Ten post-summer thoughts and observations on the June and July live periods

Updates on the top uncommitted seniors and several recruiting steals

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Hillcrest’s Darrion Baker (0) grabs a rebound against Lemont last season.

Hillcrest’s Darrion Baker (0) grabs a rebound against Lemont last season.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

With the June high school live period and July grassroots basketball complete, here are 10 more post-summer thoughts. 

1. If you are a prospect that is at the very top of the high-major level? You’re fine. 

If you’re among the very best prospects a mid-major program can potentially land? You also should be OK. 

If you are at the very top of the low-major program’s wish list? You should be able to squeeze into Division I basketball. 

But it bears repeating: Few, if any, college coaches right now are going to take a flyer on or reach for a high school prospect if they don’t have to. They simply want experienced, battle-tested college players out of the transfer portal each spring to stay old and competitive. 

The good news is that it seems a lot of players and their families are heeding the advice of others and not waiting for fall visits to make decisions. Currently, 15 of the top 20 City/Suburban Hoops Report prospects have committed, while at least four of the five remaining uncommitted players have visits and true, viable options still available to them. 

If you have a Division I option where you’ve visited, you’ve liked and the school and coach wants you and you’re not in one of the aforementioned “best of” categories, you better nab that spot. 

2. Akron and coach John Groce securing a commitment from Hillcrest’s Darrion Baker was a huge recruiting win. The 6-9 Baker has proven to be one of the most improved players in the class, showing more confidence and assertiveness since the conclusion of his junior season. For a MAC school to land a City/Suburban Hoops Report top 10 prospect is significant. Baker has an enormous upside as a mid-major prospect. 

3. Speaking of a huge recruiting victory, Brother Rice’s Ahmad Henderson provided Niagara a bit of a jolt in its Class of 2023 with a recent commitment. Henderson is a scoring point guard who was overlooked a bit due to his size. 

As several programs a whole lot closer fell asleep at the wheel, Niagara took advantage and will bring the 5-10 Henderson 550 miles east next year. 

Assistant coach Kevin Devitt, a Chicago area native, has always made Chicago and Illinois a recruiting priority in his coaching career. Now he’s brought Carmel’s Bryce Moore to Niagara this year and will follow up with Henderson next year. 

4. And a little more praise for the Brother Rice guard …

Kudos to Henderson for staying put. In this day and age where families and players are moving schools at the drop of a hat and for a myriad of reasons, Henderson is staying at Brother Rice when things turned rocky. 

With the late resignation of coach Bobby Frasor, it would have been easy for Henderson to bolt. There would have been plenty of options for a Division I guard. He chose to stay at the only school he’s known and played at for the past three years and returns to a team with a bunch of talent and potential, if not a head coach just yet. 

Here’s hoping that the whole returning group at Brother Rice stays together and rides this out after winning 24 games last season. 

5. As we head to the stretch run in the recruitment of uncommitted seniors, there are always a couple of players whose recruitments leave you scratching your head. Right now that player is Marian Catholic’s Quentin Jones. 

Simply put, the 6-4 senior should have a lot more going on the recruiting front after the spring and summer he turned in. He does have an official visit to Cal-Poly. But this is a bonafide top 25 prospect in the class with a ceiling he hasn’t yet reached. 

6. Benet will be favored in the East Suburban Catholic Conference this winter, but keep an eye on Marian Catholic. Coach Mike Taylor’s team, with the return of Jones, point guard Tre Davis, 6-6 junior James Bullock and emerging sophomore Zack Sharkey in the backcourt is going to be sneaky good. 

7. Mark Nikolich-Wilson always catches my eye. Watching how this ultra-skilled big man from Rolling Meadows plays the game is a breath of fresh air. While teammate Cameron Christie is the state’s best prospect, the 6-7 Nikolich-Wilson remains one of my favorite players and deserving of a scholarship somewhere. His skill, hands and footwork at his size are all a marvel at his size. 

Lemont’s Matas Castillo (1) goes to the basket against Simeon.

Lemont’s Matas Castillo (1) goes to the basket against Simeon.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

8. Lemont may have lost Nojus Indrusaitis, the talented junior who transferred to St. Rita. But the backcourt of Matas Castillo and Rokas Castillo remains intact and will be a potent duo this season. They feed off one another and play with tremendous confidence and a never-back-down style.

9. Another backcourt to watch this coming season is the Romeoville duo of senior Troy Cicero and junior Meyoh Swansey. Quietly, they both averaged in double figures a year ago and form a pretty dynamic tandem. They are Division I prospects, with Cicero recently committing to Loyola-Maryland and the 6-1 Swansey shooting up rankings and recruiting lists after a solid summer. 

10. Young’s Dalen Davis has an eclectic list of final five schools: Kansas State, Murray State, Saint Louis, Harvard and Princeton. There aren’t many players capable of deriving a list like this which includes different levels and academic options. But Davis has obtained these options due to his talent and outstanding academics. 

Davis and Macaleab Rich of East St. Louis are the top two uncommitted prospects in Illinois right now. 

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