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Henricksen: 11 recent recruiting steals from Illinois enjoying college stardom

With the early signing period approaching for this year’s senior class, there are bound to be a few recruits in the Class of 2017 who will prove to be the proverbial “recruiting steal” down the road.

Here is a look at 11 “recruiting steals” from the state of Illinois who are still playing college basketball today.

Class of 2012

Overall, this class was a dud. The majority of the players in the Class of 2012 have played out their college careers, with a few redshirts and transfers who still have a year of eligibly remaining. Here are two legitimate recruiting steals who will still be playing this winter from the Class of 2012.

▪ Tim Williams, Homewood-Flossmoor (New Mexico)

All this 6-8 forward has done is consistently produce throughout his college career after being lightly recruited and overlooked out of high school.

Williams was a ton as a freshman and sophomore at Samford, averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds a game as a freshman and 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds as a sophomore.

Now, imagine the type of recruiting steal Williams would have been if he had stayed at Samford all four years?

After sitting out a year as a transfer at New Mexico, Williams sparkled again last season as a junior, averaging 16,8 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. He was an All-Mountain West First Team selection by the media.

▪ Tony Hicks, St. Rita (Penn/Louisville)

Well, maybe not a steal as it stands right now playing at heavyweight Louisville. But the 6-2 guard proved to be just what Penn and many others believed he would be –– a real recruiting steal –– during his shortened playing career for the Quakers. As a sophomore and junior he led Penn in scoring. In three seasons he averaged 10.4, 14.9 and 13.2 points a game.

Hicks was so good at Penn, yet he shocked many in the Ivy League when he chose to sit out the 2015-2016 season instead of playing out his senior year. As a result he graduated and was able to transfer to national power Louisville for this upcoming season.

▪ Brett Bisping, Morton (Siena)

The fifth-year senior –– Bisping redshirted during the 2014-2015 season after injuring his foot –– will enter his senior year at Siena having already scored 1,110 career points.

Last season the 6-8 Bisping put up 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game in leading Siena to 21 victories. He was an All-MAAC selection this past season and will be a front-runner for MAAC Player of the Year this coming season. All of this after being rather lightly recruited and overlooked coming out of Morton.

Class of 2013

The class was headed by Simeon’s Jabari Parker and featured several others who signed with high-major programs, including Belleville East’s Malcolm Hill and Simeon’s Kendrick Nunn with Illinois, St. Charles East’s Kendall Stephens with Purdue, De La Salle’s Alvin Ellis with Michigan State and Morgan Park’s Billy Garrett with DePaul.

But these lesser-known prospects at the time have put together outstanding careers as they head into their final collegiate season.

▪ Alec Peters, Washington (Valparaiso)

Here is your biggest and greatest example of a recruiting steal on this list. These don’t happen every day.

A City/Suburban Hoops Report favorite while in high school and top 10 player in the class, the 6-8 Peters has even surpassed the lofty expectations it had for Peters. There was no shortage of scholarship offers for Peters coming out of high school –– he had close to 20 different offers –– but the high-majors were not biting back then.

Now? Peters will be one of the elite college basketball players in the entire country this coming season at Valpo and an All-American candidate.

In three seasons at Valparaiso, Peters has already poured in 1,682 points, pulled down 704 rebounds and knocked down 231 three-pointers.

▪ Jared Brownridge, Waubonsie Valley (Santa Clara)

A heavily recruited mid-major target back in high school, the 6-2 Brownridge has proven to be a huge recruiting get for Santa Clara as he begins his senior year.

The sweet shooting guard started his career off with a bang, averaging 17.2 points a game as a freshman while being named the West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year. Last season, as a junior, he poured in 20.6 points a game. In three seasons Brownridge has scored 1,716 career points and has made a whopping 279 three-pointers (41.7 percent).

▪ Kendall Pollard, Simeon (Dayton)

Coach Archie Miller landed a good one, and the rugged and tough 6-6 Pollard has been a rock for a Dayton program that has won big during his career with the Flyers.

Pollard averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game while providing outstanding defense as a junior for a team that reached the NCAA Tournament’s third round in 2015 and finished 27-9. Last season Pollard averaged 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds while helping Dayton back to the NCAA Tournament and to 25 wins.

In three years at Dayton, Pollard has been an integral part of a program that has won 78 games and played in 11 NCAA Tournament games.

▪ Steven Cook, New Trier (Princeton)

While not on the grand scale of some of the players on this list, the 6-5 Cook has put together quite a career at Princeton after being overlooked by nearly everyone as a prep player at New Trier.

The athletic Cook has scored 739 career points, pulled down 273 rebounds and dished out 107 assists in three seasons while helping Princeton to 22 wins and a NIT berth this past season. All of this after not even being among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 30 prospects in the class. Look for a big year from Cook to close out his Princeton career this winter.

Class of 2014

The top three prospects in the class all left college to turn pro –– Young’s Jahlil Okafor, Curie’s Cliff Alexander and Marian Catholic’s Tyler Ulis –– while eight of the top 20 players in this class who originally signed with Division I schools have transferred.

Here are two players who have proven to be arguably the biggest steals in the class after redshirting during their freshman year.

▪ Ethan Happ, Rockridge (Wisconsin)

Wisconsin was on Happ, who is now 6-10, before just about everyone –– at any level –– and locked him up in a hurry. He was the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 5 ranked prospect in the state in the Class of 2014 but just a three-star recruit, according to ESPN and Scout.com.

No one could have projected Happ being Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten, a part of the All-Defensive Team and a third-team all-conference selection in his first season of action. He set Wisconsin freshman records for points, rebounds, steals and double-doubles.

▪ John Konchar, West Chicago (IPFW)

He has far outplayed his recruitment level and his City/Suburban Hoops Report projection and ranking coming out of high school. Konchar is an absolute monster in the Summit League after redshirting during the 2014-2015 season.

The do-it-all 6-5 perimeter player, who gained approximately 40 pounds during his redshirt year, was a All-Summit League First Team selection last season. He averaged 13 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game while shooting 58 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc.

Class of 2015

There could still be several players from the Class of 2015 in Illinois who could prove to be recruiting steals before their college careers are complete. But after just one season of college basketball, it’s pretty safe to say these two are already recruiting steals at their respective schools.

▪ Tyler Hall, Rock Island (Montana State)

The City/Suburban Hoops Report could NEVER figure out the recruitment –– or lack thereof –– of this silky smooth shooting guard.

Hall was sensational as a freshman, leading Montana State in scoring at 18.6 points a game and connecting on 43 percent from the three-point line (96 of 223). He also pulled down 5.3 rebounds a game while being named the Big Sky Freshman of the Year and second team all-conference selection.

▪ Evan Boudreaux, Lake Forest (Dartmouth)

Most everyone knew this was going to be a recruiting steal when Boudreaux headed off to the Ivy League. He backed it up in one year as he averaged 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds a game as a freshman last season.

The physical, engine-always-running Boudreaux is set for one heck of an Ivy League career over the next three seasons.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport