Sunday, July 12, 2020


“We used to have an abundance of talented players; we once were a hot-bed.”

Maurice Cheeks

Cazzie Russell

Mark Aguirre

Isaiah Thomas

Derrick Rose

Terry Cummings

Quentin Richardson

Hersey Hawkins

Tim Hardaway

George Wilson


• Javonte Taylor 6-7 WF 1 Morgan Park
“Slender lad is arguably the No.1 player in the Class. Has to get stronger. He may be on the move. His school hasn’t hired a new coach yet.”

• Dalen Davis 5-11 PG 2 Whitney Young
“Has that old Chicago throwback hooper mentality.”

• Jeremy Fears Jr. 6-0 PG 3 Joliet West
“Plays with a wealth of flair & confidence. Has those leadership qualities.”

• Macaleb Rich 6-6 WF 4 East St. Louis
“Explosive wing with superb athleticism, displayed the ability to shoot the ball on the perimeter some. Has a following of Illinois, Ohio State, Purdue, and certainly University of Missouri.”

• Bryce Coleman 6-7 F 5 St. Joseph
“Awfully promising prospect, big fella handles himself well on the inside and displays a ton of confidence & poise on the perimeter at times. While his ball-handling continues to show signs of improvement, he can develop into a budding standout.

• Donaven Younger 6-7 WF 7 Bolingbrook
“Rangy prospect with good length, spends most of his time on the perimeter. We need to see some maturity in his play/game.”

• Cameron Willford 5-10 PG 8 Lincoln Park
“Has star quality in his persona, can be a special lead guard type. Mo Cheeks clone (Class of 1974 Dusable).”

• Damarion Wyatt 5-11 G 9 North Lawndale
“Highly regarded hooper on the Chicago West Side, potential to be a high-level scorer. We are hoping for a modern-day Eddie Hughes (1978 Austin High, Colorado State, & Utah Jazz player).”


“A crop that was building some steam before play was halted. We will identify our prized possessions in this group. None has pledged to any Universities just yet. We really like several of these player’s potential.”


• A.J. Casey 6-8 HM WF 1 Tinley Park
“Consensus Top 20 national recruit will continue to operate under scrutiny. A dubious fact when you are the No.1 target, you have a bullseye draped all over you. It’s like you’re under surveillance.”

• Branden Huff 6-8 HM F 3 Glenbard West
“Lanky prospect was enjoying a banner year until an injury shelved his season early in the year. This kid is a jewel. Northwestern has positioned itself remotely. Some are hoping for a left-handed version of Jon Scheyer’s (2006) career at GBN.”

• Kam Craft 6-6 HM WG 4 Buffalo Grove
“Watched him in February spray Max Christie for 47 markers. He is already amassed over 1,000 career points. Impressed at SBWK Camp in McCook recently. Could be a star in the right setting. We are high on this kid.”

• Jaden Schutt 6-5 HM WG 5 Yorkville Christianuperb shooter reminds me of former Lawrenceville sniper Jay Shidler (1976). Has offers from Michigan State, Illinois, Nebraska, Marquette, Northwestern, Xavier, Iowa, & Creighton. Still needs to learn how to play hard all the time.”

• Robby Avila 6-8 MM+ F/C 6 Oak Forest
“Clever operator, terrific at keeping defenders off-balance. Kind of fits the clone of John Shurna (Glenbard West) who had a nice career at Northwestern. We hope Robby finds the right setting for his special abilities.”

• Danny Wolf 6-10 MM+ F 10 Lake Forest
“Still putting it all together. Had not seen much of this young prospect, but my inside sources have shared the real skimmy. He has an intriguing skill set which is in part for most inspiring bigs today who lust to play on the wing. He has all the necessary tools that would attract high-major schools, he displays the abilities to shoot the three while handling the rock effectively. A player to watch.”

• Nick Martinelli 6-7 MM+ F 11 Glenbrook South
“Moving-up the charts in our rankings. He is battle-tested, and we saw that throughout the season, displaying a wealth of maturity & confidence. He had a strong showing at the SBWK Camp where he was viewed as the most consistent player there. He can score in a variety of ways and he is more athletic than you would assume.”

