The busy two month club circuit schedule is quickly coming to a close this weekend. And all the players who have been running around for weeks with their AAU teams will return to their high school coaches and teams for the month of June.
There are established seniors who will anchor top teams across the Chicago area next season. But there are a host of juniors-to-be who showed promise this past season and, with their play this spring, have shown they will be instrumental in helping their respective teams to another level.
Here are five “off-the-radar” players in the Class of 2018 who continue to make strides, will be counted on heavily next winter and could be headed for big things.
■ Messiah Jones, Simeon
Evan Gilyard will be the catalyst next season as coach Robert Smith’s senior point guard. The junior tandem of Talen Horton-Tucker and Kezo Brown have already showed flashes of their talent. But the 6-5 Messiah Jones is going to be a real key for the Wolverines with his size and athleticism around the basket. Jones has put in some blue-collar work this spring and must provide a presence for Simeon.
■ Demaria Franklin, Niles North
If you’re looking for a breakout performer next season in the junior class, Franklin might be the guy. He’s very capable with his combination of strength, physicality and athleticism on the perimeter. The 6-3 wing put together a few eye-opening performances this past season while helping the Vikings to 21 wins on the year, and he’s played well for Meanstreets this spring. While Niles North will be young, Franklin’s continued rise could lead it back to the top of the CSL North.
■ Jake Kosakowski, Young
Last year as a transfer from Brother Rice, Kosakowski got his feet wet while playing a small role at the varsity level for the Dolphins. At times this spring, particularly at the offensive end, the 6-5 Kosakowski has impressed with his Team Rose club team. With Lucas Williamson among a group of seasoned seniors returning, along with the potential stardom of Xavier Castaneda at point guard, the Dolphins are going to be especially dangerous with Kosakowski’s emergence.
■ Ryan Davis, Conant
There has been a Conant player garnering a lot of attention this spring –– guard Jimmy Sotos. The senior-to-be has earned the praise. But Davis is an ultra-intriguing player in the Class of 2018 with his versatility, touch and feel to go with his 6-8 size. While Sotos makes this team go and puts coach Tom McCormack’s Cougars in the Top 25, the progression of Davis can elevate Conant to a high level.
■ Javon Freeman, DePaul College Prep
The 6-4 wing has size and length to go with a balanced scoring acumen. You better believe that will be a huge addition for coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s team next winter. Freeman transfers in from the now defunct Seton Academy and joins a team that won a regional title and returns young star Perry Cowan, one of the top players in the Class of 2018.
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