Henricksen: Recruiting mailbag

SHARE Henricksen: Recruiting mailbag

As the calendar gets closer to the November signing period for the Class of 2015, the drama lessens. There won’t be any high-profile, down-to-the-wire decisions like we had last year with Curie’s Cliff Alexander and Young’s Jahlil Okafor deciding on the same day in the middle of November.

That’s because virtually all the big names in the senior class this year have committed, with the best uncommitted prospect in Illinois right now being a player who just enrolled here –– Morgan Park’s Marcus Lovett.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s mailbag has been opened, with this specific mailbag edition being devoted strictly to recruiting as we head towards the stretch run for the seniors and begin truly monitoring the Class of 2016.

QUESTION: Nebraska ––NEBRASKA! –– comes in and gets two of the top five prospects in Illinois in the senior class. What gives? What planet are we living on where Nebraska basketball comes into this great state of high school basketball and plucks two players? Where were some of the other established programs in the Midwest with these two? Please explain.

— Rob S. from South Barrington

HOOPS REPORT: Nebraska has done a terrific job on two fronts. First, coach Tim Miles and his staff identified and jumped on both Simeon’s Ed Morrow and St. Joseph’s Glynn Watson relatively early. Second, they were recruiting players that made sense, both in terms of how they fit with the Cornhuskers and the legitimacy of actually landing one or both of them.

Nebraska wasn’t knocking heads with Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA or even local Big Ten program Illinois for Morrow or Watson. But it’s about who you want, who you believe makes your program better and whether you can get them.

Also, this isn’t the Nebraska basketball your father grew up with. The Huskers really do have plenty to offer, including an impressive new head coach in Miles, Big Ten basketball to sell, a growing and suddenly jacked-up fan base (the Huskers averaged over 15,000 fans per game last season), recent success (NCAA Tournament appearance last season) and beautiful, new, eye-popping facilities, including Pinnacle Bank Arena.

QUESTION: The Jalen Brunson recruitment and decision was another punch in the gut for me and plenty of Illini fans. Do we turn the tables and land the player from out of state in Jawun Evans and end this point guard recruiting drought?

–– IlliniBob

HOOPS REPORT: Unfortunately for you, IlliniBob, I’m gonna have to say no, Evans is not going to be the one. I can say with some conviction that Evans will be Oklahoma State-bound on Wednesday.

The good news –– if there is any in being the runner-up to two of the elite point guard prospects in the country –– is that Illinois isn’t quite as desperate for a point guard as it was a month ago. Say what you want about Tracy Abrams, but the Mt. Carmel product will be back as a fifth-year senior for the 2015-2016 season following his redshirt year this winter following his ACL rehab.

QUESTION: Marcus Lovett. Give me the low-down on how good he is in comparison to the rest of the senior class in Illinois, and do you think Illinois and John Groce, in desperate need of a point guard, will delve into this one on the recruiting end? Thanks and love your work and thoughts.

–– T.J. from Little Village

HOOPS REPORT: Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin is excited. No. Make that super-duper excited after talking with Irvin about the prospects of putting the ball in Marcus Lovett’s hands this winter. Now, you have to take into account that Nick Irvin is easily excitable. Nonetheless, Lovett is talented enough of a player to comfortably call him one of the top five prospects in Illinois in the Class of 2015, maybe pushing into that locked in top three. The 5-11 lefty point guard has a tremendous handle, good vision, an attack mentality, explosiveness and competes.

And he’s reason enough for Irvin to get excited about, especially with Lovett’s creativity and style and the brand of basketball Morgan Park plays. It’s like a match made in heaven.

As far as Illinois? I am sure they will do their due diligence and certainly check in on a talented player who plays a position of need and is now in their back yard. And he’s a super talent, albeit a somewhat hidden one. But there is a lot to learn about a player who has bounced around quite a bit before settling in at Morgan Park in September.

QUESTION: Give me a prospect in the junior class who you expect the recruitment to go through the roof as he plays out this season.

–– Paul Caamano of Skokie

HOOPS REPORT: I’ve gone overboard in saying T.F. South’s Brandon Johnson could be that player. He’s an athletic 6-7 forward who’s long and active. Plus, he has a package of skills that’s getting better and more polished. An absolute unknown among national evaluators and far too many college coaches. Johnson is already extremely high in the Hoops Report rankings and will be a coveted mid-major plus prospect –– at the least.

QUESTION: DePaul really has some local flavor now on the roster, so at least there is interest in that regard. Any hopes of adding more Chicago talent?

–– Steely Demon 12

HOOPS REPORT: You’re right, Steely Demon. With the likes of Billy Garrett, Jr. (Morgan Park), Tommy Hamilton (formerly of Whitney Young), Rashaun Stimage (Farragut), Myke Henry (Orr), Jamee Crockett (Crete-Monee) and Aaron Simpson (North Chicago) there is now an abundance of former Chicago area prep talent.

And I think the Blue Demons are in great shape with one of the best, unsigned prospects in the senior class: up-and-coming Isaiah Moss of Simeon. DePaul’s staff was on Moss early, really even before his breakout summer, and has done a good job of putting themselves in position to land the 6-5 wing. This weekend, when Moss officially visits DePaul, could go a long way in securing yet another city talent.

QUESTION: Last year Peyton Allen was a player who wasn’t getting much interest but really put together a great senior year and his recruitment all changed, ultimately ending up at Texas A&M. Is there a player in this senior class who could wait until the spring and see his recruitment take a 180 degree turn like Peyton Allen’s did?

–– Central Illinois Hoops Fan

HOOPS REPORT: There are several candidates, including St. Rita’s Kain Harris, the transfer from Morgan Park who has the physical tools and potential to put together a highly-productive senior year as an uncommitted senior.

But simply because he’s so new to the scene, my bet is on North Lawndale’s Kenneth Perkins, who was profiled in this story here that I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Perkins, a skilled 6-9 senior, has so much upside and is a prospect of real intrigue. If he proves to be a qualifier and puts together the type of season and shows the kind of promise I think he possesses, then his recruitment will take off.

QUESTION: I am actually one of the few AAU fans out there who takes in a lot of AAU games in the spring an summer. I know you praised the Net Gain team in central Illinois quite a bit, and I too really enjoyed watching them play. Could you give me an update on their three players –– Tyler Seibring, Gavin Block and Jake Reinhart? Thanks.

–– TH

HOOPS REPORT: One of the three, Bloomington Central Catholic’s Jake Reinhart, has committed. The 6-0 combo guard, who can flat-out shoot the basketball, has committed to Division II Lewis. Coach Scott Trost and the Flyers are getting a hard-nosed player and winner. Remember, in addition to winning a ton of games on the club circuit with Central Illinois Net Gain, he also won a Class 2A state title last March.

Seibring, the 6-8 sharpshooter from Normal, recently visited Ohio in the Mid-American Conference. He’s had a whole lot of interest and offers from high-academic schools, with Brown and Elon both right there after having visited both schools. And don’t forget Illinois Wesleyan, the Division III power across town in Bloomington. Seibring has strong family ties to IWU and his brother plays for coach Ron Rose.

I think Gavin Block of Lincoln is one of the top uncommitted players remaining in 2015. He does so much to help a team win and showed this summer he’s a knockdown shooter from the perimeter as a 6-5 wing. Block visited SIUE in September and will visit Ohio in a few weeks.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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