They aren’t on the wish list of high-major college basketball coaches. They’re not even on the radar of Division I programs.
When Michael O’Brien churned out the Chicago Sun-Times’ top 60 players in the Chicago area this past weekend, there wasn’t a single one of these players on the list.
They are names that are known within their own conference and geographical area, but fly under the radar when it comes to the Chicago area and statewide prep basketball conversation.
Nonetheless, these seniors are high-level producing players who will be catalysts for their respective teams this season and marked men by their opponents. They just haven’t received the type of recognition others have –– at least not yet.
There are dozens of teams with an underrated player, but here are 10 super senior sleepers to start with:
■ Jeffrey Boyd, Homewood-Flossmoor
The long, wiry wing is a deadly weapon from the perimeter –– the 6-3 senior shot 40 percent from beyond the arc last season –– and is poised for a big senior season. Boyd averaged 10 points a game as a junior and is one of the top players in the south suburbs.
■ James Pennington, Thornwood
Simply put, Pennington is one of the more underrated players in the Chicago area. Pennington is an exciting, high-flying 6-2 guard who can score the basketball in a variety of ways. He attacks the basket as an above-the-rim finisher and is a solid perimeter shooter.
■ Martrell Barnes, North Lawndale
There are North Lawndale teammates who will score more, dazzle with their athleticism and attract more attention this season, but Barnes is your unsung player who will be the backbone of this year’s team. He’s a titan.
Barnes is the prototype position-less player who gets things done every night out. The 6-2 wing brings it every possession and averaged 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds a game last year as a junior and has already hauled in 22 rebounds in two games this season.
■ Justin Wierzgac, St. Laurence
A player with upside who continues to get better and better. The 6-6 Wierzgac has an emerging game to go with his outstanding perimeter shooting for a player his size. He connected on 40 percent from three-point distance last season while averaging 10 points a game. Look for Wierzgac to make an even bigger impact in the Catholic League this winter.
■ Bron Hill, T.F. South
He’s Mr. Everything for the Rebels. An exciting player and bonafide double-double machine last season. The unknown Hill, a 6-5 forward with bounce and length, can fill a stat sheet. Playing in relative obscurity, Hill averaged 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals a game a year ago.
■ Glen Abram, RichCentral
This might be the most productive player in the class no one has heard of as he begins his senior season. Abram is a long, agile and active 6-3 wing who put up 19 points a game in a variety of ways last season, while adding 3 assists and 3 steals a game.
■ T.J. Best, Wheeling
As a 5-11 scoring point guard, Best is a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands. He averaged 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists a game year ago. With the offensive tools he possesses, look for those numbers to significantly rise as a senior.
■ Frankie Mack, Prospect
Well regarded and recognized as a top-notch player in the northwest suburbs, Mack, a 6-2 shooting guard, averaged 15.7 points a game as a junior. Mack is one of the better shooters –– he knocked down 54 three-pointers last season –– and scorers in the Mid-Suburban League.
■ Ben Bizar, Deerfield
The jack-of-all-trades Bizar is already recognized as a lockdown defender on the perimeter. But the 6-3 senior, who averaged 6.3 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists a game and had 51 steals on the season a year ago, has improved and polished up his offensive game.
The versatile Bizar is poised for another all-around, productive senior year with increased opportunities.
■ Rashad Johnson, Oak Lawn
The highly-productive 5-11 scoring point guard has certainly made a name for himself within the Oak Lawn program. Johnson, who averaged a whopping 17.3 points a game last season as a junior, is already the school record holder for most three-pointers made in a game and in a season.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport