Van Coleman of Hoopmasters.com has been criss-crossing the nation and evaluating high school basketball players for more than 30 years. Coleman and Bob Gibbons were two of the pioneers in the business and no one has spent more time on the road than they have.
Here are Coleman's choices as the best players he has observed in Illinois, accompanied by the following note: "The rankings below are based on high school play as I remember it. That is why a player like Dwyane Wade isn't among these rankings as his ascension to top 10 in the world came after high school. The same logic appears in these rankings as pro success is not the driver, but high school play was. That is why at least a dozen players have an argument to be rated among the top 25 who didn't make it."
Coleman's top 5:
Kevin Garnett: Most skilled big man to play in Illinois. He was the USA Today and FutureStars Player of the Year nationally. Although he only played one year at Farragut, he is an all-time talent.
LaPhonso Ellis: This explosive big man was skilled, quick and played with a nasty streak. Matchups in high school against Alonzo Mourning were legendary.
Ben Wilson: Unfortunately, he was taken from us much too soon. This gifted wing forward had the total package plus he was a winner. He was the No. 1 prospect in his class before he tragically lost his life.
Mark Aguirre: He was one of the first true supers I got to evaluate live. He dominated on post-up and off-dribble with the best at his size. He truly was a legendary high school scorer. His selection may surprise some as memories fade.
Isiah Thomas: He was a wizard off the dribble who could pass with the best in his class and could score from anywhere on the floor when necessary. Truly a force in high school basketball.
Second 5: Rashard Griffith, Juwan Howard, Marcus Liberty, Glenn Rivers, Derrick Rose.
Third 5: Eddy Curry, Terry Cummings, Nick Anderson, Hersey Hawkins, Frank Williams.
Fourth 5: Efrem Winters, Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson, Jamie Brandon, Kendall Gill.
Fifth 5: Russell Cross, Walter Downing, Michael Finley, Shaun Livingston, Bruce Douglas.
High honorable mention (all could have an argument for a spot on the third, fourth or fifth teams): Michael Payne, Deon Thomas, Ed Horton, Lowell Hamilton, Antoine Walker, Kevin Gamble, Bobby Simmons, Kenny Battle, Corey Maggette, Steve Bardo, Ronnie Fields, Dee Brown, Raymond McCoy, Sherron Collins.