“These prospects have a golden opportunity to make the next jump in their development, with continued improvement, we will attempt to project where they can land in terms of level/growth.”

• Cooper Noard 6-2 PG MM 20 Glenbrook South
“We will slide him down a bit and not just based on his performance at the SBWK Camp recently. We feel Cooper is a fine prospect on the right track with his development. He is a system type, reliable shooter & distributor, and a sure-handed ball-handler. We viewed him enough late in the season, including a heart wrenching loss to Evanston, to form my own observation about his game and potential.”

• Lane McVicar 6-3 WG MM 14 Dekalb
“Spent last season at South Elgin, a terrific young talent, excellent shooter who gets to the rack effectively with either hand. We see no reason why he will not develop into a legit Div.I mid-major recruit. He is comparable some to Bradley’s head coach Brian Wardle (1997 Class) Hinsdale Central standout.”

• Jamil Wilson 6-8 PF MM 27 De La Salle
“Intriguing big-man still in the developing stages, has a wealth of potential. Excels at the moment as a rebounder & shot blocker.”

• Timaris Brown 6-4 F MM 24 St. Patrickas started to receive some pub. He is a versatile performer who went for 12 points & 7 rebounds per outing last season. He also nailed over 40 three-pointers, which is impressive for second year player. Performed well at the SBWK Camp.”

• Xavier Lewis 6-6 WF MM+ 12 T.F. South
“Vastly improved prospect, in fact he’s a rapidly rising talent. We have witnessed his potential for some time now. First saw him as an incoming freshman. He is a bouncy athlete who plays above the rim and is recognized as a shot swatter on the defensive end.”

• Malik Jenkins 6-5 WF MM 22 Hyde Park Academy
“Southpaw is a smooth jump shooter, reminds of players we used to produce in the 70s and 80s. He is still a very much untapped talent with the potential to develop into a reliable shooter & scorer. Looking for a big year from him.”

• D.J. Bates 6-1 G MM 25 De La Salle
“Slithery guard, one of the most un-heralded back-court players in the class. Innovative scorer who excels in the open floor, capable of getting to the rim with either hand. We anticipate his game taking another notch up.”

• Damari Wheeler-Thomas 6-0 G MM 15 Elgin-Larkin
“Has the ability to score at a high-clip, he’s a willing passer & defender. Good lookin’ prospect starting to come into his own where he is gaining some notoriety in hoop circles. Played well at the SBWK workouts.”

• Keynan Davis 6-4 G MM+-MM 13 Hamphire
“Likely on the move to a city school. This kid is so talented, stay tuned on his whereabouts.”




• John Poulakidas 6-5 WG HM 5 Neuqua Valley
“Lefty is a rising star. Has already exhibited the ability to score at a high clip, particularly in big game settings. Now selecting the right situation to help him continue his climb as a player will be essential.”

• Troy D’Amico 6-7 F MM+ 7 Niles Notre Dame
“Big gamer hopefully will pursue a situation that fits his overall package & unique skill set. He is a marvelous passer, has a long wingspan that gives him the ability to be an efficient rebounder. Shot-maker, sleeper type recruit. SIU in real deep.”

• Grant Newell 6-8 F MM+ 8 Whitney Young
“As long as there are no un-foreseen capers surrounding his team that would taper with his growth, he’s on the brink of something special at the next level.”

• Gary Clay 6-3 G MM 35 Hyde Park Academy
“This rapidly rising guard will arrive in the Public League with a game already earmarked for high octane pace & intensity. Look for his value to soar. He is an excellent student.”

• Phillip Holmes Jr. 6-7 PF LM+LM 46 Simeon
“His best hoops await, this base-line dandy has started to physically resemble a stud in the makings ready to burst on the scene as a valued recruit. Unfortunately, he likely will play in the shadows of some other notable teammates. Mindful observers probably would not witness the rise in his game until he arrives at the next level. Has an offer from Chicago State.”

