Scouting services are really just a Match.com or eHarmony for college coaches looking for players.
At this time of the year, with the majority of players taken during the early signing period in November, college coaches are really scouring the country for a player, a fit, a sleeper, a late bloomer –– anything to help fill a void and scholarship in April.
There is no uncommitted player in Illinois in the senior class with more talent, upside, high-level production and star-like qualities than Morgan Park’s Marcus LoVett. It’s only going to be one year for the transfer from California, but we can enjoy him while we can.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report sang this kid’s praises immediately upon his arrival in Chicago back in September, vaulting the dynamic point guard to the No. 2 prospect in the class (you can read that here). That’s how talented I believe LoVett is and how good he looked this fall.
He hasn’t disappointed and backed it up the hyperbole once the season tipped off in November.
The point guard has put together monster games against high-quality opponents and is now poised to move up the national rankings.
LoVett is a crowd-pleasing talent, but he’s also a crowd-killer in that opposing team’s fans can see and feel it coming. That’s the impact he has on a game. When he gets going, you start to see the future unfold before it clearly manifests itself.
Against Simeon last week, LoVett was scoreless for roughly the first 13 minutes of the game. And then? It was time for “Bright Lights.” Like an ignition button, LoVett took off, attacking offensively on four straight possessions, getting to the line (sinking six straight free throws) and finishing one aggressive drive with an eye-popping dunk.
Anyone who has grown appreciative of this kid’s talents and his unique ability to do things with the ball, simply knew what was coming in the second half against Simeon. I knew. It was in the works.
Then the points came in bunches and in dazzling ways, with even the Simeon home crowd getting jazzed up with LoVett’s drives to the basket, pull-up and step-back jumpers from 17 feet and his end-to-end speed and explosiveness in transition.
While LoVett is a no-brainer high-major talent and is obviously the best uncommitted prospect in Illinois, here are the other top players still on the board.
◆ Christian Williams, Decatur (St. Teresa)
It’s been a whirlwind of a season for a player the City/Suburban Hoops Report has held in high regard for the past year. He’s among the top dozen prospects in the class, yet played his first game of the season last week. He was finally cleared to play by the IHSA after leaving Decatur for Springfield Lanphier and returning to St. Teresa this fall. The versatile 6-5 Williams can play a number of positions and has a smooth way about him. Now coaches in need of a guard with size and upside should come flocking his way.
◆ Joshus Stamps, Curie
There aren’t many who are better shooting the basketball in Illinois than Stamps. When those feet are set, squared away and he rises up, you expect that three-point shot to go in. The 6-4 shooting guard is a sniper from the perimeter with a terrific release point, mechanics and range out to the three-point line. He’s averaging 21 points and 6 rebounds a game. While still a work in progress with his all-around game and becoming comfortable and assertive off the dribble, Stamps has made strides in those areas as well. Stamps has Chicago State, DePaul, Memphis, Rhode Island, USC, Loyola, Saint Louis and Cal all keeping tabs on him.
◆ Kenneth Perkins, North Lawndale
The City/Suburban Hoops Report profiled the unknown Perkins back in the fall, noting the 6-9 senior was on the verge of a breakout season. He’s done that by averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds a game, including a pair of triple-doubles this year and a 16-point, 20-rebound, six-block performance this week against Young. The late-blooming but rail thin Perkins is ultra-intriguing. He has a skill level that impresses for a player his size. In certain doses he can fluidly handle the ball in the open court and step out and make perimeter jumpers. UIC, Cleveland State, DePaul, Valpo, Cal-Irvine are all showing interest in a player with a high ceiling.
◆ Donovan Franklin, O’Fallon
Out of sight, out of mind when it comes to Chicago area basketball fans in regard to Franklin. But the 6-3 guard is among the top 25 prospects in the senior class in Illinois and one of better uncommitted prospects. Franklin is averaging 20.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. A slasher on the wing with good size –– he does get to line with 111 free-throw attempts in 14 games this season –– Franklin continues to try and show critics that he’s a capable shooter (12 of 33 from the three-point line) and has improved his motor.
◆ Matt Rafferty, Hinsdale Central
Steady, reliable, efficient, consistent, productive … Those are usually the words thrown around when describing the 6-7 Rafferty, a 4-man who simply has had a knack for being around the ball his entire career. A double-double machine, Rafferty is averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3.8 assists a game, along with two steals and 1.5 blocks. He’s also shooting 67 percent from inside the arc and 54 percent from beyond the three-point line. The stat-sheet stuffer recently picked up offers from Furman and James Madison.
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