Coach K, Tom Izzo, John Groce, Tom Crean and Bo Ryan weren’t watching them. They won’t be found in any national rankings. They aren’t deciding where to take their five official visits this fall.
Aside from maybe a tweet here or a mention there, these players are rarely mentioned outside their respective basketball conferences or geographical areas.
But none of that matters right now, because these are some talented basketball players who have turned at least one head (the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s) a time or two this offseason while playing with either their high school team or club team on the AAU circuit.
A few are emerging as their development has taken off with bigger roles and opportunities. Others have already done a whole lot of work in their high school career –– just without the statewide headlines or fanfare.
Here is a group of 15 seniors worth talking about after turning in some quality basketball over the past several months. Don’t sell them short.
▪ Donilo Ranger, Niles North
There always seems to be a breakout player at Niles North. Ranger is next in line. The 6-5 forward, who has been a varsity contributor since his freshman year, can go inside and outside. The stat-sheet stuffer finished the regular season strong and continued that rise with some consistent and productive play all summer.
▪Dedrick Shannon, Jr., Rich South
An exciting player who brings some flare with his passing and scoring combination as a lead guard. He’s made the move from Richards to Rich South, where he will be one of the top guards in the south suburbs.
▪ Nathan Webb, Bolingbrook
There are bigger, more establishednames on this list –– and even at the ’Brook, like Colorado State recruit Prentiss Nixon and 6-9 Julian Torres. And senior guard Brodric Thomas has emerged this summer. But the little-known Webb, a 6-3 shooter on the perimeter, put together a nice summer of his own and will be a weapon to watch for the Raiders.
▪ Jack Brody, Providence
A versatile and smooth player on the wing who can put it on the floor and stick a jumper with range, the 6-4 Brody was terrific while playing for a nondescript club team –– the Windy City Magic. High-level Division III and small college scholarship schools at the Division II and NAIA level are paying close attention.
▪ Connor Raridon, Neuqua Valley
Another solid small college prospect who was a key piece this spring and summer for the highly-successful Chicago Lockdown team on the AAU circuit. At 6-5 he does a little of this (mid-range game, stick a three-pointer) and that (rebounds, secondary ballhandler, passer) as an all-around threat on the floor.
▪ Ryan DiCanio, Bartlett
The Hoops Report is a sucker for shooters and scorers. DiCanio is a shooter and scorer, capable of putting the ball in the hole as a 6-2 guard with a good looking shooting stroke. DiCanio, who will be one of the top players in the Upstate Eight Conference this winter, will be a prime target of small college basketball programs this season.
▪ Robby Nardini, Vernon Hills
One of the top scorers around who very few people are aware of in the Chicago area. The 5-10 combo guard is wired to score. He put up over 20 a game last season as a junior, breaking the school’s single-season scoring record. He continued to play with that type of confidence and fearlessness this spring and summer with the Rising Stars.
▪ Chris Lester, Barrington
Intriguing and upside are the words used to describe Lester. The rise of standout junior Rapolas Ivanauskas was the talk around this program and the Mid-Suburban League this past spring and summer, but if the long, wiry and promising 6-6 Lester can gain consistency and continue to make strides with his productivity, the Broncos will be one to watch in 2014-2015.
▪Mike Mangan, Loyola Academy
With the vaunted guard trio of James Clarke, Kevin Kucera and Jack Morrissey all moving on, it’s Mangan’s turn now. Steady and tough at both ends of the floor, Mangan’s move from role player to one of the Ramblers’ go-to players has been pretty seamless.
▪ Malik Washington, Curie
With the perimeter talent in place with Devin Gage and Joshua Stamps, it will be Washington who will provide a little presence inside this season. Washington has showed a lot of productivity for the Condors this past spring and summer.
▪ Tyler Williams, Crete-Monee
Quietly, the 6-1 Williams is putting together a nice career in the south suburbs. After averaging over 11 points a game as sophomore, he had one heck of a junior year with very little fanfare, putting up some impressive offensive numbers (17 ppg) for a 15-win Warriors team. He continues to be a big three-point weapon and showcase offensive talents that will make him one of the top players in the Southland Conference this season.
▪ James Claar, Plainfield East
The long, agile and improved 6-7 Claar will be a key asset in helping 6-5 star guard Aaron Jordan and the Bengals defend the Suburban Prairie Conference title this winter.
▪ Darrion Robinson, Thornwood
With Robinson it’s always been about production. The highly-productive 6-4 Robinson put up 12 points and 8 rebounds a game as a sophomore and followed it up with 17 & 9 this past season as a junior. After watching his continued progression this summer, Robinson’s move to Thornwood is going to be a boon for the T-Birds.
▪ Tyler Streeter, St. Francis De Sales
Yes, it was a tough year last season for De Sales, but the 6-3 guard impressed. Streeter averaged an eye-opening 21 points a game as a junior playing in the Chicago Catholic League. A 6-3 guard who can shoot, score and create, Streeter impressed this summer.
▪ Adrian Smith, East Aurora
This is a bright spot for a Tomcats team that won just six games a year ago. The 6-3 Smith is a smooth scorer on the perimeter who turned in some quality work while playing with the Illinois Rise on the club circuit.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport