Roy and Harv Schmidt started scouting in 1984 and have been publishing Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye since 1998. But they began watching high school basketball in the 1970s. They remember some of the great players of that era, such as Quinn Buckner, Isiah Thomas and Doc Rivers, but they don't have clear or live recollections so they didn't make their list.
Here is their list of the top five players they have observed in the last 25 years:
Ben Wilson may have been the greatest high school player in Illinois that we ever saw--and that includes Kevin Garnett. His skills were comparable to Garnett. Like Garnett, Ben Wilson had outstanding mobility and agility, length, shooting range and point guard-like ball-handling skills. He had great athleticism and the will to win that set him apart. He did not have the strength and ferocity that Garnett had but he had the same will to win.
For these reasons, we have to go with Kevin Garnett and Ben Wilson as the two greatest Illinois high school basketball players we ever saw.
Derrick Rose has to be third. You cannot argue with his two state championships nor the way that he took over the state tournaments. He did it with grace and poise and he made everyone around him better.
It gets tougher after that. But our fourth player is Dwyane Wade. We first saw him in an eighth-grade all-star game in the spring prior to his freshman year. At the time, he stood only 5-6. But he was one of the top players in the game, which included future King star Imari Sawyer. He showed no fear and was one of the leading scorers in the contest.
However, we had no idea that Wade would continue to grow and that he was only scratching the surface of his potential. We have never seen a player who worked harder to become the player that he is today or another high school player with his drive and determination.
To round out our top five, Quentin Richardson has to go on the list. He won a state championship and was a flat-out winner. He did whatever it took, whether it be hitting long-range shots, attacking the basket, crashing the boards, finishing everything inside and in transition and playing defense. He never took a play off.
Ronnie Fields and Jamie Brandond have to be considered among the best Illinois high school players ever. Fields was a legend--and it's hard to keep legends out of the top five. Five years ago, Fields would have made it. But Rose clearly knocks him out. Brandon was one of the most prolific scorers in state history.
We would appreciate it if you could mention some players we had a hard time keeping off...Jon Scheyer, Sergio McClain, Shaun Livingston, Tom Kleinschmidt, LaPhonso Ellis, Levertis Robinson, Marcus Liberty, Juwan Howard.
That being said, let's make our final top five Garnett, Wilson, Rose, Wade and Richardson. The fact that four of the five played in the Chicago Public League lends credence to the argument that the CPS has and will continue to produce the most talented players in Illinois.