Six-piece nugget from Spiece

By Joe Henricksen

The Spiece Run-n-Slam All-Star Classic was a loaded event this past weekend and arguably the top spring event on the calendar, especially when it comes to Illinois representatives. Here is a look at six quick nuggets (team and individual) from this past weekend.

1. Anthony Davis

What more can anyone say about the rapid and preposterous rise of Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives? After his coming-out party in Merrillville at the Nike Spring Showdown, Davis left little doubt about his whopping upside after showing all that he offers in Fort Wayne.

Davis is an absolutely intriguing and unique story when you think about a player arriving on the scene this late in his career, especially in a basketball city like Chicago with so many eyes and mouthpieces out there. You just can’t help but be captivated by the upside of Davis, who is raw and a bit limited due to his lack of weight and strength but possesses such great potential. His height at 6-10 and wingspan at over 7-feet, which is the first thing you are drawn to, already allow him to be a factor. His crazy length allows him to finish around the rim offensively and by altering and blocking shots on the defensive end. He has very good hands. Then you throw in the ability to run the floor and the skill level for a player with those type of dimensions and you start thinking big things as a prospect. He’s never going to be an overpowering type, but he can certainly be a finesse type of 4-man.

While the Class of 2011 was already deep and balanced among the top seven or eight players, Davis gives the class a big boost at the top. After just one weekend of action at a high AAU level in Merrillville, David vaulted into the top 10. Now, in just two weeks, he has catapulted himself to the No. 2 spot behind Morgan Park’s Wayne Blackshear. In fact, when it’s all said and done Davis could be the top prospect in Illinois when the July evaluation period concludes.

Now there is absolutely nothing normal about his recruiting. I remember watching Davis in Merrillville and thinking, “This kid has no idea what’s about to hit him in the next two months.” Well, it’s starting. There are phone calls and offers from programs who have never seen him play. Davis and his family have to be thinking, “What the heck is happening?”

2. Phillip Greene

The 6-2 Julian guard is the one player in the class making a push into the upper-echelon of top prospects in the Class of 2011. He has that perimeter combination you covet: speed and athleticism. Plus, he just knows how to put the ball in the hole. At least once or twice a game he will make a brilliant play that shows the amount of potential he has. He shows an ability to finish in transition and in traffic, especially in ISO situations, and will knock down shots from the perimeter with regularity. He is still adjusting to when the tempo slows and making the proper reads and decisions. However, Greene has proved he’s made strides in a lot of areas and is the No. 10 player in the Hoops Report player rankings.

3. Meanstreets

Well, considering the two aforementioned players — Anthony Davis and Phillip Greene — were the first two stories in this blog, is it any wonder that Meanstreets has had so much success? This team advanced deeper into tournament play than any other Illinois team in the Gold Division. Meanstreets fell to Indiana Elite, the eventual champion, in the semifinals. And when Hillcrest point guard Juice Brown was given an opportunity, he made the most of it. Brown’s teams win. It was just a little over a month ago when Brown led Hillcrest to a Class 3A state title.

4. Team Ferrari

While the 16-and-under Ferrari team was bounced a little earlier than they would have liked, falling to Spiece Mo Kan in the second round of the Gold Division playoffs, this is one of the most talented 16-and-under teams in Illinois. Derrick Randolph sets the tone. The 5-6 sophomore, who is anxious and primed after missing plenty of action this past winter, sets the standard for this team. He sets the temperature in the room with his hustle, energy and tenacity. Orr’s C.J. Jones is another talented guard and a top five player in the Class of 2012, while Homewood-Flossmoor’s 6-7 Tim Williams and Simeon’s 6-7 Steve Taylor and Whitney Young’s 6-7 Jermaine Morgan give this team some size and punch around the basket.

5. Surprise, Surprise

Here are a few individuals and teams that have opened eyes this spring and continued to in Fort Wayne over the weekend.

Derrick Randolph, Whitney Young … He’s 5-6 and the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2012. (See the Hoops Report’s previous blog for more on the little Dolphin dynamo).

Dylan Ennis, Lake Forest (Academy) … The 6-1 athletic point guard with a strong and long body still battles some some consistency issues, both with his shooting and in taking care of the ball, but Ennis put together solid back-to-back weekends overall between his play in Merrillville and Fort Wayne. Ennis is an Akron commit who will make a jump of about 20 spots in the Hoops Report Class of 2011 rankings.

James Farr, Evanston … Maybe the unsung prospect right now in the Class of 2011. If the 6-7 face-up 4-man, who has a nice jump-hook when he is in the paint, pops another inch or two, look out. Farr has the ability to consistently knock down shots from the perimeter and shined at times in Fort Wayne playing with the Rising Stars. Really like his progress and upside as a potential mid-major prospect.

Jack Ryan, Glenbrook South … While not ultra-smooth, the 6-6 wing is crafty in a lot of different ways and had a productive weekend for the Rising Stars Gold. Ryan finds a way to get to the basket and finish. His versatility, along with academics, could make him a viable option for Patriot League and Ivy League programs.

Frank Kaminsky, Benet Academy … After watching Kaminsky in two sectional tournament games, the strides he has made in this short of time is impressive. He has become a bigger factor on the floor, more of a presence. And he has certainly peaked the interest of college programs who are constantly in desperate need of size.

6. Rising Stars Gold

No, this is not an earth-shattering story here. This is just one to give some recognition to a team that has flown under the radar due to some injuries and roster changes over the past month, including the loss of Orr star Mycheal Henry. There has been plenty written about the Big Three in Illinois AAU basketball already this spring. And while the Illinois Wolves, Mac Irvin Fire and Meanstreets are the most talented trio of teams in the state, checking in at No. 4, when it’s all said and done, will likely be the unsung Rising Stars Gold. First, however, they must get healthy.

Ryan Sawvell of Mundelein, the team’s top prospect, has been out all spring with an injury but will be returning to action this week. When you add the 6-7 Sawvell and 6-6 Pete Szostak of Glenbrook North, who also missed action at Spiece, to the mix of Glenbrook South’s Jack Ryan, Glenbard East’s Johnny Hill, Evanston’s Garrett Jones and shooter Brayden Teuscher of Rockford Christian, the Rising Stars Gold will be a formidable group come July. Without Sawvell and Szostak the Rising Stars reached the quarterfinals of the Silver Division playoffs, largely behind the play of Evanston’s James Farr.

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