Loren Tate has been covering Illinois sports and high school basketball in this state for nearly 50 years. He joined the Champaign News-Gazette in 1966. Born in nearby Monticello, hometown of former Illini basketball coach Harry Combes, he always has possessed a keen eye for basketball talent -- even though he once was one of the leading semipro baseball pitchers in the country.
Here are Loren's picks as the five best high school players he has observed:
Quentin Richardson: total player, his rebounding on offense in high school was superior. No one went to the boards harder than him.
Isiah Thomas: He was discovered as a junior when he led St. Joseph to second place in the state tournament. He had a flair that was special for his time. He captivated the audience.
Derrick Rose: the most athletic guard ever. Super athletic. He was way beyond his time. He was unstoppable going to the hoop. Physically superior to anyone else.
Cazzie Russell: big guard with a flair for passing. He dominated every game he played. He dominated the ball. He could play any position. He was so physical. He overpowered people.
George Wilson: He played over the top of everybody. He was so much bigger and more athletic than everyone else.