By Joe Henricksen
Since the very first Class of 2010 Hoops Report rankings came out in the fall of 2006, Jereme Richmond has been at the top. And all he’s done is continue to separate himself from the rest of the pack. That initial ranking nearly three years ago didn’t even have the likes of Meyers Leonard on the list. Now he’s the No. 2 prospect in the class. Throw in No. 3 ranked Crandall Head and coach Bruce Weber and his Fighting Illini have secured commitments from the top three prospects in the state.
A lot will develop between now and the end of July in regard to player improvement, but here is a look at the top 25 players in the Class of 2010 heading into the spring, with the next 25 coming later in the week.
1. Jereme Richmond, 6-7, WF, Waukegan … He’s one of the top five prospects the state has produced in the last decade and should be a consensus top 10 national player before it’s all said and done. He is in rare company when you combine his skill level, feel for the game and size.
2. Meyers Leonard, 6-10, PF, Robinson … Continues to get better and better and open people’s eyes. He’s long, very agile with good hands, runs the floor and has the body and frame to bulk up and add weight and strength. Did you see him in the IHSA dunk contest and what he did as a 6-10 post player in that competition? Impressive. Reminds Hoops Report of a young Jason Smith, the former Colorado State star and NBA first-round draft pick.
3. Crandall Head, 6-4, 2G, Chicago (Crane) … He has stayed a little too raw a little too long, but you can’t ignore the pure upside and ability. Even with his explosive athleticism, he still has to start putting it all together and play with a purpose.
4. Lenzelle Smith, 6-3, WF, Zion-Benton … A complete, highly versatile player who elevates those around him and helps teams win. He has great vision in recognizing open teammates, finishes around the basket and has great body control. He still needs to get more comfortable and consistent shooting from the perimeter.
5. Ben Brust, 6-2, 2G, Mundelein … Arguably the best shooter in the state and shoots it with range. He can fill it up and is a better athlete than people think. He moves well without the ball, has a quick release and excels at catch-and-shoot or shooting off the dribble. Could really stand to bulk up and gain more body strength.
6. Mike McCall, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Foreman) … He’s poised for a big, breakout summer. He is a smooth glider with a killer crossover and ability to break people down. A blur in transition. While he sees the floor well, he may not have the true point guard mentality. An improved perimeter jumper has made him a deadly offensive weapon.
7. Anthony Johnson, 6-3, PG/2G, Chicago (Whitney Young) … Will get his chance to shine on next year’s Whitney Young team. He can reel off big points in a hurry, whether scoring in transition or knocking down shots from beyond the arc. Lack of weight and body strength still an issue.
8. Phillip Jackson, 6-8, PF, Chicago (Providence St. Mel) … Shows very good mobility, runs the floor with ease and has improved his touch around the basket. A very good athlete with length. He must build on his limited variety of back-to-the-basket moves and become more polished offensively.
9. Karl Madison, 5-10, PG, Springfield (Lanphier) … A Daniel Gibson-like scoring point guard. A big-time scoring lead guard who can put points on the board with a nice bag of tricks offensively. He gets to the basket, hits mid-range jumpers and his range extends out to 20 feet. Does he possess a point guard’s mentality and feel?
10. Reggie Smith, 6-0, 2G, Harvey (Thornton) … He competes, gets after it and is probably one of the few true elite, off-the-charts athletes in the class. His perimeter shot has improved, but he still needs to make major strides in the skill areas. Smith is an awfully difficult player to peg.
11. Alex Rossi, 6-5, 2G, Winnetka (New Trier) … Shooting the ball well for his Rising Stars AAU team after an up-and-down high school season. He plays the game with maturity and intelligence and comes with a great deal of experience under his belt. Works well off picks and screens. Defensively he could struggle to defend more athletic shooting guards and is lateral quickness is lacking.
12. Rayvonte Rice, 6-3, WF, Champaign (Centennial) … While maybe not spectacular at first glance, there is so much to like. A tough, strong, physical perimeter player with great athleticism. Has shown a high basketball I.Q., understands how to get by opponents, finishes after contact. As his perimeter skills improve, including getting more consistent with his perimeter shot, the sky is the limit. Look for a breakout season on the AAU circuit.
13. Jordan Threloff, 6-10, C, DeKalb … As big as they come and getting better and more productive by the day. When he fully develops physically he will be immovable and will hold his position with anyone. He’s developed ways to score around the basket (put-backs, short flip-ins, jump hook). While he runs the floor well for his size, he’s a below-the-rim player without much athleticism.
14. Ahmad Starks, 5-8, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young) … Has a lot of point guard abilities such as controlling tempo if necessary, court vision, high basketball I.Q. and leadership. He can go through hot and cold periods with his shot but is capable shooting from the perimeter. His lack of size and body type will always be an issue at the next level.
15. Alex Dragicevich, 6-6, WF, Northbrook (Glenbrook North) … A Jason Kapono-type who will extend defenses with his quick release and range. He has a niche as a scorer at the next level but must become a more complete player. The foot speed is lacking defensively and would be a concern at the highest level.
16. Dwayne Evans, 6-5, WF, Naperville (Neuqua Valley) … A unique player who gets so much done and does a little of everything. He is getting much more consistent with his perimeter shot, extending his range out to 20 feet. Typically works harder than most everyone on the floor.
