By Joe Henricksen
They won’t be recruited by Duke, North Carolina or any Big Ten schools. They won’t be cracking any top 100 national rankings. They won’t be confused with the likes of Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard or Lenzelle Smith. But the following 10 players, all seniors-to-be, have something in common in the coming months.
Riverside-Brookfield’s Sean McGonagill, Lincoln’s Ben Brackney, Hales Franciscan’s Patrick Miller, Rock Falls’ Tevin Rumley, Oak Park’s Jeff Dirkin, Foreman’s Tommy Woolridge, Kaneland’s Dave Dudzinski, Rich East’s Kashaune McKinney, Bolingbrook’s Antoine Cox and Oswego East’s Jay Harris all have their sights set on impressing college coaches once they are given the opportunity and earning those coveted Division I offers. Their names are starting to generate a little buzz with some outstanding spring performances, yet college coaches have seen very little of them due to being under-the-radar and not being able to get out and evaluate in the spring as they have in the past.
Here is a look at 10 players the Hoops Report believes are beginning to put together impressive resumés and have the most to prove and showcase in the coming months.
SEAN McGONAGILL, 6-2, PG, Riverside-Brookfield
• Just call him Mr. Steady. He has been rock solid for the Illinois Kings all spring long. He’s run the team nearly flawlessly and shot the heck out of the ball from the perimeter for a team that has enjoyed a lot of spring success. The strong-bodied point guard may not wow you with his athleticism, speed or dimensions, but in the end he’s always able to handle whatever is thrown at him. Right now the Hoops Report views McGonagill as a perfect Division II point guard, who must continue to show he can handle quick, athletic perimeter players on both ends of the floor. If he does do just that, McGonagill could solidify himself as a low-Division I point guard.
BEN BRACKNEY, 6-5, 2G/WF, Lincoln
• The 6-5 shooter has been a gem for coach Larry Butler’s Illinois Warriors this spring. He’s playing with more confidence and gaining experience playing against high-quality, athletic players. While his overall foot speed remains the question mark, he is showing he’s more athletic than people have given him credit for. He is a young senior-to-be, so he’s not done developing by any means. Brackney is a dead-eye spot-up shooter from beyond the arc who seems to be getting more comfortable putting the ball on the floor, developing a pull-up jumper. He would thrive best in a specific system and style that is geared around his strengths. With his size and shooting ability, Brackney is climbing the Hoops Report’s player rankings and is a low-Division I prospect right now who will have the opportunity to prove doubters wrong this summer.
TEVIN RUMLEY, 6-3, 2G, Rock Falls
• As a result of playing both his high school and AAU basketball outside the Chicago area, Rumley may be one of the more overlooked prospects in Illinois. There aren’t many high school players with a better mid-range game than Rumley, who makes a living off the 2 to 3 power dribble and mid-range game. He will lull you to sleep a bit off the dribble, but then shows above-average athleticism with a powerful body (he benches 265 pounds) and good body control. Rumley still has to prove he can get things done at a higher level, against better competition.
JEFF DIRKIN, 6-7, PF, Oak Park
• When watching Dirkin at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament last December, you could see the potential starting to come together. Still, he was far away from where he is today and so physically weak. While he still needs to gain considerable strength and weight, Dirkin is blossoming this spring while playing with McGonagill on the Illinois Kings AAU team. He’s skilled with an inside/outside game but especially flourishes facing the basket. His lack of bulk does hurt him rebounding and he may lack the foot speed to defend small forwards at a high level, but he’s a real offensive threat who seems to just get better and better.
JAY HARRIS, 6-0, PG/2G, Oswego East
• The slender combo guard is a scorer who has a little swagger and bounce to his game. There will always be concerns over whether he will be able to take the pounding at the college level as Harris is rail thin. However, Harris, is a real rhythm scorer with advanced scoring abilities. He can put points on the board in bunches and can be devastating creating his shot off the dribble, shoot with range or beat people off the dribble. Harris, who plays summer ball with Old School, still must become more comfortable with the nuances of the point guard position and may need time to develop those skills, but he is arguably one of the best five shooters in Illinois and a bonafide Division I prospect.
TOMMY WOOLRIDGE, 6-2, 2G/WF, Chicago (Foreman)
• Of all the players on this list, here is the one who either already has Division I offers on the table or has some ready to pop — and is the highest ranked player at No. 25 on the Hoops Report Class of 2010 rankings. He lives in the shadow of the more hyped Foreman stars — Mike McCall and Lavonte Dority — but he’s certainly the third Division I prospect on this team. There just aren’t a lot of college coaches who have taken notice yet. He’s a big-time scorer with the kind of offensive mentality you love. He’s still a little raw and his overall floor game needs refinement, but he’s blessed with many of the traits you just can’t teach.
PATRICK MILLER, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Hales)
• The Hoops Report has been singing the praises of Miller for quite some time. He’s developing into the type of point guard that the Hoops Report expected. Now it’s time for college coaches to start taking notice of the No. 27 ranked player in the Hoops Report’s Class of 2010. Miller has a solid floor game. He is heady and just has a feel for the position, while also being a competitor who will defend and won’t back down. He’s not a superstar athlete, but he gets where he wants to on the floor and will knock down shots.
DAVE DUDZINSKI, 6-8, PF, Kaneland
• The big kid from the farming community northwest of Aurora has grown leaps and bounds over the last 12-18 months. He’s gone from a major project with little production to a legitimate face-up 4-man. You come away so impressed with his coordination, ability to move and run the floor for a player his size. Dudzinski, who plays AAU ball with Velocity, still has to get stronger, demand the ball more and build a better on-the-block game, but he’s skilled enough to show his vast upside and get you excited about his potential.
KASHAUNE McKINNEY, 6-3, 2G/WF, Park Forest (Rich East)
• The eyes open when watching McKinney due to his combination of athleticism and his improved ability to knock down shots. McKinney, who played with four seniors at Rich East this past winter, has been impressive this spring with the Illinois Wolverines on the AAU circuit and has risen into the Hoops Report’s top 30 prospects in the Class of 2010. He still has to improve his fundamentals and overall feel for the game, but his upside will excite you.
ANTOINE COX, 6-3, WF, Bolingbrook
• A rare, freakish athlete on the wing who absolutely explodes off the floor and already possesses a great body. His explosiveness is off the charts, though his skill level needs some catching up. When he squares up, with his feet set, he can knock down shots, even with range at times. The problem, however, is a lack of consistency both in doing so and with his mechanics. Cox just needs to play more and work on his skill set. He could turn into a big lockdown perimeter defender with his physical and athletic strengths.