6 seniors who opened eyes at Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout

The list is a combination of obscure players on the recruiting front who raised their stock and others who have received attention — and even offers — but should have a whole lot more.

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Benet's Daniel Pauliukonis (24) shoots against Thornton.

Benet’s Daniel Pauliukonis (24) shoots against Thornton.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Finally.

After just one travel basketball “live” period in the spring for college coaches to evaluate talent –– and the transfer portal dominating the eyes and minds of every college program –– the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout took center stage this past weekend.

The players were finally being watched again and the offers are coming in after the first “live” evaluation weekend of the summer.

In the eyes of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, no player did more for their stock among college coaches this past weekend than Benet’s Daniel Pauliukonis.

This is a player, after all, who slowly progressed throughout his junior season. He came on towards the end of Benet’s season, showed enough potential to be among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 20 prospects in the Class of 2025, and then gained valuable experience in Nike EYBL play with Meanstreets this past spring.

Nonetheless, he is a player who averaged 8.3 points a game as a junior and shot 44 percent from the three-point line. But even if the scoring numbers weren’t eye-popping, the late-blooming talent Pauliukonis offers is so evident.

The super-skilled 6-9 Pauliukonis is such an intriguing prospect. He runs the floor with long, easy strides and spaces the floor with the best of them as a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat. With a pretty effortless shooting stroke from beyond the arc, along with the ability to put the ball on the floor fluidly for his size, Pauliukonis is the ideal modern-day 4-man.

Even more important, as a prospect he’s just starting to tap into his talent and is in the process of developing physically.

The confidence he shows now in comparison to just months ago is the difference in his production. He buried five three-pointers and scored 24 points in a win over Bolingbrook at R-B and continued to drop in a variety of shots all weekend with touch and efficiency.

“I really do have a lot more confidence,” Pauliukonis said following his impressive weekend. “I have a bigger role now, so I have to step up. I think the Nike circuit gave me confidence as well, but I give a lot of credit to my coaches in working with me and believing in me.”

The recruiting is picking up. The calls and texts are coming in at a faster clip following his breakout weekend, Pauliukonis said. He has offers from Eastern Illinois, Toledo and Canisius. But those are far too few for a player who is a bonafide mid-major prospect who will be a constant presence on the perimeter at his size and position.

Seniors who need more love and attention

There are all types of stock risers. Whether they have received little to no interest up to this point or have offers but not enough of them –– or maybe not at the right level –– overlooked prospects come in all shapes and sizes.

This short list is a combination of obscure players on the recruiting front who helped raise their stock and others who have received attention –– and even offers –– but should have a whole lot more.

Matthew Zobrist, Metamora

A player who has performed well for one of the best teams in the state for the past two years definitely has some name recognition. The interest is there.

But we’re talking about the best shooter in the senior class. It’s time for more to take notice.

Zobrist has been under-appreciated by most while playing second fiddle to a host of older, talented players at Metamora the past two years. He should be a consensus top-10 prospect in the state but isn’t.

Zobrist began the spring as the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 7 ranked prospect in the class. He’s now pushing himself into top-five territory.

The 6-4 Zobrist is a flame-throwing lefty shooter–– and with deep, deep range. He’s playing with extreme confidence and has free rein for a team that desperately needs him to be the guy after being hit hard by graduation. He makes shots using screens, dribble handoffs and movement within an offense and is creative enough off the dribble to get his own shot.

Zobrist’s nice weekend at Riverside-Brookfield netted offers from Indiana State and Saint Louis, adding to a list that includes Loyola, Bradley, Illinois State and Miami-Ohio. There should be more coming. He’s a player mid-major programs keep their fingers crossed that he doesn’t garner high-major interest over the next five weeks.

Makai Kvamme, DePaul Prep

As a prospect, Kvamme hasn’t been as heralded as others in the Class of 2025. That should change because he’s showing and proving he’s a scholarship player who can play somewhere at the Division I level.

Kvamme is a player who has always shown a savvy sense for playmaking and helping teams win. As the point guard for two state championship teams, he’s a methodical ball-handler who distributes and doesn’t turn the ball over. The 6-1 senior is the consummate point guard.

However, he showed this past weekend he’s made a big jump as a threat offensively with added size and strength to go with better pull-up and finishing ability.

LeShawn Stowers, Peoria Central

The more you watch Stowers the more you like and appreciate him as a player and prospect. Again, he’s a player who hasn’t been seen enough between playing for Peoria Central and not being part of a shoe-sponsored grassroots travel program.

As a result, the 6-3 guard has emerged as one of the more overlooked players in the class.

Bradley has been consistently on Stowers from the get-go. He has added offers from Northern Illinois, IUPUI, Eastern Michigan and Miami-Ohio this month. Why more haven’t jumped in is baffling.

An absolute bulldog whose feel for the game continues to be underestimated. He can pass, make a shot and score the ball in a variety of ways. He’s a downhill specialist with strength and power who can make mid-range jumpers and finishes from all angles. And, yes, his three-point shot has improved.

EJ Horton, Phillips

Fresh off a season where he put up 20 points a game for a Class 2A state champion, the offers are starting to trickle in for an electric player athletically who is wired to score.

Horton did have a shaky, up-and-down spring with Meanstreets on the travel circuit, so there was some recruiting trepidation following the only “live” evaluation of the spring. But in totality, Horton is a bonafide mid-major prospect and rising.

While the perimeter jumper is certainly workable –– he made over 50 threes as a junior –– Horton is dynamic in the open floor and as a finisher in transition. Making quick decisions with the ball and playmaking remain a work in progress, but this is a super-charged talent with the type of body, explosiveness and upside that warrants more mid-major offers.

The high-upside Horton, who moved in from Florida this past year, has added Illinois State, Buffalo, IUPUI and Northern Illinois this past month.

Tyreek Coleman, Waubonsie Valley

Coleman had a terrific junior season where he was named the DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year and led his team to a 27-3 record.

He was pumped up as one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s breakout players of the year in the Class of 2025.

The 6-2 guard played with the Illinois Wolves this past spring where he averaged 9.7 points in seven Under Armour Association games.

But as we head into late June the offer total sits at one. Come on. One?

Kudos to Miami-Ohio who extended an offer during his junior campaign this past winter.

More are surely going to come as Coleman plays out the summer. He didn’t set the world on fire this past weekend, yet the talent and upside are clear and the interest is coming. Illinois State, Drake, Northern Iowa, Murray State, SEMO, Niagara, and Northeastern have all shown interest since the weekend.

With exceptional rangy length for a player of his size, Coleman finds different ways to score and impact. The call comes out clean on his jumper and has deep range. He’s a spicy creator in getting to the basket in transition and finishing. He sees the floor well. And he plays the right way.

Coleman’s best basketball is clearly ahead of him as his frame develops and his confidence continues to climb.

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