• Julio Montes 5-9 PG LM+LM 39 Lincoln Park
“The pandemic crisis really dismantled the coverage he would have attracted during the new evaluation period which would have been slated for June. His school season was ravaged in lieu of some un-timely rule violations which cut his season short in January. This kid is a cool customer under pressure, a big shot-maker and has those winning intangibles that most Programs gravitate towards. Julio has probably lost seven or eight games in his 3-year varsity career. He was slated to suit-up with the high-powered Mac Irvin Fire Program this spring/summer. Patriot, Metro Atlantic, Northeast, & American East Conferences would be clever to pursue this kid.”

• Jakobi Heady 6-6 G/F MM+ 15 Hillcrest
“Swingman jump-shooter resembles some of the former hoopers we used to produce such as former Westinghouse & University Illinois standout, Eddie Johnson (1977 Grad). Heady just doesn’t possess Johnson’s physicality just yet but look for a breakout season from him.”


We missed some crucial late season observation/evaluations due to the pandemic; by now we would have had a really good pulse as well as some clarity on most of the players in the Class.

After losing Max Christie and Bryce Hopkins, this is what we now have under wraps on our board in terms of top notch/high caliber/or how about potential high-major recruits pegged for success at the next level. Let us be mindful… I’ve been around Chicago hoops scene for 48 years since the early 70’s, following closely and have seen our area at its highest peak, so we aren’t going to carve out a lot of fluff. We are going to give you straight ques’ & reads.


“We are starting to see a new era of head coaches materialize. We envision these guys faring well.”

• Mike Smith Chicago Perspective
“Entering his first varsity job. He will revive that Program which is the old Calumet (my alma mater). Smith is a former Illinois Warrior, so expectations are high for him.”

• Byron Burton Chicago St. Laurence
“Formerly at Mather for 2 years. Will have his hands full early on in the Catholic League until he builds his brand to stand on.”

• Phil Gary Oak Park
“1-year at Walter Payton, left to take over at his alma mater where he will have the opportunity to reset his whole Program. And certainly, refurbish the culture.”

• Jamere Dismukes Hyde Park Academy
“Impressed in his 1-year at Rich East. He is a rising star in the industry. A tireless worker with an eye-popping resume. Will be a future College coach; look for him to make his mark in the Chicago Public League Red South.”

• Antoine “A.J.” Jennings Lincoln Park
“Former Morgan Park Assistant will take over the top Program on the North Side. The LP Alum has much invested, he should be able to get off the ground running quickly with his Program. Former Illinois Warrior Alum.”


We still have some very talented prospects on the board in this Class.


• Chris Hodges 6-8 PF 3 Schaumburg / University Wisconsin

• Connor Enright 6-2 PG 12 Mundelein / Drake University

• Ahmad Bynum 6-2 G 4 Simeon / DePaul University

• Bryce Hopkins 6-7 G/F 2 Fenwick / University Louisville

• Isaiah Barnes 6-7 WG 6 Simeon / University Michigan

• Max Christie 6-6 PG 1 Rolling Meadows / Michigan State Univ.

One of Chicago’s favorite son’s Will Bailey has moved on to the University of South Carolina, after spending four seasons at St. Louis U. working along side of Travis Ford. Will was recently recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in the Atlantic 10. The former Illinois Warrior Alum is a star on the rise, a proven winner which has been noted at each of his coaching stops. Head coach will be his next title.

Morgan Park’s assistant coach Antione “A.J.” Jennings was named the new Lincoln Park Head Coach, replacing the popular Pat Gordon who will always be viewed in many of our eyes as a classy high-character guy. Jennings, a favorite of ours and a former Illinois Warrior Alum, will inherit a Program with an abundance of talent up & down its roster. Lincoln Park is recognized as one of the Public League’s top 4 or 5 academic schools as well as a rising basketball Program in recent years. Gordon did a phenomenal job of building a solid foundation that created a winning culture. Jennings is fortunate to have the template in place to keep the Program in a sustaining mode. A.J. is a Lincoln Park grad/alum so he has a lot invested. Great hire…


It seems the pandemic we are faced with today has many in our nation scrambling of sorts and operating under duress. There is no question, it is taken a daunting toll on decisions most deal with daily and athletes are not exempt. Our state’s much sought-after prospect, Max Christie, gave a verbal to Michigan State on Tuesday. The six-foot six Rolling Meadows star is regarded as the 12th ranked prospect in the country and the No.1 player in Illinois. Christie indicated that Covid-19 played a huge impact on his early decision. Reportedly he took his official visit to Michigan State early March, just two weeks before the Coronavirus brought a screeching halt to the sports world. Christie and his silky-smooth game will join forces with two other highly acclaimed prospects who also recently gave a verbal to the Spartan Program. The consensus No.1 player in the country 6-8 multi-talented, Emoni Bates and another standout diaper-dandy recruit, Pierre Brooks rounds up an impressive trio. Kudos to coach Tom Izzo and his staff. The Rolling Meadows star was the state’s highest ranked recruit to pledge to Michigan State since Proviso East’s Shannon Brown in the early 2000s. Christie averaged 25 points & 11 rebounds a game last season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


We are hopeful with this group.

• Javonte Taylor 6-7 WF 1 Morgan Park“Slender lad is arguably the No.1 player in the Class. Has to get stronger. He maybe on the move.”

• Dalen Davis 5-11 PG 2 Whitney Young“Has that old Chicago throwback hooper mentality.”

• Jeremy Fears Jr. 5-10 PG 3 Joliet West“Plays with a wealth of flair & confidence. Has leadership ability.”

• Macaleb Rich 6-5 WF 4 East St. Louis“Explosive wing with superb athleticism, displayed the ability to shoot the ball on the perimeter some.”

• Asa Thomas 6-4 G 5 Lake Forest“Unassuming lookn’ baller, a two-sport standout.”

• Marcus Pigram 6-1 G 6 Whitney Young“A wiry performer who values education. Enjoyed a terrific year on the soph team.”

• Donaven Younger 6-7 WF 7 Bolingbrook“Rangy prospect with good length, spends most of his time on the perimeter.”

• Cameron Willford 5-10 PG 8 Lincoln Park“We were extremely impressed with his poise and the ability to lead/manage.”

• Damarion Wyatt 5-11 G 9 North Lawndale“Highly regarded hooper on the Chicago West Side, potential to be a high scorer.”

• Tevonta Jackson 6-1 PG 10 Springfield Lanphier“Speedster with the ability to see the floor extremely well.”

• Darrin “Dai Dia Ames 6-0 G 11 Morgan Park“Lefty with a big heart can make big shots. Likely on the move. Rumored to be headed to De La Salle.”

• Khalil Ross 6-5 F 12 Lincoln Way East“Sleek southpaw with a hooper’s mentality; slasher/good athlete with the ability to rebound & block shots.”

• Jackson Kotecki 6-6 F 13 St. Ignatius“Promising prospect with a very good skill-set & has a solid feel for the game.”

• Mekhi Cooper 5-9 G 14 Bolingbrook“Rotated between the sophomore and varsity team most of the season. Served as a spark in several games down the stretch. This kid shoots the long ball with accuracy.”

• Ethan Kizer 6-5 F 15 Metamora“Highly touted in Central Illinois. Ethan has shown an array of all-around offensive ability, he just needs to get stronger.”


A Class we are still building, certainly in the developmental stages. We do have several talented prospects.


• A.J. Casey 6-8 HM WF 1 Tinley Park“A consensus Top 20 national prospect.”

• Kyle Thomas 6-9 ---- C 2 St. Joseph“Rising big man with traditional back to the basket skills. Potential ceiling resembles a high-major recruit.”

• Branden Huff 6-8 ---- F 3 Glenbard West“This southpaw can play. Was injured in early February.”

• Kam Craft 6-5 ---- WG 4 Buffalo Grove“An impressive shooter, he’s already amassed over 1,000 career points.”

• Jaden Schutt 6-4 ---- WG 5 Yorkville Christian“Averaged 24 points per outing, he’s already set a state record with 17 three-pointers in one game. Michigan State and Nebraska offered recently.”

• Robby Avila 6-8 ---- F/C 6 Oak Forest“Unique skill-set, pretty clever kid, not going to woo you with athleticism.”

• Mikell Jones 6-4 ---- G 7 Chicago Farragut“Big time potential, has the physical frame and attributes to be a top-notch offensive player.”

• Jaylen Drane 6-1 ---- PG 8 Chicago Simeon“Has poise & leadership ability. At times he gives you a glimpse of his upside.”

