By Joe Henricksen
The action for high school basketball prospects just doesn’t stop. After competing on the AAU circuit in April and May, the calendar turns to June and they begin playing for their high school teams in shootouts and camps while also heading to college Elite Camps. Southern Illinois and Illinois State conducted their Elite Camps over the weekend and Eastern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Illinois coming in the next week.
Here are a whole bunch of thoughts after taking in action over the weekend at both the Hoop Mountain Shootout at West Aurora and spending the day at the Illinois State Elite Camp on Sunday.
ISU lures the talent
Coach Tim Jankovich continues to show the type of athletes and top-of-the-line players Illinois State is targeting with a surplus of talent on display at its Elite Camp this past weekend. While there were several individual players from Missouri and Indiana that stood out, the Illinois contingent included talent from both the 2010 and 2011 classes. Local product Hayden Hoerdemann of Bloomington Central Catholic, Orr’s Mycheal Henry, the Brooks trio of George Marshall, Kevin Gray and Keith Gray, Curie’s Asante Smiter, Riverside-Brookfield’s Ryan Jackson and Morgan Park’s Wayne Blackshear were some of the 2011 stars on campus. The 2010 class included Seton’s Chris Olivier, Khameron Harper and Kenny Stevenson, Thornton’s Reggie Smith, DeKalb’s Jordan Threloff, Foreman’s Tommy Woolridge, St. Mel’s Phillip Jackson, Champaign Centennial’s Rayvonte Rice, and Decatur Eisenhower’s Jarod Oldham among others.
After playing Saturday at the Southern Illinois Elite Camp, 2011 star Wayne Blackshear made the trip to the Illinois State Elite Camp. The athletic 6-5 wing was forced to sit with an injured back and was in some obvious pain. Blackshear told the Hoops Report his back has been bothering him for some time. With a busy schedule ahead, here’s hoping Blackshear recovers quickly from this setback.
Foreman’s dynamic trio
Early on in his career Lavonte Dority received most of the hype among the Foreman trio of Dority, Mike McCall and Tommy Woolridge. Now his teammates are beginning to receive theirs. McCall, who attended the SIU Elite Camp over the weekend, had what was described as a “terrific trip” to Texas A&M when he attended the Aggies’ Elite Camp. Soon he will be off to the Xavier Elite Camp. Woolridge, meanwhile, continues to be a pretty well kept secret, though he continues to climb the Hoops Report player rankings with his offensive abilities.
Threloff waiting it out
DeKalb big man Jordan Threloff currently sports nine different scholarship offers. He spent Sunday at the Illinois State Elite Camp and told the Hoops Report he’s in no hurry to make a decision.
“I want to keep my options open and play out the summer,” said Threloff, who had an impressive day despite having played a ton of games on Saturday at the Loyola Team Camp. “I will see what I have at the end of July and then make a decision.”
The 6-10 big man, whose skills get better and better while becoming more of an offensive threat with a jump hook and 12-15 foot face-up jumper, knows what he’s looking for.
“I would like to go somewhere with a little tradition while also looking for a place where I am very comfortable with the coaching staff and players,” Threloff said during a break in the action at ISU. “These are the guys [coaches and players] I will be spending my time with, so that’s going to be very important for me as I make this decision.”
Top Performers at ISU
While arguably the best performance at the Illinois State Elite Camp were turned in by players from the St. Louis area, Thornton star Reggie Smith was terrific. The knock on Smith has been his shooting, but he continues to show his much-improved jumper and range. Though his release is a bit slow and his mechanics need a little work, Smith was knocking down the three-pointer virtually all day long.
The Hoops Report continues to be so impressed with Brooks guard George Marshall. He is such a consistent performer and, as usual, showed how complete of a point guard he is with the ability to penetrate and create, get to the basket and finish while also knocking down shots from all over the perimeter. He’s a player that doesn’t always get mentioned — or at least not enough — with all of the other heavy hitters in the Class of 2011. Marshall will be headed to the Xavier Elite Camp this weekend.
Brooks big boys coming along
Speaking of Brooks, twins Keith and Kevin Gray have both made considerable strides in the last six months and once again showed flashes of their potential at the ISU Elite Camp. The 6-7 twins come with the “upside” and “their best basketball is in front of them,” but they are getting more assertive and productive.
Star on the horizon
Remember this name: Anthony Beane, Jr. The son of Illinois State assistant coach Anthony Beane is a talent. The 6-0 point guard, a sophomore at Normal, is going to be an awfully good one. As one of the youngest players at the camp he was extremely poised and showed that he belonged with some of the top talent in Redbird Arena.
What a weekend for Jackson, R-B
Riverside-Brookfield has grabbed plenty of summer headlines, beginning in late May when the Bulldogs won their own shootout while senior guard Sean McGonagill grabbed MVP honors. This past weekend Ryan Jackson, a 6-0 junior guard, stole the show for R-B. Jackson was MVP of the Hoop Mountain Shootout, averaging 20 points a game in seven games. Jackson then had a very solid showing at the Illinois State Elite Camp, distributing as a pass-first point guard.
Keep an eye on Mundelein
While everyone is aware of standout senior-to-be Ben Brust, who is sporting a bevy of Division I offers, Mundelein should be a much-improved team this winter. Sunday at the ISU Elite Camp it was 6-6 junior Ryan Sawvell who really caught the Hoops Report’s eye. Sawvell is a bouncy athlete who is aggressive in getting to the basket and finishing. In addition, junior Leavon Head played a steady point guard and knocked down shots throughout the afternoon at ISU.
Austin Angel another name in 2012
The Class of 2012 just continues to add guards to its list of top players. We can include Rockford Boylan’s 6-4 Austin Angel in that list. Angel, who the Hoops Report watched at the Hoop Mountain Shootout, will be the best Boylan product since UIC recruit Tory Boyd as he can really shoot the basketball from the perimeter, has good size and is solid fundamentally for his age.
Don’t forget about Seton
Yes, the Class 2A state champions have lost a whole bunch of talent from a year ago, including headliners D.J. Cooper, Jordan Walker, Corbin Thomas and Tony Nixon, but coach Kenny Stevenson still has some talent to work with. Stevenson’s son, Kenny, Jr. (5 ppg), will carry the load in the backcourt. Khameron Harper (6 ppg) is also back. But what could make Seton a factor is the improved play of big man Chris Olivier, who had a very solid day at the ISU Elite Camp. The 6-8 Olivier has put in a ton of time in improving both his skill level and conditioning.