The top five prospects in Illinois from the class of 2009 who figure to wait until Spring to sign a letter of intent are Marshall's Darius Smith, Whitney Young's Marcus Jordan, Washington's Dyricus Simms-Edwards, Lake Forest Academy's Angus Brandt and North Lawndale's Jonathan Mills. All are pretty much household names throughout recruiting circles. However, there are plenty of remaining unsigned prospects in this class who we think could emerge as mid-major caliber prospects at the very least by the time the Spring signing period rolls around. Illinois Prep Bulls-eye takes a look at five players who we think fit the bill in that regard in this blog.
Let us begin by emphasizing that some of the players on our list still have some academic hurdles to overcome. That in itself is a big reason why they remain unsigned at the present time. However, should they continue to progress academically and enjoy a banner high school season, we believe that they are all capable of emerging as possible breakthrough recruits.
Also, we are not saying that we regard all of these players as mid-major caliber recruits right now. What we are saying is that they are the five unsigned prospects in Illinois who we think are the most likely to reach that level by the start of the spring with continued hard work and improvement. With all of that in mind, here are our top five candidates.
John Taylor 6'0 PG/2G Chicago (North Lawndale)
Taylor is hands down the best player in the state that virtually no one talks about. If he didn't have academic question marks he would be regarded by everyone as a high major prospect and would probably already be off the board. On a team that is absolutely loaded, we believe that Taylor is North Lawndale's best player and based on sheer talent alone, he ranks with most all of the top guards in Illinois from the 2009 class, as he is capable of playing either guard spot. He is good enough for any mid-major program to sit for a year if he doesn't qualify. If they don't, then he could very likely end up going the JUCO route, and if that happens he will undoubtedly be one to watch at the D1 level in two years.
Jordan Walker 6'6 WF South Holland (Seton Academy)
Walker impressed us during the July evaluation period at the NY2LA Invitational in Milwaukee as well as at several other exposure shootouts during the fall. While he has spent the majority of his time (both with his high school team and AAU team) playing in the post, we think that he projects as an ideal 3-man at the college level. This is because Walker is long and athletic and can face up and consistently knock down shots all the way out to the 3-point arc. The fact that Seton Academy features two other prospects from the 2009 class who have signed with D1 schools and is one of the preseason favorites to win the Class 2A state championship should also prove to be to Walker's advantage recruiting-wise. He has huge up side and as long as he adds strength and continues to improve in the classroom he could prove to be a recruiting steal for virtually any mid-major during the Spring signing period.
Malcolm Griffin 6'2 2G Chicago (Hyde Park)
Griffin is undoubtedly the catalyst for a team that we believe ranks among the top five teams in the Chicago Public League as we head into the 2008-09 high school season. He has a strong upper body which allows him to consistently get to the basket and an outstanding nose for the ball. He also defends well and will drill open shots from beyond the arc if you back off of him. Griffin is still a bit under the radar as of now, but we have a feeling that could change by the time April gets here.
Cortney Bell 6'5 WF Chicago (Lincoln Park)
Lincoln Park head coach Tom Livatino is one of the best in the Chicago Public League at getting his players to develop over the entire course of a high school season, and that is why we are not betting against Bell. There is no question that Bell is a stellar athlete, as he can run the floor and finish with the best of them. He is also a strong rebounder and a consistent scorer around the basket. In many ways he is still learning to become a well-rounded basketball player. While the jury may still be out on him, should he enjoy a monstrous season we believe that the school that lands him in the spring could end up being most pleased with the verdict.
Brock Van Nordeck 6'7 PF Decatur (Eisenhower)
We have been told by more than one credible source that Van Nordeck is in need of an attitude adjustment, which is unfortunate because he does have skills. Van Nordeck is strong in the post, as he controls the glass and is a consistent scorer with his back to the basket. He also has good hands, runs the floor well and finishes with regularity. We would still like to see him improve his face-up ability, but overall he does what you would expect a 6'7 4-man to do. The bottom line is that as long as Van Nordeck can improve his mental approach to the game, we believe that he is worth taking a chance on for any low to mid-major program that is still in need of a post prospect from the 2009 class come springtime.
Best Of The Rest
Malcolm Herron 6'3 2G Downers Grove (South)
Tremell Owens 6'1 2G Hillside (Proviso West)
D'mitri Riggs 6'2 2G Bloomington (H.S.)
Delino Dear 6'8 PF Chicago (Mt. Carmel)
Ronald Steward 5'9 PG Zion (Zion-Benton)
Paris Gulley 6'0 PG Peoria (Manual)
Jeremy Jones 6'2 2G Chicago (Simeon)
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