The top 10 prospects playing in Peoria

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Evanston’s Blake Peters (15) pushes the ball down court after grabbing a rebound, Friday 01-11-19. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

In addition to the top Class 4A and Class 3A teams in the state meeting in Peoria this weekend, the individual talent on display will surely draw interest.

The City/Suburban Hoops Report ranks the top 10 college prospects, regardless of class, who will be playing in Peoria.

1. E.J. Liddell, 6-7, Belleville West (Sr.)

The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 1 ranked senior is a special player. Liddell is big, strong, productive and one of the top 50 prospects in the country in the Class of 2019.

In leading Belleville West back to Peoria this season, Liddell is averaging 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds a game while shooting 61 percent from the field. Liddell has a knack for blocking shots with instinct and timing and has a whopping 143 blocks on the year.

Liddell is an outstanding finisher around the basket with the ability to step away and knock down a face-up jumper. His range even extends to the three-point line (21 threes on the season), though he’s at his best punishing defenders around the basket with his strength and fantastic footwork. Liddell rebounds the basketball at its highest point and features vice-grip hands.

A player you love to go to battle with because he brings a non-stop motor, Liddell is on the brink of entering some rare territory as the state’s top player with multiple state championships if Belleville West can close it out this weekend.

Liddell is headed to Ohio State next year.

2. DaJuan Gordon, 6-4, Curie (Sr.)

The potential was always there to take his game to another level. He did so over the course of last summer and into his senior campaign, where he was named the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year.

The Kansas State recruit is the Hoops Report’s No. 2 ranked senior prospect as his growth as a player and prospect has been steady and consistent. Tough, competitive and very efficient, Gordon can score the basketball in multiple ways with a valued scoring acumen. He’s averaging 17.6 points a game while having fewer shot attempts than any player on this list.

Plus, he’s a willing defender with his length and mindset while impacting the game without scoring.

The body has to develop at the next level as both strength and added weight will be necessary.

3. Terrence Hargrove, 6-7, East St. Louis (Sr. )

A player who long oozed upside and ability while never seeming to stop growing. But he was always the “just scratching the surface” type of prospect who you had to project as his offseason club basketball opportunities were limited.

But Hargrove, who is among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top five ranked prospects in the senior class in Illinois, has been a major impact player at East St. Louis and is staying home for college. Blessed with a basketball body and terrific physical attributes, the Saint Louis recruit averages 17.6 points and 8.7 rebounds. He’s blocked 103 shots and dropped in 28 three-pointers on the year.

The perimeter jumper is still inconsistent and he may not look the part of a “shooter,” but he is an exciting finisher as an above-the-rim forward. Hargrove, who scored 22 points in the super-sectional win over Springfield Southeast, offers versatility for his size and position.

4. Sincere Parker, 6-3, Rockford East (Jr.)

The City/Suburban Hoops Report has been a little more bullish on Parker than most. He’s been highly ranked in the Class of 2020 for the past year, and his junior season did nothing to diminish his prospects. There are times where he makes things look easy with an advanced scoring arsenal. But he will have to continue to prove there is more to his game.

This is an exciting talent –– a smooth scoring guard with a combination of athleticism and real shooting ability and range. The numbers speak for themselves, including an impressive 27-point showing in the super-sectional win over Geneva. On the season, Parker is averaging 19 points a game and has knocked down a whopping 119 three-pointers.

Throw in the fact he’s still figuring things out as a creator with the ball in his hands and boasts an untapped ceiling, it’s easy to see why he will be one of the more coveted players in the junior class.

5. Antoine Bloxton, 6-2, Bogan (Jr.)

Following a big but behind-the-scenes sophomore season at Julian, Bloxton transferred to Bogan for his junior year. After shining with the Bengals in the summer and skyrocketing up the City/Suburban Hoops Report player rankings, he was finally ruled eligible in late February. Bloxton took off immediately.

The key reason why a really good Bogan team took a major jump late in the season,  beat Morgan Park in the sectional and is playing in Peoria for the first time? Bloxton.

The smooth and versatile Bloxton is averaging 19 points a game and scored 20 in the sectional win over Morgan Park. He boasts athleticism to create separation and get his shot off, attacks the basket and has shown an ability to knock down shots. Plus, he appears to know how to play with a feel for situations.

