benet Academy) in the western suburbs. Moser immediately made a splash with two rock solid hires, naming Rodell Davis and Armon Gates as assistant coaches.

Davis is a Chicago native who has numerous ties to the area from his days playing and coaching in the Chicago area -- he coached at both Proviso East and Thornwood prior to his college coaching. Davis spent the last four seasons working for Keno Davis at Providence. Gates, meanwhile, is a young coach on the rise. He spent last season at TCU after spending two years as assistant at Kent State. Gates was born and raised in the Chicago area and attended high school at Hillcrest.

The Rambler staff immediately hit a home run by landing Iowa transfer Cully Payne, who starred at Schaumburg, this past spring and are already involved with a number of prospects in the city and suburbs.

Missouri hired head coach Frank Haith from Miami, who brought in Murray State assistant coach Isaac Chew, who is a Chicago native. Under Mike Anderson, Missouri paid little attention to recruiting Chicago. But Haith, with the help of Chew's ties to the state of Illinois, has changed that philosophy and has made Illinois and the Chicago area a recruiting priority. The Tigers have spent more time in Illinois and are making more inroads with the city and suburbs in three short months than the previous Missouri staff did in the last couple of years.

Saint Louis
Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus added a great basketball man in former Loyola head coach Jim Whitesell to his coaching staff last week. The veteran coach, who has been recruiting the state of Illinois as a college coach for decades at Elmhurst College, Lewis University and Loyola, is one of the great people in the business and is as genuine and down-to-earth as they come.

Missouri State
Paul Lusk, the former assistant coach at Purdue who starred in the southern part of the state in high school at Trenton-Wesclin, took over at Missouri State and hired Pat Baldwin as an assistant. Baldwin brings recruiting ties to Chicago and the state of Illinois after spending the last seven years recruiting the Chicago area and state of Illinois as an assistant at Loyola.

Over the years, Tennessee has had very little influence in recruiting Chicago. The Vols are hoping to target Chicago and the state of Illinois as well with the hiring of veteran assistant Tracy Webster. The former star at Thornton in the late 1980s, Webster has spent the last eight seasons as a high-major assistant at Purdue, Illinois, Kentucky, DePaul and Nebraska. Webster immediately landed Niles Notre Dame's Quinton Chievous this past spring, the Hoops Report's No. 18 ranked senior in Illinois. Look for Webster, a repeat member of the Hoops Report's "Super Six" assistant coaches that recruit Illinois, and the Vols to be involved with Illinois prep prospects more than in the past.

In addition, the Tennessee staff includes three coaches, including head coach Cuonzo Martin, who are all natives of Illinois. Martin starred at East St. Louis, Sr., while assistants Jon Harris (Edwardsville) and Kent Williams (Mt. Vernon) are also southern Illinois high school standouts.

Bradley first-year head coach Geno Ford retained assistant Willie Scott, a Chicago native and former coach at Malcolm X College in Chicago, from the previous coaching staff.

Wichita State
Staying in the Missouri Valley, Wichita State brought on hard-working Dana Ford as an assistant coach this spring. Ford did a terrific job of recruiting the Chicago area while at Tennessee State the last few years, landing both Robert Covington of Proviso West and Pat Miller of Hales Franciscan. He also helped secure Illinois State transfer Kellen Thornton, a former standout at Hillcrest. Between Ford and current Shocker assistant coach Chris Jans, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall's staff will be involved with Illinois prospects and are among the leaders for Rockford Auburn point guard Fred Van Vleet.

Florida State
It remains to be seen how much Florida State will be involved with Chicago prospects, with the distance a factor and the fact there is already so much talent in the region. Nonetheless, Dennis Gates, who recently left Nevada for Tallahassee, is a very respected and well liked assistant coach among Chicago area high school and AAU coaches. With the ACC as a selling point, Gates, who prepped at Whitney Young and helped lead the Dolphins to the 1998 state championship, may be able to entice and get involved with more players locally.

