By Roy & Harv Schmidt
The July evaluation period is almost upon us, and there is no question that it is the most important time of the year from a recruiting standpoint, as it determines who gets scholarships, and player reputations are either made or destroyed based on their performance in front of college coaches. And of course the national analysts will also be out in full force at all of the marquee events. Knowing how most of them tend to evaluate, we are about to offer our predictions on the four players from Illinois who are most likely to climb the national rankings this coming month.
Before we get to that, however, we offer a couple more examples of what is wrong with many national analysts' method of evaluating players, this time courtesy of rivals.com. In their latest rankings of the top 100 players nationally in the class of 2010, they dropped Waukegan's Jereme Richmond out of the top 20, as he currently checks in at 32. Not only that, but according to the ridiculous star system that Rivals uses to rank players, Richmond has dropped from five stars to four stars.
We are not sure what Rivals' basis was for dropping Richmond down, but in our minds there is certainly no justifiable reason for doing so, as Richmond has done absolutely nothing to warrant it. Perhaps Rivals was going on all of the scuttlebutt they had heard regarding Richmond's "attitude" problems. Or more likely, it may have had everything to do with the fact that Richmond did not attend the recent NIKE Hoops Jamboree in St. Louis, an event that Rivals had evaluators in attendance for.
On the flip side, Simeon's Brandon Spearman is Rivals' fourth highest ranked player in the class from Illinois, as he is ranked 56th. While we like Spearman as a prospect, we are a bit baffled by this one and we do not understand what Rivals' rationale was behind the ranking. We say this because Spearman was not one of the main cogs in the wheel last season as a sophomore at Hales Franciscan and since transferring to Simeon has played only sparingly on the AAU circuit. The only possible explanation we can come up with is that Spearman attended the NIKE Hoops Jamboree. All of this is indicative once again of the "big event" mentality that seems to encompass most national analysts' methods of evaluation, where a player can climb the ladder solely on the basis of a single game performance.
With all of this in mind, the following are our predictions on the four players who we think are most likely to ascend the national rankings once the July evaluation period is over and done with.
1) Lenzelle Smith 6'3 Jr. 2G Zion (Zion-Benton) Team NLP
There is not a player in the state who has been more disrespected on the national level than Smith, as Rivals currently doesn't even have him ranked in the top 100 from the class of 2010. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Jereme Richmond and Crandall Head, yet he isn't. Perhaps it is because he is perceived as a tweener, but anyone who has seen him on a regular basis knows that is an entirely inaccurate assessment. With Smith attending the Reebok All-American Camp in Philadelphia as well as the 17-under Super Showcase and 17-under National AAU Tournament in Orlando, we are willing to bet that the national perception of Smith is going to change in a hurry and that he will be one of the most talked about players during August.
2) Dyricus Simms-Edwards 6'1 Sr. PG Washington (H.S.) Illinois Wolves
Despite an outstanding junior season at Washington in which he helped lead his team to a fourth place finish in the Class 3A state tournament, in the eyes of national analysts he plays third fiddle on the Illinois Wolves 17-under traveling team behind Wisconsin commit Diamond Taylor and Illinois commit Joe Bertrand. Not only that, but a number of mid-major programs who have worked their tails off recruiting Simms-Edwards have to be shaking in their boots over the possibility of him "blowing up" during July and receiving high major scholarship offers. There is no question that Wolves' AAU coach Mike Mullins will do everything he can do to help get Simms-Edwards recruited at the highest possible level. Therefore, should Simms-Edwards turn in strong performances during the July evaluation period, we look for his stock to skyrocket.
3) Chris Colvin 6'1 Sr. PG Chicago (Whitney Young) Chicago Express
Colvin has had an outstanding spring and has made a strong case for becoming the #1 ranked prospect in Illinois from the class of 2009. However, most all of his performances during that time have gone unseen by national evaluators. That is sure to change during July, as he will have the opportunity to showcase himself at the Hoosier Shootout in Indianapolis, the Chicago Classic in Deerfield, IL and the NIKE Main Event in Las Vegas, which is the center of the basketball universe during the fourth week of July. Barring a complete collapse, chances are very good that it will result in Colvin attracting additional scholarship offers and making a huge jump in the national rankings.
4) David Brown 6'3 Sr. 2G Rockton (Hononegah) Illinois Warriors
We have not seen Brown play at all since the start of the spring, as he played with the Madison Spartans (as opposed to the Illinois Warriors) when we were in attendance at the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron, OH and was not with his high school team at a recent team shootout that we attended. We can also guarantee that our competitors haven't seen Brown all that much either despite them continuing to write about him. He also remains a mystery in the eyes of the national analysts, as he is currently ranked only two stars by one national service. However, college coaches certainly know who Brown is, as he has attracted a multitude of scholarship offers from the likes of DePaul, Oklahoma State, Northwestern, Baylor, Cincinnati, Loyola, Wright State, Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Western Michigan and Eastern Illinois and strong interest from plenty of others. People in Brown's camp are touting him as one of the top three players in Illinois from the class of 2009 with a chance to end up as the best. We will find out for ourselves when we watch him at the NIKE Peach Jam. If Brown lives up to his billing during the July evaluation period, he could rapidly become the most talked about player in the state.
There you have it--these are the four players who we believe national evaluators will suddenly discover how good they really are by the end of July, if not sooner. Should that happen (and in all likelihood it will) all that we ask is that people give credit to the local scouts and analysts who knew about these kids long before they were suddenly "discovered" by any of the national gurus.