Henricksen: Where has all the city hoops talent gone?

SHARE Henricksen: Where has all the city hoops talent gone?

The Class of 2016 in Illinois has been discussed in great length over the past three years as players prepare for their senior year.

While it’s not as weak at the top of the class as the Class of 2012 was a few years back, the overall depth of Division I talent and overall high-major prospects in the Class of 2016 is very shallow.

Where the future of high school basketball prospects looks particularly bleak is in the city. The fertile Chicago Public League is in the midst of perhaps its greatest talent drought since …

That’s difficult to say, especially with all the recent high-level talent the city has churned out in recent years that spoiled us all. But this oncoming drought in the city is real.

Yes, the Class of 2016 will produce a couple of high-major players in Simeon’s Zach Norvell and Morgan Park’s Charlie Moore. Maybe Bogan’s James Jones will continue his rise and be included in that high-major group of city stars.

But that high-major basketball prospect list right there, it bears repeating, is a short one.

How about the current Class of 2017 in the city? While it’s still early –– these players are just beginning their junior year this fall –– there isn’t a player from the Chicago Public League ranked among the top dozen prospects in the most recent City/Suburban Hoops Report class rankings.

The highest ranked player from the city checks in at No. 13. That’s absolutely unheard of in any state basketball rankings of players, past or present. What that means is there isn’t a surefire, bonafide high-major prospect right now in the entire Chicago Public League in the Class of 2017. Again –– pretty unheard of.

And get this: In a recent national rankings put out by ESPN this week, there were six Illinois prospects ranked among the top 55 in the country, so it’s certainly not a down class for talent. But three were downstate players and three were suburban players.

Maybe one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s ranked players from the city, someone from the group of Kenwood’s Manny Patterson, who is the highest ranked of the Public League bunch, Foreman’s Craig Beaudion, Curie’s Elijah Joiner, Simeon’s Evan Gilyard, Morgan Park’s Melo Burrell or Young’s Lucas Williamson, will make the jump between now and next year. Maybe.

But the Chicago Public League hasn’t been in this position since …

Checking …

Hold on …

Since when?

It’s been awhile.

The aforementioned Class of 2012 had fewer high-major prospects in the class than any in recent memory. But there were at least low-profile high-major recruits to speak of.

Simeon’s Steve Taylor, who was among some national evaluators top 100 lists, was recruited at the high-major level and signed with Marquette. Marshall’s Milton Doyle initially signed with Kansas before transferring to Loyola.

Take a stroll down the historical rankings, class by class by class, and there is always a Chicago Public League player ranked among the top five ––or at least in the top 10 –– among the state’s top prospects. There always seems to be a Chicago Public League player recruited by high-major programs. There is always “the guy” in the city, the one hype, the one we fill gyms to watch.

We’ll file this away as an anomaly and use the word “cyclical” rather than calling it a trend. But the Chicago Public League sure could use a jolt of something when it comes to individual star talent.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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