17. Anthony Shoemaker, 6-6, WF, Joliet … Just an extremely long and athletic wing who is still learning how to play but will impress with eye-popping plays and finishes. While a bit erratic, he has decent skills for a player his size. While his jump shot is improved and he is capable of hitting the 18-20 foot jumper, the mechanics aren’t what you would want and there is still much work to do in polishing his game.
18. Isiah Jones, 6-2, PG, Mounds Meridian … Talented lead guard hidden playing in the deep southern part of the state. Has a very nice body and size for a point guard, uses change of direction well to get by defenders, strong finisher. He has to establish his outside shooting.
19. Lavonte Dority, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Foreman) … A little on the small side in height but makes up for it in strength. His strength overpowers players at the prep level. The biggest downfall is that his upside is limited and he lacks the true perimeter shot you covet.
20. Tim Rusthoven, 6-7, PF, Wheaton (Academy) … Still flying under-the-radar among college coaches, though more are taking notice. Hoops Report continues to see a smaller version of John Shurna, the former Glenbard West star. He has a little old school game to him with the ability to do a little on the block, post up, face-up, knock down shots. He’s a solid passer and gets so much done with what he has size-wise and athetically.
21. Jarod Oldham, 6-3, 2G, Decatur (Eisenhower) … Streaky scorer with a wide array of tools offensively. Good lateral quickness and athleticism on the perimeter. He has a habit of getting out of control and being a bit careless with the ball.
22. Brandon Spearman, 6-3, 2G/WF, Chicago (Simeon) … A bit of a ‘tweener but he is a big-bodied, athletic wing who can knock down shots but needs to gain consistency. Will he become a productive scorer and improve overall skills, especially his ballhandling?
23. Fred Heldring, 6-9, PF, Winnetka (New Trier) … He’s got the height, length and skill level that grabs your attention. Will toughness come as he gets older and matures physically?
24. Eric Gaines, 6-4, 2G/WF, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) … Long, wiry and athletic wing who is a disruptive force defensively and impressive in transition, getting to the basket and is a great finisher. He hits the glass well for his size. Lacks consistency and needs to become a better shooter.
25. Tommy Woolridge, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Foreman) … The undervalued player in Foreman’s talented senior trio, but Woolridge can score and score in bunches.
26. Patrick Miller, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Hales) … Talented, smooth point guard who will distribute and score. Look for Miller to blossom this summer and show he has the ability to run the show for low-Division I program.
27. Jay Harris, 6-0, PG, Oswego (East) … This rail-thin combo guard can really score with range, a pull-up game and off the bounce. He has a little swagger to his game. His lack of size is a concern.
28. Tevin Rumley, 6-3, 2G, Rock Falls … Doesn’t get a lot of attention being outside the Chicago area, but Rumley is a big 2-guard who has about as good of a mid-range game as you will find at the high school level. Uses his big body and above-average athleticism well.
29. Jermaine Winfield, 6-5, PF, Chicago (North Lawndale) … Hoops Report may have him a little high but you won’t find players who play harder. He’s an undersized four-man with limitations, but he’s tough, rugged, plays defense and will knock down that 12-15 foot face-up jumper.
30. Kashaune McKinney, 6-3, 2G/WF, Park Forest (Rich East) … Terrific body and outstanding athleticism. He has the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, although a bit streak, while still getting the feel of getting some things done off the dribble.
31. Antoine Cox, 6-3, WF, Bolingbrook … One of those eye-popping athletes who explodes off the floor. A bit inexperienced as a basketball player, but he’s improved with his skills but has a ways to go, both with his handle and consistency with his jumper. Great body.
32. Dave Dudzinski, 6-8, PF, Maple Park (Kaneland) ... A big, tall, rangy face-up 4-man who has made big strides since last summer. He has the impressive combination of size and coordination and moves well for a player his size.
33. Wayne Simon, 5-11, PG, Westchester (St. Joseph) … Another thin guard who needs to add weight and strength to his frame. He will drop the mid-range jumper on you all day. Plus, he’s crafty in using his body, length in getting to the basket.
34. Vincent Garrett, 6-5, PF, Chicago (Marshall) … Still raw and unpolished but his athleticism will jump out at you. Big-time athlete with a pretty high ceiling but an undersized 4-man right now.
35. Duje Dukan, 6-6, WF, Deerfield … Will shoot the basketball with just about anyone. He’s still growing and will serve a need for some Division I program as a deadly perimeter shooter. Also brings good size but lacks the foot speed.
36. Aaron Williams, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Vocational) … Pretty versatile kid who can go inside and battle around the basket or handle the ball a little on the perimeter. Still needs work on his jumper.
37. Paul Bunch, 6-10, C, Chicago (North Lawndale) … Yes, his stock has fallen, but he is a legit 6-10 with a big frame. Shows some definite flashes on both ends of the floor.
38. Mike Gabriel, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Lincoln Park) … Tough, hard-nosed 4-man with some strength. He lacks the lift and overall athleticism you would like, but he will get after it. Developing a decent face-up game.
39. Jeff Johnson, 6-9, PF, Champaign (Centennial) … There may not be a better shooting big man in the state with legitimate range out to the three-point line. He’s not much of an athlete. Coming along with his back-to-the-basket but must become a bigger threat on the block.
40. Ben Brackney, 6-5, WF, Lincoln … A better-than-you-think athlete but lacks the foot speed. He can really shoot the basketball, has some size and has played well this spring in AAU ball.
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