Aside from a few fifth-year seniors, the Illinois prep class of 2009 has completed its college basketball eligibility.
So what if we could rank those prep players today, knowing what we know with a little hindsight? Where would they rank?
Knowing everything they know now, who would college coaches offer scholarships to if they could go back in time?
We know Marshall’s Darius Smith wouldn’t have been a consensus top five player. And we know a kid named Robert Covington, who prepped at Proviso West, would be ranked a whole lot higher today.
Overall, the class wasn’t — and didn’t turn out to be — all that dynamic. Nearly half (9 of 20) of the original players in the Hoops Report’s top 20 in 2009 did not finish their career with the school they signed with out of high school. Surprise, surprise. And there were several players who ran into off-the-court trouble that led to suspensions, transfers and, in one tragic case, death.
Michael Haynes, who played at both Washington and Fenger in high school and was headed to Iona after brief stops at a prep school and junior college, was tragically shot and killed last summer.
No, it’s not the easiest thing to do when you consider certain players could have played at a level lower than it did and possibly produced at a higher level. A lot of “What ifs?” come into play. Would Lake Forest’s Matt Vogrich have had a bigger impact playing in the Missouri Valley or even at Michigan if he wasn’t followed up by the likes of Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Nick Stauskas in Ann Arbor?
This list is about performance and production at the collegiate level, combining the level they are playing at and the impact they’ve had, and also for a good old fashioned basketball conversation. Here is a look at how the Hoops Report sees the Class of 2009 — four years later.
1. Brandon Paul, 6-4, 2G, Gurnee (Warren)
After an up-and-down, inconsistent three seasons in Champaign, Paul had a monster first half of the season as a senior and finished the year averaging 16.6 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. He led the Illini to a NCAA Tournament berth and was a third-team All-Big Ten selection.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 1
2. Drew Crawford, 6-5, 2G, Northwestern
Suffered a season-ending injury after 10 games and took a medical redshirt this past season. He will return and play for first-year coach Chris Collins as a fifth-year senior next season. Could a big year vault him to the top of this list at the end of the day? Crawford was the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year and, as a junior, was a consensus third-team All-Big Ten selection after averaging 16 points a game.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 2
3. Jack Cooley, 6-8, PG, Glenview (Glenbrook South)
Improved each and every year at Notre Dame and had a breakout season for the Fighting Irish as a senior. He averaged a double-double on the season, putting up 13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds a game while shooting 58 percent from the field. He was a first-team All-Big East selection as a senior.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 4
4. D.J. Cooper, 5-9, PG, Chicago (Seton Academy)
After a huge junior year that helped the Bobcats to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen, Cooper put up 14 points and 7.1 assists a game this past season. Cooper is the only player in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a career.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 11
5. Angus Brandt, 6-10, PF, Lake Forest (Academy)
After averaging 9.1 points a game as a junior, Brandt was off to a fast start with Oregon State in his first four games of the season this year, averaging 11.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game. But an ACL injury sidelined Brandt for the season. He redshirted and will return to the Beavers next year.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 3
6. Robert Covington, 6-8, WF, Hillside (Proviso West)
Arguably the best player in the Ohio Valley Conference and a player who will have the opportunity to make money as a pro somewhere. Without a whole lot of fanfare, Covington averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds and nearly two blocks a game this year at Tennessee State. He’s a two-time All-OVC player and scored 1,738 career points.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 21
7. Joseph Bertrand, 6-5, 2G, Sterling
Redshirted as a freshman and still has a year of eligibility at Illinois. His role and game expanded this past season, where he averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes a game. Will play a valuable role for Illinois next year as a fifth-year senior.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 7
8. Derek Needham, 5-11, PG, Chicago (De La Salle)
Put together a terrific career, starting with a freshman season where he averaged a career-high 16.4 points a game. Nearly scored 2,000 career points (1,875) and was a three-time All-MAAC selection at Fairfield.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 15
9. John Taylor, 6-1, 2G, North Lawndale
Without question the most difficult player to place in these rankings. This past season Taylor led the country in scoring in Division II with over 27 points a game for Fresno Pacific. That came a year after he was named the National Junior College Player of the Year. He has decided to forego his senior year, has hired an agent and will enter the NBA Draft this June.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 8
10. Jon Mills, 6-4, PF, Chicago (North Lawndale)
After two years of junior college ball, Mills played big and was very productive at Southern Miss. He averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season as a junior and 9.3 points and 8 rebounds a game as a senior.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 13
11. Marcus Jordan, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Whitney Young)
An odd career that was productive but ended prematurely when leaving the Central Florida basketball program with a year of eligibility remaining. Jordan averaged 8.0, 15.2 and 13.7 points a game in three years.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: 17
12. Dyricus Simms-Edwards, 6-3, PG, Washington
Although Bradley struggled in the four years Simms-Edwards played, he was the program’s best overall player during that time. He averaged in double figures in three of his four years, including 12.3 points and 2.7 assists a game this past season as a senior. Finished career with 1,255 points.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: 21
13. James Kinney, 6-2, 2G, Champaign Centennial
Began his career at Ohio and played a role as a freshman before his career as a Bobcat was cut short. He ended up at Eastern Utah College before settling in at San Jose State. As a junior he led the Spartans in scoring at nearly 16 points a game and was averaging 20.6 points a game through 14 games. He ran into some off-the-court issues and was dismissed from the team.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 18
14. Cully Payne, 6-1, PG, Schaumburg
The journey of Cully Payne has been a winding road. After starting at Iowa as a freshman, averaging 8.7 points a game, his role and minutes diminished as a sophomore. He transferred to Loyola, sat out a year and this past season played 28 minutes a game and averaged 7.9 points and 4.2 assists a game. However, Payne has left the program with a year of eligibility remaining.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 10
15. Kyle Cain, 6-7, PF, Calumet City (T.F. North)
Went the prep school route and is only a junior eligibility wise. Was a key fixture for Arizona State, starting 17 games last season and averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. But he decided to transfer and is sitting out the season at UNC-Greensboro this year, where he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: 16
16. Chris Colvin, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young)
The physical guard began his career at Iowa State and transferred to Arizona State, where he has been a role player the past couple of seasons. He averaged 5.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2 assists a game this past season.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: 9
17. Matt Vogrich, 6-3, 2G, Lake Forest
Had a breakout summer on the AAU circuit and generated a whole lot of interest heading into his senior year of high school. But he just wasn’t able to get off the Michigan bench much in his four years.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: 6
18. Paris Gulley, 6-2, 2G, Peoria Manual
Following his career at Manual, Gulley spent two seasons at Southeastern Community College. Quietly he put together a strong two years at UW-Milwaukee, including averaging 14.7 points a game this past season after scoring 8.5 points a game as a junior.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 39
19. Jordan Prosser, 6-9, C, Eureka
After redshirting as a freshman at Bradley, Prosser has been a regular the past three seasons and has a year of eligibility remaining. This past season he played 22 minutes a game and averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds a game one year after averaging 7.8 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.
Previous Hoops Report ranking in 2009: No. 26
❇ Michael Haynes, Fenger
The Hoops Report has placed Haynes among the top 20, where he would have been if not for his life being cut tragically short. He passed away last summer when he was shot and killed on Chicago’s Far South Side. After high school, Haynes had a quick stop at a prep school before signing with UTEP. He didn’t play there and instead ended up at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. He signed with Iona before his tragic death last July.
Previous ranking in 2009: 12
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