Van Coleman of Hoopmasters.com is one of the pioneers in the very competitive and often very controversial business of recruiting analysis. Coleman, like Bob Gibbons, has been evaluating high school basketball talent for more than 30 years, before ESPN and the Internet and cell phones, even before Worldwide Wes.
Coleman attended the recent NBA players camp in Charlottesville, Va., and came away very impressed with the performances of the contingent of representatives from the Chicago area. His report confirms, if there ever was any doubt, that the class of 2011 ranks among the best ever produced in the city and suburbs, comparable to 1979 and 1998.
Here are Coleman's evaluations of the Chicago area's top players, based on their performances at one of the nation's leading exposure camps:
Anthony Davis, 6-9, Chicago Perspectives: He ranked as the No. 1 center in the camp and the No. 1 college prospect of all. The long and thin insider continued to solidify his position among the class' elite with his ability to dominate the game on the defensive end of the court. He blocked and altered shots with his bounce and length. Offensively, he scored with a jump hook or drop step dunk on the blocks and showed he can pop and knock down 15-footer or drive by big opponents. He even added the pass to his repertoire, hitting open men off a move to become a triple threat out of the low post. He will rank among everyone's top 10 to 15 prospects nationally heading into the summer.
Mike Shaw, 6-8, De La Salle: He ranked as the No. 7 power forward in the camp. He had a solid camp. He was among the top rebounders. He was aggressive on the glass in the four games we watched. He also did a solid job on the defensive end of the court. Offensively, he showed a consistent jumper from 17 feet, passed well to the post and finished his drive with a kiss off the glass or a dunk. He is a top 40 to 60 prospect based on his play at the camp. He still needs to be as aggressive with the ball as he was going and getting it off the glass to raise his stock nationally.
Jabari Parker, 6-7, Simeon: He is a talented and rising sophomore (class of 2013) combo forward who struggled in the early going but seemed to make adjustments and had a solid final day and helped lead his team to the camp championship with 10 points in a final victory over Anthony Davis' team. Parker has excellent ball skills for his size and showed he can score from 17 feet to the rim and is a good passer facing the hoop. But he seemed to have added about 10-15 pounds since the season ended and lost a little explosion (something he can't afford to lose) and that hurt his overall camp ranking. He is still among the elite players in the class of 2013 but needs all of his tools to be a top five to 10 talent nationally.
Sam Thompson, 6-7, Whitney Young: This explosive athlete used his huge bounce and explosive quicks to create some memorable highlight blocks and oop dunks but he has to balance that with a consistent perimeter jumper from the arc or off dribble (he's been working on it as he hit a couple from three and off pull-up at 17 feet) plus he has to handle to create a drive andneeds to make that move part of his game. He uses his length well on defense and his bounce to get to the ball off the glass. He will be looked at somewhere between 25 to 40 nationally based on his play at Charlottesville. At the camp, he ranked No. 9 among all wing forwards.
Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, Morgan Park: He had an excellent first and last day but was slowed on Friday by a slight ankle sprain. He toughed it out and played on Friday but the injury hurt his overall ranking. He was top three among shooting guards when healthy but finished No. 6 in the final analysis. He finished the camp with a 27-point effort in the consolation game. He hit three and pull-up 15-footer on opening night and finished his drive with a flush. He showed he can still dominate (even on a bad wheel) during his Saturday outburst and remains a top 10 to 15 talent in our eyes.
Tracy Abrams, 6-1, Mount Carmel: He did an excellent job running the show for his team. He was solid with the ball, made excellent passes off the dribble, finished his drive in traffic and set it up with a consistent jumper from around the arc. He will get physical with opponents on defense and can become a stopper with work on his techniques and positioning (he has quicks and length). He will rate somewhere between 60 to 80 nationally if he maintains the level of play he showed at the NBA camp. He ranked No. 4 among point guards.
Ryan Boatright, 5-10, East Aurora: He showed he can really score from the point guard spot (when he has the ball in his control), knocking down three with regularity or pull-up from 15 feet. He finished his drive in traffic, too, but to be a point guard at the big-time level he has to prove he can run the show and hit open men off the drive or in transition. This is what kept him from breaking the top 10 at Charlottesville and will keep him out of the top 100 nationally if he can't balance his game. That abiity will be key to where he ends up in college, since there is no doubt he can score in big numbers. He ranked No. 11 among the point guards.
My choice as the No. 1 player in the camp was Cincinnati-bound Chane Behanan, a 6-8 power forward from Bowling Green, Ky. Other leaders were Davis (center), 6-6 Branden Dawson of Gary, Ind., Lew Wallace (wing forward), 6-3 B.J. Young of Florissant, Mo., McCleur (shooting guard) and 6-1 Myck Kabongo of Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. (point guard).