By Roy & Harv Schmidt
As scouts and talent evaluators, you never want to put too much emphasis on a single event. However, make no mistake about it--when it comes to being able to sort out and fine-tune our evaluations of the elite players in Illinois from the classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011, this Sunday's high school team shootout on the campus of the University Of Illinois is absolutely huge. In fact, in many ways it offers us the ideal environment in which to evaluate players.
Sunday's event in Champaign is a paradise for anyone who is a die hard Illini basketball fan and an avid follower of Illini basketball recruiting. It will feature many of the top high school basketball teams in the state, as well as most all of the players who are generally regarded by talent evaluators as being among the top five in the state from their respective class. In fact, the only players who fit that description who won't be in attendance are Peoria Central's D.J. Richardson (class of 2009 and an Illini commit), Rich South's Crandall Head (class of 2010 and an Illini commit) and Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams (class of 2011 and currently our #2 player in the state from that class).
Games will begin at 10:30 A.M. and will take place at the Ubben practice facility as well as Assembly Hall. While most Illini fans are especially excited about the opportunity to see Illini recruits Brandon Paul, Joe Bertrand and Jereme Richmond, as well as plenty of other prospective Illini recruits in action, from our standpoint we are more psyched up about being able to evaluate so many talented players all within the course of a single day. With that being said, there will be plenty of matchups that we will be paying especially close attention to.
One matchup that we will be keeping an eye on is when Bartonville Limestone faces Rock Island. This game will have two of the top point guards in the class of 2011--Limestone's Donivine Stewart and Rock Island's Chasson Randle, going head-to-head. Randle has been one of the most talked about players in the class over the course of the past month.
We will also make a point to watch De LaSalle do battle vs. Zion-Benton in a game that will feature our #1 prospect prospect in the state from the 2011 class in De LaSalle's Mike Shaw and one of the top prospects from the class of 2010 in Zion-Benton's Lenzelle Smith. And then there is also the contest between Sterling and Warren, which might ultimately help us decide who is better equipped between Brandon Paul and Joe Bertrand to step in as the Illini's future point guard.
From a team standpoint, there is probably no better matchup than the one between Whitney Young and Zion-Benton, a game which could go a long way towards determining who will claim the honor of being ranked as the preason #1 team in the state in Class 4A come November.
All in all, it should be one exciting day of high school basketball where every game will matter. Will it be the end all when it comes to evaluation? Of course not, because as we have stated repeatedly, player evaluations are never finalized based on one event. However, we have to admit that this event will carry more weight than most, especially when one considers the fact that so many elite players will all be in the same location, they will all be going head-to-head against one another, and that the level of competition will be so high. As talent evaluators, what more could one ask for?