Look for Xavier to continue to stay involved with Illinois prospects, especially with the addition of Drake assistant coach Kareem Richardson to its staff this week. Richardson, who recently landed Champaign Centennial's Rayvonte Rice and Springfield Lanphier's Karl Madison at Drake, is an underrated assistant coach with a lot of value. He was a new member of the annual Hoops Report's "Super Six" assistant coaches last year and has established himself quite well in recruiting the state he played his high school basketball in at Rantoul. Xavier has been involved with Illinois prospects early, particularly Jaylon Tate, a top Class of 2013 prospect, and will likely enhance their presence in Illinois with the addition of Richardson.

Surprise, surprise at R-B

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By Joe Henricksen

Hey, it's only June, so it's difficult to get too wrapped up in wins, losses and results. But in what is arguably the most talent-filled high school event of the month, the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout did offer up some surprises.

Proviso East winning it all wasn't one of the surprises; the Pirates are loaded with talent. But a couple of big-named powers with a whole bunch of returning talent and high expectations heading into next year went 1-2 in pool play on Saturday. Both Warren and Homewood-Flossmoor, two teams expected to be ranked in the preseason top five next year, were a bit ragged on the opening day. However, both Homewood-Flossmoor and Warren, who both bounced back to win the fourth-place and second-place pool play championships on Sunday, respectively, will be just fine.

But here are several other teams that surprised, with a few other observations from the R-B Shootout.

St. Joseph. The Chargers, who remain young with a nucleus consisting of juniors and sophomores, went 3-0 in pool play and reached the championship bracket final on Sunday. St. Joe's fell to Proviso East in the title game. Sophomore Paul Turner is the headliner and 6-6 junior A.J. Patty is improving, but senior point guard Avery Harmon was solid and showed he could be the key to success this winter for coach Gene Pingatore. Reggie Johnson, another senior guard, will be another key cog.

St. Ignatius. Quite possibly the biggest surprise on the opening day was St. Ignatius going 3-0 in pool play. The Nnanna Egwu era is over at Iggy. And four-year player Tyrone Staggers graduated. But Rich Kehoe is still around and he can still really coach. Senior guard Brian Howard has really improved from a year ago and is much more sure of himself.

Andrew. Keep an eye on the Thunderbolts this winter. With Thornton really coming back to the pack this year in the Southwest Suburban Red, the league will be more open than in recent years. Andrew has a difference-maker at the high school level in 6-5 Jubril Adekoya, one of the better players in the Class of 2013. Coach Mike O'Halloran's club went 3-0 in pool play, knocked off Bloom on Sunday before falling to St. Joe's in the semis.

Bloom. The Hoops Report was pleasantly surprised with the play of the Blazing Trojans, who went 3-0 in pool play on Saturday. Led by point guard Donald Moore, who played very well, coach Jasper Williams will have a team that can contend for the Southland Conference title.

New Trier. No, the Trevians didn't win their pool on Saturday. And they lost to Whitney Young on Sunday in a second-place pool bracket tournament game, but this team has the look of one that is going to be very solid and the favorite in the Central Suburban League South next season. While 6-7 senior Connor Boehm is a workhorse and really the heart and soul of this team, this was the best Austin Angel has looked in quite some time and the Hoops Report really likes sophomore point guard Jordan Thomas.

Morton. After going 2-1 on Saturday and winning their pool, the Mustangs opened up Sunday with a 62-61 win over De La Salle before falling to Proviso East. Morton is still the same pesky, cohesive bunch they've been since turning the corner as a program in 2003-2004. While this team may not match the 24 and 23 games it won in 2008 and 2009, don't be surprised if Morton approaches the 18 wins of a year ago, with Rocco Belcaster and David Chatman leading the way.

St. Patrick. Despite the loss of both Jacob Williams and Kortney Darby to graduation, coach Mike Bailey welcomes back a wealth of experience. This team, in comparison to a year go, just seems to have more life and bounce to it, maybe due to the experience. But always-promising Royale Ewing, a 6-1 junior guard, may be ready to blossom. And 6-6 Ismar Seferazic continues to impress while Malik Graham has become an effective perimeter scorer and shooter.

Curie. Mike Oliver's Condors are going to be good. How good may depend on how dominating young big man Cliff Alexander can be as a sophomore next season. Without Alexander, Curie went 3-0 in pool play before falling to St. Ignatius on Sunday. If Oliver can find a replacement for the toughness and leadership Greg Travis brought last season, the Condors could be as good as last year's 28-win team and, possibly, the best team Oliver has had at Curie.

Hillcrest. The Hawks, despite the loss of veteran leader and three-year starter Juice Brown, are expected to be solid and are once again favored to win another conference title this winter. Coach Don Houston's club, however, was even better than the Hoops Report anticipated with three wins on Saturday. Hillcrest featured five key players -- seniors 6-4 Jalen Loving, 6-3 Ryan Royall and 6-5 Jayone Troutman, along with junior guards Kyle Oden and Jovan Mooring -- who brought quickness, athleticism and high-level activity on both ends of the floor.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the Hawks
The sad and tragic news of the death of Hillcrest senior Ryan Royall early Sunday morning leaves a huge void -- in many ways -- in the Hillcrest community. The Hoops Report sends out its thoughts and prayers to all of the friends, family and teammates of Ryan Royall.

Quick Hits ...
• Although unknown Mike Jenkins, a 6-2 senior, showed he can really score, it appears there is finally a drop in talent at Thornton. The Wildcats graduated virtually everyone from last year's 26-win team. In eight years at Thornton, coach Troy Jackson has averaged just over 24 wins a season. The Wildcats will hope to keep a streak of eight straight 20-plus win seasons alive, but it won't be easy.

• From a pure talent perspective, this is as down as Evanston has been in a long, long time. This is a program that has churned out talent over the past few decades, but the well looks a little dry after struggling at R-B.

York guard David Cohn, who is a skilled, up-and-coming Class of 2013 prospect, can really score. Cohn had games of 17, 22, 20, 28 and a shootout high of 32 points against Homewood-Flossmoor.

• Don't be surprised if it's just about time for De La Salle's 6-4 Alvin Ellis to take off as a prospect. The Hoops Report has long been enamored with the lanky, agile and active Ellis, who has always been among the better prospects in the Class of 2013. He again had his moments at R-B where it looked as if his game is really starting to come together.

• The Hoops Report began singing the praises of Providence St. Mel guard Tevin King while he played with the Mac Irvin Fire last summer. He established himself as one of the top players in the loaded Class of 2014 early on. The hard-nosed King was again solid at R-B and remains one of the top 10 prospects in the class.

• A couple of other Class of 2014 prospects who were impressive at times at R-B were Brooks guard Erick Locke, whose shot looks much better, and Marcus Smith of Mt. Carmel.

• While this really has nothing to do with the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, the Hoops Report's No. 2 ranked player in the Class of 2012, Champaign Central's Jay Simpson, is also transferring. Simpson, who is committed to Purdue, will be heading to prep school next fall. Simpson will attend La Lumiere Prep Academy in Indiana next year. As was reported earlier, it appears Downers Grove South's Jerron Wilbut, a top five talent in the Class of 2012, will be joining Simpson at the La Porte, Ind. prep school. With both Simpson and Wilbut out of the mix, an already weak Class of 2012 here in Illinois just got a whole lot weaker.

Finally, a thank you to event coordinator Mike Reingruber and the Riverside-Brookfield staff for putting on what has become the top high school team shootout in Illinois. Aside from being loaded with quality teams -- and an abundance of them with 36 teams -- the event is extremely organized and the facilities are terrific. The R-B Shootout has become a top attraction for high school basketball programs.

By Joe Henricksen

While Proviso East wrapped up the tournament title at Riverside-Brookfield this past weekend and confirmed its place among the top teams heading into next season, there was no question who the top individual talent was at R-B. Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor, who is just wrapping up his freshman year, was a man among boys.