• Trey Pettigrew 6-2 ---- PG 9 Fenwick/Bolingbrook“Has some ability still a way to go with his maturity.”

• Chikere Nwosu 6-3 ---- G/F 10 Lincoln Park“A stud has potential to be a two-way terror. His status up in the air at LP.”

• Mikqwon Jones 6-3 ---- G/F 11 Chicago Farragut“A tough competitor with a rising game, going to be good as he matures.”

• Cooper Noard 6-2 ---- PG 12 Glenbrook South“A sleeper prospect. He as a good understanding on how to run a team.”

• Keynan Davis 6-4 ---- G 13 Hampshire“Talented good lookn’ prospect likely on the move to either Whitney Young or St. Pats.”

• Bobby Durkin 6-4 ---- G/F 14 Hinsdale South“Saw him go for 15 points in a State Sectional Final at Kenwood. Showed poise.”

• Martel Webb 6-7 ---- F 15 Westinghouse“Big body performer who is mobile and can get buckets inside or out.”

• R J Walker 6-2 ---- G 16 Decatur-Eisenhower“Super quick plays with a wealth of confidence. Starting to come into his own.”

• Nick Martinelli 6-8 ---- F 17 Glenbrook South“Has held his own more than enough in several big games.”

• Marcelius Cohen 6-9 ---- PF 18 De La Salle“Big athletic bruiser landed an offer from Detroit last month. Stock climbing.”

• Lane McVicar 6-3 ---- WG 19 South Elgin“A good lookin’ prospect smooth with long arms, one of the top young players in the Northwest Suburbs.”

• Chris Hammonds Jr. 6-3 ---- WG 20 Lincoln Park“We’re really excited about this jump shooter’s upside. Averaged over 20 on the sophomore team.”



• Jakobi Heady 6-6 MM+MM WF 15 Hillcrest“Swingman clone splendid outside shooter and a good athlete.”

• Jaiden Lee 6-5 MM WG 19 Joliet West“Recognized one of the top shooters in the class, his stock is rising.”

• Ola Ajiboye 6-8 MM WF 22 Chicago Von Stueben“High academic kid has a good all-around skill set. Northwestern, St. Louis are major players in his recruitment.”

• Gary Clay 6-3 MM G 35 Hyde Park Academy“Very good student, 4.0 GPA. Silk-smooth performer, rapidly emerging prospect.”

• Phillip Holmes 6-7 LM+ PF 46 Simeon“A kid on the rise, his best basketball awaits. Potential diamond in the rough.”


The pandemic brought a halt to many of these youngsters recruiting.


• Max Christie 6-5 HM PG 1 Rolling Meadows “Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Northwestern are the heavy players in his recruitment.”

• Bruce Hopkins 6-6 HM G/F 2 Fenwick“Louisville commit averaged nearly 25 an outing, should be a star on the next level.”

• Chris Hodges 6-8 HM PF 3 Schaumburg“Wisconsin recruit fits the Badger profile with his work ethic and ability to compete at a high level. He’s bringing a wealth of athleticism to that backline.”

• Ahmad Bynum 6-2 HM G 4 Chicago Simeon“DePaul recruit brings much needed outside shooting.”

• John Poulakidas 6-5 HM WG 5 Neuqua Valley“Reliable outside marksmen can drain jumpers in a flurry. Notre Dame, Stanford, Rutgers, Northwestern all in the hunt.”

• Isaiah Barnes 6-7 HM WG 6 Simeon“Should be an Alan Houston clone. He is smooth, looking for some national respect. Recently gave Michigan a verbal.”

• Troy D’Amico 6-7 MM+ F 7 Niles Notre Dame“Possesses a unique skill set, averaged 15.6 per game, an uncanny passer has the ability to find an open man. Southern Illinois, Valparaiso, Loyola Chicago, Virginia Tech, and Utah State has been targeting him closely.”

• Louis Lesmond 6-5 MM+ WG 8 Niles Notre Dame“Has a sleet game with deceptive athleticism, has a lot on the line during open period.”

