Henricksen: Early July returns for Chicago area’s top seniors

SHARE Henricksen: Early July returns for Chicago area’s top seniors

Young’s Xavier Castaneda (13) dribbles against Joliet West’s Eddie Creal (3). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times

The early returns are in on the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s Class of 2018 top prospects throughout the Chicago area. With that being said, here is a look at seven prospects in the class from the Chicago area who are all ranked among the Hoops Report’s top 10 seniors and where they stand heading into the second evaluation weekend. (Listed alphabetically).

Xavier Castaneda, 5-11, Whitney Young

The talent: The point guard has remained steady and consistent, dishing out 25 assists to 13 turnovers in Peach Jam action last week while playing with Meanstreets. He has an overlooked burst in the open court, a presence with the ball in his hands and sees the floor and reads ball screens very well. He even popped off for 20 points in his team’s opening game at the Peach Jam and had a game where he had 13 points and 10 assists.

The skinny: There have been a plethora of schools who have offered the true point guard since be burst on the scene two years ago and the Hoops Report highlighted his potential HERE. Those who have offered and put their best foot forward this summer are Kent State, Tulsa, Toledo, Drake, Valpo, UW-Milwaukee and Loyola, while Wichita State has shown considerable interest.

George Conditt, 6-10, Corliss

The talent: Conditt is the epitome of the word “prospect.” Long, gangly, under-developed physically and a player who will be a whole lot better two or three years down the road as his body and game continue to develop. He’s just a baby in the process and is still finding his way. But he’s too coordinated and too skilled at his 6-10 size (pushing 6-11) for high-majors not to be intrigued.

The skinny: The late-blooming Conditt had 20-plus offers on the table before he even played his first “live” weekend as a known commodity –– or was really even seen. He didn’t pick up anymore in the immediate days following the first “live” weekend.

Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5, Morgan Park

The talent: The point guard has held this spot at the top of the class since the day he entered high school. Kudos to a player who didn’t let the early hype get to him. He’s long and tall for the position, sees the floor and is a bonafide high-major prospect ranked among the top 35 players in the country.

The skinny: The company line remains the same, saying Dosunmu is “wide open” and “he has no leaders.” However, Illinois does appear to be in good shape at this juncture with a whole bunch of suitors nipping on its heels. Creighton and Xavier have been there for quite some time while Ohio State and Kansas joined the mix last month.

Plus, there are a host of high-majors still involved and others who may jump in between now and when Dosunmu starts taking official visits in the fall.

Javon Freeman, 6-4, Whitney Young

The talent: The long, athletic and active wing continues to be the player who makes plays as a top five prospect in the class. At last week’s Peach Jam, Freeman averaged 15.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game while knocking down 6 of 17 from beyond the arc.

The skinny: There was a bit of a lull in Freeman’s recruitment before July. But it’s heated up considerably. Freeman has added to a rapidly growing list of suitors with VCU, Saint Louis, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky and Akron all extending offers over the weekend.

La Salle, Southern Illinois and Wisconsin-Green Bay all have offered in the past two days. Loyola was the first school to offer last fall, while Valpo and Drake all jumped in this past spring and hope to hang in there.

With a plethora of new recruiting action and activity with Freeman, this one has a long way to go between now and this fall.

Zion Griffin, 6-6, Hinsdale South

The talent: A Hoops Report favorite since breaking out last December and a top 10 prospect in the Class of 2018, Griffin was sensational in the opening period. He showcased his high motor, terrific basketball body and high-level athleticism. But it’s the continued improvement he shows with his shot that jumps out at you. Griffin has legit three-point range and showcased it all weekend, becoming a legitimate threat from beyond the arc.

The skinny: In the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s pre-July under-recruited story it was stated that Griffin’s offers would triple as July played out. Griffin’s recruitment, after just one weekend, has gone to another level. Illinois State, Drake, Southern Illinois, Loyola, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Toledo all offered Griffin over the past few days, joining a group that already included UIC, Western Michigan, UTEP and Wright State.

Talen Horton-Tucker, 6-4, Simeon

The talent: The Hoops Report has raved for a couple of years to anyone who would listen about the fact Horton-Tucker can pass, dribble and shoot. That is far from the norm in prospects today. As a result, this is a productive player with basketball instincts and skill who, by all accounts, played extremely well on the Adidas circuit with Team Rose last weekend. He’s been a fixture near the top of the Hoops Report’s Class of 2018 rankings for two-plus years for a reason.

The skinny: There are 15-plus offers out there for THT, including schools who appear to be right near the top in Illinois, Iowa State, Ohio State, Purdue and Xavier. But might Michigan State’s offer on Monday be a game-changer? Florida State also offered on Monday while Kansas has increased its interest following Horton-Tucker’s solid performance during the opening live period.

Tamell Pearson, 6-9, Morgan Park

The talent: You never know when it will all come together for big men. Always intriguing and always a player who was blessed with upside, Pearson is now turning the potential into productivity and has elevated his game and confidence level. He runs the floor, defends, will take a charge, get on the glass and plays with a relentless motor –– all at a legit 6-9. That’s something every college program at every level covets.

The skinny: Before the July “live period” Cleveland State, Southern Illinois, UW-Milwaukee, NIU, Miami-Ohio, Missouri State, UAB and UIC were among the mid-major programs that had offered Pearson. Oklahoma State had offered earlier in the spring.

Now Illinois and Washington State jumped in with offers this past weekend, while UW-Green Bay, Robert Morris and Murray State extended offers on Monday. This is quite an eclectic, wide-ranging group up to this point. But with two weeks left in July, Pearson’s stock should only increase.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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