Asked to list the five Chicago area basketball players who turned in the best performances of the summer, regardless of class, editor/publisher Joe Henricksen of City/Suburban Hoops Report rated 6-3 senior guard Matt Vogrich of Lake Forest at the top.
"He's my MVP of the summer," Henricksen said. "No one in the state played himself higher, from mid-major to a no-brain, no-doubt high major. He's the best shooter in the state. He was the buzz at a lot of events. He showed he is a better athlete than people thought. He showed he an do it and get it done against big-time players."
According to Henricksen, Vogrich is Northwestern's biggest target in coach Bill Carmody's era. "He fits their profile," he said. Based on his summer performance, Vogrich climbed from No. 15 to No. 5 in the senior class, Henricksen said. He also is being recruited by Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Stanford.
The others on Henricksen's top five are 6-3 junior Lenzelle Smith of Zion-Benton, 6-1 senior guard Darius Smith of Marshall, 6-7 junior Jereme Richmond of Waukegan and 6-3 senior guard Brandon Paul of Warren.
Lenzelle Smith is a national recruit, a top 50 player who ranks behind only Richmond and Crane's Crandall Head in the junior class. "I haven't seen three kids at the top of a class like this since 1998 with Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and Frank Williams/Bobby Simmons," Henricksen said. A great passer who has great court vision, Smith is being recruited by Kentucky, Florida and Illinois.
Darius Smith's stock continues to rise. Bradley was all over him from the get-go but DePaul and Marquette have picked up interest. "It isn't a thing of beauty with him. He may not be a true point guard and he may not be a great shooter but he gets the job done. He is such a huge factor when he steps on the floor. He impacts a game in so many ways," Henricksen said.
Richmond didn't have a great summer but Henricksen said the Illinois-bound guard/forward "showed enough overwhelming skill and talent that you see enough of it to know he is the best player in his class."
But Henricksen said Richmond still must demonstrate that he is willing "to bring it every day. What about his attitude? That is a question that will dog him until he steps a foot on a college campus. Sometimes he looks like he is bored on the floor. Playing hard and getting after it when eyes aren't watching...that's when you make yourself a better player. He can't waste opportunities to get better."
"Paul didn't blow up quite as much nationally as I thought he would," Henricksen said. "Going into the summer, I thought he would be one guy who would go nuts and everyone would be talking about him nationally. He may have played himself into the top 50 nationally but he didn't quite do what I thought he would do in the eyes of national observers. But he was solid and consistent."
Henricksen still ranks the Illinois-bound Paul ahead of Illinois-bound D.J. Richardson of Peoria Central as the No. 1 player in the senior class, even though he admits Richardson had a better summer. Why? "I feel Paul's upside is better. He is a better prospect, more potential, a higher ceiling," he said.
Henricksen said others who improved their stock were 6-4 senior Tony Nixon of Seton Academy, 6-5 sophomore Jacob Williams of St. Patrick and 6-5 senior Drew Crawford of Naperville Central, son of NBA referee Danny Crawford.