What makes a high school basketball class a great one?
While the sheer number of Division I players a class produces is certainly important, it’s typically the players at the top –– the iconic prep stars who go on to greatness in college and the NBA –– that make a particular class memorable. Some at the top of their respective classes have even gone down as the greatest players this state has ever produced.
With the use of the City/Suburban Hoops Report player rankings in Illinois over the years, this is a ranking of the top of the classes over the past 15 graduating classes.
Each class is ranked based on the talent at the top –– rankings of the top five players in their respective classes, along with a little push from a short list of underrated prospects in the class for an added boost.
1. Class of 2011
1. Anthony Davis, 6-10, Perspectives (Kentucky)
2. Wayne Blackshear, 6-5, Morgan Park (Louisville)
3. Mycheal Henry, 6-6, Orr (Illinois/DePaul)
4. Chasson Randle, 6-2, Rock Island (Stanford)
5. Ryan Boatright, 5-11, East Aurora (UConn)
The underrated player: Frank Kaminsky, 7-0, Benet (Wisconsin) and Abdel Nader, 6-7, Niles North (Northern Illinois/Iowa State)
Overview: A potential Hall of Famer in Davis at the top packs a punch. All he’s done is win a national title at Kentucky as college basketball’s Player of the Year and has been a perennial NBA All-Star.
Blackshear and Boatright won national titles at Louisville and UConn, respectively. Kaminsky was a national player of the year at Wisconsin and Randle was an all-time great at Stanford. Davis, Henry, Randle, Kaminsky and Nader all have varying degrees of NBA experience and highlights thus far in their pro careers.
2. Class of 2014
1. Jahlil Okafor, 6-10, Young (Duke)
2. Cliff Alexander, 6-9, Curie (Kansas)
3. Tyler Ulis, 5-8, Marian Catholic (Kentucky)
4. Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Normal U-High (Ohio State)
5. Paul White, 6-9, Young (Georgetown/Oregon)
The underrated player: Ethan Happ, 6-9, Rockridge (Wisconsin) and Jevon Carter, 6-2, Proviso East (West Virginia)
Overview: The starting point in this class is the eye-opening college careers turned in by most of these players. Ulis was a first-team All-American at Kentucky. Okafor won a national title at Duke and was the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Happ was the first player to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds in the Big Ten in 35 years at Wisconsin. Carter was a second-team All-American at West Virginia.
Okafor, Ulis, Carter and Bates-Diop have all logged NBA time already in their careers.
3. Class of 2013
1. Jabari Parker, 6-8, Simeon (Duke)
2. Malcolm Hill, 6-6, Belleville East (Illinois)
3. Kendrick Nunn, 6-2, Simeon (Illinois/Oakland)
4. Kendall Stephens, 6-5, St. Charles East (Purdue/Nevada)
5. Sterling Brown, 6-5, Proviso East (SMU)
The underrated player: Alec Peters, 6-8, Washington (Valpo), Jared Brownridge, 6-1, Waubonsie Valley (Santa Clara) and Ben Moore, 6-7, Bolingbrook (SMU)
Overview: Parker, a one-and-done who was the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, may have dominated the headlines throughout his career, but the Class of 2013 turned out to be quite a class.
In their respective careers, Hill scored 1,846 points, Nunn scored 1,795 points, Peters scored 2,348 points and Brownridge scored 2,313 points. Brown has carved out a niche in the NBA after a nice college career.
4. Class of 2007
1. Derrick Rose, 6-3, Simeon (Memphis)
2. Evan Turner, 6-6, St. Joseph (Ohio State)
3. Demetri McCamey, 6-3, St. Joseph (Illinois)
4. Mac Koshwal, 6-9, Boys to Men Academy (DePaul)
5. Mike Tisdale, 7-0, Riverton (Illinois)
The underrated player: Jacob Pullen, 6-1, Proviso East (Kansas State)
Overview: Rose was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and the youngest NBA MVP in league history in 2011. Turner was the National Player of the Year in college and the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Although those two headline the class and have churned out lengthy NBA careers, Pullen became the all-time leading scorer in Kansas State history.
5. Class of 2006
1. Jon Scheyer, 6-5, Glenbrook North (Duke)
2. Sherron Collins, 5-10, Crane (Kansas)
3. Patrick Beverley, 6-1, Marshall (Arkansas)
4. Brian Carlwell, 6-11, Proviso East (Illinois)
5. Joevan Catron, 6-5, Thornton (Oregon)
The underrated player: Jerome Randle, 5-8, Hales Franciscan (Cal) and Osiris Eldridge, 6-3, Phillips (Illinois State)
Overview: Some stellar careers were turned in by Scheyer and Collins. While neither made it to the NBA, both were instrumental in helping lead their teams to national titles in college.
Randle (Cal) and Eldridge (Illinois State) also put together great college careers. Randle scored 1,835 points and was the Pac-10 Player of the Year as a senior. Eldridge scored 1,838 points and was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. Catron scored over 1,100 points and snared 700-plus rebounds in his Oregon career.
Then there is Beverley, the always overlooked player in this class, who just completed his seventh NBA season.
6. Class of 2015
1. Jalen Brunson, 6-2, Stevenson (Villanova)
2. Marcus LoVett, 5-11, Morgan Park (St. John’s)
3. Charles Matthews, 6-6, St. Rita (Kentucky/Michigan)
4. Glynn Watson, 5-11, St. Joseph (Nebraska)
5. D.J. Williams, 6-7, Simeon (Illinois/George Washington)
The underrated player: Admiral Schofield, 6-5, Zion-Benton (Tennessee) and Matt Rafferty, 6-8, Hinsdale Central (Furman)
Overview: Brunson did it all in high school and college, including two national titles at Villanova and All-American honors. Matthews and Schofield, who topped 1,500 points, and 700 rebounds, look to have the potential to join Brunson in the NBA.
Watson (1,532 career points) and Rafferty had highly-productive college careers. Rafferty put up 1,340 points, 851 rebounds and 311 assists in his career.
7. Class of 2010
1. Jereme Richmond, 6-7, Waukegan (Illinois)
2. Meyers Leonard, 7-0, Robinson (Illinois)
3. Lenzelle Smith, 6-4, Zion-Benton (Ohio State)
4. Crandall Head, 6-3, Crane (Illinois/SMU)
5. Mike McCall, 6-0, Foreman (Saint Louis)
The underrated player: Dwayne Evans, 6-5, Neuqua Valley (Saint Louis), Walton Lemon, 6-2, Julian (Bradley) and Alfonzo McKinnie, 6-6, Marshall (Eastern Illinois/UW-Green Bay)
Overview: Richmond and Head were top five busts. Leonard left college before he could make a significant impact but has stuck in the NBA with Portland.
The lesser-known prospects surprised in a big way. Dwayne Evans and Mike McCall both had impressive careers at SLU, while Lemon enjoyed a cup of coffee in the NBA and McKinnie has found a role with the Golden State Warriors.
8. Class of 2005
1. Julian Wright, 6-8, Homewood-Flossmoor (Kansas)
2. Bobby Frasor, 6-3, Brother Rice (North Carolina)
3. Jerel McNeal, 6-2, Hillcrest (Marquette)
4. Jamar Smith, 6-3, Peoria Richwoods (Illinois)
5. Nate Minnoy, 6-4, Hales Franciscan (Purdue/Central Michigan)
The underrated player: Bryan Mullins, 5-10, Downers Grove South (SIU), Jeremy Pargo, 6-1, Robeson (Gonzaga) and Brandon Ewing, 6-1, Julian (Wyoming)
Overview: Wright’s exciting potential eventually fizzled as he was out of the NBA by age 23. Frasor played a role for a national title team at UNC. Both were McDonald’s All-Americans.
The promising careers of Smith and Minnoy derailed off the court, while McNeal, Ewing, Mullins and Pargo all shined at the college level. McNeal’s career at Marquette was spectacular with 1,985 points, 608 rebounds and 455 assists.
9. Class of 2009
1. Brandon Paul, 6-3, Warren (Illinois)
2. Drew Crawford,6-5, Naperville Central (Northwestern)
3. Jack Cooley, 6-8, Glenbrook South (Notre Dame)
4. Angus Brandt, 6-9, Lake Forest Academy (Oregon State)
5. Darius Smith, 6-2, Marshall (UConn)
The underrated player: D.J. Cooper, 5-9, Seton Academy (Ohio) and Robert Covington, 6-8, Proviso West (Tennessee State)
10. Class of 2004
1. Shaun Livingston, 6-6, Peoria Central (NBA)
2. Shaun Pruitt, 6-9, West Aurora (Illinois)
3. Jamarcus Ellis, 6-4, Westinghouse (Indiana)
4. Justin Dentmon, 5-11, Carbondale (Washington)
5. Calvin Brock, 6-5, WF, Simeon (Illinois)
The underrated player: Tommie Liddell, 6-5, East St. Louis (Saint Louis)
11. Class of 2018
1. Talen Horton-Tucker, 6-4, Simeon (Iowa State)
2. Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5, Morgan Park (Illinois)
3. Zion Griffin, 6-6, Hinsdale South (Iowa State)
4. George Conditt, 6-10, Corliss (Iowa State)
5. Terrence Shannon, 6-6, Lincoln Park (Texas Tech)
The underrated player: Kendle Moore, 5-11, Danville (Colorado State)
12. Class of 2016
1. Charlie Moore, 5-11, Morgan Park (Cal/Kansas/DePaul)
2. Isaiah Roby, 6-8, Dixon (Nebraska)
3. Zach Norvell, 6-5, Simeon (Gonzaga)
4. Nick Rakocevic, 6-11, St. Joseph (USC)
5. Barret Benson, 6-10, Hinsdale South (Northwestern/SIU)
The underrated player: Justin Pierce, 6-7, Glenbard West (William & Mary/North Carolina)
13. Class of 2008
1. Iman Shumpert, 6-4, Oak Park (Georgia Tech)
2. Mike Dunnigan, 6-9, Farragut (Oregon)
3. Kevin Dillard, 5-11, Homewood-Flossmoor (SIU)
4. Stan Simpson, 6-9, Simeon (Illinois/Memphis)
5. Lewis Jackson, 5-9, PG, Decatur Eisenhower (Purdue)
The underrated player: John Shurna, 6-9, Glenbard West (Northwestern)
14. Class of 2017
1. Mark Smith, 6-4, Edwardsville (Illinois/Missouri)
2. Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-10, East St. Louis (Missouri)
3. Jordan Goodwin, 6-3, Belleville Althoff (Saint Louis)
4. Justin Smith, 6-6, Stevenson (Indiana)
5. Alonzo Verge, 6-2, PG, Thornton (Juco/Arizona State)
The underrated player: Cameron Krutwig, 6-9, Jacobs (Loyola)
15. Class of 2012
1. Steve Taylor, 6-7, PF, Simeon (Marquette/Toledo)
2. Rashaun Stimage, 6-8, Farragut (DePaul)
3. Fred Van Vleet, 5-11, Rockford Auburn (Wichita State)
4. Marlon Johnson, 6-9, Joliet West (New Mexico Highlands)
5. Milton Doyle, 6-4, Marshall (Loyola)
The underrated player: Nathan Boothe, 6-9, Warren (Toledo)