In addition to a low-post game and tremendous feel on the block and around the basket for a player so young, the 6-9 Okafor even showed improvement away from the basket. He stepped out, faced up and knocked down a couple of 15-16 foot jumpers without hesitation.

While Okafor may not have the explosiveness and pure athleticism many top national prospects will showcase, he is very nimble and has good balance. Plus, his feet are pretty quick for a player who carries that much weight. His footwork, great hands, superior power, strength and overall ability for his age are second to none. Okafor is such a physical mismatch, especially at the high school level, every time he hits the floor. He's a no-brainer high-major with star potential.

The duo of Okafor and classmate Paul White, a 6-6 point forward, will be quite a tandem over the next three years for Whitney Young.

Player movement stirs up
A rumor that has been floating around since the regular season ended in March appears to have finally come to fruition -- star sophomore guard Jaylon Tate is leaving De La Salle. The rumored destination is Tate will be heading to Simeon, but as of this past weekend nothing has been finalized.

Tate, however, leaves a stable situation at De La Salle, where he has been running the show at point guard for two years and is poised to take a big step forward with the departure of Dre Henley and Mike Shaw. The trio of Tate, Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster would certainly have put the Meteors in the preseason top five next season.

In addition to the Tate transfer, Downers Grove South looks as if it will be without Jerron Wilbut, a talented 6-2 guard who helped the Mustangs to a regional title this past March. DGS would be a likely preseason top 10 team with Wilbut. However, the senior-to-be looks as though he may be headed the prep school route, possibly landing at La Lamuire Prep Academy in Indiana.

Look for the ball to be in Billy Garrett's hands a whole lot more at Morgan Park as it appears classmate Markee Williams, a talented 5-9 point guard in the Class of 2013, is likely moving on to another city program.

Another point guard moving on is little dynamo Derrick Randolph. After being in and out of the lineup and dealing with eligibility issues throughout his career at Whitney Young, the 5-6 Randolph will be at Phillips. While Randolph is a terrific little package of talent, he will need to find a way to stay on the court and playing.

And Bogan, a team that surprised this past season and would have definitely been a ranked team in the preseason, could be decimated by transfers. Multiple players appear to be moving on -- and are already playing with others schools this spring -- including up-and-coming 6-8 sophomore Moshawn Thomas.

Look for more coverage from the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout later this week.

Proviso East wins R-B Shootout

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By Joe Henricksen

As those that took in Proviso East's run to the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout title this past weekend, the question was just who was going to coach this talented team next winter?

As the Hoops Report reported in a May 19 blog, the head coaching position at Proviso East -- and all coaching positions throughout the school district, including those at Proviso West -- were opened up. All 19 head coaches in the district were asked to re-apply for their coaching positions, including David Chatman, the head basketball coach of the Pirates.

But without a coach in place at one of the most tradition-rich basketball schools in the state of Illinois, the Pirates rolled to the R-B Shootout championship. While summer titles don't mean much of anything in the grand scheme of a high school basketball team's season, it does confirm the fact Proviso East will be one of the top five teams in the Chicago area when the season tips off this November.

Proviso East pounded Morton on Sunday and then knocked off surprising St. Joseph in the title game, 62-52, after going 3-0 in pool play Saturday.

While Sterling Brown, a deserving and recognized top talent statewide in the Class of 2013, and senior-to-be Keith Carter are the two names everyone is familiar with, the Pirates possess talent and balance. And they're extremely quick.

The lack of size may come into play at some point, with rugged and athletic 6-4 Trashaun Carroll really the only presence the Pirates have inside. But the relentless speed and quickness Proviso East can throw at you is impressive. Both of Proviso East's hotshots -- Brown and Carter -- had their moments at R-B and remain the catalysts, but senior Mike Nicholas and junior Paris Lee are two small, quick guards that get a whole lot done and pose problems for opposing defenses.