6. Ramean Hinton, 6-4, Curie (Jr.)

There aren’t many players who get after it more than Hinton, who is pushing City/Suburban Hoops Report top 10 status in the junior class. He plays with an edge and a non-stop motor.

A menace defensively and a player who hits the offensive glass with a vengeance, Hinton is a double-figure scorer with an ability to score in multiple ways. The hard-charging wing finishes at the rim in transition, shows he can knock down a mid-range jumper and is a respectable three-point shooter. Hinton simply has to polish up his overall game and skill level over the course of the next year.

7. Perry Cowan, 6-4, DePaul Prep (Sr.)

The Ivy League recruit who is headed to Brown has helped put DePaul Prep basketball on the map with his steady, consistent, blue-collar approach over the past four years.

Cowan’s make-up as a player is off the charts. He’s been so productive in filling a stat sheet and, most importantly, Cowan does all the little things to help a team win and is integral in developing a culture within a program. Where you really appreciate Cowan is with his approach at the defensive end. He defends and doesn’t take plays off.

The Rams can count on Cowan for 18.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and two assists a game.

8. Rashaun Agee, 6-7, Bogan (Sr.)

After an inconsistent junior season and a so-so summer on the club circuit, Agee slid a bit as a prospect. Then he took off as a senior, putting himself in the Player of the Year conversation by January.

Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin has raved about his big man’s changed demeanor and added consistency from last year to this year.

While his overall offensive game and ability to create scoring opportunities for himself is still a work in progress, he has solidified himself as a mid-major prospect. That’s due to his ultra-productive ways to impact a game without being a finesse big man.  Agee plays with energy and toughness.  He rebounds at a high level, runs the floor and beats opposing big men down the floor and has some defensive instincts.

Agee is averaging 19.3 points and 12.9 rebounds a game.

9. Lance Jones, 6-2, Evanston (Sr.)

The leading scorer for a team that’s reached Peoria for a second straight season. A big, physical guard who is capable of playing both guard spots and has been a part of a lot of winning. Jones will have been a part of over 90 Evanston wins in his last three seasons.

Jones, who is averaging 15.8 points a game, is at his best playing downhill, attacking in the open court and using his power and burst to get to the rim. The mid-range, pull-up jumper has been a part of his game as he continues to try and become a bigger threat from beyond the three-point line (22 of 85 from three this season).

Jones did commit and sign with Southern Illinois, though the Salukis are now in the midst of finding a replacement for Barry Hinson and his staff.

10. Blake Peters, 6-1, Evanston (So.)

After making such a big impression last year as a freshman, helping Evanston to a third-place finish while averaging double-figures and making 79 three-pointers, Peters has continued his impact and torrid perimeter shooting.

Peters, who is averaging 12.7 points a game, heads to Peoria having knocked down 107 three-pointers on the year and is shooting an eye-opening 47 percent from beyond the arc. This is the coveted knockdown, space-the-floor shooter.

While there are some physical and athletic limitations, the intangibles he brings to the table tend to set Peters apart from so many players. He’s calm, cool, poised and isn’t afraid of the moment. The basketball instincts, I.Q. and maturity are highly advanced.

The one overlooked prospect in each class

Jordan Booker, 5-9, Bogan (Sr.)

This mighty mite is a fun player to watch. He has been the catalyst for a Bogan team that is now the favorite to win Class 3A. And outside of the Chicago Public League he’s hardly known.

A jet with the ball who puts constant pressure on opposing defenses, Booker scored 30 in the sectional win over Morgan Park and 23 in beating Normal U-High in the super-sectional. Booker has played under control while doing such better job in picking his spots between attacking, especially in the open floor, and creating for others.

Despite his diminutive size, Booker, a pest defensively, is a scholarship player at the Division II or low-Division I level who has been overlooked.

Lawrence Brazil, 5-11, Belleville West (Sr.)

All this kid has done is win. And make plays. And win. And make plays. … Repeat.

They (small college coaches) will say he’s not this and he’s not that. He’s a leader with basketball smarts. And he was instrumental in leading Belleville West to a state title a year, including game-winning plays and a big-time performance in the championship game over Young. This year he’s averaging 13 points and 4.1 assists a game while knocking down 65 three-pointers on the season.

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