By Joe Henricksen
The heralded Class of 2011, which entered high school with so much fanfare and has even added to its lofty reputation with late-blooming players, is down to its final couple of months of high school basketball.
When we talk about the Class of 2011 it conjures up memories of the Class of 1979 and the Class of 1998. A few years down the road it will be those three classes that will be used as the measuring stick, thanks in large part to the “Big Three” at the top — Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives, Wayne Blackshear of Morgan Park and Mycheal Henry of Chicago Orr.
While Davis was as late of a blooming star as we’ve ever seen, Blackshear is the player that has put together the most accomplished and productive career up to this point.
There isn’t too much of a shake up in the individual rankings of this year’s seniors, but the City/Suburban Hoops Report takes an updated look at the top college prospects in the state as we head into the second half of their final year of high school.
The best uncommitted prospect remains Niles Notre Dame’s Quinton Chievous, who has become a reliable, consistent and mature player. Chievous has taken his game to another level.
The player whose stock has raised the most since the season tipped off is Peoria Notre Dame’s Max Bielfeldt. The big kid is a bit of a throwback, overcoming his deficiencies (lack of athleticism and bounce, lateral quickness) with strength, craftiness, an improved jumper and good old fashioned desire. While some of his dominating ways at the high school level may not translate to the college level, he brings a lot of intangibles and can fill at role somewhere at the mid-major level.
Here is a look at the Hoops Report’s top 30 prospects in the Class of 2011 heading into the second half of the season.
1. Anthony Davis, 6-10, PF, Chicago (Perspectives) … The numbers are big, the opponents are small but a true basketball player with size, skill and enormous upside. The Kentucky-bound Davis has a feel, touch and instincts on both ends of the floor that defy what a typical player with his size possesses. No one knew Davis a year ago. Now he’s a likely McDonald’s All-American and a top five national talent a year later.
2. Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park) … As expected, putting together a monster senior year. He’s one of the front-runners for Mr. Basketball. Capable of dominating games at the high school level every time out with exceptional size, strength and athleticism. His biggest area of improvement over the past year has been his assertiveness and perimeter jumper.
3. Mycheal Henry, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Orr) … Arguably the best all-around offensive talent in the class. Blessed with size, above-average athleticism, an ability to score around the basket and knock down shots with range and accuracy. Along with that scoring ability, the Illinois recruit will bring class and character to Champaign.
4. Ryan Boatright, 5-11, PG, Aurora (East) … An electric talent who will dazzle you with his pure speed and explosion up and down the floor. He’s impossible to stay in front of and plays with uber-confidence. Boatright is averaging over 31 points a game, with eye-opening performances of 43, 55 and 63 points in a game this season. He may be the biggest talent to ever come out of Aurora.
5. Chasson Randle, 6-2, PG/2G, Rock Island … He’s not a high-flyer (better athletically than people give him credit for), a pure point guard (court awareness has steadily improved) or a drop-dead shooter (shot has become more consistent), but he’s such a complete player who does so many things well. Randle is a player prepared to provide immediate minutes at the college level next season for an improving Stanford program.
6. Sam Thompson, 6-6, WF, Chicago (Whitney Young) … Offers that enticing and exciting talent and look of a high major at 6-6 with super hops and length. His perimeter jumper continues to improve and he finds a variety of ways to impact games. As he learns the nuances of the game, capable of becoming an impact guy at the defensive end for Ohio State.
7. Nnanna Egwu, 6-10, C, Chicago (St. Ignatius) … In the last few weeks the true big man is showing the great potential and dominance he flashed last spring and early summer before injuries slowed down his progress. He’s made another big jump with his offensive skill set. When it’s all said and done in four or five years, Egwu will likely rate a lot higher than the players ahead of him on national lists.
8. Tracy Abrams, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) … Still the same Tracy Abrams who is wired the way a coach wants a player to be with toughness, leadership, unselfishness and intangibles. Illinois and coach Bruce Weber will welcome that next year. Still a scorer who is in the process of refining his point guard skills.
9. Mike Shaw, 6-8, PF, Chicago (De La Salle) … You can’t help but love the way he goes about his business for one of the top teams in the state. Illinois recruit is a versatile 4-man who rebounds, competes and scores both around the rim and facing the basket.
10. David Sobolewski, 6-1, PG, Lisle (Benet Academy) … What’s not to like about a point guard who is always in control and impacts a game and team virtually every trip down the floor? Putting together a terrific senior year with numbers and growing status as he was named MVP of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Should get immediate minutes at point guard next year for Northwestern.
11. Frank Kaminsky, 6-11, PF, Lombard (Benet Academy) … Another vastly improved player who was simply a project a year ago and has become a productive, impact guy at the high school level this season. Still in the process of developing and a long way from becoming the player he can be.
12. Bruce Baron, 6-3, PG, Carbondale (Brehm Prep) … Big, strong physical guard who can hit a shot and bull his way to the basket. College-ready body and capable scorer could flourish in the Pac-10 style at Oregon.
13. Abdel Nader, 6-6, PF, Skokie (Niles North) … Putting together a big senior year and adding to his game. A bit of an undersized, face-up 4 man who has some bounce and very good shooting range. Headed to New Mexico next season.
14. George Marshall, 6-0, PG, Chicago (Brooks) … If only the kid could catch a break and stay healthy. Was starting to play the best basketball of his career — free and easy — just before another injury hit in December. When healthy he can be a disruptive offensive force.
15. Johnny Hill, 6-3, 2G, Lombard (Glenbard East) … Always active and always playing with positive energy. While his playmaking ability catches your eye, he’s truly an underrated basketball “player” with a great feel for the game. Averaging over 21 points a game for a 13-1 team.
16. Roosevelt Jones, 6-3, WF, O’Fallon … Doesn’t get the fanfare other players receive due to playing hours south of Chicago. But as far as productivity and getting things done, there aren’t many who do more or make the most of the 32 minutes of a high school game.
17. Quenton Chievous, 6-4, WF, Niles (Notre Dame) … Will be a hot commodity going forward as the best unsigned prospect in the Class of 2011. Has grown as a player and established himself as a true difference-maker for a Notre Dame team that has been rolling. He’s evolved into a versatile offensive threat.
18. Jamie Crockett, 6-4, WF, Crete-Monee … If the motor is running and the energy is there, this big-bodied perimeter player with off-the-charts athleticism could really fit well in Oliver Purnell’s system at DePaul. Poured in 27 points with 8 rebounds in McDipper semifinal win over Hales Franciscan.
19. Derrick Marks, 6-2, 2G, Plainfield (Central) … A big combo guard with great body strength for a high school player. Very difficult to stop in the open court. Strong transition player with his burst and power in getting to the rim. Found a nice fit and level with Boise State.
20. Dre Henley, 6-6, WF, Chicago (De La Salle) … He may not dominate in any one area, but Henley’s overall package is wide-ranging. He’ll hit a jumper and make a pass; he has slashing ability and sufficient ballhandling skills; and he can finish around the basket.
21. Julius Brown, 5-8, PG, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) … Hoops Report believes “Juice” will prove to be one of the best recruits for the level he signed when the dust settles on the Class of 2011.The scoring point guard who has a will to win — and a state title to show for it — is just what Toledo needs. Has a knack for just making plays.
22. Macari Brooks, 6-1, 2G/WF, Richton Park (Rich South) … An electrifying athlete who is putting up numbers and impressive performances for the Stars in the first half of the season. Skill level still needs to improve and mindset needs to stay steady, but he’s best at making athletic plays in transition and in the halfcourt.
23. Dylan Ennis, 6-1, PG, Lake Forest (Academy) … A point guard with length, athleticism and some flare. Has a little Rajon Rondo in him at the high school level and is a nice find for Rice. Ennis could develop into a terrific on-the-ball defender with his size, length and quickness.
24. Aaron Armstead, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Hales Franciscan) … Has come into his own. Has quietly put together one heck of a senior year. Armstead has added strength and consistency this season that makes him a more complete player. This one could turn out to be a steal for Wisconsin-Green Bay.
25. Max Bielfeldt, 6-7, PF, Peoria (Notre Dame) … Has emerged from the shadows and become the top senior prospect and player in the Peoria area. Big, strong and creative in getting things done around the basket to go with a much-improved face-up jumper. Having a dominating senior year for unbeaten team.
26. Darien Walker, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Simeon) … Sometimes gets lost in the wealth of talent at Simeon, but there is a lot Walker brings to the table. He’s a capable finisher on the break and can now step out and knock down the three-point shot fairly consistently. And when he puts his mind to it can be a lockdown defender.
27. Ryan Sawvell, 6-7, PF, Mundelein … A bit under-appreciated for the season and career he’s put together. Sneaky athlete and easy player to like with the energy and motor he brings to the floor every time out. Evansville recruit will battle and compete on the boards and run the floor.
28. Greg Mays, 6-8, PF, Crete-Monee … Injuries and time away from the floor have certainly stunted his growth as a player over the past 12 months. Still an intriguing prospect due to his combination of size, body and athleticism. Wisconsin-Green Bay landed a true big man to work with.
29. Mike Turner, 6-7, PF, Chicago (University) … The Northwestern-bound skilled 4-man still needs to add weight, strength and consistent productivity. There are skills and tools to work with as Turner is a capable player with size who can step out away from the basket.
30. Donivine Stewart, 5-11, PG, Bartonville (Limestone) … Lacks the ideal burst and speed you would like out of a score-first point guard, but his uncanny ways of putting the ball in the hole and producing remain. We shall see how his game translates to success in the Missouri Valley for the Bradley recruit.