Nicholas, a 5-9 senior, scored 20 points in the title game win over St. Joseph and pumped in 20 in a win over St. Ignatius and 22 in a win over Eisenhower. He was an unsung player for the Pirates a year ago as a knockdown three-point shooter. And this year, with so much of the focus directed towards Brown and Carter, two unselfish stars, Nicholas will once again be spotting up on the perimeter and knocking down shots. He's a perfect complement to Carter, Brown and Lee, a jet-quick 5-9 junior guard who constantly puts pressure on opponents with his ability and smarts.

When November rolls around in Maywood, the anticipation of the high school basketball season will be extremely high. This has been the case for 50 years at Proviso East, starting with coach Tom Millikin in the 1960s and continuing on with legendary coaches like Glenn Whittenberg and Bill Hitt throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

Since Hitt stepped down following the 1992-1993 season, Andrew Johnson (6 years), Troy Jackson (3 years) and David Chatman (8 years) have led the program. There has been continued success at Proviso East, but there are a couple of glaring differences when it comes to the basketball program's different eras and comparing Millikin, Whittenberg and Hitt to Johnson, Jackson and Chatman.

Millikin, Whittenberg and Hitt all won state championships -- four in all -- and made multiple trips to the state finals. But since Hitt led back-to-back teams to state titles in 1991 and 1992, Proviso East has yet to return to either Champaign or Peoria in March. That's a nearly 20-year drought at a school where in the previous 35 years the longest state finals drought was nine years.

While Chatman's status is up in the air, with some close to the program saying he will not return, a new coach -- former Proviso East great Donnie Boyce's name continues to be floated around -- could inherit a loaded team. And whether it's Chatman, Boyce or some other first-year Pirate coach, the hope will be, even with an always difficult tournament road, to get past the supersectional next March and return to the state finals for the first time in 20 years.

The Hoops Report will have more from the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout in coming days.

Big weekend of hoops at R-B

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By Joe Henricksen

Prep basketball -- of the summer variety -- is back with a bang. There is no better way to kickstart a summer of hoops than with the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout this weekend. While the surplus of high school shootouts are endless throughout the month of June, R-B packs a punch right out of the gate with a loaded field of 36 teams. This has become the marquee summer shootout in Illlinois.

A year ago Glenbard East, behind shootout MVP Johnny Hill, captured the R-B Shootout title and, just nine months later, won regional and sectional titles before finishing third in the state in Class 4A. There will be several teams with similar aspirations playing at R-B this weekend. Here is a rundown of what to look for this weekend.

Top 10 Teams at R-B
Whitney Young. The always strong and talented Dolphins will feature the best inside combination in the state in 6-9 freshman Jahlil Okafor and 6-9 sophomore Tommy Hamilton. Okafor is among the top dozen players in the country in the Class of 2014, while Hamilton is one of the top 25 players nationally in the Class of 2013.
Homewood-Flossmoor. This is the team the H-F fanbase has been waiting for as the talented and much talked about foursome of Tim Williams, Delvon Rencher, Tyrone Sherman and Antonio Bishop will be seniors. The Vikings figure to be the top team in the south suburbs.
De La Salle. Yes, Mike Shaw and Dre Henley have graduated. However, the sophomore trio of Jaylon Tate, Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster are talented (all three are among the top dozen prospects in the Class of 2013) and experienced (all three have played significant varsity minutes as underclassmen).
Warren. The Blue Devils lost to Simeon in the Class 4A state championship in March and return the nucleus of that team. Look for junior big man Darius Paul to make significant strides this summer and into next season.
Downers Grove South. With the return of Jerron Wilbut, the No. 3 ranked junior in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 player rankings, along with Jamal Millison, the Mustangs figure to be among the top dozen teams in the Chicago area next season.
Morgan Park. Replacing McDonald's All-American Wayne Blackshear will be impossible, but there aren't many backcourts better than Billy Garrett and Markee Williams. The sophomore pair have been instrumental in Morgan Park's success the past two years.
Proviso East. The Pirates are loaded, led by junior guard Keith Carter and talented sophomore Sterling Brown, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2013. Rugged Trashaun Carroll and sophomore guard Paris Lee are two other key pieces for a team that will be a preseason top 10 team next season.
St. Rita. Look for the Mustangs to make a significant jump this season as coach Gary DeCesare continues to build this Catholic League program. A healthy A.J. Avery -- the 6-7 forward missed the majority of his junior year with an injury -- makes a huge difference.
New Trier. Aside from Warren, the Trevians may be the next best thing in the north suburbs. Juniors Connor Boehm and Austin Angel, along with promising freshman guard Jordan Thomas, make New Trier the favorite in the Central Suburban League South.
Curie. The emergence of 6-8 Cliff Alexander, one of the top prospects in the state of Illinois regardless of class, gives coach Mike Oliver something other high school teams just don't have -- a dominating big man. Athlete Maurice Fleming, versatile Devin Foster, Dantrell Tankson, Paris Burns and Lavonte Jones all return.

