By Joe Henricksen
The 2008-2009 season has been completed and this year’s seniors will move on to college. The Hoops Report has never been really enamored all that much with this class when it comes to high-level talent. Here is a final look at the top college prospects in the Class of 2009 and where the City/Suburban Hoops Report ranks the individual players in the class one last time.
1. Brandon Paul, 6-3, 2G, Gurnee (Warren) … With D.J. Richardson off to prep school there was no doubt who the top college prospect was in the senior class. Paul’s immediate impact won’t be felt too much — Hoops Report envisions a breakthrough down the road, likely during his junior season at Illinois. But his upside and untapped potential should be brought out under Bruce Weber and gives him the edge as the state’s top college prospect.
2. Drew Crawford, 6-5, 2G, Naperville (Central) … There weren’t enough people who were able to see just how good Crawford was during his high school career. Look for Crawford, the Hoops Report Player of the Year, to start from day one at Northwestern (he’s the most college-ready player in the class) and truly blossom into an all-Big Ten selection before his college days are done.
3. Angus Brandt, 6-9, PF, Lake Forest (Academy) … Skilled and a good athlete, Brandt has a big upside with his ability to shoot it with range and finish at the rim. He will gain weight and strength and be a horse while maintaining a little bounce.
4. Jack Cooley, 6-8, PF, Glenview (Glenbrook South) … The best true down-low big man in Illinois may take some time to make his presence felt at Notre Dame, but he will eventually. A blue-collar workhorse who will be a really solid four-year college player.
5. Darius Smith, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Marshall) … He may not be a true point and may not shoot it like a 2-guard and he may not be a terrific athlete, but he just makes plays, defends, competes and wins. He’s an asset every time he steps on the floor.
6. Matt Vogrich, 6-3, 2G, Lake Forest … More than just a shooter, this underrated athlete can flat-out score. He will fit in perfectly in Michigan’s system, but he will need to be surrounded by players.
7. Joseph Bertrand, 6-5, PG, Sterling … He is not college ready, yet his upside remains. He has the length and athleticism to blossom down the road. The true perimeter skills are a bit lacking. Will he develop the consistent perimeter jumper and, more importantly, the killer instinct to develop into that type of player?
8. John Taylor, 5-11, 2G, Chicago (North Lawndale) … An undersized Patrick Beverly-type. There may be no one better in the open court in transition and getting to the rim. He still has his flaws, however, including an inconsistent shot and decision-making.
9. Chris Colvin, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young) … A power-packed point guard who still must work and improve his perimeter shot, but he can get in the lane and get to the rim.
10. Cully Payne, 6-1, PG, Schaumburg … Was enjoying one heck of a senior year until a back injury forced him to miss half the season. He is a steady presence at point guard and can really shoot it. Iowa is probably a better fit than Alabama.
11. D.J. Cooper, 5-9, PG, South Holland (Seton) … He’s a gamer, a true point guard with quickness, vision and the ability to make big plays and hit big shots. A real find for Ohio who will prove to be a steal playing in the MAC.
12. Michael Haynes, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Fenger) … Sat out his senior year and now becomes a big-time junior college recruit. He’s a strong athlete with a great body but lacks the skills, which keeps him as an undersized 4-man.
13. Jonathan Mills, 6-4, PF, Chicago (North Lawndale) … He may be very limited offensively, but you win games with players like Mills, the best rebounder in the state of Illinois. He’s a warrior around the basket.
14. Terry Johnson, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (North Lawndale) … Sacrificed this season for a loaded team after averaging over 20 a game as a junior at St. Rita. Johnson has the ability to get by people and an offensive repertoire that will fit with the system Illinois State plays.
15. Derek Needham, 5-11, PG, Chicago (De La Salle) … The Catholic League Player of the Year is so fast and strong in the open court and getting to the rim. As his shot becomes more consistent he will be that much more dangerous offensively. Highly undervalued and an absolute steal for Fairfield.
16. Kyle Cain, 6-7, PF, T.F. North … Has climbed the rankings with a stellar spring, showing a knack for rebounding and finishing with authority around the basket. He’s got the bounce, the body and the improved skills to be an impact recruit at mid-major plus or higher after spending time at either a junior college or prep school.
17. Marcus Jordan, 6-2, 2G/WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) … A physical, overpowering force. Still must improve his mechanics on his shot and become comfortable running a team, but potential there to be a big, physical perimeter defender. He picked the perfect level at Central Florida.
18. James Kinney, 6-1, 2G, Champaign (Centennial) … Put together a terrific senior year in leading Centennial to 3A state title. He has big-time scoring ability, can shoot with range and just has a smoothness about him. A Cooper-Kinney backcourt combo at Ohio should be one of the best in the MAC before long.
19. Zeke Upshaw, 6-5, 2G/WF, Chicago (Lab) … Another real sleeper. This late bloomer is so skilled and smooth — and he’s only going to get better. He won’t be an impact player at the college level immediately, but as he adds strength and experience his versatility could make him a dangerous weapon at Illinois State down the road.
20. Robert Covington, 6-7, WF, Proviso West … Here is your most underrated and overlooked talent in Illinois. Tapped into that booming potential this year and blossomed into a talented and productive player. He’s so long and active with an enormous upside. There will be college programs who will look back and wonder why they didn’t roll the dice with Covington.
21. Dyricus Simms-Edwards, 6-2, PG, Washington … Have to feel for the kid as it seems he’s been battling injuries for the past year. A nice-bodied player who is still learning the nuances of the point guard position.
22. Nik Garcia, 6-5, 2G, Evanston … Somewhat of a lost season for Garcia after sitting out the first half of the season. He can certainly shoot the basketball but must do a little more off the dribble to avoid being a one-dimensional threat.
23. Diamond Taylor, 6-3, 2G, Bolingbrook … The Wisconsin-bound guard has certainly fallen in the player rankings as he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. Will need to add weight and strength for Big Ten battles.
24. Shaun Pratl, 6-8, PF, Oak Lawn (Richards) … A real steal for Eastern Illinois. With Pratl finally dedicating 12 months to basketball he should be able to fine tune some of the rough edges in his game. He’s big, strong, skilled and a good athlete for his size.
25. Colin Nickerson, 6-3, 2G, Waukegan … Raised his stock a ton over the last 12 months. Long, lanky and a terrific shooter and scorer. Still needs to get stronger and tighten his handle. Fairfield got a good one here.
26. Jordan Prosser, 6-7, PF, Eureka … A former top 10 ranked player, Prosser had a big senior year and is still a valuable recruit for Bradley because of his size and decent skill level.
27. Tony Nixon, 6-4, WF, South Holland (Seton) … Still needs to work on perimeter skills and aggressiveness offensively, but he will knock down shots when surrounded by other weapons.
28. David Brown, 6-3, 2G, Rockton-Hononegah … Had a solid senior year with little notoriety, but he should be a nice MAC player with his ability to put the ball in the hole.
29. Malcolm Herron, 6-3, 2G, Downers Grove (South) … When he learns to bring it every day he can be a big-time offensive force both off the dribble and shooting from the perimeter. Will go JUCO route and be a mid-major in a couple of years.
30. Jeremy Jones, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Simeon) … Jumped out of the gate quickly with some monster games in the first half of the season. Will be a Division I recruit coming out of junior college.
31. Jordan Walker, 6-6, WF/PF, South Holland (Seton) … Really came on the second half of the season. He has length, athleticism and can really run the floor. A couple of years at JUCO could do wonders for maturing both physically and as a player.
32. James Pointer, 5-9, PG, Chicago (Leo) … A force in the open court and nearly impossible to stay in front of. He can put points on the board in a hurry, but he must improve his decision-making and gain some consistency with his perimeter shot.
33. D’Mitri Riggs, 6-3, PG/2G, Bloomington … An up-and-down career leaves him headed the JUCO route and a chance to polish his game and mature. The talent is there to play at a high level if he dedicates himself the next two years.
34. Brian Conway, 6-3, WF, Chicago Heights (Bloom) … Had to sit out the year due to some legal issues. His future remains uncertain but he’s a long, wiry athlete who is a finisher in transition.
35. Seth Evans, 6-1, PG, Seneca … Underappreciated point guard who just gets it. Solid with the ball, knocks down shots and a high basketball I.Q.
36. Malcolm Griffin, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Hyde Park) … Toledo recruit needs to fine tune his body and get in a little better shape, but Griffin can score.
37. Eriq Harris, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Marshall) … Battled injuries his senior year and is the classic ‘tweener, but he’s athletic and has an upside.
38. Chris Eversley, 6-3, 2G/WF, Chicago (Payton) … Rice gets a fundamentally sound, strong-bodied, versatile perimeter player. He’s capable of getting things done around the basket and stepping out.
39. David Smith, 6-2, PG/2G, Lake Forest (Academy) … He doesn’t do any one thing great, but he has good size and strength for a lead guard in what will come in handy in the physical Missouri Valley.
40. Mike Black, 5-11, PG, Oak Park (Fenwick) … Smooth, underrated point guard who can create, get in the lane and distribute. Headed to Albany next fall.
41. Markus Yarbrough, 6-7, PF, Zion-Benton … A big-bodied, on-the-block scorer with a nice touch around the basket but a below-the-rim post. Still needs to get in better shape and tone his body.
42. Corbin Thomas, 6-6, PF, South Holland (Seton) … Became a productive, even dominant player at times, in the second half of the season. Still raw and learning how to play but athletic with a great body.
43. Conrad Krutwig, 6-5, WF/PF, Algonquin (Jacobs) … All heart and hustle. A combo forward who will battle you inside but has developed a nice face-up game.
44. Paris Gulley, 6-0, PG/2G, Peoria (Manual) … The kid can put the ball in the hole but lacks a true position.
45. Aaron Nelson, 6-6, PF, Chicago Heights (Bloom) … With Nelson it’s about production. Had a huge senior year, constantly putting up double-doubles and using his big body well. Will step out and knock down the 17-18 foot jumper as well.
46. Luke Scarlata, 6-8, PF, Berwyn-Cicero (Morton) … Skilled big man who can use either hand around the basket with a nice touch. What he lacks in pure athleticism he makes up for with his smarts. A big-time steal for Division III Augustana.
47. Anthony Dixon, 6-4, 2G/WF, Chicago (Hyde Park) … Slender wing headed to San Jose State.
48. Bryant Smith, 6-0, PG, Chicago (St. Patrick) … He has the athletic ability and quickness to play in the Southland Conference. His progress and improvement with his skill package will determine what kind of impact he has at Texas-Arlington.
49. Lawrence Thomas, 5-7, PG, Springfield (Southeast) … He’s skilled, can score and knows how to play the point guard position. He will always have to overcome his lack of size.
50. Ronald Steward, 5-8, PG, Zion-Benton … Has shown time and time again he’s a winner and the ultimate competitor. This year he showed he will knock down shots when left open.
51. Kendrick Morse, 5-6, PG, Rich South … Tiny, jet-quick point guard gets where he wants on the floor, is strong for his size and will battle anyone.
52. Kevin Senechalle, 6-7, PF, St. Charles (East) … Competes, battles, a good athlete and has a tremendous frame. When he packs on 15-20 pounds he will prove to be an absolute steal for Wisconsin-Parkside.
53. Jeremy Saffold, 6-5, WF, Homewood-Flossmoor …. Big finish to the season elevated team and his own stock as he became a big-time scorer.
54. Trevell Rivers, 6-3, PF, Harvey (Thornton) … The ultimate undersized four-man, but he packs a punch with his tenacity around the basket and absolute, freakish explosiveness.
55. Cortney Bell, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Lincoln Park) … Battling back from injury. He passes the look test with impressive athleticism and a nice body, but he still has the dreaded ‘tweener label.
56. Troynell Adams, 6-5, PF, Chicago (Farragut) … What a tough, troubled season this athletic but undersized four-man had.
57. Stan Brown, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young) … He has his limitations athletically, but he came up big down the stretch for state champions and showed he can be a serviceable big man.
58. Matt Sullivan, 6-4, 2G/WF, Wilmette (Loyola Academy) … He won’t wow you or pass the look test on the floor, but he’s a hard-nosed, multi-dimensional player. Should have a solid career at Brown.
59. Troy Synder, 6-5, WF, Bolingbrook … A long, active wing who signed with Wisconsin-Green Bay last November. If he can gain consistency with his jumper and improve his ball skills he can be a nice fit.
60. Jordan Harks, 6-6, PF, Glen Ellyn (Glenbard South) … Had a terrific year and opened a lot of eyes. The athletic four-man being recruited by several Division II/NAIA programs.