Ranking the Class of 2022: How the seniors stack up heading into July

While Young’s AJ Casey remains the top long-term prospect in the class, the distance between No. 1 and No. 2 has narrowed.

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Oak Forest’s Robbie Avila (21) maintains possession of the ball during the game against DePaul Prep at the Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout.

Oak Forest’s Robbie Avila (21) maintains possession of the ball during the game against DePaul Prep at the Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

While Young’s AJ Casey remains the top long-term prospect in the class, the distance between No. 1 and No. 2 has narrowed.

Both Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt and Glenbard West’s Braden Huff are nipping at his heels with both of their individual recruitments heating up.

Now there are some fresh faces joining those three top 10 fixtures.

As the spring played out and summer arrived, downstate big man NJ Benson of Mt. Vernon was the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 15 ranked prospect in the Class of 2022. That was a fairly lofty status for a relative unknown player from the southern part of the state.

But with his continued improvement and the upside that still remains, Benson has climbed into the top 10 as we head into July.

Tavari Johnson of Lyons Township, who was an unknown in the class just 18 months ago, has also joined Benson as a newcomer to the top 10.

As the spring and summer plays out for a group of rising seniors in the state, the production of the player becomes a little more imperative. While still vitally important, at this later stage of their high school careers, it’s not simply about projection.

Also, three-point shooting has never been more important in the game of basketball, which is why Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt and Buffalo Grove’s Kam Craft continue to rank so high. And being a good shooter these days is about the quickest path for a young player to get on the floor in college.

Here is how the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 10 prospects shakes out as we head into July.

1. AJ Casey, 6-8, Young

The top prospect in the class possesses the versatility and physical profile that opens eyes with his size, length and athleticism. He flashes various scoring abilities. While the high-level consistency remains a work in progress, Casey still boasts the biggest upside in the class.

2. Jaden Schutt, 6-5, Yorkville Christian

With sound form and mechanics, range and a pure release, Schutt has elite shooting ability that easily translates to the next level. He’s also a better athlete than he’s often given credit for being while also creating more off the dribble that will help him make another offensive leap.

3. Braden Huff, 6-10, Glenbard West

Huff continues to show an array of skill and production at his size that is so enticing with how the game is played today. He’s a big who can space the floor with his shooting or run an offense through with his passing and ballhandling. Huff can be utilized in a wide range of roles.

4. Kam Craft, 6-5, Buffalo Grove

A spark-plug scorer and safe bet to be a productive offensive player at the next level due to his shot-making ability from all areas of the court. The athleticism has improved. He also plays with a competitive edge and confidence. Craft committed to Xavier last week.

5. Jalen Quinn, 6-3, Tuscola

Has turned into an intelligent floor general who is comfortable commanding an offense. He uses his body, instincts and change of pace to get to the rim where he can finish so well with either hand. Now he just needs to improve his jumper to maximize his offensive potential. Mid-major programs will keep their fingers crossed the point guard’s recruitment stays at their level.

6. Trey Pettigrew, 6-4, Kenwood

The combo guard has moved back to Illinois after a year away and offers the type of backcourt size college coaches covet. An isolation scorer who can score in multiple ways off the dribble — from three, mid-range and in drives to the basket.

7. NJ Benson, 6-7, Mt. Vernon

The player who did more for himself during the early live periods than anyone, grabbing attention with his physical attributes, athleticism and motor. As a result, Benson’s recruitment has exploded. He’s playing with more aggressiveness, confidence and showcasing some pop and quick second leap off the floor.

8. Robbie Avila, 6-8, Oak Forest

A true big with a sweet skill set for his size and position. While not the most athletic, Avila has solid footwork, can handle the ball, uses both hands and can extend a defense with shooting range out to the three-point line. The best big-man attribute is he’s an excellent passer. Avila is a coveted mid-major target.

9. Xavier Amos, 6-7, Young

The light came on during his junior campaign, the production increased and the arrow continues to point straight up. A 4-man with versatility and a terrific body, dimensions and growing skill to work with. The battle with inconsistency seems to be one he’s starting to win more.

10. Tavari Johnson, 6-0, Lyons

A slight-framed point guard and decisive decision-maker who controls offensive tempo naturally, Johnson has finally made a name for himself among college coaches this past month. Johnson consistently makes winning plays with the ball in his hands, both as a scorer and as a table-setter.

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