By Joe Henricksen
In the summer of 1966 “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful was No. 1 in the Billboard Top Singles chart. This is just one of so many summer songs that have swept through our radio airwaves over the last half century and pounded out of our car stereo speakers.
Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” is a Hoops Report longtime fav, along with good ‘ol “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. And I’m not a big Kid Rock fan but go ahead and play “All Summer Long” at any backyard barbecue I’m at.
Underrated and underplayed “Happy Summertime,” featuring R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg, was a mild hit.
There was “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris in 1963, one of the greatest surfing rock songs of all time — right there with “Surfin’ USA” by the Beach Boys. How about Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69” or Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime?”
There was the unforgettable (wait, forgettable?) “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama. Go ahead and YouTube this particular Bananarama music video. Arguably the worst music video ever made. Go ahead, do it.
For old school summer tunes you have “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran. … “SOMETIMES I WONDER WHAT I’M GONNA DO, CUZ THERE AIN’T NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES! … dah-dah-dah-dah …. dah-dah-dah-dah ….”
“Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts remains a classic and Olivia Newton-John will make you melt with “Summer Nights.” For those cheesy people out there, go ahead and blast “Endless Summer Nights” by Richard Marx. Well, maybe not blast it.
Every summer there is a new hit or two on the radio dial. It’s been that way for decades. And it’s the same with high school basketball as the summer months play on and college coaches get their best look at prospects during their specially-designed “summer camps” and throughout the July evaluation period.
While that July evaluation period is just around the corner, the high school prospects in Illinois are back playing with their high school teams in the month of June. These players are shuttling between team camps on college campuses to summer shootouts and leagues.
After putting together solid junior years, attracting interest from college programs and nabbing scholarship offers this past winter and spring, there are a host of players who the Hoops Report believes will attract more attention and open more eyes and see their reputations grow. As a result, the college interest will grow with it as they play out the summer. Here is a list of a half dozen prospects in the Class of 2011 who are known in the recruiting circles but could see their names become much bigger between now and August 1. The combination of productivity and upside should shine through.
• Phillip Greene, 6-2, Chicago (Julian)
Love this kid. Why don’t you? The City/Suburban Hoops Report has Greene as the No. 10 prospect in the senior class, yet the high-major interest has been somewhat mild. Look for that to change. While the scoring guard hasn’t received the type of hype and love he probably should have received locally up to this point, he’s done enough for the Hoops Report to solidify himself as a high-major prospect and among the top 10 prospects in the class. Greene opened eyes at the West Virginia Elite Camp in early June and came home with an offer from coach Bob Huggins. With the ability to play both guard spots, Greene will be securing more national recognition over the course of the summer, while the likes of West Virginia, DePaul, Oklahoma State, Dayton, Bradley, Ohio and several others have been in the mix.
• Luke Hager, 6-7, Chicago (Whitney Young)
Yes, the Hoops Report has Hager ranked higher than most. That’s due to the versatility he has as a player and the vast upside he possesses. He still must get from point A to point B, but it’s coming. Hager’s opportunities were limited a year ago with a loaded Whitney Young club, but he will be instrumental in the success of the Dolphins this winter. Hager can handle it and has become more aggressive in attacking the basket, using his super athleticism and size for a wing. The perimeter jumper isn’t there yet, but he remains a prospect who will be heavily watched this July and should see his recruiting stock increase.
• Johnny Hill, 6-3, Lombard (Glenbard East)
The classic late bloomer who just gets better and better. The interest and curiosity in the rangy and active Hill has certainly picked up since he helped lead his high school team to a 27-2 record last season. That interest continues to increase as he’s led the Rams to tournament titles at both the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout and Loyola Rambler Shootout early this summer. Hill has improved his perimeter shot to the point of becoming a solid spot-up shooter. He’s still at his best gliding in the open floor, finishing in transition and breaking people down off the bounce in the halfcourt. Physically, Hill has some ground to make up, but the promise he shows remains a constant.
• Derrick Marks, 6-2, Plainfield (Central)
The Hoops Report caught up with Marks at the Oswego East Shootout last weekend. He stated he does remain committed to Albany, where the powerful guard would be an absolute steal in the America East Conference. Marks has a burst in the halfcourt and in the open floor that allows him to get to the basket, where he uses his strength and great body control to finish at the basket. He’s constantly in attack mode and is one of the more underrated players in the state of Illinois who is trying to show he can also play some point guard as well. He’s among the top 20 prospects in the senior class in both the Hoops Report and Chicago Hoops rankings, yet gets very little fanfare playing in the southwest suburbs.
• James Farr, 6-8, Evanston
There maybe isn’t a player that has come as far (pardon the pun) as Farr has come since last November. He continues to grow both in height, maturation and in ability. This face-up 4-man has range out to 20 feet, yet has a soft touch around the basket with a nice developing jump-hook. The left-handed Farr is not a freak athlete and needs to gain weight and strength, but he can run the floor and step out and help space the floor with his perimeter shooting abiltity. That late development has meant many schools being late to the James Farr Recruiting Party. Boise State is the lone offer for Farr as of earlier this week, but the likes of Murray State, Northern Iowa, Colorado State, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Green-Bay have shown heavy interest.
“He’s made such big strides with his confidence and maturity in the last year,” says Evanston coach Bobby Locke. “Plus, he’s just starting to figure out how big he is and understand how he can impact games with his size.”
• Dylan Ennis, 6-0, Lake Forest (Academy)
He quietly committed to Akron but has recently opened things back up again after a stellar spring playing for NLP on the travel team circuit. Now he’s among the better point guards in the Chicago area with a terrific frame and length for a lead guard. While still battling inconsistency at times and trying to grow as a student of the game, Ennis is a talent with upside. Although streaky with his shot, he’s made strides in this area. As he becomes more consistent and a little less erratic, Ennis should blossom with his active perimeter play and impressive tools on display through July.