Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Illinois Spot-Lite’s Annual Spring Jamboree jumped-off on Saturday, March 23rd up in Plainfield. The Event in recent years was a two-day gathering, but due to facility restraints, we opted to condense it into a one-day venue, oppose to setting up shop on Sunday at some other site. Plainfield Central High has become a regular hub for local grass-roots hoops, its opportunity to evaluate talent on hand from a close-up viewing, lined with the luxury of utilizing five courts. The event was good, but noticeably chaotic, this tends to be the framed culture anyway (LOL). Majority of the games ran on time through-out the day, which started play at 10:30am and the final scheduled game ended on all courts by 9:35pm. In which leads me into the officiating piece- it’s a little to be desired this year across the board. That’s an area in our sport that needs a make-over or collection of up & comers. This particular day, the event host (myself) had to be aligned in a surgical matter; Club season has become increasingly challenging the last several Spring/Summers. Hopefully players, coaches, and parents can have fun and enjoy the process for just what it is.

There was some nice players on-hand, and several Programs looked to be in position to make an early Spring splash. We will provide a short observation on what we captured during the event. The Y&R contingent of Stan, J Brim, Aubrey, Jeremy, & D Rob participated with 5 groups, this has been their customary route along with our RWA crew the last 4-5 years. We certainly enjoyed as well as appreciated their support through the years in making the Jamboree a regular stomping ground for early competitive play. Y&R -Stan & Aubrey had strong performances from 17-U participants, Devon Davis (Westinghouse), Christian Shumate 6-3 (Plainfield East), Alex Wood (Normal High), R.J. Ogom (H.F.), Jabari Chiphe (Walter Payton), Josh Holmes (DeLa Salle), Keshawn Williams (Bloom), and Donte Maddox (Bloom). Y&R’s Jay Brim strolled in with a nice mix of talent on his 16-U roster, Jalen Butler (Niles North) looked impressive, he’s since vanished, rumors have him now linked to Team Rose. Y&R’s acquisition of Neuqua’s sharp shooter John Poulakidas likely sparked Butler’s departure. Others who flashed stand-out performances were Kimarhri Wilson (Carmel), Julius Rollins (Hillcrest), Trent Howland (Joliet West), Jalen Houston (Hyde Park), Darrell Reed a six foot six forward from T.F. North was good, we didn’t know much about him prior to his arrival in Plainfield. RWA always has positive outlook on the direction of their Program as well as a vision they’ve outlined for their kids. A.J. and Walt have created a nice recruiting base out of the South Suburbs as well as other pockets of our area. Beau Frericks (Cary Grove), Temear Fraley (Bogan), Elijah Jones (Marian Catholic), Aaron Timms (Hinsdale South), Davis Walker (Home School) all played well for 17-U. Walt’s 16-U RWA – had notable outings from Ryan Sucha (Lincoln-Way East), Ola Ajibaye, Armon Timms (Hinsdale South), and high-scoring Darius Wilson (St. Laurence).

The storied Chicago Demons’ Program has hit the re-birth cylinder in recent years bursting with talented players at all levels. Most Programs in the area can’t bolster that claim. 17s rolled in with top notch outings from several players Jamario Minnifield (Corliss), Bryant Willingham (Marshall), Terrence Boykins of Hyde Park made two free throws to seal a victory. 16-U Demons had strong showings from Chris Turner (Collins), Jabari Sawyer (DePaul Prep). 15-U Demons player to watch for that group is Aaron Williams Jr. (Whitney Young) most knowledgeable basketball minds should recognize the name. Windy City Magic 17-U Group I will always shower with love, played their usual spirited team-oriented style. They didn’t have rising 2020 Top 40 prospect Atharva Atreya (Sandburg) due to spring vacation.

Kent Robinson’s T.Wolves’ organization is another rising entity, their 16-U showed-up with a talented nucleus of young 2021 prospects. Now, Dakhari Jaudon who didn’t even hoop this past season at Joliet West and he’s clearly a Top 25 prospect in 2020 Class. Jaudon scores in bunches through punctuating ways, we are anticipating a breakout kind of Spring, he’s 6-4 athlete with a wiry frame. T.Wolves 16-U standouts Jaiden Lee (Joliet West), Daine Hanson (Nazareth), Cameron Mallory (Lincoln-Way East), Andrew Johnson (Joliet West), J.R. Jones (Lincoln-Way East); St. Joseph finest Alum Darryl Cunningham arrived with his Gateway, IL 17-U squad and had a nice 3-0 showing. It’s always great to get my Southern Illinois guys in town. Collinsville stand-out guard Ra’Shad Taylor dropped thirty points on Windy City Magic. Taylor is a terrific player Top 10-13 in the 2020 Class. Heart of Illinois - Eric Watson’s 16-U crew made the track from Central Illinois. His team is comprised of players from Peoria, Springfield, Lincoln IL, & Jacksonville. They went 3-0, had stellar performances from Dionysius Hogan (Peoria High), Bennie Slater (Springfield High), the pair are consensus Top 12-15 rated in the 2021 Class. 6-6 K.J. Debrick, a promising stud from Springfield Lanphier, Shane Miller (Springfield High); Julian Williams All in Athletics 16-U made their first appearance to a Spot-Liter event. His group had a couple impressive games where Amar Augillard (Zion), Brian Matthews (DePaul Prep), Ty Johnson (DePaul Prep), Noah Reynolds all shined. Collectively the four them all rank in most services in the Top 30-35 (2021 Class).

D Brazil’s Illinois Jaguar Program has swiftly sent a sharp message to Club rivals that they are a Team/Program to be reckon with. Dale has a system in place where both of their teams 16-U/15-U execute quite well; they will be well oiled by May. Ultra-competitive/clutch performer Jamari McClendon (Hope Academy) is a sleeper type who thrives in crunch time, he’s a rapidly rising prospect in the 2020 Class, McClendon happens to be a young 16. Tolu Johnson (University Lab), Dane Brazil (Fenwick) all played well. The 15-U Jaguars had strong outings from Lucas Bascile (Lane Tech) and Jefferey Hyde (Bogan); Mad Max and Paul (formerly of Get Paid Enterprises) the tandem always armed with a ray of sunshine, a refreshing observation on their collection of talented youngsters. They’ve created the newly found Legends U Program which should do quite well. They received top-notch performances from Jamil Wilson (DeLa Salle), D.J.Bates (DeLa Salle), and Simeon 2022 guard Mysean Vaughn a 5-10 fiery cat has since bounced to another Club. The group played well in three out of their four games.

Antonio Wilks Old Gold Program brought out a 14-U & 16-U, both groups were competitive from the onset. Antonio, along with the Demon’s Program, have sort of become the narrative of elder statesmen amongst the local Club circuit. Old Gold had superb performances from Brandon Jones eight grader, Jalen Kittler and Eddie Nit, both 15-U.

Jason Kent’s Next Level Elite Program had strong showings from Travis Ducksworth, Ethan Aluyi, and Frank DeCarlo. Kevin Snider’s NBU squad had a couple of eye-popping moments from Zachary Gist and impressive out-side shooting from Pierce Ashworth, a 6-5 wing.


P-town was filled with excitement for their beloved Bradley Braves, are lone representative from Illinois taking part in the NCAA Tournament. All of us locals couldn’t be prouder of Hinsdale Central product and Braves Head Coach Brian Wardle. His journey as a player & now as a Head Coach has been whether special, particularly for many of us who have witnessed his rise through the ranks. It was awfully special watching the Bradley Braves astounding first half performance where they led 35-34 at intermission versus Michigan State in the opening round of the East Regional. This appeared to create a knee-jerk reaction from the Spartan faithfuls. Kudos to Coach Wardle and his Program, I won’t be startled by any of their future accomplishments.

Central Connecticut scored a coup when they landed a verbal from Chicago Orr’s swingman Greg Outlaw, the cagey six-foot five athlete masks as a dynamite defender as well as high-flying open court finisher. Kudos to CCU.

Belleville West star E.J. Liddle was named Illinois Mr. Basketball for the second consecutive season, he led his squad to another class 4A Title last month defending last season’s crown. Quietly Liddle has established some supremacy with his Metro East Cronies down in the Southern part of our State (near St. Louis, MO) racking up many prestigious honors in recent years. East St. Louis standout forward Terrence Hargrove finished runner-up for Mr. Basketball guiding his team this season to a 3A Title, and he will suit-up next season for St. Louis U.; Edwardsville’s Mark Smith was named Mr. Basketball in 2017, he’s now at Mizzou. Alton’s versatile 6-7 forward Donovan Clay grabbed a few votes as well this season, he’s awfully talented. Us folks up North with a few cues saw a potential shift in elite talent down in those parts 3 or 4 years ago. Now we are starting to see a re-birth in Peoria and Springfield with some fine youngsters in the 2021 & 2022 Classes. This changing of the guard certainly strengthens our State.

Former Niles/Notre Dame standout Matt Mooney will be our State’s lone representative during the Final Four. He’s a pivotal contributor for the lively Texas Tech squad. Mooney signed with Air Force out of High School had a short stint there before making his way to South Dakota. He was often recognized as un-heralded gem. We are elated for him and the Notre Dame Program.

It’s good vibes to hear one-time Chicago area phenom Amari Bailey back in town playing with the Mac Irvin Fire 16-U. This past season the 2022 prospect hooped out in Southern California, his return to the city would openly spark comparisons to Rolling Meadows standout-Max Christie. Bailey’s game can be daunting at times.

I can’t say many of us wasn’t surprised that Barry Hensen stepped down at Southern Illinois recently. Coach Hensen has always been a beautiful spirit, we wish him the very best in moving forward. Replacing Barry is Loyola Assistant Bryan Mullins who played and enjoyed fabulous career as Saluki. His brother Brendan peeled away from Illinois State swiftly. This gives the Mullin’s Brothers an opportunity to embark on something special together at SIU. What a dynamite first time Head Coach gig.

Former Simeon stand-out & Iowa State guard Talen Horton-Tucker has decided to begin his pro-journey sooner than later, opting to declare himself eligible for the 2019 Draft. Wishing THT the very best.

One-time highly touted prospect from Morgan Park Shon Robinson just committed to Ole Miss. The 6-9 forward is considered a top 100 national recruit, spent the last few years at Gilbert Eduprize Charter. We knew he could blossom into a fine cager.

Former Champaign Central stand-out Tim Finke will leave Grand Canyon after one season at the Phoenix area College, we can’t say this startled us.

Chicago heart-throb Charlie Moore is on the move again, departing Kansas after one season of court time. Prior to landing in Lawrence, KS, Moore nabbed all-freshman honors at University of California. Lil Charlie’s next destination could be close to home, possibly up on the north side. He has 2 years remaining.

Moline’s silky-smooth guard Deonte Billups has given a verbal to Indiana Fort Wayne who plays in the Summit League. This kid has a knack for making big shots, IFW grabbed a gem.

Terrence Shannon the six foot seven, south-paw who hooped this season at IMG in Florida appears to be heading to Texas Tech next season. The Lincoln Park Alum should be able to contribute some immediately.