By the time 32 grassroots teams from Illinois finished playing at the All-Illinois Invitational this past weekend at Riverside-Brookfield High School, there was plenty to take away from the one day of action involving hundreds of prospects at all levels from across the state.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report breaks down the event:
Today: Five takeaways from the All-Illinois Invite.
Next: A look at several individual storylines and performances from the event.
Here are the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s five biggest takeaways from the All-Illinois Invitational:
1. Logan Windeler and Example Sports are ones to know on the club basketball scene.
An event like the All-Illinois Invitational is for programs like Example Sports, an underrated one with individual talent and a growing reputation that doesn’t get the headlines other programs do.
The personnel includes prospects of all ages, ranging from the ultra-promising T.J. Wicks, a 6-7 freshman from Kankakee with a world of potential, to the highly productive Jaylan Catledge of Richards, a 6-4 stat-sheet stuffer who is finishing up his junior year.
But a couple of other prospects are opening eyes: Logan Windeler of Manteno and Vashawn Sims of Rich East.
Sims is a talented 6-1 sophomore with a bunch of upside as he begins to harness his game while still being wildly effective with his attacking style.
Then there is Windeler, one of the more intriguing prospects in the state. It’s not as if a ton of people have seen Manteno basketball, a town 15 or so minutes north of Kankakee. Thus every opportunity to showcase himself on a bigger stage is a plus.
He’s a 6-8 player full of potential and all the elements to become your prototype 4-man. He plays with bounce off the floor and an ability to step out and knock down a three-pointer. With that combination, and at his size, Windeler has skyrocketed up the Hoops Report player rankings this spring.
He missed the majority of his junior season after suffering a hockey injury, which followed a promising summer of play in 2015. Now he’s poised to open eyes with his size, mobility and skill.
2. Illinois Irish remain an underrated outfit on club circuit.
On the club basketball scene, results are quickly forgotten. The wins and losses blend together with very little storytelling or historical perspective when it comes to AAU basketball team results.
At the end of the day it’s about opportunities, evaluation of players and trying to get better. And over the years, Gavin Sullivan’s Illinois Irish get overlooked in the job this program does for its players.
The program has produced Division I players at various levels, including Michael Finke (Illinois), Obediah Church (Missouri State) and Christian Williams (Iowa) among others recently. But the Illinois Irish have been a staple for small college programs across the Midwest.
The Illinois Irish continue to bring small college coaches out in droves with a surplus of highly regarded prospects at the Division II, Division III and NAIA levels. There were 46 small college coaches in attendance at the All-Illinois Invitational, and you better believe they all checked out the Illinois Irish in some capacity, intrigued by some players and hoping others will stay at their respective level.
The Hoops Report has talked about Devin Whitelow of Washington (Ill.), a 5-9 point guard in the Class of 2017 who has had a solid spring and a must-watch for small college coaches. But Petersburg-Porta’s Max Muller and Taylor Bruninga of Illini Bluffs had their moments playing in the All-Illinois Invitational.
These are players from towns that aren’t talked about much in the Chicago area.
Muller, a 6-5 wing who averaged 19 points a game as a junior, scored 12 points in a tight loss to the Illinois Stars while also knocking down a game-winning three-pointer in overtime to beat the Mac Irvin Fire. He brings a little size to the perimeter, offensive versatility and is a willing defender who gets after it at that end of the floor.
Then there is Bruninga, who had a monster junior season in central Illinois playing Class 2A basketball. Bruninga averaged 23.8 points and 6.4 rebounds a game while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc and 84 percent from the line.
This is one of those small school sleepers who has been overlooked. Bruninga, who scored 16 points with multiple threes in a matchup with the Illinois Stars, can step out and stretch the floor with his shooting ability and size; that’s his calling card as a prospect –– shooting the basketball from the perimeter.
If a couple of different areas come together for Bruninga, this is a prospect who we may be selling short right now as he has the combination of size and shooting ability that possibly projects beyond small college recruiting.
3. Ayo Dosunmu is a bonafide star in 2018.
There was nothing earth shattering regarding the Morgan Park sophomore’s play at the All-Illinois Invite.
And there is no need for a news alert stating Dosunmu is a really darn good basketball player. Anyone who has taken in Dosunmu action this spring has seen a budding star ready to take center stage over the next two seasons for coach Nick Irvin.
But watching him again showed, or maybe confirmed, where he’s at as a player and prospect. He has some of that “It” factor in him.
It doesn’t hurt that Dosunmu seems to keep growing, physically, as he pushes past 6-3. He also has a bit of a feel and style for the game that is reminiscent of an Illinois prep star from the 1990s –– Peoria Manual’s Frankie Williams.
While Dosunmu waited in the wings with all-stater Charlie Moore at point guard this past season, the ball will be placed squarely in his hands the next two years. Look for Dosunmu to run with that opportunity and enhance his national reputation along the way. The fight with Champaign Central’s Tim Finke for the top spot in the Class of 2018 is on.
4. The rep of Jimmy Sotos keeps growing.
Back in early April the Hoops Report promoted Jimmy Sotos, the 6-2 guard from Conant, as one of a handful of players who would break out this spring. Boy, has he ever.
Sotos grabbed the attention of college coaches during the April “live period,” earning a few Division I scholarships along the way. He’s climbed to new heights as a prospect with more eyes watching, living up to the early Hoops Report hype.
Fans, media members –– here is a piece Michael O’Brien of the Sun-Times wrote on Sotos following the All-Illinois Invitational –– and talent evaluators have been impressed with the savvy and high-level play of this junior who can easily and comfortably play both guard spots.
In two high-level games, Sotos was terrific in wins over two teams with a ton of talent in Young & Reckless and the Mac Irvin Fire. He can handle it, shoot it and pass it while playing with a confidence that he belongs.
5. Meanstreets 16U getting better and better.
Anyone who was taken in Meanstreets 16U action this spring would all agree this team has progressively improved.
There isn’t a lot of size on this team. But who has much size among Illinois teams?
There is an abundance of perimeter firepower with the likes of Young’s Xavier Castaneda and Justin Boyd, Perspectives’ Marquan Williams, Niles North’s Demaria Franklin and West Aurora’s Camron Donalton, along with Simeon’s 6-5 Messiah Jones doing a lot of the work on the glass and around the basket.
But this Meanstreets team just got better with the addition of Javon Freeman, a 6-4 sophomore who put together a stellar season for Seton Academy this past season.
With Seton set to close, Freeman will be moving on to DePaul College Prep next school year. But before Freeman plays with his high school team and bolsters the fortunes of coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s program, he’s first going to help this Meanstreets group as an added offensive weapon.
Freeman, the nephew of former Illinois prep great Marcus Liberty, has had just four or five practices with his new club team, and he just did make his debut with Meanstreets at the All-Illinois Invitational on Saturday. But he has a natural knack for scoring the basketball with a smooth and versatile perimeter game.
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