By Joe Henricksen
The City/Suburban Hoops Report can’t remember a single event that has ever had more talent under one roof in the state of Illinois than this past week’s Chicago Summer Classic at Joy of the Game in Deerfield. With college coaches turning out in droves and the talent stretching from the Class of 2009 all the way down to the Class of 2013, with the likes of heralded 8th graders-to-be Thomas Hamilton, Jr. and Alex Foster, there was an endless number of college prospects for all levels. Kudos to event organizers Brian Stinnette and Joy of the Game staff Mike Weinstein, David Adelman and Brian Davis. They compiled an attractive list of teams and players and put together a top-notch event.
While the Hoops Report highlighted the sterling performances turned in by senior Matt Vogrich of Lake Forest, junior Ben Brust of Mundelein and junior Jordan Threloff of DeKalb in a previous blog entry, there was so much more to break down. Here is a brief rundown.
While DeLaSalle’s Mike Shaw earned the early accolades as the top player in what is a loaded Class of 2011, both Tracy Abrams of Mt. Carmel and Sam Thompson of Whitney Young are also in the discussion. There are many who wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson ended up as the top prospect in this class. And I agree. Right now he’s just not as physically mature or as advanced. But he arguably has more potential and upside than anyone else in the sophomore class.
The Hoops Report has often compared Thompson to a young Stacey Augmon, due to his 6-6, long and wiry build. In the end, though, Thompson will likely be a much bigger offensive weapon than Augmon ever was. He just does things that make you go “wow!” — and did so at the Chicago Summer Classic. You can just see his talent scratching the surface of his incredible upside, including being more assertive and aggressive in taking the ball to the basket. Although still very young — and likely will not even play varsity basketball this coming season (time will tell at Whitney Young) — Thompson is just one of those no-brainer, high-major talents.
More talent in 2011….
Prior to the Chicago Summer Classic, the Hoops Report had only had an opportunity to watch Bloomington Central Catholic’s Hayden Hoerdemann a couple of times. After getting another glimpse of the 6-1 sophomore-to-be, you can’t help but love watching this kid play. In an intense battle against Donivine Stewart and Peoria Carver, Hoerdemann was outstanding. He’s an absolute gamer who knows how to play — and plays hard! He has a terrific perimeter shot, solid handle and isn’t afraid. As I watched him play with Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard, I noted “Hayden could be a Sean Harrington with a little more giddy-up.” Right now he projects to be a pretty darn good mid-major prospect at best, but he’s still awfully young.
Peoria loading up….
Talent often goes in cycles. And this has been very true in the Peoria area. But the talent is certainly on the rise, with the arrival last year of guard Donivine Stewart and 6-5 Andrew Jordan, a pair of Class of 2011 standouts. In 2012 another pair should make a big impact in Peoria — Antonio “Bobo” Drummond and Romeo Johnson. Drummond, a 5-10 point guard, is above his years in terms of how to play the game. He has a tremendous handle and knows how to penetrate and create. He’s already more than a capable shooter and will be a big addition to Peoria Central next winter. The 6-4 Johnson, who will be headed to Peoria Manual, already has size, length and big-time athleticism for his age. Both were very impressive and have a world of potential.
Raising their stock….
There were others besides the big names that play for the big-named AAU programs that saw their stock rise with their play at the Chicago Summer Classic. Here is a list of those players that turned in top-notch performances and elevated their status.
* James Sikam, 6-7, Carbondale …. Wow, the Hoops Report saw this unbelievable body, finishing with dunk after dunk after dunk. Sikam, a transfer from Atlanta after moving here from Cameroon, was very impressive. Again, what a body, especially for being just a junior. He’s still raw but he is without question one of the better prospects in the Class of 2010.
* Alex Brown, 6-7, Herrin …. Sikam wasn’t the only “who is that?” player. Brown is long, lanky and a bit more skilled than Sikam. He is yet another talented prospect in the Class of 2010.
* Colin Nickerson, 6-3, Waukegan …. The Team NLP combo guard actually benefitted from Brandon Paul’s absence. He’s got size and length at 6-3 to be a low-Division I combo guard. He’s also a capable perimeter shooter. But his lack of strength is cause for concern.
* Mike Black, 5-11, Fenwick …. He’s had a solid spring and summer and it continued in this event. Black, at times, was very impressive running the point for the Windy City Spartans. Right now Black is a dynamite Division II prospect that could find his way to a low-Division I school with an improved and more consistent perimeter shot.
* Daron Guyton, 6-4, Proviso East …. The biggest jump in the next Hoops Report’s Class of 2009 rankings will come from Guyton, a transfer from Leyden who opened eyes with his combination of shooting, athleticism and length. Would like to see him do a little more off the dribble, but his shooting stroke and high release point are pretty textbook.
* Kendrick Morse, 5-7, Rich South …. The Illinois Ice point guard continues to make believers out of him despite his tiny size. He’s an absolute jet with a tight handle. He’s getting better and better with his shot and thrives in an up-tempo setting.
* Danhi Wilson, 6-3, Maine East …. Although still needing to identify a true position, Wilson is long and active, gets after it in a lot of different areas (defensively, on the boards, etc.). The lefty is also showing a better stroke from the three-point line.
Can’t help but look ahead….
Thomas Hamilton, Jr., Alex Foster and Jabari Parker are already much-talked about junior high players. But North Chicago’s Aaron Simpson can be added to that mix as well. He’s little but a little dynamo for such a young player as he played up an age level.