By Roy & Harv Schmidt
After watching most all of Whitney Young's top players in action this past weekend, we thought of an interesting question that is sure to generate some discussion: Who is the top college prospect on Whitney Young's loaded boy's basketball team? Considering the fact that there are at least six division 1 players on the squad, there is no easy answer to the question. However, our choice may end up coming as a surprise to some of you.
In our opinion, when talking about who may be Whitney Young's best college basketball prospect, there are four players who are more than worthy of consideration. They include a pair of the state's top prospects in the class of 2009: 6'2 point guard Chris Colvin and 6'2 off-guard Marcus Jordan, as well as 6'2 shooting guard Anthony Johnson, who ranks among the top five players in Illinois from the class of 2010, and 6'5 Sam Thompson, who is part of a loaded class of 2011, a class which has a chance to rank as one of the state's best in recent memory.
The bottom line is that anyone can make a strong argument for any of these four players and wouldn't be wrong. With that being said, we are about to break down what each player brings to the table and then let everyone know who our choice is.
Let us begin with Colvin. Anyone who reads our blogs on a regular basis knows that we have continued to sing Colvin's praises after he turned in spectacular performances throughout this past spring and summer. With D.J. Richardson now having left the state of Illinois to attend prep school in Nevada, Colvin figures to battle it out all season long with Warren's Brandon Paul to see who ends up as the state's #1 player in the 2009 class. Colvin is undoubtedly the most natural point guard among top in-state prospects from that class and remains a hot recruiting commodity for either USC, Florida State, Illinois, Kentucky or Baylor.
And then there is Jordan. Again, as everyone should already know from reading our previous entries, we tabbed Jordan as our runner-up player of the summer behind Richardson when giving out our End Of The Summer Awards. We have long said that Jordan is a high major prospect and while schools at that level were slow to come around initially, his recruitment has since picked up tremendously, with Iowa State, Rice, Nebraska, Toledo and Wright State all being among the schools at the forefront.
A strong case can also be made for Johnson. He is clearly the team's most reliable and consistent perimeter shooter, as he has big-time range and is capable of getting his shot from virtually anywhere on the floor. Although he has been labeled by some as being one-dimensional, Johnson has worked extremely hard at diversifying his game and has shown that he is capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. It was initially thought that Johnson was a heavy lean to Ohio State, and while he may still be favoring the Buckeyes, there are several other schools that remain involved and his list has actually expanded somewhat, as it includes Purdue, Notre Dame, Iowa State, Marquette, Kentucky and Kansas.
While a strong case can be made for either Colvin, Jordan or Johnson, it may shock some of you to know that when casting our vote for Whitney Young's best college prospect we opt for none of the above. Instead, we are going with Sam Thompson, and we believe there are plenty of reasons to back up our choice.
Simply put, Thompson can match any of the other top three Whitney Young players athletically and is taller and longer than any of them. Thompson's wing span is absolutely incredible. It allows him to take the ball, race down the court and get to the goal in no more than two and a half to three steps and cover considerable ground at the defensive end. Thompson brings a high degree of versatility to the table. He is an outstanding ball handler and passer and can also shoot it from beyond the arc.
There is no question that Thompson ranks among the top four prospects in Illinois from the class of 2011 and is right there with De LaSalle's Mike Shaw, Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams and Curie's Wayne Blackshear when the debate begins as to who is #1 in that class. Right now, Thompson has received even higher accolades from national evaluators who saw him shine on the AAU circuit throughout the spring and summer while competing with the Mac Irvin Fire 16-Under squad.
Recruiting-wise, Thompson has already been offered a scholarship by the University Of Illinois and has a number of other high major programs in the mix for his services as well, including Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Marquette and Iowa among others. What is downright scary is that as of now Thompson has not played one second of basketball on Whitney Young's varsity. We can guarantee that is about to change this season, and when it does fans across the state are in for a special treat.