Other teams in the field: Hillcrest, Benet Academy, Von Steuben, Morton, Evanston, Neuqua Valley, Lincoln-Way East, York, Providence St. Mel, Brooks, Glenbard East, St. Ignatius, St. Joseph, Thornton, Ridgewood, Riverside-Brookfield, Mt. Carmel, Eisenhower, St. Patrick, Hinsdale South, Andrew, Bloom, Alton, King, Loyola Academy and South Elgin.

Ready to break out?
These players are either a year older and better or will simply become the focal point for their respective teams this season. As a result, a big offseason is in store for these players as they gear up for next winter.
• David Cohn, York ... The sophomore guard has put together a solid spring with the Illinois Wolves and is ready to blossom this season. The 6-2 Cohn is skilled, can score and distribute.
• Tim Williams, Homewood-Flossmoor ... The talented 6-8 junior is aching to be back as a key figure after missing nearly all of last season with an injury. He still remains one of the better college prospects in the Class of 2012.
• Ismar Seferagic, St. Patrick ... Who? Keep an eye on this unheralded 6-7 junior as he escapes the shadows of some big-named players who were a year older and have graduated.
• Donald Moore, Bloom ... The 5-11 point guard put together a solid junior year in leading Bloom to a 16-win season. Look for Moore to improve on his 2010-2011 numbers of 12.5 points and 6 assists a game.
• Alex Austin, Mt. Carmel ... Tracy Abrams has moved on and teammate Malcolm Hill-Bey still gets more pub, but the Hoops Report believes Austin is a very undervalued prospect. The son of former Indiana Mr. Basketball and Purdue player Woody Austin, the 6-3 junior put up solid numbers this past winter -- 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.5 assists per game.
• Jubril Adekoya, Andrew ... This talented sophomore quietly put up 17 points and 10 rebounds a game as a sophomore. After a solid spring on the AAU circuit -- and showing visions and style of former Thornton star Joevan Catron -- this 6-5 undersized 4-man is poised for a monster two years.
• Damonta Henry, Riverside-Brookfield ... The sophomore guard may be next in line after Sean McGonagill and Ryan Jackson starred at R-B the past two seasons.

Other odds and ends to watch for at R-B
• Brooks, fresh off finishing third in Class 3A, will begin its second season under coach Bobby Locke and welcome the addition of talented Class of 2014 star Erick Locke. The talented guard is Bobbly Locke's son and should help ease the loss of standout guards George Marshall and Mike Powell.

• While it won't happen in pool play on Saturday, if a matchup between Whitney Young and Curie materializes -- specifically 6-9 Jahlil Okafor vs. 6-8 Cliff Alexander, two of the elite prospects in the state -- it will be a summer treat.

St. Joseph will be a young, fun and interesting team to watch this season as freshman Paul Turner, a prized prospect in the Class of 2014, is a year older and will be joined by incoming freshman Jordan Ash. The 5-11 8th grader is one of the top incoming players in the Class of 2015 and will be playing for legendary coach Gene Pingatore. However, St. Joe's could bring Ash along slowly as it has done with other young, talented players, including Turner last season.

