Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Cast of Unheralded Juniors – 2017

A Cast of Unheralded Juniors – 2017

“We’ve created a list of guys who have moonlighted in the shadows of others most of the season, but likely when things shake-out they will be pursued and coveted by the likes of mid-majors.”

Mark Taylor   6-6 SF      MM       Chicago Francis Parker – The kid erases double digit shot attempts nightly.  He just finished a week where he recorded 26 points and 11 rebounds & 6 blocks versus North-Shore Country Day.  He went up against De LaSalle where he tallied 22 points, very good athlete, and his offensive game is rounding into form.  Ivy League and Patriot League starting to take notice.

Cameron Gross 6-4 G/F     MM       Oak-Park – Recently all-tournament at Rockton Hononegah MLK Classic, averages 18 points and 8 rebounds, shoots close to 60% from the field.  Team leader in all those categories, was all-tournament at Pontiac; “a punishing athletic scorer”.

Noah Perisich 6-0 PG      MM-LM+   Metamora – One of the true game setters we have regardless of class, sets the table for a 16-1 squad.  Noah is strong with the ball, makes good decisions. Deadly mid-range shooter, he has excellent quickness and he’s a stout defender.  A substantially good spring could land him a division one offer.  “A system type player!”

Marvin Bateman 6-5 WG      MM       Belleville Althoff – The Althoff squad has a date with Chicago Kenwood next weekend at the O’Fallon Shoot-Out.  Bateman is one of the state’s top marksmen.  “When the slender shooter releases an attempt you can almost say money.”  Every good team covets a specialist such as Bateman, sure he needs to get stronger and exhibit some ball handling ability, but he’s a pivotal component for the state’s No. 2 team in 3A.

Logan Windeier 6-9 F       MM       Manteno – “The big fella has some talent, just coming off from being shelved with hip injury most of the season.  Windeier will draw college coaches in droves come spring, he can score inside or outside.”  And yes, we will over-examine if he’s tough enough.  (Strangling, over-examining/over-the-top highly stressed college coaches.)  We love where his future could cart him.
Rashaad Johnson   5-11    G ?      Oak-Lawn – Vastly unknown outside the south suburban red division.  He’s a slick 3 year letterman, averages 16.2 per outing – cashes in at the charity stripe at 86% clip; second in the conference in three point shooting.  “This kid is a gamer, time will tell where he best fits in terms of level.

Jaylan Catledge   6-3     G/F      MM     Richards – Also suits-up in the South-Suburban Red League, can be a daunting talent some nights.  Went for 25 points & 13 rebounds versus Eisenhower a week ago.  We will view him Tuesday night against Bloom.

Tyler Chism   6-3 G       MM       Proviso East – Starting to mount himself into rhythm after a slow start.  He’s been socked by some poor foul shooting nights, but he can be an electric talent at times.  He’s terrific with the ball, capable of scoring in a variety of ways and we view him as a can’t miss mid-major recruit in 2017 class as long as his academics stay on par.

Brandon McCombs   6-7     F MM-LM+ Jacksonville – A gangly scorer, has surprising athleticism, battles on the block, faces-up from 12-15 ft. well.  We first saw him in September at the Illinois Spot-Lite Exposure Event where he was outstanding.  He went on to put together a dynamite season thus far; Brandon was named to the all-tournament team at Centralia.  Friday night he will be tested in a big game setting versus Springfield Southeast at home.

Terry Smith Jr.   6-5     SF       MM-LM+ Chicago Curie – Potential match-up nightmare, a powerful athlete, undersized baseliner.  Reminds me of some past brute strong interior guys we used to produce in the area.  Terry attacks the glass with authority, offensively he uses both hands at the window, more notably he tries to flush everything in reach.  Limited now on the perimeter; good student, guys like Smith used to land at UIC, Loyola, Bradley, Ill-State; now days he might be a target for Valpo & Northern Ill, Chicago State.

The 2016 class already labeled as one of Illinois weaker crops in recent years took a hit this season when two Central Illinois hardwood throbs were bounced from their respective teams.  6-5 swingman Jerry Myles out of East Moline was regarded by many of us as a top 5 prospect in the class, now slender six foot eight high-plains drifter between Champaign Central & Centennial programs A.J. Beckett was viewed as top 25-30 prospect.  “My late dear friend Wayne McClain once told me, with some work Beckett could one day be laboring as an NBA player!”  And Wayne knew talent!  Both of those guys have carved-out the journeyman tag, attending various high-schools and it’s been difficult for the two of them to stay on course academically.  Hopefully we will find them in the junior college ranks in the next year or two.  Interesting dynamics in the middle of our state, hustling & survival tactics happens in all pockets of our area.

Spot-Liter’s Game of the Week

Spot-Liter’s Game of the Week
(Saturday, January 30th)

LaSalle Peru 44 – Washington, IL 43
A packed house watched a base-line jumper from Washington’s Lou Griffith carom off the mark at the buzzer securing a one point victory for L.P.  Both teams entered the ball game with a combined 35-1 record, Washington which came into the contest 19-1, only loss was to Springfield Lanphier in overtime at the Pekin Holiday Title game by 4.  L.P. (17-0) nabbed their first “so called” signature win knocking off the Panthers Saturday night.  Visiting Washington jumped out early to a 10-2 advantage, but eventually landed themselves in foul trouble.  The contest was tightly officiated and was marred by a string of fouls by both teams consequently there was one and one opportunities for each team by the end of the first quarter.  Washington (IL) is the program that produced current Valpo star Alec Peters.  This year’s squad is small, but rely on sharp ball movement, patience in seeking a high percentage shot, which could be an open three pointer most times, they shoot at a high clip.  The Panthers are a good defensive group and are well coached by Kevin Brown.  L.P. took its first lead of the game (15-14) on a three pointer by senior point-guard Brady Huebbe and went into the locker-room at half time with a 23-21 advantage.  Wasington (IL) at times had three freshmen on the floor, they played four during the contest and one sophomore to go along with stand-out junior point Devin Whitelow who makes the engine go, but the leader of the squad is 5-8 senior guard Lou Griffith (14 pts).  He is by far one of the craftier skilled players we have in the 2016 class.  Washington had four players foul out of the game including Whitelow, but lost a key player junior Colton Sharp (10 pts) went-down in a loose ball collision late in the third quarter and had to leave the game, it looked like he had concussion symptoms.  Sharp had made some timely shots early in the quarter, his absence really hurt Washington’s chances down the stretch negating their quest for their twentieth victory of the season.  Sophomore guard Tairae Hersemann’s three pointer with under a minute left in the game made it 44-43, but L.P. managed a sobering 12-25 from the charity stripe so that prevented them from pushing away from the Panthers, but L.P. was able to prevail after Lou Griffith shot at the buzzer fell off-the-mark.  This unexpected track was well worth the trip, very entertaining affair, hard fought by both teams, well coached, while both squads are ranked in the 3A format.  I was impressed with Washington’s freshmen corps which leads me to believe the 2019 class in Illinois will be a fun group to cover the next few years.

Farragut 55 – Marshall 54
(Wednesday, January 27th)
Senior night capped off some emotions for the host admirals as they managed to pull-out a one point victory.  After intermission Farragut did not have the same kind of intensity of passion they displayed at the onset of the contest, when they sustained leads of 14-6 / 19-9 before Marshall sliced the deficit to 26-22 before half.  This was a scrappy affair, once viewed as one of the city’s biggest rivalries, but now a days you can barely fill-up a parking lot, let alone a gymnasium.  Marshall had fan support of about 40-50 and made sure to have their voices & chants heard.  Marshall had a shot go in & out as time prevailed.  Leading scores in this game was Farragut’s Kawanse Wilkins finished with 20.  While Dulan Scott had an off night with 10 pts.  LaSalle University and U.M.K.C. was in the stands to see Scott.  Marshall received 15 pts. from senior guard Tyrese Willford and 11 points from Johnsal Harris a freshman guard.

South Suburban 95 – Kishwaukee 92
(Monday January 25th)
Former Hillcrest standout Javon Mooring was too much down the stretch for the host Kishwaukee Kougars.  In South Suburban’s come from behind victory Mooring on the brink of an All-American type season capped-off his night with a cool 32 points on 10-16 shooting from the field, including three huge three’s when his Bull-Dog squad was rallying from ten points down (59-49) with under 14:00 minutes left in the ball game.  South Suburban came into the highly contested road game ranked among the junior colleges finest.  Kishwaukee gave a good fight after starting slow in front of a packed house.  South Suburban jumped out on the Kougars to a 19-11 lead, but the host team fought back and took control and maintained a 41-38 lead at intermission behind a team oriented attack.  The second half opened with Kishwaukee executing their game plan at both ends, but things quickly came apart for the Kougars after a 10 point cushion at the 15 minute mark.  The Bull-Dog’s Jalen Myers nailed two timely treys and Oak-Park’s Eric Locke scored eight of his thirteen points during the run.  Anthony Harris made shots all night (7-13) completed the evening with 20.  Kishwaukee is a well-coached squad that lacks some size and bulk on the interior, but compensates with a system that features long possessions, deep into the shot club, ball movement and timely back-door cutting is a part of their system.  And the outside marksmanship of freshman Austin Patterson (14) (Morris) is a key part of their system.  Malcontent point-guard Bryson Butler spearheads the offense, he tallied 9 points & 11 assists, Armon Williams (Oak-Forest) led the Kougars with 21 markers.  Michigan City Catholic alums Jovonte Peals (18) and Malcolm Reed 11 and Ryan Reeder 9 concluded the scoring.  The difference in this game was all about Javon Mooring and his ability to make big shots & timely free-throws, this is exactly what game changing scorers should provide.  University Minnesota and Illinois Chicago were in attendance.  Mooring followed-up this game with 38 points versus Olive Harvey on Thursday night with University Wisconsin and U.M.K.C. in the house.

