I believe giving credit where it is due. And the fact is Bill "Flash" Flanagan, who has been evaluating high school basketball players in Illinois for more than 30 years, was talking about freshman point guard Antonio "Bobo" Drummond of Peoria Central before anyone else knew how to spell his name.
Drummond made a recent splash at an exposure event in suburban Chicago. It wasn't his first coming-out party. For nearly two months, Flanagan has been touting the 5-11 youngster as "the best young player to come out of Peoria since Shaun Livingston."
"I saw him at the A.J. Guyton Shootout at Peoria Central in mid-July. He was playing with D.J. Richardson and he looked like he belonged with him," Flanagan said. "You wouldn't have known he was a freshman. He looked like an upperclassman. He has great maturity and plays under control."
Some people won't accept any evaluation but their own. They argue, as some newspapers do, that it isn't official until they say so, that a player hasn't met the test until he has been stamped with their seal of approval.
Flanagan earned his spurs as a high school coach at Rich Central and Elgin and as an assistant coach at East Carolina and as an assistant at Illinois State under Will Robinson and Gene Smithson. He can be credited with recruiting and signing the likes of Jeff Wilkins, Billy Lewis, Roger Powell, Derrick Mayes, Del Yarbrough and Cyrus Mann.
When Flanagan was head of recruiting at ISU from 1973 to 1978, the program was ranked third, fifth, ninth and 13th in the country in NCAA Division I by Basketball Times.
How good is Drummond? "At the same age, he reminds me of Isiah Thomas. He is an exceptional all-around player, an outstanding shooter and ball-handler. He does everything that you would expect of a shooting point guard, like Isiah," Flanagan said.
Illinois already is looking at him. So is Kentucky. Kansas, too.
"Name the other best young guards in the state and all of them have weaknesses. Most of them don't have the full package. Some don't play under control or aren't real athletic or don't have great basketball instincts," Flanagan said.
"Drummond has the full package, like Isiah Thomas did. He can do it all. He plays under control, sees the floor, gets the ball to the open man. He is quick, can shoot the three and take the ball strong to the basket. He also has good leadership qualities and plays with great intensity. He doesn't play like a freshman."