Who are the five best Illinois high school basketball players you have seen since 1990?
My five? Kevin Garnett, Derrick Rose, Corey Maggette, Sergio McClain, Kiwane Garris.
My next five? Juwan Howard, Jon Scheyer, Quentin Richardson, Tom Kleinschmidt, Ronnie Fields.
I asked recruiting analysts Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye, who have been observing and evaluating high school basketball players since the 1980s, to select the five best players they have seen since 1990.
It seems we agree in most cases.
The Schmidt brothers' starting five is Garnett, Rose, Richardson, Scheyer and McClain.
Their "bench" includes Kleinschmidt, Maggette, Sherrell Ford, Donnie Boyce, Melvin Ely, Antoine Walker, Matt Lottich and Shaun Livingston.
I suppose you also could make a case for Rashard Griffith, Julian Wright, Sherron Collins, Michael Finley and Eddy Curry.
We agree that Garnett must be the first choice. Some critics would opt to leave him off the list because he played only his senior year at Farragut. But I would argue that he solidified his national reputation in Chicago. His play lured Kevin McHale and other NBA scouts and made him a lottery pick.
It is difficult to leave Garnett and Rose off the all-time list of Illinois high school stars that usually is reserved for George Wilson, Cazzie Russell, Isiah Thomas and Quinn Buckner. Who would be the sixth man on that team?
Maggette was dynamic, athletic and explosive, a man among boys, like Garnett. Was there any doubt he would make an impact in the NBA? McClain was the most inspirational leader I observed in the last 50 years, with the lone exception of Buckner.
I may be overrating Garris and underrating Scheyer. Garris wasn't the 3,000-points-in-a-career scorer that Scheyer was. But he was a three-time All-Chicago Area player in the toughest conference in the state and he boasted a complete game--scoring, ball-handling, passing, defense, leadership.