So how good is it? Just how talented is the Class of 2015 in Illinois?
These soon-to-be juniors have a couple of years under their belt, so we do have a pretty good sample size on the development and potential of the players in this class. For comparison sake, the Class of 2015, at this point, looks to be a notch below the Class of 2011, 2013 and 2014 in Illinois but is better than 2012 and 2016.
No sophomore in the state has made a bigger impact at the varsity level than Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson over the past two seasons. He was a monster last season as a sophomore. But in an informal, off-the-record survey of 18 college head coaches and assistants conducted by the City/Suburban Hoops Report, St. Rita’s Charles Matthews edged Brunson 11 to 7 when asked who was the top prospect in the class.
College coaches liked the size, versatility and athleticism of Matthews over the pure basketball instincts, winning mentality and scoring ability of Brunson. Regardless, both Brunson and Matthews have set themselves apart from the rest of the class as we spin past the second turn on the track of their high school career.
Brunson, Matthews and several others in the class have made major impacts at the varsity level in their first two seasons of high school basketball. Here is how the Hoops Report sees the Class of 2015 shaping up as we head into a big summer as more and more eyes will be on these up-and-coming prospects.
1. Charles Matthews, 6-4, PG/2G, St. Rita
Regarded as one the top dozen prospects in the country in the Class of 2015, Matthews is a combo guard with size, length and versatility. He’s one of the few players in the class that has solidified himself as a true, legit high-major player. Matthews impacts games in a variety of ways and has so many tools to work with and build on. Now he simply needs to be that impact player on a consistent basis.
2. Jalen Brunson, 6-2, PG, Stevenson
Made a huge name for himself while averaging 21.8 points a game for a Stevenson team that finished second in the state in March. All the cliché attributes of a point guard fit, including natural leader with a high basketball I.Q. But he can really pass and shoot, run a team and, best of all, is a clutch performer. Only question mark surrounding Brunson is his overall quickness and foot speed, particularly on the defensive end.
3. D.J. Williams, 6-7, WF, Simeon
A big 12 months ahead for this long, skilled, versatile wing who needs to show he’s ready to live up to the early hype. The quintessential 3-man who handles it well for his size and has shooting touch out to the three-point line. The potential, however, must become a reality soon.
4. Edward Morrow, 6-6, PF, Simeon
Although an undersized 4-man at this point, he’s a strong, athletic rebounder and finisher who plays with a motor. The classic high energy player who, when he’s at his best, excels and flourishes doing the dirty work, particularly on the glass. He must maintain that mindset.
5. Roosevelt Smart, 6-3, 2G, Palatine
While not talked about as much as some other sophomores in the class, Smart has an active body and can score in a multitude of ways. His shooting and range have steadily improved. As he becomes a bigger factor off the dribble, Smart could evolve into a prolific scorer on the perimeter.
6. Glynn Watson, 5-10, PG, St. Joseph
Brings a difficult-to-find quality to the table — pure point guard abilities. Watson is a penetrator with speed and an outstanding passer with vision. He’s a facilitator with some imagination to his game and a little better burst than people realize. The mid-range game is there, but the three-point shot isn’t quite yet.
7. Aaron Jordan, 6-3, 2G, Plainfield East
Unheralded sophomore put together a terrific season with little fanfare, averaging 15.5 points with 63 three-pointers. He has a knack for scoring, though the release point on his jumper must be tweaked. Has a whole bunch of upside.
8. Prentiss Nixon, 6-0, 2G, Bolingbrook
There isn’t a better shooter in the class — and he shoots it with outstanding range. Yes, he’s an undersized 2-guard right now, but he at least has something to hang his hat on at the end of the day — the ability to stretch a defense and space the floor with his shooting.
9. Evan Boudreaux, 6-7, PF, Lake Forest
Aside from Brunson, there isn’t another player in the class as productive as Boudreaux. The burly forward put up a double-double (16.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg) as a sophomore. He has a little strength and skill level, rebounds and can step out and knock down shots. Has always been so advanced for his size and age.
10. Joseph Toye, 6-6, WF, Whitney Young
With his great length, superior athleticism and still untapped potential, Toye is arguably the most intriguing prospect in the class. He just needs to put it all together and figure out how to impact games on a consistent basis.
11. Jordan Ash, 6-1, 2G, St. Joseph
Extremely explosive off the floor with physical tools. He’s a finisher at the rim in the halfcourt and especially in transition. His body will get bigger and stronger. Pure scoring and playmaking ability must improve with a more polished perimeter shot.
12. Joshua Stamps, 6-4, 2G, Chicago (Curie)
Look for Stamps to be more relaxed, free and easy as a junior and make a bigger name for himself. Good size for a 2-guard who can hit shots from the perimeter. Will need to start using the dribble to create more shots for himself and others.
13. K.J. Santos, 6-4, PG/2G, Geneva
A player who appears to be just starting to bloom. Looks the part with the size, length, skill and smooth way about him on the floor. Has battled injury all spring but has shown enough flashes to vault him into the 2015 player conversation.
14. Luwane Pipkins, 5-9, PG/2G, Chicago (Bogan)
A hound and ball hawk on the defensive end while also measuring very high on the toughness meter. Pipkins also has the capability of getting hot from beyond the arc. Still must make big strides in his overall playmaking and point guard ability.
15. Antoine Pittman, Jr., 6-2, 2G, Rockford Jefferson
Just might be the best-kept secret in Illinois. Pittman shoots it with range and has an athletic body. This up-and-coming prospect could emerge into a relentless scorer before it’s all said and done with his physical tools and shooting ability.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport