We’ve watched and enjoyed so many great high school basketball talents over the first 20 years of the 2000s. But only 20 of them have finished their high school careers ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the state.
Again, there is sometimes a difference between the top prospect and best high school player in any particular class, though the majority of the time they are one and the same. Still, it’s often in the eye of the beholder.
An example of that is the 1999-2000 season when Darius Miles of East St. Louis was without question the top-ranked prospect in the state. But that season the City/Suburban Hoops Report fell hard for a budding star in Oak Lawn.
The senior season Dwyane Wade put together at Richards was dominant, so much so the City/Suburban Hoops Report, a prep basketball publication and recruiting service I began publishing in 1995, awarded Wade Player of the Year.
Miles was named Mr. Basketball. He was a McDonald’s All-American and ranked among the top prospects in the country. Westinghouse’s Cedrick Banks was named the Sun-Times Player of the Year. But as the publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, in my mind Wade was the best high school player, the most deserving of the award and a vastly underrated prospect to boot.
But there was no way anyone could debate that the ultra-gifted 6-9 Miles was the top prospect in the state.
Remember, the top prospect is based on potential and projection. You take the talent and combine it with the upside and project the biggest ascension from that point. The prospects with that combination of production and the highest ceiling going forward as a basketball player earns you the ranking.
Now? A full 20 years removed from that Class of 2000? Wade is destined for the Hall of Fame and Miles is, well … read on.
Here is a ranking of every No. 1 ranked prospect in Illinois from the 2000s. This is all based on what they accomplished after high school, factoring in both their college and professional careers.
1. Anthony Davis, Perspectives – 2011
You can’t get much easier than this.
Davis is one of the greatest players in the world and is on pace to become a Hall of Fame player. No debate here.
He played in the Blue Division of the Public League at a little-known school. But he was the No. 1 high school prospect in the country after popping up out of nowhere following his junior season.
Davis then did everything you could do in his one year at Kentucky. He won a national championship, named college basketball’s Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and the consensus national Player of the Year
Then he became the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft –– just 12 months after graduating from Perspectives.
The consistent all-star level he’s played at with the Pelicans and Lakers includes a career average thus far of 24 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks over eight NBA seasons. He’s still only 26 years old and already a seven-time all-star.
Davis has made over $100 million in his career. He will make $29 million next season in the final year of his contract before signing what will undoubtedly be one of the largest contracts in sports history when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2021.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2011: Wayne Blackshear, Morgan Park
2. Derrick Rose, Simeon – 2007
Another easy ranking. There is no other choice for No. 2 on this list.
Rose was a jaw-dropping talent while at Simeon, winning a pair of state championships while instantly becoming one of the top five prospects in the country as a prep player.
Following one All-American season at Memphis, where he lost in the NCAA Tournament championship game, Rose was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. His career instantly took off playing for his hometown Chicago Bulls as he became one of the most dynamic players in the league.
Rose was named Rookie of the Year and two years later became the youngest player in NBA history to be named league MVP. He signed massive deals with the Bulls and Adidas. Then in a playoff game in April of 2011, Rose tore his ACL and a downward spiral followed.
After battling numerous injuries and a very rough patch in his career, Rose has rebounded and is still putting up numbers in the NBA as one of the best sixth men in the league. Last season he averaged 18 points for the Timberwolves. This season he is averaging 18.1 points and 5.6 assists.
Rose has made over $120 million in salary in 12 NBA seasons. He also signed a 14-year endorsement with Adidas that would pay him, at a minimum, $190 million.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2007: Evan Turner, St. Joseph
3. Jabari Parker, Simeon – 2013
There’s never been a more heavily hyped player in Illinois over the course of his high school career than Parker. Living up to those expectations were never going to be easy.
He was the No. 1 ranked player in the country as a much-talked-about 6-8 prodigy the day he entered high school. He went on to win four straight state championships, was a Sports Illustrated coverboy as a senior and finished as the No. 2 ranked prospect in the class nationally behind Andrew Wiggins.
He put up very good numbers as a freshman at Duke, averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds, and was named a first-team All-American. But his one-year career at Duke ended in stunning fashion. The Blue Devils, a No. 3 seed, were upset in the first round by No. 14 seed Mercer in the NCAA Tournament.
The Milwaukee Bucks selected Parker with the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. His rookie season ended abruptly with a torn ACL just 25 games into his career. By his third NBA season, Parker was putting up impressive numbers, averaging 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds before tearing the ACL in his left knee for the second time in three years.
Remember, Parker, who has already played for five different NBA organizations, is still just 24 years old. He’s already scored 4,000-plus career points and has a career average of 15 points, so his career is still a work in progress.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2013: Malcolm Hill, Belleville East
4. Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central – 2004
Another preps-to-pros Illinois prospect who followed in the steps of Darius Miles (in 2000) and Eddy Curry (in 2001).
Livingston, a transcendent player in high school at 6-7 with pure point guard skills, won back-to-back state championships in high school. As his senior year played out, which included being a McDonald’s All-American and the No. 2 ranked player in the country (behind Dwight Howard), whispers of going straight to the NBA became louder.
The Los Angeles Clippers made Livingston the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. However, in the middle of his third NBA season he suffered a devastating knee injury. Livingston was told by doctors at the hospital that there was a chance his leg would have to be amputated.
He missed the end of the 2006-07 season and the entire 2007-08 season. He played in just 24 games in 2008-09 and is career was on the ropes. But Livingston persevered and reinvented himself as a player.
While the overall numbers may not reflect it, Livingston put together a highly-successful NBA career from that point forward. He became a valuable piece for the Golden State Warriors championship teams and played 10 relatively injury-free seasons.
As a career NBA back-up, Livingston managed to earn a not-too-shabby $57 million during his lengthy 14-year career. That career included playing in five NBA Finals and winning three NBA titles.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2004: Shaun Pruitt, West Aurora
5. Iman Shumpert, Oak Park – 2008
A McDonald’s All-American while at Oak Park, Shumpert had a very solid but relatively overlooked three-year career at Georgia Tech. A part of that was the fact Yellowjackets went just 48-50 in Shumpert’s three years there.
Following his best season at Georgia Tech –– he averaged 17.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists his junior year –– the athletic 6-5 guard jumped to the NBA.
The highlight of his NBA career came in his three years with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron James. Shumpert played in three NBA Finals, winning the 2015-16 title, while playing a key role off the bench.
He was a part-time starter during his first four years in the NBA and a valuable role player over the past five years. Now a nine-year NBA veteran, Shumpert is still playing with the Brooklyn Nets.
Shumpert’s career averages in the NBA: 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds while averaging 25 minutes. NBA career earnings: Approximately $50 million.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2008: Michael Dunigan, Farragut
6. Jahlil Okafor, Young – 2014
The No. 1 ranked player in the country as a high school senior, Okafor led Young to a state championship.
Okafor was then the focal point of a national championship team at Duke as a freshman. He averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and shot 66 percent from the field in his lone All-American season at Duke.
A very peculiar NBA career thus far for the 24-year-old Okafor. By far and away his best season as a professional was his rookie year when he averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds.
Since then the minutes and numbers have all shrunk. The past three seasons he’s played between 12 and 15 minutes while averaging between six and eight points.
Okafor, now in his fifth season, has made just over $17 million in his career thus far.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2014: Cliff Alexander, Curie
7. Eddy Curry, Thornwood – 2001
The massive but nimble 6-11, 290-pound Curry was all the rage and a physical specimen during his final couple of years at Thornwood.
Following his junior season he was the No. 1 player in the country. Curry remained No. 1 as he led Thornwood to a state championship game appearance his senior year, losing in a monumental upset to Schaumburg.
After scoring 28 points and being named MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game, Curry bypassed college, declared for the NBA draft and the Chicago Bulls made Curry the fourth overall selection in the 2001 draft.
Curry was slowly evolving as a player during his first four seasons with the Bulls. In his second NBA season, a 20-year-old Curry led the league in field goal percentage while averaging 10.5 points and 4.4 rebounds. By his fourth season with the Bulls he was averaging 16.1 points in 2004-05. But during that season he had complained of chest pains and feeling lightheaded.
