After traveling thousands of miles and evaluating hundreds of high school basketball players during the spring and summer, nationally respected recruiting analyst Van Coleman of Hoopmasters.com came to some interesting conclusions:
*Illinois-bound Brandon Paul of Warren can become the point guard that Illini coach Bruce Weber is looking for--but he may not be able to step in as a point guard in the Big Ten as a freshman.
"I didn't see a better shooter who played the 1 and 2 guard positions," Coleman said of Paul. "He doesn't take bad shots. He showed so much improvement in his ability to put the ball in the basket. He has point guard skills but he is a shooter first."
* Chris Colvin, Whitney Young's 6-3 senior point guard, showed why there are a lot of people who think he will play in the Big Ten or Big 12. Based on his performance, Coleman elevated Colvin into his top 100 ist.
"Colvin showed he had much better recognition of point guard skills than anyone thought," Coleman said. "He showed that he is a point guard who doesn't have to score to be effective."
* Weber showed he is willing to take a risk to get an opportunity to get a great player. He recognizes that Illinois wins when Illinois is an Illinois team. You can have a Deron Williams (from Texas) but look who played with him. The 2005 team reminded of the great Illini teams of the 1970s and 1980s. Weber lost battles when he waited and recruited against Kansas and Duke. So far, the risk has paid off.
*Illinois-bound Jereme Richmond of Waukegan hasn't advanced his game. He has dropped slowly in the rankings of the class of 2010. He was among the top 5-10 but now others are catching up and he ranks in the top 25, which ain't all bad.
"Richmond needs to show an ability to put the ball on the floor, create a shot off the dribble and be more consistent with his jumper from the perimeter," Coleman said. "He is a 6-7 wing player in college. He needs to extend his game to the arc."
* The best player Coleman saw all summer as 6-5 guard Tony Wroten Jr. of Seattle, Wash., a member of the class of 2011.
"He is a great open court player," Coleman said. "He was the most talented kid I saw who put the ball on the floor. He plays hard. He is like a 6-5 Brandon Jennings."
* The class of 2009 is average to below average. It helped itself in the summer. It looked like a weak class but the players in the 75 to 150 group brought it up to the bottom end of average. The class isn't as good as last year or 2003.
* It looks like the class of 2010 will be better. And the classes of 2011 and 2012 look promising, too.
* The class of 2009 lacks depth and there are only 6-7 players who look like potential pros, compared to 15-20 in the class of 2007. In 2009, the next 15-20 are question marks. There is a lack of overall quality of high major players and a lack of great point guards.
"There aren't a lot of difference-makers," Coleman concluded. "That's why Chris Colvin played himself into the top 100. There is no great No. 1 player in the class. You could take the first 6-7 players and shake them in a bag and take any one of them as No. 1."
* For example, Coleman ranks 6-10 power forward Derrick Favors of Atlanta, Ga., as the best player in the class of 2009. But he concedes that 6-4 guard Lance Stephenson of Brooklyn, N.Y., who is his sixth choice, or 6-10 power forward Renardo Sidney of Lakewood, Calif., who is his 10th pick, have the potential to be No. 1. "But they don't come to play all the time," Coleman said.