Flavor Of The Month Popular Amongst Other Talent Evaluators

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By Roy & Harv Schmidt

As we have indicated before, it is a common tendency for plenty of others who evaluate high school basketball players to fall in love with a player on the basis of a single game performance. All too often the mentality is one which consists of "what have you done for me lately?" That mentality may be suitable for talk radio and the tabloids, but not for anyone who wants to operate a legitimate scouting service. Anyone who needs to see examples of what we are talking about needs to look no further than others' current evaluations of the class of 2011 in Illinois.

First of all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the 2011 class in Illinois is an extremely talented class. As we have indicated on numerous occassions, it has a chance to ultimately rank as one of the best classes in Illinois high school basketball history. That in itself is fine. The problem is that whenever you have a class that is this talented, there is a huge tendency for evaluators to go out on the limb on certain players in order to be able to say that their evaluations are the most accurate. It looks as though that is the case yet again.

The best example of what we are talking about involves Chasson Randle, a 6'1 point guard from Rock Island. Let us begin by saying that Randle is a very good player and certainly one of the top prospects in the state from the class of 2011. That is the good news. The bad news is that other evaluators are getting carried away with their evaluation of Randle. Another internet service now has Randle ranked as the second best player in the class of 2011 and there is no question that it is solely because Randle plays for the Illinois Wolves traveling team and the Wolves' coach is the personal benefactor of the person who runs that site. In other words, the ranking has absolutely nothing to do with Randle's actual ability. Since then others have followed suit, as they have also moved Randle up in their rankings and continued to heap praise despite the fact that they haven't seen Randle play on more than a couple of occassions at best.

But the latest example is the one that really has us scratching our head. As it turns out, there is now one evaluator who believes that Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams is the #1 player in Illinois from the 2011 class. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, we can't help but wonder what the basis for this ranking is, especially seeing as though just yesterday this same evaluator told us that he believed that De LaSalle's Mike Shaw was the #1 player in the class. In other words, was it a single game performance from Abrams at the Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout this past weekend that got this evaluator to change his mind? It certainly seems that way, and offers a perfect illustration of the "flavor of the month" mentality.

With all of this being said, let's be clear about one thing right now-- Mike Shaw was the state's #1 player from the class of 2011 yesterday, he still is today, he will be tomorrow and we are willing to bet that he will be for a very long time. Simply put, at 6'7 Shaw has an overall skill set that is unmatched by any other player in the class and is capable of doing things that the rest simply can't do. Okay, maybe Shaw wasn't able to lead his high school team on a deep run through the state tournament the way Abrams was this past March. We say "so what?" Shaw has proven himself time and time again against quality competition. Furthermore, if you were to ask at least ten D1 college coaches who they believe is a better college prospect between Shaw and Abrams we are willing to bet that the majority (if not all) of them would say Shaw.

Please understand that none of this is intended to be a knock on Abrams. Anyone who has read our blogs on a regular basis knows that we are among Abrams' biggest fans. We believe that Abrams has now firmly established himself as the second best player in Illinois from the class of 2011. Simply put, there is nothing wrong with being #2, especially when one examines the enormous degree of talent existing amongst the top players in this class.

One argument that is being made in support of Abrams being the top player in the class is that he is "fearless." While we certainly agree with that assessment, fearlessness is an intangible and is not something which sets Abrams apart from the rest as a player. The same thing can be said about Bartonville Limestone's Donivine Stewart. In fact, every time we have watched Stewart we have come away saying that he is fearless. Therefore, we once again get back to overall skill set, and our nod undoubtedly goes to Shaw.

The other thing that gets us is the tendency for other evaluators to get overly enamored with athleticism, as Abrams is now being called "the most athletic guard in the class of 2011." While that may be true, Shaw is also pretty darned athletic, plus he is at least 7 inches taller than Abrams.

So the only questions that now beckon pertain to what lies ahead this month. Come the end of June, will these same evaluators have a new #1 player should he turn in an outstanding performance at any upcoming events? Again, when one looks at their method of talent evaluation, it certainly makes one wonder. People may remember us saying in a previous blog that Abrams and Stewart could possibly get a chance to go head to head at the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament next December. We now only wish that game was being played tomorrow.

With all of this in mind, here are Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye's rankings of the top ten players in Illinois from the Class Of 2011:

1) Mike Shaw 6'7 WF Chicago (De LaSalle)
2) Tracy Abrams 6'0 PG Chicago (Mt. Carmel)
3) Donivine Stewart 5'10 PG Bartonville (Limestone)
4) Wayne Blackshear 6'5 WF Chicago (Curie)
5) Sam Thompson 6'4 2G Chicago (Whitney Young)
6) Jay Parker 5'9 PG Harvey (Thornton)
7) Chasson Randle 6'1 PG Rock Island (H.S.)
8) Andre Henley 6'5 PF Chicago (De LaSalle)
9) George Marshall 5'9 PG Chicago (Brooks)
10) DeShawn Greer 6'5 WF Chicago (Simeon)
10) Andrew Jordan 6'5 WF Peoria (Woodruff)

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What makes a high school player the highest ranked?

Is it potential or who is the best player now? I saw both players yesterday or throughout the year. Abrams is clearly a more effective HS player RIGHT NOW. Will he end up being a MAC guard while Shaw ends up being Big Ten player. Who knows? But as of today, Abrams is better than Shaw.

Roy & Harv Respond:

You ask a fair and legitimate question. As people who have owned and operated our own scouting service for ten years, we rank and evaluate players based largely on where we think they will project at the college level. With that in mind, we still believe that Shaw is the #1 player in the 2011 class for the reasons stated in our blog. If you are basing the ranking solely on high school performance right now, then we agree with you on Abrams. However, we believe that is a method of evaluation that is more fan-oriented as opposed to scout-oriented.

This flavor never goes out of style, regardless of the month:
Flavor Flav "Cold Lampin" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6zFE_eLy-A

I usually enjoy reading your blogs, however, your attacks on other people/evaluators is getting old fast! The thing about talent evaluations is that it is 100% opinion. Your opinion is as valid as the next and I am sure that there have been several times where you changed with the wind. If it was an exact science, there would never be any college busts.

Roy & Harv Respond:

We are simply pointing out the inconsistencies and in some cases politicism that exists with other's evaluations. Whenever anyone is able to prove that we are guilty of either of those two things with respect to our evaluations it will be a first. You are right that it is not an exact science--you are wrong when you say that it is 100% opinion.

Come on guys - get over this. Enough with your rantings about other people's opinions. I have seen all these players that you mention and to single out evaluators because they think differently is pretty unprofessional. All these players are tremendous players, and I personally think there is little difference between Abrams and Shaw.

Roy & Harv Respond:

It isn't that they think differently--it is more an issue of WHY they think differently, but of course most of you wouldn't understand that.

What a joke! Do you think we, as fans, want to read this rambling nonsense?

Roy & Harv Respond:

Then why are you responding to this blog?

Again the question that comes to mind is who is better now or who projects to be better in college. The bigger question remains as to why you guys feel the need to rip a colleague. Is it that this evaluator is becoming more known and more established. There seems to be a real sense of jealousy in this entire thing. I am a high school coach and I have never heard a bad word about that other evaluator. I also have many college connections and once again I have never heard single negative comment. I have heard his name continue to grow, which leads me to feel there is some animosity in the writing somehow.

Roy & Harv Respond:

He does a great job, but just want to point out one thing. We also have plenty of college connections and if you were to talk to any of them you would find that none of them have a bad word to say about us.

Give me a break. Move Abrams to Number 1 after one weekend performance? I don't think so. Mike Shaw is the best player in the Class of 2011 hands down. It isn't even close. For one thing at DeLasalle he played with a couple of selfish guards. I think there was some jealousy going on. Shaw wasn't able to use his full range of skills. The fact he played for the Mac Irvin Chicago Fire 17 and Under team as an eighth grader!!!!! And he held his own, didn't look out of place at all. He is the best prospect in the state of Illinois since Derrick Rose. He might even be one of the top five players in the state regardless of class. Well props to Garrett Jones of Evanston another Class of 2011 top ten player.

Roy & Harv Respond:


Great post!!

Seems to me there is a green-eyed envy monster working with the two brothers. There is no doubt that both players are legit and are forces at their respective positions. They both have bright futures. Seems that the Derrick Rose-Michael Beasley debate has surfaced in the high school ranks. Is it possible a case can be made for each players to be considered the "best"?