As a safety precaution, the Bulls sat the 22-year-old Curry for the remainder of the team’s 19 games due to the scary symptoms. While the Bulls feared a heart condition, doctors were unable to detect any.
The Bulls engineered a sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks, where Curry had his best season in 2006-07. He started 81 games and averaged 19.5 points and seven rebounds at the age of 24.
Curry, who suffered through some serious personal problems in 2009, battled weight, conditioning and injury issues soon after. He played just 85 games in a very minimal role the remainder of his career.
Curry made $70 million in his career.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2001: Pierre Pierce, Westmont
8. Jalen Brunson, Stevenson – 2015
One of the most decorated and accomplished prep players in state history, Brunson’s high ranking on this list is right now due mostly to the impressive college career he put together.
But let’s start with the Stevenson years.
Brunson did it all while at Stevenson: three trips to state, including a state championship; a remarkable and memorable 56-point performance in a state semifinal game; McDonald’s All-American; top 20 player in the country; USA Basketball gold medal winner; over 100-plus wins and 2,600-plus career points.
The winning and accolades didn’t stop at Villanova where he won two national championships. He was the AP, John Wooden Award and Naismith college basketball Player of the Year as a junior. He was named College Basketball Player of the Decade by Sporting News in 2019.
Brunson was the 33rd pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. Just 23 years old, Brunson played in 73 games as a rookie, starting 38, and averaged 9.3 points. This past season, his second in the NBA, he averaged 18 minutes and 8.2 points.
It’s likely Brunson climb these rankings quickly over time with a lengthy NBA career.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2015: Marcus LoVett, Morgan Park
9. Shannon Brown, Proviso East – 2003
The exciting athletic guard was a McDonald’s All-American and a top five player nationally in the Class of 2003. After a slow start in college, Brown blossomed as a junior at Michigan State, averaging 17.2 points. He headed to the NBA where he was the 25th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft.
People tend to forget Brown carved out a lengthy nine-year NBA career and was a productive reserve while doing so. The best stretch statistically came in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons with the Suns where he averaged 11 points and 10.5 points, though he played in all 82 games with the Lakers in 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
Brown finished his career averaging 18 minutes and 7.6 points while playing for eight different NBA franchises, including the hometown Bulls –– for six games in the 2007-08 season. He also collected just shy of $18 million in NBA earnings.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2003: Richard McBride, Springfield Lanphier
10. Darius Miles, East St. Louis – 2000
The Hoops Report was all in on Wade as a senior, even naming the electric guard the Hoops Report Player of the Year that season. He wasn’t even a national top 100 ranked player as in-state prospects like Leo’s Andre Brown, King’s Imari Sawyer, Westinghouse’s Cedric Banks, Homewood-Flossmoor’s T.J. Cummings and New Trier’s Matt Lottich were.
But Miles was the consensus top-ranked prospect in the state, ranked No. 3 in the nation (behind Zach Randolph and Eddie Griffin but ahead of Gerald Wallace and DeShawn Stevenson). The 6-9 gazelle was a gifted talent who wowed fans with his versatility and athleticism at his size.
Miles skipped college, went straight to the NBA and was the No. 3 pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
But it’s hard to move higher than No. 10 on this list with no college career and a fairly non-descript NBA career. He did start 190 games in his NBA career, and he did manage to average double figures (10.1 ppg) over the course of seven NBA seasons, but he never quite lived up to the enormously high expectations.
Miles also been profiled nationally for many off-the-court stories, including battling depression and filing for bankruptcy after earning more than $60 million in total salary.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2000: Dwayne Wade, Richards
11. Dee Brown, Proviso East – 2002
A true legend and loved player in this state from both his high school and college playing days.
The college career definitely helps boost Brown up these rankings.
Brown was a McDonald’s All-American, state Player of the Year and top 20 player in the country while starring at Proviso East. Then his star rose to a whole other level as a college player at Illinois, where he arguably put together the greatest four-year career of any player in program history.
Brown was a consensus First-Team All-American as a junior when Illinois reached the Final Four and lost to North Carolina in the national championship game. Sporting News named Brown the National Player of the Year. He was a second-team All-American as a senior.
He finished as the third leading scorer in Illinois history and the winningest player in history, tied with James Augustine with 114 victories in his four years. He is second in career assists, steals and three-pointers made.
A second-round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Brown had a very brief NBA career. Brown’s cup of coffee in the league included 68 total games played with 11 starts. He finished with 140 career points in the NBA.
But Brown enjoyed a long and stellar eight-year career overseas and is now an assistant coach at UIC.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2002: Sean Dockery, Julian
12. Julian Wright, Homewood-Flossmoor – 2005
The super athletic 6-8 forward was a consensus top 10 player in the country when he chose Kansas over Illinois. As a junior he led H-F to Peoria as the Vikings finished second in the state, losing to Shaun Livingston and Peoria Central. He was a McDonald’s All-American as a senior.
From a pure production standpoint, Wright’s numbers never matched up with what he was projected to be in college or in the NBA. He spent two years at Kansas, averaging 8.5 points as a freshman and 12 points as a sophomore. He bolted for the NBA and was the 13th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Wright was out of the NBA by age 23 as he played just 231 games in four seasons. He finished his career averaging 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds while playing with New Orleans and Toronto.
While he was able to pocket nearly $8.5 million in his four seasons in the NBA, Wright continued playing overseas.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2005: Jerel McNeal, Hillcrest
13. Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North – 2006
There was a healthy debate back in 2006 over Scheyer and Collins at the top. The Hoops Report never wavered in four years. It placed Scheyer atop the class before he played a high school game and he never relinquished the top spot in his four years.
The Scheyer superlatives during his high school career were stuff of legend.
He led Glenbrook North to Peoria and a third-place finish as a freshman. He won a state title as a junior and back to Peoria and an Elite Eight appearance as a senior. There was the 21-points in 75 seconds game at Proviso West. He averaged 32 points as a senior and scored over 3,000 points in his career –– fourth all time in state history.
The accolades continued to roll in while at Duke. He was ACC Tournament MVP as a junior. As a senior, Scheyer was an All-American while leading the Blue Devils to a NCAA national championship. He was a double-figure scorer all four years, including a career high 18.2 points as a senior. Scheyer finished his career with an impressive 2,077 points, which is 10th all-time in Duke history, along with 440 assists and 522 rebounds.
Scheyer, who did suffer a severe eye injury had a brief career overseas and has served as an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski at Duke since the 2013-14 season.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2006: Sherron Collins, Crane
14. Brandon Paul, Warren – 2009
This was another class in Illinois that wasn’t exactly brimming with talent. There were some good players in the class, including Crawford, Young’s Chris Colvin, Glenbrook South’s Jack Cooley and Seton’s D.J. Cooper, but with Peoria’s D.J. Richardson off to prep school, Paul was the lone highly-rated national recruit from Illinois.
Paul’s biggest culprit as a prep player is that he kept running into Jereme Richmond and Waukegan in the postseason.
Paul had a terrific career at Illinois. He led the Fighting Illini to a NCAA Tournament berth as senior, a season which included some very big Paul moments (MVP of the Maui Invite, game-winning shot in Big Ten Tournament). Paul, who averaged 16.6 points as a senior, became just the second Illinois player in history to record 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals in his career. He finished as the eighth-leading scorer in Illinois history with 1,654 points.
Sandwiched in between a pretty solid overseas career was a one-year run in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs. He played in 64 NBA games and averaged 2.3 points.
His 2018-19 season with the Golden Bulls in CBA China resulted in Paul averaging 28 points. Paul is currently back in the EuroLeague with Olympiacos.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2009: Drew Crawford, Naperville Central
15. E.J. Liddell, Belleville West – 2019
The most recent player on this list as he was the No. 1 prospect just one year ago. So there is a whole lot left to play out for the 6-6 forward who put together a monster high school career.
Liddell won two state championships and 100 games in his career while putting up some historic numbers. Try these on for size: 2,508 points, 1,004 rebounds and 500 blocks.
With all that being said, there is a very good chance Liddell can move up this list as his college and post-college career plays out.
As a freshman this past season, Liddell averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds while ranking second on the team in blocks with 29.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2019: Terrence Hargrove, East St. Louis
16. Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon – 2018
Another fresh name on this list as he graduated from high school just two years ago.
