So many games, so many players, so many opportunities.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a quick look at a few prospects that really impressed over the past week in holiday tournament play.
CLASS OF 2014 HOLIDAY STOCK RISER: PEYTON ALLEN
Peyton Allen of Chatham-Glenwood, located 15 minutes south of Springfield, is a perfect example of why basketball evaluators and college coaches continue to watch and monitor a prospect dozens of times throughout their entire four-year high school career. You can’t afford to just write off a prospect.
The 6-5 senior guard received early attention and hype as a youngster, drawing plenty of college interest and even some high-major offers. Last season at the midway point, Allen contracted a serious case of mononucleosis that required him to be hospitalized.
Although he returned later in the season for Chatham-Glenwood, Allen was never himself on the floor. Even this past summer, Allen was a step slow and a little less than impressive. Allen opted not to sign a letter-of-intent in November and play out his senior year after so many college coaches were unable to see him play at his healthy, high-level self.
But after watching Allen over the holidays at the State Farm Classic in Bloomington-Normal, it’s clearly evident that outside influences — in this case, a serious illness that lingered and zapped a lot out of Allen — was something outsiders never could properly gauge.
Allen, who leads Chatham-Glenwood into the State Farm Classic title game Monday night against North Chicago, has been terrific in tournament play. He was particularly outstanding when the Hoops Report took in his action.
He looks healthy and says it’s the first time he’s been at 100 percent since last season. He has more bounce in his step and has showcased improved athleticism off the floor. More importantly, he’s simply been a catalyst for the Titans, averaging 26.3 points in the three wins this past weekend.
Allen, a solid perimeter shooter and good rebounding guard, appears much more comfortable in attacking the basket and is playing with such confidence.
He plays in the heart of the Missouri Valley Conference and would be an outstanding late MVC recruit in April — or in a comparable mid-major plus league — if he doesn’t find a high-major fit. And that’s a completely different impression of Allen than the Hoops Report had coming out of the summer.
CLASS OF 2015 HOLIDAY STOCK RISER: ROLAND GRIFFIN
There isn’t a player in the Class of 2015 who will skyrocket up the Hoops Report’s player rankings list more than Griffin, the 6-4 junior from West Aurora. It says an awful lot for Griffin and his development over the past 12 months.
A role player a year ago for Gordie Kerkman’s sectional title team as a sophomore, Griffin has molded himself into a true versatile weapon. He’s put in the work and matured physically and mentally as a player. He was impressive at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, showcasing his size, power, strength, improved shooting and the ability to impact games in a variety of ways.
OTHERS WHO ELEVATED THEIR STOCK
■ Kain Harris, Morgan Park
The 6-3 guard displayed his all-around upside and potential as a scorer in a Proviso West breakout performance in a win over Maine South. He poured in 33 points while knocking down 9-of-13 from beyond the arc in the victory. The Hoops Report highlighted Harris in a column earlier this month.
■ Tyler Hall, Rock Island
Although the Hoops Report became a fan of Hall this past summer, the 6-3 shooting guard has solidified himself as one of the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2015 with his play at the start of this season. The smooth perimeter shooter is always a threat to knock down shots, and he continues to become a more diverse scorer.
■ Weisner Perez, Morton
Instrumental in leading Morton to the Proviso West tournament quarterfinals, the 6-6 junior remains an undersized 4-man but an extremely productive one. Perez stepped out and knocked down a couple of three-pointers in three games, while recording three double-doubles in putting up impressive three-game totals of 17.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game.
■ Joseph Stamps, Curie
While the 6-4 guard may still be a bit one-dimensional, it’s the right dimension to have. Stamps is a high-level shooter who is gaining more and more consistency with it. He can put points on the board and space the floor with his range and shooting ability. In the final three games at Pontiac, the sweet-shooting wing shot 8-of-12 from three-point range and averaged 12 points a game as Cliff Alexander’s sidekick.
■ Cliff Alexander, Curie
What? The nation’s No. 2 ranked player in the country can’t raise his stock? He did in the eyes of the Hoops Report, which continues to be amazed by his sheer dominance, along with his physical and athletic presence. Alexander’s performance against West Aurora in the semifinals — 37 points, 26 rebounds, six blocks and double-digit dunks — was one for the ages. He led Curie to a tournament title while averaging 27 points and 17 rebounds a game while shooting 69 percent from the field.