Roy & Harv Respond:

The answer to your question is "of course."

It seems a little nit picky to take certain words out of one evaluators comments and defame his work based a difference of opinion that you guys might have. IF taking quotes from from passages "ranking solely on high school performance right now" and "so what" that "he didn't lead his time down state," well isn't that the ultimate goal for a high school basketball player; to lead his team downstate.

Roy & Harv Respond:


How are we defaming anybody? We said that everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is simply a disagreement over an evaluation--nothing more, nothing less. However, what you and everyone else should keep in mind is the basis for the evaluation, but that is the part that seems to be going over everyone's head.


You guys are awesome!

Roy & Harv Respond:

We know--we amaze ourselves sometimes!!

So you are trying to project, based on today's skill set viewable in this summers games, what kind of COLLEGE player a young man may turn into over the next three years.

That makes sense to me because that is what all of the college coaches have to do. Based on a young man's body of work in high school they are trying to predict what kind of skills, body, attitude, basketball intelligence, leadership, winning mentality, etc. will a young man bring to THEIR college program in the fall of 2011. How else could Roy and Harv evaluate these players? Your method makes sense to me.

Roy & Harv Respond:


We appreciate your remarks. We want to make it clear that we are not saying that there is a right way and a wrong way with respect to talent evaluation. We are simply saying what our method is and it is nice to see someone such as yourself who understands that. We have no problem whatsoever with anyone else's method of evaluation, but when we see inconsistencies we feel it is important to point them out. That is all that we were doing.

Roy and Harv.
First off I want to say that i love your blogs. I want to know your opinion of the best big men in the class of 2010. I've seen Fred Heldring of New Trier, Paul Bunch of North Lawndale and Philip Jackson of Providence St Mel. I believe Jackson is the best of the 3. He consistently makes the mid range jump shot, is athletic and controls the paint defensively. Have you guys seen Jackson and if so what is your opinion of him and the elite big men in the 2010 class?

Roy & Harv Respond:

Your assessment of Jackson is right on the money. We recently watched him at the Next Level Invitational just outside of Milwaukee and he looked really good. We think that Jackson has the best up side of the three players that you mention above. The biggest problem with both Bunch and Heldring is consistency. We look forward to seeing how all three of these young men continue to progress.

Harv and Roy my top 5 in Illinois regardless of class 1. Jereme Richmond,Waukegan 2. Chris Colvin, Whitney Young 3. Brandon Paul, Warren 4. Mike Shaw, DeLaSalle 5. Darius Smith, Marshall. I have not seen DJ Richardson play so he is not in my rankings. I know you all probably disagree but that's okay.

Roy & Harv Respond:


That is a good list. We think that both Crandall Head and Lenzelle Smith have to be mentioned among the top five players in the state regardless of class.

Its always a heated debate who should be ranked where in the top 10 or top 50 of each class. Some people base what they see during the High School season, Some people base what they see during AAU season. Mike Shaw at DeLaSalle doesn't get to use his full range of skills. They camp him in the post all the time because they really don't have anyone big besides him. On the Fire he is allowed to play more of a wing and it really allows him to show off his skills and athleticism.

Abrams had a great freshman year at Mt. Carmal. He had the ball in his hands all the time and was able to utilize his athleticism and skills all the time. I have seen him twice during the AAU season and thought he performed well, but nothing spectacular.

Donivine Stewart had a great freshman year where he could shoot anytime he wanted and had his high school offense run through him as a true freshman. He is a nice player and is very smart and crafty. He doesn't blow your mind with athleticism or speed.

So I guess what I am trying to say: I think it is hard to compare a guard to a big or a wing to a pg, etc. I like rankings where they have top 5-10 PG, SG, SF,PF, C.

Then there is a lot better and more understandable debate about rankings...

Roy & Harv Respond:

This is a great post from someone who obviously has an open mind on this topic.



Roy & Harv Respond:


We have not gotten a good look at Macari as of yet, but we will be on the lookout. Thanks for keeping us updated.

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This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on June 1, 2008 3:16 PM.

Abrams Needs To Play Up was the previous entry in this blog.

Team Shootout In Champaign Could Reveal A Lot is the next entry in this blog.

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