Manual's Dietrich Richardson makes a case for the top spot in 2025 and more from Riverside-Brookfield

A look at the top players in the state’s Class of 2025 and a big notebook of thoughts from this past weekend’s shootout at Riverside-Brookfield.

SHARE Manual's Dietrich Richardson makes a case for the top spot in 2025 and more from Riverside-Brookfield
Peoria Manual's Dietrich Richardson (11) controls the ball against West Aurora.

Peoria Manual’s Dietrich Richardson (11) controls the ball against West Aurora.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

There are some wide-ranging opinions on just who the top-ranked prospect is in the Class of 2025 in Illinois, particularly since Joliet West’s Jeremiah Fears, the consensus top-ranked prospect, departed the state and went the prep school route last summer.

There has been debate. And there should be. That’s the type of group we have at the top in the Class of 2025.

Bryce Heard of Homewood-Flossmoor has made a pretty significant statement with his play over the past six months. It took a while, but people have finally caught on to Ian Miletic of Rolling Meadows, whose combination of production and upside puts him in the picture. Both can make a claim for the top spot.

Kenwood’s 6-9 Aleks Alston and St. Ignatius guard Phoenix Gill have been bandied about at No. 1 by others over the past year.

But for the City/Suburban Hoops Report, it’s been a steady, consistent dose of Dietrich Richardson at No. 1 over the last 12 months. The multi-faceted guard from Peoria Manual is blessed with a big upside as a prospect. That upside, which was easy to see at this past weekend’s Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, is bigger than anyone else’s in the class. That’s why he’s at the top.

Richardson hasn’t been seen enough. He battled some injuries in the past and he plays with an independent, non-shoe-sponsored club travel team, Mid-Pro Academy in Peoria. So this past weekend’s opportunity at R-B was good for his individual status. He added an offer from Xavier on Monday.

The 6-6 Richardson is a court surveyor and plays with a natural ease and smoothness others simply don’t possess. His selfless passing vision brings great value, while his length is a physical attribute that helps him be a positive contributor in so many facets of the game.

The slender frame and lack of strength are hurdles he will have to overcome in the long term. The natural basketball ability and potential he brings, though, pushes him ahead of the rest.

Interestingly, Brandon Paul of Warren is the last player ranked atop the final City/Suburban Hoops Report prospect rankings who didn’t play with a shoe-sponsored team. He played his spring and summer with Team NLP back in 2008 before finishing as the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2009.

Other thoughts from the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout

■ While we are on the topic of battling for the top spot, No. 1 is up for grabs in the Class of 2026 as well. There is no clear-cut choice. However, the City/Suburban Hoops Report believes either Marist’s Stephen Brown or Kankakee’s Lincoln Williams will be there when the dust settles.

■ It was clear and apparent when Ian Miletic was a freshman that he would be a Division I prospect as he played in the shadows of star Cameron Christie at Rolling Meadows. But there was a lot of work to do to become a bonafide high-major recruiting target. And to Miletic’s credit, the 6-7 senior put in the work.

The perimeter jumper wasn’t a complete down-to-the-studs rebuild three years ago, but it needed a lot of work — or at least it appeared it would be tough to be a consistent shooter. But today Miletic’s greatest strength might just be his efficiency from the three-point line. When you combine the recent shooting track record with his size and the ideal mindset as a player and teammate, it’s no wonder Shaka Smart and Marquette were so intrigued early and stayed on him throughout.

■ AJ Demirov was the catalyst for a Crystal Lake South team that enjoyed its best season in school history. With Demirov averaging 20.2 points and over four assists a game, the Gators won a school record 31 games and the first sectional title in over 40 years.

This past weekend he was at it again with his shot-making prowess. His scoring outburst included games of 23, 27 and a R-B Shootout record 44 points against Batavia.

Demirov added offers from Eastern Illinois and Lewis University.

■ Maybe because he’s been on the radar for so long, but a bigger name who tends to be forgotten at times is Young’s Antonio Munoz. He is a player who started high school ranked among the top 10 prospects in the class and remains there today.

