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Young’s DJ Steward picks up Duke offer, leads new Class of 2020 rankings

How the Class of 2020’s top 10 shapes up coming out of the summer. 

Young’s DJ Steward (21) gets a fast break for a dunk against Curie.
Young’s DJ Steward (21) gets a fast break for a dunk against Curie.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

You know what, Class of 2020? You did your job.

This senior class failed to distinguish itself early, though if you added Nimari Burnett and 6-9 Shon Robinson –– two talented players who began their career at Morgan Park as freshmen before moving to California and Arizona, respectively –– the class would certainly be enhanced.

Both are high-major players with Burnett among the top 30 prospects in the country and Robinson already an Ole Miss commit.

But moving forward …

The class didn’t have this (very few high-major prospects) and lacked that (overall Division I talent). There was a lot of skepticism overall when it came to this upcoming senior class. But the class has come together. A few more players have established themselves as Division I prospects and the top of the class has been solidified.

There actually hasn’t been a lot of moving and shaking in the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 10 over the past year. With only one recent addition, the top 10 has nine familiar names that haven’t budged in quite some time in the Hoops Report rankings.

But the debate does start at the top, where the state’s two bonafide high-major prospects –– Young’s DJ Steward and Morgan Park’s Adam Miller –– jockey for position. With the work Steward has put in over the past several months, the silky smooth guard not only has vaulted nationally but is now the top-ranked prospect in the class in Illinois.

On a Meanstreets team where he was the focal point, Steward still remained efficient and put up huge numbers despite being the focus of every opposing team’s defense. His numbers on Nike’s EYBL circuit were superior and surpassed any other player on the club basketball circuit from Illinois. He averaged 22.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game in EYBL play while shooting 48 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc (38 of 97).

Miller, meanwhile, finished off EYBL play averaging 20.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He shot 39 percent from the field and 33 percent from the three-point line.

As the summer basketball season is winding down, with nearly all of the evaluation period for top prospects in the rearview mirror, here is how the Class of 2020’s top 10 shapes up coming out of the summer.

1. DJ Steward, 6-3, PG/2G, Whitney Young

Young’s DJ Steward (21) pulls up for a shot against Curie.
Young’s DJ Steward (21) pulls up for a shot against Curie.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

From an overall buzz standpoint nationally, no player has enhanced his stock more than Steward since the high school season ended. And it’s about time.

It was maddening to see him ignored for so long on the national level. But his body of work has elevated Steward to another level, which also resulted in an offer from a Blue Blood as Duke extended an offer on Saturday. Now Steward is a consensus top 35 prospect in the country and climbing. This is a high character kid who brings zero red flags and is so versatile and efficient.

2. Adam Miller, 6-4, PG/2G, Morgan Park

Morgan Park’s Adam Miller (44) drives around Curie’s DaJuan Gordon.
Morgan Park’s Adam Miller (44) drives around Curie’s DaJuan Gordon.
Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

A high-major prospect since the day he entered high school, Miller is a big-bodied guard who can play on and off the ball with his size and shooting ability. He boasts outstanding range and can space the floor with the best of them. Oddly, Miller hasn’t added any offers in the past month.

3. Marcus Watson, 5-10, PG, Morgan Park

Morgan Park’s Marcus Watson (22) drives around Curie’s Damari Nixon (2).
Morgan Park’s Marcus Watson (22) drives around Curie’s Damari Nixon (2).
Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

The jet-quick point guard has been overlooked a bit nationally. He’s on that mid-major plus/high-major bubble but has solidified himself as a point guard who can both put pressure on opposing defenses and make those around him better. The latter is the area he’s made the most growth as he averaged an impressive 9.5 assists a game in EYBL play.

While he needs to become more consistent from three and a bigger threat with his perimeter shot, Watson is dynamic in the open court and getting into the teeth of a defense with his electric speed.

4. Keshawn Williams, 6-2, PG/2G, Bloom

Bloom’s Keshawn Williams (12) pushes the ball down court against Thornwood.
Bloom’s Keshawn Williams (12) pushes the ball down court against Thornwood.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

The athletic combo guard can turn the corner, get to the basket and play above the rim. He does things athletically others in this class cannot.

He has been a fixture in the Hoops Report’s top five in 2020 and has opened the eyes of college coaches. Williams has added a number of offers in the past month, including DePaul, Kansas State, Florida Atlantic, West Virginia, Loyola, George Mason, Missouri State, Tulsa and Murray State.

Those schools have joined the early-to-the-part offers, including Colorado and Colorado State.

5. Martice Mitchell, 6-9, Bloom

Bloom’s Martice Mitchell (2) looks for an open teammate.
Bloom’s Martice Mitchell (2) looks for an open player.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Ultimate high-ceiling prospect who higher-level programs may need to wait on a bit once getting on campus. But he’s too enticing to ignore with his length, agility and end-to-end speed for a player his size. He will even step out and make a face-up jumper. At this point he’s just underdeveloped physically and as a player.

6. Ahron Ulis, 6-2, PG, Marian Catholic

Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis (1) drives by Waukegan’s Kendarius Woods. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Maybe after putting in solid work and some productive numbers at the Peach Jam over the weekend, the interest will ramp up a bit. He averaged 16.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and four assists a game at the Peach Jam, including hitting 8 of 23 from beyond the arc.

Ulis has been far too unappreciated in this class, and it’s time to quit dissecting his game so much. He may not wow you, but Ulis is more substance than style. He is a strong point guard who facilitates, scores and wins. Plus, the perimeter jumper has improved and is only going to get better.

7. Isaiah Rivera, 6-4, Geneseo

The central Illinois guard has stockpiled offers over the past year. Rivera has a strong frame and is more athletic off the floor than people give him credit for.

He’s not the shiftiest or most explosive guard, and the perimeter jumper must be much more consistent (Rivera shot just 1 of 15 from the three-point line at the recent Peach Jam). But Rivera finds different ways to score and impact the game. He may not do one thing great but does a lot of things well and is a coveted mid-major prospect.

8. Jeremiah Williams, 6-3, St. Laurence

St, Laurence’s Jeremiah Williams (30) hauls in a rebound against Morgan Park.
St, Laurence’s Jeremiah Williams (30) hauls in a rebound against Morgan Park.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Extremely versatile and a true stat-sheet stuffer, Williams opens eyes with his physical attributes, production and upside. He uses his length to impact the game as a rebounder, finisher and defender. As his perimeter jumper becomes more consistent, the impact Williams provides will make an exciting jump forward.

The long, wiry, smooth guard has a host of mid-major programs heavily involved as Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Valparaiso, UW-Milwaukee, Northern Illinois and Akron have all offered.

9. Tyler Beard, 6-2, Young

Young’s Tyler Beard (24) blows past Curie’s Ramean Hinton (23).
Young’s Tyler Beard (24) blows past Curie’s Ramean Hinton (23).
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Has his stock dropped since a year ago? Yes. But there should be more noise and interest surrounding his recruitment as he took a positive step forward with how he played in June with the Dolphins.

Beard brings things to the table that’s easy to like, including being a player who will defend with his toughness, athleticism and lateral speed. He’s at his best attacking the basket, especially in the open floor in transition.

10. Kyndall Davis, 6-5, WF, Bogan

When the summer began the Hoops Report projected Davis to be one of the breakout players of the offseason. Despite adding four offers since then, Davis remains vastly overlooked.

The physical attributes are ideal for a wing with size. He was vastly under-appreciated during his junior year by many as he played his role and played it well. Expect a big senior season from this wing who showcases both the ability to play above the rim and stretch the floor with his shooting.