Henricksen: A sweet sixteen in 2015

SHARE Henricksen: A sweet sixteen in 2015

The Class of 2015 in Illinois is rock solid. No, it’s not memorable-making, ready-for-the-NBA Class of 2014 worthy –– it’s going to be a long time before we ever have two top five players in the country (Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander) in the same class again (or ever again?) –– but it’s a class with some high-level talent at the top, Division I depth and a few under-appreciated and overlooked prospects throughout.

What’s also exciting is the class is getting deeper by the week, with more players showing they are scholarship worthy, whether it’s at the Division II or Division I level.

While rankings are trivial –– what matters is what level a prospect can play at and succeed –– they’re out there for all to dissect. In any ranking someone has to be 13th, another player 16th and someone else 19th and 24th. But in reality, there is often very little difference between that 9th and 14th ranked prospect when it comes to where they both can play and have the biggest impact at the next level.

Here’s a look at the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 16 prospects in the senior class as they’ve finished off their final July evaluation period and head into the final year of their prep career.

1. Jalen Brunson, 6-2, PG, Stevenson

Blessed with that combination of scoring and playmaking to go with his strength, high basketball I.Q. and a competitive quality that sets him apart. Then there is the production and winning, which no player in the class can replicate. Brunson hits the trifecta: he scores, he makes those around him better and he wins.

2. Charles Matthews, 6-6, WF, St. Rita

Kentucky recruit brings the physical characteristics you seek on the wing with length, athleticism and size. Projects to be a high-level defender who can guard multiple positions and a strong finisher at the rim, while his skill level (shooting and ballhandling) continues to evolve.

3. D.J. Williams, 6-7, WF, Simeon

The Illinois commit is arguably the most versatile player in the class with an ability to play several positions and impact games in so many different ways. His approach, mentality and confidence have all taken a turn for the better this offseason, which has turned Williams from “prospect” to “player.”

4. Aaron Jordan, 6-4, 2G, Plainfield East

Brings the prototypical look to the shooting guard position with size and an ability to make shots, both with range out to the three-point line and with his patented pull-up, mid-range game. The Illinois recruit will bring something the program has lacked in recent years: a shot-maker.

5. Ed Morrow, 6-6, PF, Simeon

A high-motor, blue-collar 4-man with very good athleticism who always seems to be around the basketball, whether it’s on the glass or doing some dirty work in the lane and around the basket. Still a bit unpolished offensively, but he finds ways to impact games.

6. Glynn Watson, 5-11, PG, St. Joseph

In a class dearth of quality point guards, Watson fits the bill as a player who will run a team, disrupt in the open floor, create when necessary and is a very willing on-the-ball defender. Watson’s mid-range game is solid and his sneaky speed gets him by defenders.

7. Isaiah Moss, 6-5, WF, Simeon

After a small role as a junior, Moss is a completely different looking player. He’s turned the corner, blossomed and raised his stock as much as anyone in the class turning that potential into production. He’s added strength to his frame and become more consistent with his shot. He’s gone from a Division I prospect to knocking on the door of high-major status.

8. Luwane Pipkins, 5-9, PG, Bogan

UMass got the job done early and nabbed a steal as Pipkins has the ability to turn the tide of a game at both ends of the floor. He puts pressure on opponents as a sniper with his shooting range and as a tough, ballhawk defender.

9. Christian Williams, 6-5, PG/2G, Decatur St. Teresa

Such an intriguing talent as he’s a smooth player with the ball in his hands who tantalizes you with his great size and skill level at the guard position. He can create, distribute and knock down a shot just enough to cause matchup problems with his size and skill.

10. Roosevelt Smart, 6-2, 2G, St. Viator

Put together a solid spring on the AAU circuit and is one of the better off-the-ball scorers in the class. Smart has some bounce and slash to him and an ability to make shots from the perimeter, both as a catch-and-shoot and pull-up shooting weapon.

11. Joseph Toye, 6-7, WF, Whitney Young

After spending a year at La Lumiere Prep School in Indiana, the versatile Toye returns to where he began his high school career. While his basketball acumen is still coming along, the Vanderbilt recruit is a weapon with his length, athleticism and improved skill.

12. Tyler Hall, 6-3, 2G, Rock Island

Blessed with arguably the smoothest shooting stroke in the class. With his range, quick release, tough-shot making ability and underrated passing, Hall is an offensive weapon who is difficult to guard. Put together a terrific July, yet is another Illinois prospect who’s been way overlooked.

13. Connor Cashaw, 6-3, 2G, Stevenson

He may not jump out of the gym athletically and he may not be off-the-charts in any one area, but he’s a complete, all-around player who just does a lot of different things very well –– and helps a team win. Plus, he’s going to help a program win.

14. Obediah Church, 6-7, PF, Springfield

He continues to gain confidence and consistency as the ultra-athletic Church has made a huge jump over the past six months, which has netted double-digit offers. The fluid, athletic 4-man is so alive running the floor, dunking, blocking shots and finishing around the basket.

15. Admiral Schofield, 6-5, WF, Zion-Benton

Big, strong, versatile wing who elevates on his getting-better-by-the-day jumper from the perimeter while also taking contact with his solid frame and finishing at the rim. Remains one of the most overlooked prospects in the state.

16. Jordan Ash, 6-2, 2G, St. Joseph

The Northwestern commit is an athlete on the perimeter who finishes at the rim and is a willing and able defender. Ash brings toughness, plays hard and has worked on improving his jumper from the perimeter.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

The Latest
After one of the most damaging weeks the franchise has witnessed in years, the team was blown out 41-10 by the defending Super Bowl champs.
Fields had a 12.5 passer rating at halftime, while Patrick Mahomes left in the third quarter with a 41-0 lead.
“Sitting on the bench watching the game for six to nine innings, it’s easy to stay engaged when we’re playing the type of baseball we’re playing,” Crow-Armstrong said.
Writer and ‘Veep’ actor says he stands with unions during strikes.
Green Bay’s comeback began after New Orleans lost quarterback Derek Carr to a shoulder injury.