When he’s active, playing physical and with tenacity, the physically gifted 6-6 forward is so impactful and has an obvious role at the next level.

■ There are very few outside the North Suburban Conference who are aware of Lake Forest’s Hudson Scroggins. But the 6-7 senior is a rising prospect in the class and a late developing one.

Scroggins will do all the dirty work asked of him and play instinctually. He’s around the basketball and gets after it on the glass. He defends multiple positions at one end and works so well inside 15 feet at the other. As his versatility and offensive game continue to expand, Scroggins’ value as a prospect will soar. He becomes a compelling proposition because of all of his strengths.

If the perimeter shooting becomes more consistent, he has a chance to be a recruiting steal for a scholarship program at the Division II or low-major Division I level.

■ There are a pair of snipers in the Class of 2026 who are bound for Division I in two years: Alton’s Semaj Stampley and Rockford Auburn’s Amir Danforth. These two guards can score the basketball with their speciality being shooting from long range.

In just two years of high school basketball, Danforth is already a proven scorer. He averaged 16.9 points a game as a sophomore and is quickly approaching 1,000 career points. That scoring and shooting prowess was on display in two games at R-B on Saturday with games of 35 and 33 points. Last season he buried 91 three-pointers while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc.

When Stampley shoots the basketball, you expect it to go in. He’s one of the better shooters in the junior class –- as proven by his whopping 97 three-pointers made as a sophomore and what he did this past weekend at Riverside-Brookfield.

■ Glenbard West’s TJ Williams is a sleeper right now but a player who is ready to be talked about in the junior class. The 6-2 guard is blessed with an impressive burst off the dribble and a wingspan in the backcourt that is an equalizer defensively, especially in the Hilltoppers’ 1-3-1 defensive scheme. An improved and more efficient jumper will only elevate his prospect status, but he’s set for a breakthrough junior season.

■ There are too many people underestimating Moline’s Trey Taylor, a physical brute but undersized 4-man. He’s strong, more athletic than people realize and can knock a shot down. Position-less or not, this is a scholarship player. He did pick up an offer on Monday from Division II Emporia State.

■ A couple of players in the Catholic League who are so impactful with their presence are Brother Rice’s Marcus Gonzales and Mount Carmel’s Grant Best. They understand who they are and play the right way. Best is a warrior and Gonzales finds so many ways to contribute. They are tough-minded guards who compete and make winning plays. Both will see their usage and roles expand greatly as seniors and should be scholarship players.

■ Speaking of Mount Carmel, you don’t lose the caliber of players the Caravan have lost in the past two years to graduation, including all-staters DeAndre Craig and Angelo Ciaravino, and not see a drop off. But the trio of Best, Noah Mister and Cameron Thomas will keep them afloat.

Best scored 24 in a game while Mister scored 22 in a game and Thomas had games of 33, 28 and 23. Dylan Fulbright was a fourth player who scored 20-plus points in a game at R-B. That’s some potent offense on the perimeter for coach Phil Segroves.

■ A player who put in a solid weekend of work without any fanfare is Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Luca Carbonaro. The 6-2 senior guard has been very productive thus far in his career –- he averaged 18 points and 3.3 assists a game as a junior –– but will see his numbers rise as a senior. He had games of 29 and 23 against Hillcrest and New Trier, respectively, this past weekend. Small college programs should be taking notice.

■ A fun and improving player in the senior class is Moses Wilson of Waubonsie Valley. The 6-4 wing brings some excitement to the floor. He’s so bouncy and active around the basket and running the floor with his athleticism and length. Wilson provided glimpses this past season in helping the Warriors to a 27-win season and is playing with more comfort and confidence.

■ Neuqua Valley’s Cole Kelly is the incoming freshman the City/Suburban Hoops Report has hyped up. But two south suburban freshmen had their moments at R-B this past weekend: Homewood-Flossmoor point guard Darrius Hawkins and Thornton’s 6-2 DeAndre Higgs.

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