By Joe Henricksen
There is no Anthony Davis — or even a Chasson Randle, Ryan Boatright or Wayne Blackshear — as there was in the Class of 2011. There is a lack of high-major talent, with just two signing with BCS conference schools in Simeon’s Steve Taylor (Marquette) and Crete-Monee’s Michael Orris (Kansas State). And there were/are several players in the class who failed to make it academically and will be headed the prep school or junior college route.
No, the Class of 2012 was not what we have grown accustomed to in this state when it comes to prep talent. The names and rankings, especially once you get in the 20-40 range, really are often interchangeable in this class. However, at the end of the day there will still be 30-plus players headed to a Division I basketball program next fall. The Hoops Report takes one last look at how this year’s seniors stack up, not in terms of their high school career and accomplishments, but as college prospects.
1. Steve Taylor, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Simeon)
A key part of state championship teams and a little unheralded playing as the sidekick to the heralded Jabari Parker this past season. Taylor is a face-up 4-man who will knock down shots with range and is a perimeter threat Marquette can use. Has a body that he will grow into and get a whole lot stronger.
2. Rashaun Stimage, 6-8, PF, Chicago (Farragut)
Athletic ability and upside is off the charts. Sprinkle in a little more skill than you think and he’s an intriguing prospect. When he wants to be, Stimage can be an absolute eye-opener at times. While still a little raw, if Stimage puts in two hard-working years at the junior college level, he’s a high-major player.
3. Fred Van Vleet, 5-10, PG, Rockford (Auburn)
The purest of point guards who just gets it and truly understands the position. Has the unique ability to make those around him better with his vision, passing and feel. As his perimeter jumper improves, he will become more of an offensive threat at Wichita State.
4. Marlon Johnson, 6-9, PF/C, Joliet (West)
After a couple of years of JUCO basketball and physically maturing, Johnson could evolve into a no-brainer high-major prospect with his true size and length. He’s added a nice little jump-hook to his 15-foot face-up jumper. Runs the floor and is already an asset defensively.
5. Jerron Wilbut, 6-3, 2G, Downers Grove (South)
While the athletic Wilbut has battled inconsistency and figuring out the game throughout his career, there is no mistaking his raw ability. He can slash, shoot and score the basketball. There is untapped potential still there.
6. Anthony Beane, 6-2, PG, Normal
An ultra-athletic point guard with some size for the position who, in time, will be a big-time perimeter defender at the college level. His lead guard instincts have improved. Shot mechanics and inconsistency prevent him from being a better scorer.
7. Milton Doyle, 6-4, 2G/WF, Chicago (Marshall)
As he plays more and more his confidence rises and his overall game continues to get better. Has as much upside as anyone in this class. Gets off the floor quickly and explodes to the basket. Excellent athlete who showed over the course of his senior year he was highly undervalued. Still needs to fill out physically and add weight and strength.
8. Aaron Simpson, 5-10, 2G, North Chicago
Undersized 2-guard has a knack for scoring in bunches, albeit as a high-volume shooter. Illinois State recruit plays with confidence and has a bit of toughness to him. Can he develop into more of a combo guard at the next level is the question?
9. Darius Paul, 6-8, PF, Gurnee (Warren)
Brings that true size to the interior with a body that will only get bigger and stronger. Once he accepts to truly mix it up on the block and try to become a physical presence, along with his developing face-up shooting, Paul could be a major factor in the MAC at Western Michigan. The Broncos may have gotten a steal here.
10. Keith Carter, 6-0, PG, Maywood (Proviso East)
Savvy, old school game that helped lead Proviso East to an unbeaten regular season and a berth in the 4A state title game. He may not be a jet-quick, athletic point guard, but he just finds a way to make plays — and the right plays. Headed to Saint Louis to play for Rick Majerus.
11. Tony Hicks, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (St. Rita)
Put together an impressive senior year and remains one of the biggest recruiting steals in the Class of 2012 as a Penn recruit. He has some length to him and a terrific first step helps him get to the basket. Although far from a pure shooter, Hicks has the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter.
12. Marcus Posley, 6-0, 2G, Winnebago
Rough senior year after sitting out the season after a failed transfer attempt to Rockford Auburn. The season off certainly didn’t help, but the big-bodied, strong guard uses his strengths well in getting to the basket and finishing at the rim. Perimeter shot continues to get better for the Ball State recruit.
13. Akeem Springs, 6-3, 2G, Waukegan
Always plays hard, gets after it and is a bulldog with his tenacity. Both his ballhandling and shooting have made major strides since his freshman year. A nice late recruit for Northern Illinois.
14. Jeff “Keke” White, 6-1, PG, Peoria (Manual)
Headed to Loyola, White is the epitome of a Peoria tough guard who, despite just OK athleticism, just finds ways to get things done on both ends of the floor. Has a knack for making big plays in key moments. He won’t blow by you and he won’t drill shot after shot, but he at the end of the day you know he was on the floor and has made an impact.