Loyola Academy remains an up-and-coming program with some quality young players in the program. Unfortunately, the best of the bunch, freshman Jack Morrissey, is out of action with a stress fracture in his shin. Morrissey is one of the top perimeter shooters in the state regardless of class.

• Although Glenbard East graduated Illinois State recruit Johnny Hill and Northern Illinois-bound Zach Miller, the Rams may very well be favored to win a third straight title in the DuPage Valley -- and add to their 28-game DVC win streak -- with the return of several key players. Dante Bailey, a 6-6 junior, blossomed late in the year as the Rams made their run to Peoria. This will be an important weekend for several newcomers to get a little seasoning.

• This is a big summer for Homewood-Flossmoor. The Vikings were never able to put their ideal team on the floor together at full strength last season due to the injury to Tim Williams. With a healthy Williams, and a core group of talented players all with a boatload of experience, coach Jim McLaughlin's club hopes for a productive offseason.

• We'll see just how talented the cupboard really is at Thornton this upcoming season. The Wildcats, who will be paired up with St. Joseph, New Trier and Ridgewood in pool play, were decimated by the graduation of seven key seniors. There is always talent in Harvey, but there hasn't been this much lack of experience at Thornton in quite some time.

• Everyone will be talking about Downers Grove South and Proviso East in the West Suburban Gold. Morton, always a gutty and stubborn team, returns some talent as well. But don't forget about Hinsdale South, which won 17 games and returns top players Brock Benson, a 6-7 junior, and scorer Phil George. The West Suburban Gold will be one of the top basketball conferences in the state this upcoming season.

Shootout Schedule
Here is a complete schedule of Saturday action at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout. Tournament play, based on pool play results from Saturday, will tip off Sunday.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Benet Academy
Von Steuben vs. Morton
De La Salle vs. Evanston
Lincoln-Way East vs. Neuqua Valley
St. Rita vs. Curie
Providence St. Mel vs. York
Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Von Steuben
Benet Academy vs. Morton
De La Salle vs. Neuqua Valley
Evanston vs. Lincoln-Way East
St. Rita vs. York
Curie vs. St. Mel
Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Warren vs. Brooks
Glenbard East vs. St. Ignatius
St. Joseph vs. Thornton
New Trier vs. Ridgewood
Whitney Young vs. Hillcrest
South Elgin vs. Loyola Academy
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Morton
Benet Academy vs. Von Steuben
De La Salle vs. Lincoln-Way East
Evanston vs. Neuqua Valley
St. Rita vs. Providence St. Mel
Curie vs. York
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Warren vs. St. Ignatius
Brooks vs. Glenbard East
St. Joseph vs. Ridgewood
Thornton vs. New Trier
Whitney Young vs. Loyola
Hillcrest vs. South Elgin
Saturday, 2:40 p.m.
Downers Grove South vs. Bloom
Alton vs. King
Morgan Park vs. Andrew
Hinsdale South vs. St. Patrick
Mt. Carmel vs. Eisenhower
Proviso East vs. Riverside-Brookfield
Saturday, 3:40 p.m.
Warren vs. Glenbard East
Brooks vs. St. Ignatius
St. Joseph vs. New Trier
Ridgewood vs. Thornton
Whitney Young vs. South Elgin
Hillcrest vs. Loyola
Saturday, 4:40 p.m.
Downers Grove South vs. King
Bloom vs. Alton
Morgan Park vs. St. Patrick
Andrew vs. Hinsdale South
Proviso East vs. Eisenhower
Riverside-Brookfield vs. Mt. Carmel
Saturday, 5:40 p.m.
Downers Grove South vs. Alton
Bloom vs. King
Morgan Park vs. Hinsdale South
Andrew vs. St. Patrick
Proviso East vs. Mt. Carmel
Riverside-Brookfield vs. Eisenhower

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Joe Henricksen in June 2011.

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