Horton-Tucker blossomed as a senior at Simeon, putting up big numbers and becoming a top 100 talent in the national rankings.
The 6-4 guard signed with Iowa State and had a productive freshman year. Horton-Tucker averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 27 minutes of action in his first year in Ames. He surprised some by declaring for the NBA Draft, where he was the 46th overall pick of the Orlando Magic. He was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and played in the G League for the South Bay Lakers, averaging 18.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and four assists.
THT did play in two games with the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2018: Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park
17. Charlie Moore, Morgan Park – 2016
The Class of 2016 in Illinois wasn’t exactly a loaded one, so Moore was at the top of a list that was one of the weaker ones in recent state history.
After an outstanding career at Morgan Park, which included being a consensus top 100 prospect in the country, Moore has bounced around in his college career.
Moore started every game his freshman year at Cal, averaging 12.2 points and 3.5 assists. He transferred to Kansas, sat out the 2017-2018 season before playing very minimal minutes for the Jayhawks as a redshirt sophomore.
Moore will have one season left at DePaul, where he transferred to a year ago, was granted immediate eligibility and averaged 15.5 points and 6.1 assists this past season for the Blue Demons.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2016: Isaiah Roby, Dixon
18. Mark Smith, Edwardsville – 2017
Remember the sudden and rapid rise of Mark Smith?
He had Wright State, SIUE and Northern Illinois offers in the fall of his senior year. Just a few months later at the midway point of his senior season, the big-bodied 6-5 guard had Kentucky, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Kansas State, Northwestern and Missouri offers. He went from an unknown to a top 100 player nationally.
Smith had a forgettable freshman year at Illinois but has been a double-figure scorer at Missouri the past two seasons. He’s averaged 11.4 and 10 points as a sophomore and junior, respectively, and has been a 41 percent three-point shooter.
It’s difficult to imagine Smith climbing any higher in these rankings.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2017: Jeremiah Tilmon, East St. Louis
19. Steve Taylor, Simeon – 2012
In defense of Taylor, the 6-8 forward was the leader of what is largely considered to be the worst class the state of Illinois has ever churned out. The real, lone highlight in the Class of 2012 was the rise of the Hoops Report’s No. 3 ranked prospect, Fred Van Vleet of Rockford Auburn.
But Taylor was the lone national top 100 player in the state –– and even that was a stretch, checking in at No. 82 nationally.
Taylor played three years at Marquette, where he never averaged more than 5.9 points, and transferred to Toledo for his final season. While at Toledo he put together a very good senior year, averaging 15.3 points and 12.2 rebounds.
Taylor has played the last three seasons overseas in Turkey, Hungary, France and Italy, including the 2019-2020 season with Eurobasket Roma in Italy where he averaged 15.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in 22 games.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2012: Rashaun Stimage, Farragut
20. Jereme Richmond, Waukegan – 2010
Where do you put Richmond on this list? Let’s discuss.
A truly special all-around talent as a skilled 6-7 do-it-all, Richmond was an enigmatic star to put it mildly. But he was gifted and extremely fun to watch. Richmond was one of the rare high school players who filled gyms and created a buzz with his game and name.
Richmond entered high school as one of the more ballyhooed young prospects in state history. He committed to coach Bruce Weber and Illinois in November of his freshman year. Simply put, he is one of the best high school talents on this list and finished as a top 30 player in the country.
But he’s a prospect who was unable to live up to or reach all the hype that surrounded him throughout his high school career. The fact he’s ranked where he is on this list is a sad tale.
If we are purely basing this on post-high school production and living up to a prospect’s ranking, Richmond belongs this low. But dead last? Really?
One season at Illinois: 7.6 points, five rebounds and 1.8 assists in 22 minutes of action. And that’s about it for his basketball career. There hasn’t been any successful overseas career to even add to the résumé.
However, he did recently play for Soles de Santo Domingo Este, a professional team based in the Dominican Republic.
The off-the-court issues and legal troubles of Richmond are well documented which included a short time in prison.
Hoops Report’s No. 2 in 2010: Meyers Leonard, Robinson