15. Tim Williams, 6-7, PF, Homewood-Flossmoor
Offers up versatility as a face-up 4-man who is capable of putting it on the floor, stepping out to the 3-point line and making a pass from the perimeter. Now that he’s fully committed to basketball (split time with football as a star quarterback at H-F), his consistency and production needs and should improve. Samford grabbed a steal in Williams.
16. Michael Orris, 6-2, PG, Crete-Monee
Creighton commit, Illinois signee and now a Bruce Weber recruit at Kansas State. Serviceable point guard who will bring any team leadership, character and a team-first attitude. Good size, tough and will make the right pass. Must become a more effective offensive threat.
17. Darrell Combs, 6-1, PG/2G, South Holland (Thornwood)
Still unsigned and uncommitted, the smooth scoring Combs could likely go the prep school route where he can develop physically and polish up both guard spot skills. When in rhythm, Combs can be a lights-out scorer, both as a shooter and slasher.
18. Devin Foster, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Curie)
Was there a player in the Class of 2012 whose stock rose more over the course of their senior year than Foster? Put together one heck of a season for coach Mike Oliver and the Condors. He polished up his game and became a go-to type player with versatility and an ability to just go and make plays when it mattered most. Foster will likely head the prep school route.
19. Eddie Alcantera, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Hales Franciscan)
Strong physical specimen with good athleticism and a motor. Potential is there to be a solid rebounder for his position and a big-time perimeter defender. Still needs to get more comfortable with the ball and show improvement on the offensive end. Signed with Western Kentucky.
20. Tanner Williams, 6-6, PF, Orion
Flew under the radar playing in a small town in the western part of the state, but he’s redefined his body and is playing much more aggressive and with confidence. Explosive leaper who now has a rugged side to him on the block and defensively. Although still not very skilled, he opened eyes with his play this spring and should have multiple Division I offers after a year of prep school.
21. Willie Conner, 6-4, WF, Chicago (Crane)
Another senior who elevated his stock and recruiting interest with his play this past winter. A tough, big-bodied wing who has a little warrior in him and can score in a variety of ways, using both his strength around the basket and stepping out to 18 feet. Florida A&M landed a heck of player for a low-Division I program.
22. T.J. Bell, 6-8, Charleston
With Bell it’s about potential and development, both with his body and his overall game. He has upside, especially if his motor picks up a notch or two. Still raw offensively but with some skill that will impress at times. Has the frame and body type, if he’s committed to the weight room, to be a big, true Missouri Valley post presence for Indiana State with a nice touch.
23. Jermaine Morgan, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Whitney Young)
Had a tough time getting on the floor for various reasons during his senior year, but he offers up the combination of size and just enough skill to make him a prospect of intrigue. Signed with Colorado State in the fall but looks to be heading to a junior college next season.
24. Nathan Boothe, 6-9, PF/C, Gurnee (Warren)
The Toledo recruit steadily improved over the course of the past 12 months and put together a solid senior season. A true big body with some skill as a passer and shooter. He has touch out to 16-17 feet and takes up space in the lane defensively.
25. Reggie Johnson, 6-1, 2G, Westchester (St. Joseph)
A freight train going to the basket where he uses his strong body to take contact and finish at the rim with more explosiveness than you realize. At times, put St. Joe’s on his back this past season. Along with Devin Foster, raised his stock as much as anyone in 2012. Will follow coach John Cooper to Miami-Ohio.
26. Connor Boehm, 6-7, PF, Winnetka (New Trier)
Plays his part and role perfectly. It’s not always pretty but Boehm is typically effective in a crafty way. Despite limitations athletically, uses his body and instincts well around the basket. He will compete and battle players his size and bigger. Should have a very solid career in the Ivy League at Dartmouth.
27. Ka’Darryl Bell, 5-11, PG, Oak Park-River Forest
You won’t find many 5-11 point guards with more length or athleticism than Bell, who missed a large portion of his senior year with an injury. Explosive in getting to the basket and very strong. The Bradley-bound Bell remains a bit raw as a lead guard and will have to shoot it better at the next level.
28. Mike LaTulip, 5-11, PG/2G, Mt. Prospect (Prospect)
The University of Illinois walk-on has been one of the better shooters and scorers at the high school level over the past few years. LaTulip can fill it up with range and a quick release. Plays with confidence and isn’t afraid to compete at a high level. The fact he isn’t a pure point guard and has a small frame will be his two biggest obstacles going forward at the Big Ten level.
29. Brian Bennett, 6-9, C, Plainfield (East)
After shedding some serious weight since last year, Bennett took his game to another level this past season. He moves so much better and is more agile with his new body. The Cal Poly recruit did damage both on the block and facing up from 15-17 feet in an impressive senior year.
30. Donald Moore, 5-11, PG, Chicago Heights (Bloom)
Underappreciated point guard was the guy in leading the Blazing Trojans to a magical season that ended in Peoria. He progressed into a better point guard as a senior, got others involved and then was the catalyst down the stretch of tight games. Super speed and quickness for this unsigned senior.
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