Nobody knows Downstate basketball better than Bill "Flash" Flanagan, who has been observing and evaluating players from his base in Bloomington for more than 35 years. A former high school and college coach, he has a handle on the haves and have-nots, the contenders and the pretenders.
For example, Flanagan doesn't buy into the more popular theory that Warren's Illinois-bound Brandon Paul is the No. 1 prospect in the junior class.
"Paul is a two-guard in a point guard's body," Flanagan said. "He isn't big enough to be a shooting guard in college."
Flanagan insists the best player in the class of 2009 is either guard D.J. Richardson of Peoria Central, guard Joseph Bertrand of Sterling or point guard Dyricus Sims-Edwards of Washington, Ill.
But that's not all.
Flanagan also calims that 6-8, 230-pound junior Jordan Prosser of Eureka "can start at Illinois right now. He is better than any big man that Illinois has at the moment."
Curiously, Illinois hasn't offered Prosser a scholarship. He has nine offers, including Indiana, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Xavier, Bradley, Southern Illinois and Illinois State.
In a recent game, Prosser scored 27 points in a 50-42 victory over Mahomet-Seymour. Another promising junior, 6-8, 215-pound Nick Washburn, had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Mahomet-Seymour.
Looking for a point guard? Illinois coach Bruce Weber is. Or should be. Of all the talented underclassmen who are committed to Illinois, none is a pure point guard. So how about 6-0 freshman Donivine Stewart of Bartonville Limestone?
Stewart scored 45 points in a recent 85-75 loss to highly rated Washington, Ill. Indiana-bound Matt Roth scored 34 for Washington.
Another talented junior is 6-9, 220-pound Zeke Schneider of Metamora, who had 35 points and 14 rebounds in a recent victory over Pontiac. Schneider is being recruited by Illinois, Kansas, Bradley, Indiana State and Illinois State.