Henricksen: A look at the top 10 in the Class of 2016

SHARE Henricksen: A look at the top 10 in the Class of 2016
SHARE Henricksen: A look at the top 10 in the Class of 2016

In recent years, when the clock has turned to the summer before a player’s senior year, there has been very little debate as to who the top Illinois prep basketball prospect is in the class.

Last year it was Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson. The year before it was Young’s Jahlil Okafor. In the Class of 2013 it was Simeon’s Jabari Parker. Again, very little to argue as all three were easy choices and maintained their top-ranked status throughout their senior seasons.

As the Class of 2016 heads into its final summer on the club circuit, with one year left to play high school basketball –– and one pivotal July left in the evaluation process ––there is plenty to debate.

Is there a consensus No. 1 prospect in the class in Illinois? Are there pure game-changers in this group, prospects at the top who are going to be major impact players immediately as freshmen at the high-major level? Likely not, but there are still six or seven players in the class who will be closely monitored by high-major programs this July.

As for who the top bonafide top college prospect is in the class, you could make an argument for a few.

But with that being a said, any player placed in the top spot right now, a month from now, when the season starts in November or at the midway point of their senior year in January, won’t be locked into that top spot like a Brunson, Okafor or Parker. It will be like looking in that car side view mirror and remembering “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

In what could be a fluid position over the next 10 months, that being the No. 1 ranked prospect in the class, Barrington’s Rapolas Ivanauskas’ ascension continues. He currently brings the combination of the highest production, overall skill and size, to go with some of his untapped potential.

1. Rapolas Ivanauskas, 6-8, PF, Barrington

The skilled forward can score in a variety of ways, with an offensive repertoire that’s more advanced than other top prospects in the class. With skilled footwork around the basket and in the lane, to go with a step-back jumper, three-point range and a mid-range jumper, Ivanauskas can get it done in a variety of ways, though it’s all still coming together. Right now he’s far from reaching his ceiling, but the Northwestern commit is only going to get better as he physically matures and adds body strength to a thin, lean frame.

2. Charlie Moore, 5-10, PG, Morgan Park

Look for the recruitment of this scoring point guard to rise as the summer plays out, with recent offers from Iowa, Illinois and Memphis just the beginning. Moore has toned down the wildness as a decision-maker while still being a potent offensive weapon, both with his perimeter jumper and natural scoring acumen off the dribble. He led the Mac Irvin Fire in scoring this spring with 15.4 points a game in Nike EYBL action. Moore also averaged 4.4 assists a game to only 1.9 turnovers per game.

3. Isaiah Roby, 6-7, WF, Dixon

You could argue the late-blooming Roby has as much upside as anyone in the class. A smooth operator with the ball in his hands –– with size and length he handles it like a guard and is an exceptional passer –– Roby is still learning how to be assertive and improving as a shooter. Right now he plays at his own pace, but when it all comes together and if the pedal is pushed to the metal, Nebraska is going to have a good one.

4. Zach Norvell, 6-5, 2G, Simeon

A big-bodied, battle-tested guard with some strength and toughness. Norvell, who is not an elite athlete, knows how to play and will be the focal point of next year’s Simeon team. As he’s grown to 6-5, Norvell’s value has increased as a result of his versatility. Love his makeup. This is a high character, tough kid. While not a pure shooter, he’s a perimeter shooting threat with terrific range who seems to get his own shot for someone who doesn’t look like he’s blowing past people.

5. Nick Rakocevic, 6-10, PF, St. Joseph

When he’s locked in and in the right frame of mind, Rakocevic can be the best prospect in the class. Now, it’s a matter of being in that mode on a more regular, productive basis, because there are obvious tools that make him a high-major prospect. He can run the floor and shows nice touch and just enough shooting range for a player at his size. Now it’s time the player who once occupied the top spot in the Class of 2016 picks it up a notch. In 13 Nike EYBL games this spring, however, Rakocevic averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds a game.

6. Barret Benson, 6-10, C, Hinsdale South

The true on-the-block big man has a soft touch, terrific hands and sports several high-major offers. His face-up game has also come a long way in the past six months. While he may lack ideal athleticism or pop off the floor, Benson, who continues to grow into his body and game, is still a long-range big man prospect –– and those types tend to be highly coveted and hard to find.

7. James Jones, 6-3, 2G, Bogan

Offensively blessed, Jones is a serious sniper from beyond the arc with finishing capabilities as an athletic slasher. This is a perimeter jumper that translates easily to the next level –– and at a high level. When his skill level and decision-making take another step forward, this 2-guard will be even more dangerous offensively and attractive as a prospect. He averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 rebounds a game for Meanstreets on the EYBL circuit and led Bogan to the R-B Shootout title last week.

8. Brandon Johnson, 6-7, PF, T.F. South

The active and bouncy 4-man has put in some solid work for the Mac Irvin Fire this spring. Johnson, who runs the floor extremely well and is effective around the rim as a finisher, is a little better face-up player than people give him credit for. Johnson remains a solid mid-major plus prospect.

9. Nick Robinson, 6-5, WF, Kenwood

He’s been efficient playing with the Mac Irvin Fire in EYBL action, averaging 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds a game while shooting 7 of 16 from beyond the arc. Robinson is young for his age but is a versatile, skilled combo forward. The next big step is consistent production and impacting games on a regular basis.

10. Jerry Myles, 6-4, WF, East Moline (United Twp.)

This big, strong wing boasts quite a bit of pure talent on the offensive end when his motor is running. Whether it’s his underrated passing, strong drive to the basket, a soft and deadly mid-range jumper or sticking a three-pointer, Myles showcases enough athleticism and skill to move up this list. Now it’s about it all translating into consistent production and staying on the floor.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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