By Roy & Harv Schmidt
If there is one machine in Chicago that is even more powerful than the political machine it is the never-ending hype machine that surrounds high school basketball. Sure enough, the hype artists are in full force once again, with the latest revolving around Curie's 6'4 freshman Wayne Blackshear. In fact, it has gotten so bad that we almost feel sorry for the kid.
Let us begin by saying that we think that Wayne Blackshear is going to be a very good player down the road. However, the key words are "down the road." But you can't tell that to all of the self-proclaimed internet gurus, media heads, and street people who are on personal ego trips to predict the next great player from the Windy City.
When we read all of the hype that has been thrust upon Blackshear after playing only three high school games the only thing we can do is scratch our heads. Some of the things that we have heard and read are unbelievable. Blackshear has already been compared to Corey Maggette and according to some has already made his mark as a force to be reckoned with in the Chicago Public League.
Our question to all of these people is what is your basis for making these claims? We say this because at the present time we believe that there is no basis. Having witnessed Blackshear's performance against Peoria Richwoods this past Saturday in the Chicago Public Schools Shootout , we feel that we have more than enough basis for the position we are taking. In a 48-42 loss to Richwoods, Blackshear finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds. Actually, these are not bad numbers for a freshman, but they are hardly the numbers of someone who has been projected by many as a "phenom."
Simply put, the enormous overhype that has been placed upon Blackshear is totally unfair and in our opinion downright sickening. All that it does is put additional unnecessary pressure upon Blackshear to the point of setting him up for failure. O.K.--maybe Blackshear is capable of overcoming all of this, but then again maybe he isn't. If the later happens to be the case, it will be through no fault of his own. Young players such as Blackshear are all too often victims of unlofty and unrealistic expectations to the point where the only place that they can go is down.
As talent evaluators and recruiting analysts who publish our own scouting service, we would like to believe that college coaches want to read honest and objective evaluations of prospective recruits that are free of the politics and hype that have become all too common in today's high school basketball world. From our standpoint, it does us no good to do nothing more than engage in sugercoating and constantly telling everyone how great a player is. But then again, maybe that is why we do what we do and others do what they do.
Again, don't get us wrong. We believe that Blackshear will undoubtedly project as a high major player down the road, which is why a good number of D1 schools are already knocking on his door. He is a superb athlete and at the present time we think that the strongest part of his game is his rebounding, as he is quick off his feet and has great instincts around the glass. However, anything that you want to call hype should end right there. Right now Blackshear isn't even the #1 player in the state from the class of 2011. That honor belongs to De LaSalle's 6'7 Mike Shaw, who we simply think has a greater up side than Blackshear and at the present time has better developed offensive skills.
A lot was made about Blackshear's high school debut at the Curie Shootout last month. In our minds Blackshear's debut was in no way comparable to that of Derrick Rose, who also made his varsity debut at Curie. Rose had already earned his stripes, while Blackshear still has a ways to go in that regard. Therefore, to say that Blackshear has arrived as a player because of one spectacular play is ludicrous.
The bottom line is that there are only two high school freshmen from Illinois in recent memory who proved that they were worthy of every ounce of praise thrust upon them from day one. Those two players are Simeon's Rose and Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer. They did so by ultimately capturing the greatest prize of all--a state championship. Blackshear still has three more years after this one to accomplish that. Therefore, we are not willing to proclaim Blackshear as the next mayor of Chicago or anoint him as a basketball god. Instead, let's hold off on the coronation and the deification for now.