Henricksen: Juniors ready to make the leap

SHARE Henricksen: Juniors ready to make the leap

It’s that time to turn the page on the departing seniors, the Class of 2015 in Illinois, and start looking ahead.

A year ago at this time the page turned to the likes of Joe Mooney of Niles Notre Dame, David Sachs of Highland Park, Cole Gentry of St. Charles East and other seniors-to-be who would come to the forefront of high school hoops during their final season.

This isn’t a list of the very top prospects in the class, rather one of established juniors ready to take center stage next winter and grab the attention of scouts and college coaches this spring and summer on the club circuit.

■ Daniko Jackson, Riverside-Brookfield

The most familiar name on this list, the 5-9 point guard has been a varsity mainstay and was part of a record-breaking R-B team that won a sectional championship last month. Before Jackson improves on his 11 points and 6 assists he put up as a junior, he embarks on an important spring and summer on the AAU circuit.

■ Darius Oliver, Leo

A talented wing with a growing game and offensive punch, the 6-5 junior put up numbers (20 points per game) and gained some recognition along the way (IBCA second-team all-state in Class 2A). He’s still a relative unknown, though, as a young Leo team struggled at 12-17 this past season.

■ Lorenzo Edwards, Lake Forest

The nucleus of a terrific 28-win team, including star Evan Boudreaux, will graduate, but the emergence of Edwards over the second half of the season is a major bright spot for this team going forward. The 6-7 Edwards is a rising prospect in the Class of 2016 as he possesses size, a soft touch around the basket and an ability to step out and knock down shots.

■ Travon Bell, Mather

The Hoops Report’s most underrated prospect in the junior class and arguably the most under-recruited player in the class. It’s not easy to grab headlines or much attention playing in the Public League’s White-North, but the 6-3 Bell is a hidden city gem following a highly productive junior year. Bell, who scored 33 against Simeon with eight 3-pointers and 30 against Vocational, is one of the premier shooters in the Class of 2016.

■ Justin Pierce, Glenbard West

The promising 6-6 junior is evolving as an offensive force, going from a 3-point specialist to a more versatile scorer. Pierce, who averaged just over 17 points a game this season, can still spread the floor with his shooting, but he’s showing an improved ability to put it on the floor and get to the basket. Throw in some stellar academics and Pierce will be an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on going forward.

■ Jacob Cushing, Neuqua Valley

A real sleeper and unknown here, but with leading scorer Connor Raridon moving on, Cushing has a chance to become the focal point with his combination of size at 6-6, athleticism and perimeter skills. The lefty is a versatile offensive threat and is just starting to come into his own.

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