There are fits and needs in recruiting, so what better time to play match-maker for a few of our local prospects and college basketball programs?
Here are a few local fits, both for the high school player and local college program, that just might make a lot of sense when you break it down. These are players and programs with mutual interest, along with being realistic options.
This isn’t a prediction piece of landing spots for prospects in the Class of 2016; this is a list of school and player that the City/Suburban Hoops Report believes might best suit both –– from a local level.
Here he we go …
• Northwestern: Barret Benson
The Hinsdale South senior is coveted for his brains and basketball. As a 6-10 center, Benson is academically talented and a true big man, which is a very difficult combination to find. So while several high-majors are/were in the picture, it just seems at though Stanford and Northwestern are front and center and will be tough to beat in this one.
Benson wrapped up an official visit to Stanford earlier this week and will begin his official visit at Northwestern Sunday night.
While the academics are basically a wash, Northwestern offers a couple of things Stanford can not, starting with proximity to home and a chance to continue to play in front of family and friends. In addition, it’s an opportunity to join an improved, up-and-coming program. By saying yes to Chris Collins and the Wildcats, it’s a chance to do and be a part of something that’s never been done before: NU basketball being called on Selection Sunday.
Big man Alex Olah will have graduated and Benson can immediately start fighting for playing time with 6-8, 230-pound Dererk Pardon, who will be a sophomore when Benson would arrive.
• Illinois: Charlie Moore
Well, lets see …
We’ll start with 40 minutes of playing time that will immediately be available at his position as a freshman in a point guard-friendly system. Throw in the fact it’s in the Big Ten and close to home, and that right there is pretty appealing.
In addition, Moore will have a few weapons around him as a freshman when he arrives with a pair of talented veterans in Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill, who will be three-year starting seniors, along with Jalen Coleman-Lands.
Plus, it’s a chance to be welcomed with open arms from a staff and fan base that will roll out the red carpet for a talented point guard that finally says “yes” to Illinois. This one, which almost makes too much sense, could be a golden opportunity for Moore to play early and shine.
• Illinois State and Loyola: James Jones
There are high-major programs beginning to sniff around. But this could come down to an in-state, Missouri Valley Conference recruiting battle. Both of these schools covet Jones. And to be honest, either Illinois State and Loyola would be ideal landing spots for the 6-3 shooting guard from Bogan.
The big plus for Jones is he would have a chance to be an impact-type player in the Missouri Valley Conference –– and sooner than later. In time, the potential is there for Jones to be an all-league type player in the Valley down the road.
Illinois State, which reached the NIT last season, will have returning talent but will also be graduating arguably its best player in 6-5 guard DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell after this coming season. Thus, there will be a 40-minute hole available and for the taking off the ball on the perimeter.
Loyola, meanwhile, will have a veteran team in place when Jones would arrive but will graduate a key player in guard Earl Peterson after this season. Peterson, a 6-3 guard who started the last 17 games of the year this past season as a junior, was MVP of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
• UIC: Micah Bradford
First-year coach Steve McClain and his staff have been ultra-aggressive in recruiting since taking over this spring. UIC bolstered its roster with some late 2015 signings, including former St. Rita scoring guard Dominique Matthews, who will be a freshman this year after a year of prep school.
But the attention now turns to 2016 and, specifically, a point guard. The underrated Micah Bradford makes sense as he’s a lead guard who can put pressure on opposing defenses in what McClain wants to do. Bradford, who visited UIC last week, is among the Hoops Report’s top 20 prospects in the Class of 2016 and lives just a little over an hour away.
• Northern Illinois: Noah McCarty
At least in the eyes of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, there aren’t many players who have done more for themselves over the past year to raise their stock than McCarty. He’s grown physically –– he’s pushing past 6-7 –– and as a player, capable of getting some work done around the basket and stepping out and knocking down a jump-shot.
The big man from nearby Sterling Newman Catholic makes a lot of sense. He’s a local product, with NIU’s campus just a one hour drive from Sterling Newman. The MAC is the right level for McCarty. And what mid-major program couldn’t use a pretty versatile and productive player with size? As a junior last season he averaged 18.9 points and 10 rebounds a game.
• Western Illinois: Jacob Cushing
After a growth spurt over the past year and a breakout spring playing with Mercury Elite on the club circuit, the 6-7 Cushing has opened a few Division I doors. An important July is approaching for the skilled wing, but Western Illinois and second-year head coach Billy Wright have done a good job of making Cushing a priority.
WIU has already offered the Neuqua Valley senior and has had him on campus. Wright and his staff are in need of a big, skilled wing with shooting ability, which Cushing fills. There is a familiarity there as well with former Neuqua Valley star Jabari Sandifer beginning his junior year for the Leathernecks. Sandifer has averaged 29 minutes a game over his first two seasons in Macomb.
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