Top Unsigned Seniors

Top Unsigned Seniors
(With Capability of Academically Qualifying)
“The twelve guys we view as the best prospects still available.”

1.   Nick Rakocevic 6-9       F      MM+-MM St. Joseph – “Bad body language has surfaced with him as of late.  It’s a telling sign, he’s still fighting old demons.  Wisconsin was in to see him last weekend.  Most observers don’t view him as a high major recruit.”
2.   Lorenzo Edwards         6-7    F      MM+-MM Lake Forest – Questions continue to linger from high majors.  Is he tough enough or does he love the game?  When the lights have come on he’s been a gamer ready for war.  Butler University likes him.  Wisconsin may take a swing.  DePaul could prevail late!”
3.   Nick Robinson  6-5       WF     MM     Chicago Kenwood – “”This swingman had a sparkling 25 point barrage against conference foe Curie the other night.  After de-committing from Indiana State, his recruiting is starting to take some twists & turns.  He could be a sure fire contributor in the Valley or A10.”
4.   Mike Smith 5-8 PG        MM     Fenwick – “The lil fella finished off Simeon with a 38 point effort while knocking-off a public league titan recently.  Ivy Leagues have continued pursuit, now we hear Vanderbilt will come in soon.  That might be stretching things a tad!”
5.   George Willborn II      6-3    WG     MM     DeLaSalle – “Got things cooking earlier in the week with a 32 point outburst against Francis Parker and then had a modest performance with 13 markers & 8 boards versus DePaul Prep.  Last week he returned from missing a couple of games with a dislocated finger.  We were ecstatic to hear Friday night James Madison was in the house to take notice, Furman, Tennessee State and San Diego are showing interest.”
6.   Zion Morgan    6-1       G      MM     Chicago Kenwood – “Some observers feel he’s pressing right now.  Didn’t sign with Valpo early after committing, which seems to be the ultimate fit for his abilities on and off the court.  A subpar performance against Curie would not discourage pursuers.  U.M.K.C. was in to see him last week.”
7.   Darias Oliver  6-5       WF     MM     Chicago Leo – “U.M.K.C. was in last week to see him, they liked him an awful lot.  Tim Floyd and Texas El Paso still has a pulse on his nightly outings.  Oliver, could be a terrific talent in the right system.  He can score & he’s a sneaky athlete, but needs to be plugged-in all the time.”
8.   Xavier Bishop  5-8       PG     MM     Springfield Lanphier – “The lil fella recorded 40 Friday night versus Decatur Eisenhower.  Broke the city tournament scoring record for three games, tallying 101 points last weekend where he went for 50 versus Sacred Heart Griffin.  U.M.K.C. just offered again a few days ago.”
9.   Dulan Scott    6-2       G      MM-LM+ Chicago Farragut – “A strong & rugged combo, capable of punishing defenders.  Sneaky athlete, has to learn how to play without the ball.  He is a solid ball-handler who can venture left or right in attack mode and he can be an ace defender.  Good student, best days await.”
10. Kevin Kreiger  6-6       F      MM-LM+ Plainfield North – “A fine talent, but whispers continue to surface about his vanishing acts during stretches of games.  Kreiger, a superb athlete gives you blemishes at how gifted he is at times.  Mac, Horizon and OVC conferences have stayed in tune with his progress.”
11. Deshaun Jackson         6-3    G      MM-LM+ Peoria High – “Slithery combo continues to make a case for himself as one of the best kept secrets in the class.  Versatile performer, knows how to play.  Deshaun has captured audiences in most venues he’s played in this season.  Being named All-Tourney at Pekin and most notable MLK Classic; he’s skilled & can do a little of everything.  He has some academic work to complete and possibly will qualify.  Western Illinois, SIU-E have dabbled around with interest.”

12. Tajuan Agee    6-6       F      MM-LM+ Chicago Hyde Park – “It’s streaming that he has a wealth of ability, he can score inside or outside and he can handle well enough to get him to sweet spots on the floor.  Lacks killer instinct at times.  Good student, prime candidate for a red-shirt!  Texas El Paso & Old Dominican have shown interest.”