The City/Suburban Hoops Report will be the first to admit the overall crop of talent in Illinois, regardless of class, is down.
And it will also admit that, typically, there are a fair share of prospects from this state that get over-recruited based on their club program affiliation or simply being ranked a certain number from the generally always fertile ground of Illinois prep basketball.
I’m actually surprised to be saying this but, after playing the all-important month of July out on the club basketball circuit, there is some bargain shopping to be had in this state in the senior class. In many cases we’ve gone from some of these players in the class being over-recruited, specifically some of the bigger names, to some of the lesser-known names being under-recruited.
Here is a short list of seniors who the City/Suburban Hoops Report still believes are overlooked, even after the conclusion of the July evaluation period.
■ Lucas Williamson, Whitney Young
He plays for a high-profile high school team and played with Meanstreets on the EYBL circuit. He’s been a fixture among the Hoops Report’s top 20 prospects in Illinois since the day he entered high school. Yet the recruiting urgency for the 6-5 wing, at least in sheer numbers, probably isn’t where it should be coming out of July.
The steady and consistent Williamson doesn’t seem to be bothered, but he does believe he should be recruited at a higher level.
“I am happy with and appreciative of the scholarship offers I’ve received,” says Williamson. “No disrespect to any of those schools, and I’m not bashing them at all, but I do think the level I’m being recruited at should be higher. But that’s the competitor in me. I do appreciate the schools who have offered.
“I play to win. Winning is everything to me and everything else is a bonus to me.”
Williamson sports offers from and is actively engaged recruiting wise with UIC, Toledo, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Northern Illinois and Incarnate Word.
■ Connor Niego, Lyons Twp.
He didn’t kill it and he didn’t waste it when it came to his July opportunity to impress. But he was rock solid and showcased his vast potential as one of the more improved players in the class. And after a solid July, the 6-8 versatile 4-man, who sports offers from Evansville, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Winthrop, is that player in the class who has several schools so close to pulling the trigger.
But come on …
Here’s a kid who plays hard and competes at a legit 6-8, shoots it well enough from the perimeter and still has growth remaining in his game. And he doesn’t have more Division I offers than this? There aren’t multiple schools in the Summit League, Big South, MAAC, Ohio Valley Conference, Horizon League or MAC who couldn’t use Connor Niego? Cornell, Belmont and Holy Cross are among the schools who have shown continued levels of interest.
■ Logan Windeler, Manteno
Wait a minute. Wasn’t Windeler just listed as one of the players who raised their stock the most in July? Yes, the rangy 4-man with size at 6-8 and shooting range out to the three-point line was indeed. But he began the final weekend of July with two offers and came out of the final weekend with those same two offers. Thus, we have ourselves a conundrum –– a player who opened so many eyes, has but the results are delayed. There are several Division I programs poking around.
■ Justin Carpenter, Mt. Carmel
The 6-7 Carpenter has been one of those Hoops Report low-Division I/high-end Division II bubble prospects for some time. But make no mistake about it: This is a Division I player with just one Division I offer, courtesy of Albany. He has size and instincts to go with an offensive skill set that allows him to score in a variety of ways as a versatile 4-man.
■ Jacob Keller, Fenwick
I’ll tell you this: There isn’t a player in Illinois the Hoops Report has heard the following line from college coaches more with less follow through than this: “I love Jacob Keller.”
The critics will pick on Keller’s perimeter jumper, which has improved, and go back and forth as to what position he will play at the next level. But Keller is a big, physical, athletic guard who just plays and produces. He’s a powerful finisher and so strong in transition. Siena, for one, has been highly involved and in hot pursuit of Keller for some time, along with Vermont, while plenty of others have snoozed.
■ Tray Buchanan, East Moline United Twp.
This one is maybe the most perplexing of all. The highly-productive Buchanan, a 6-1 combo guard, doesn’t have a single offer at any level. None. It’s inexplicable. We’ll start with all the Division II programs out there across the Midwest. Are you kidding? Then we’ll go on to the low-Division I programs. There isn’t a single one in need of a tough, high-motor scoring guard who just goes out and plays?
Buchanan is officially in his own club as the Hoops Report’s best senior player in Illinois without a single offer.
As a junior he led UT with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals a game while putting up monster numbers in two sectional wins. And his unorthodox game is actually appealing to the Hoops Report as he consistently plays hard and produces.
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