• Grant Newell 6-7 MM+ F 9 Whitney Young“Very versatile with a huge upside. His future is on the perimeter where he can exhibit his athleticism. His recruitment should line up with Big East, A10, Missouri Valley, Pac 12.”

• Tevin Smith 6-5 MM+ G 10 Danville“A scorer plagued by the injury bug. DePaul, Oregon, and the entire Missouri Valley.”



• Chris Hodges 6-8 PF 3 Schaumburg / University Wisconsin

• Connor Enright 6-2 PG 12 Mundelein / Drake University

• Ahmad Bynum 6-2 G 4 Simeon / DePaul University

• Bryce Hopkins 6-7 G/F 2 Fenwick / University Louisville

• Isaiah Barnes 6-7 WG 6 Oak Park/Simeon / University Michigan

Several of my favorite young guys have a ‘new residence’ on their coaching resume. Hyde Park named Jamere Dismukes as its new head coach. He comes to Jackson Park area highly touted and brings a wealth of star quality. Dismukes will look to accelerate the Program pass the likes of Simeon, Bogan, Curie, Morgan Park, and Corliss who have been perennial powers in the Red South Conference for the last several years. Jamere was a first-year coach at Rich East last season where he won 15 games.

Phil Gary Jr. will take over the Oak Park Program after spending last season as Walter Payton’s head coach. Remember he replaced Quinn Peterson last summer who went on to the University of Missouri. Matt Maloney stepped down in May leaving an open vacancy at the West Suburban school. Gary, an Oak Park High Alum, will have his hands full starting from scratch with the departures of two highly regarded 2021 prospects. Isaiah Barnes will look to build on his rep nationally at Simeon sharing some of the limelight with “Black Cat” Bynum and junior guard Jaylen Drane. Now 6-3 guard Josh Smith ranked 22 in the Class at the Spot-Liter will take his rising game to Culver City, California. This has to be heart breaking for many of us in our area to constantly witness the loss of several of our top players to California and Arizona schools in recent years. Phil Jr. will do a fantastic job rebuilding that Program.

Mike Smith will look to resurrect some steam into the Perspective High School Program, formerly known as Calumet. He is going to have to restart the building blocks without 6-4 senior Jeffrey Oakley who was the team’s best player and prospect. He averaged close to 17 per game last season. Oakley darted off to Corliss. Smith will be an instant splash at the newly plush south side school on 87th Street off the Dan Ryan expressway.

The 2020 Class had 31 players sign Division One scholarships. Those are woeful numbers for our big city area, in fact those are small market numbers. There has to be an immediate change in the next few classes.

University of Illinois took a project in 6-11 Brandon Lieb of Deerfield High School. This looks to be a good pick up where they will have two to three years to develop this big fella who runs the floor well, competes at a high level, and he is a rim protector. The flip side is that he would be patient and would not be looking to put his name in the draft for a while. The key is to keep him out of the transfer portal. Lieb was the 31st Division One recruit.


The Illinois Boys State Tournament will return to Champaign after its departure 23 years ago. Peoria was an excellent landing spot in 1996, particularly amid Peoria Manual’s 4-year strong-hold on the state’s high school hoops crown. The destination choice at that time coincided with the area having a hot-bed of talented players coming through the ranks such as A.J. Guyton (Central), Mike Robinson (Richwoods), Willie Coleman (Manual), Serg McClain (Manual), Marcus Griffin (Manual), Nick Knapp (Woodruff), J.R. Koch (Morton), Matt Moran (Pekin), Jerrence Howard (Central), Ivan Watson (Manual), Mark Vershaw (East Peoria), Frank Williams (Manual), and Jason Jenkins (East Peoria). Not to mention some of the state’s highly regarded coaches who were recognized for their abilities on the sidelines as well as turning over untapped talent. The Tournament will be played in the newly renovated State Farm Center. For many of us long time observers/followers, the decision comes as bittersweet. Peoria had a heck of a run for the first ten years or so, offering a great venue with large enthusiastic crowds and pumping some new energy into the Tournament atmosphere.

Hopefully, a change of scenery will spark some much-needed interest and participation at the State Tournament. We certainly cannot revisit any of those price gouging days from local hotels in the Champaign area in which we clearly witnessed back then.