By Joe Henricksen
Whether it’s college coaches watching one weekend or talent evaluators/recruiting gurus watching the next, all eyes are on high school basketball players in the exposure events played throughout the spring and summer. There is no question that there can be too much stock put into a weekend’s performance, especially when it comes to national talent evaluators. Nonetheless, reputations are built, scholarships offers are made and stock can fall — fairly or unfairly — for prep players in these events.
With the summer closing in quickly, here are a few observations from the City/Suburban Hoops Report after returning from the Spiece Run ‘N Slam Tournament in Fort Wayne.
There are so many eyes watching when Mac Irvin’s Fire take the floor. It doesn’t matter what age level is playing, the Fire are loaded with dozens of Division I talent throughout their program. And one player who continues to see his stock rise is Seton’s 6-4 Tony Nixon, who played well for the Fire over the weekend as they captured a tournament title at Spiece. Nixon has offers from Howard, Montana State, Northern Illinois and UIC. Although not confirmed, Nixon said over the weekend that Southern Illinois offered within the week. Nixon is really shooting the ball well, knocking down shots both with his impressive mid-range game and extending out to the three-point line. He’s long and active. Nixon has solidified himself as one of the top 20 prospects in the Class of 2009 when the next City/Suburban Hoops Report rankings come out.
Interest Should Grow
The Hoops Report has been a huge fan of St. Rita’s Terry Johnson, another talented Fire player, for some time, even calling Johnson one of the true overlooked players in the class and comparing him to former Oklahoma great Hollis Price from a few years back. Now it’s time for more people to give some love to the talented combo guard. Ooops, we’re not supposed to label Johnson a combo guard. I keep hearing he’s too small for a 2-guard and not a true point guard. Who cares? What is wrong with a combo guard that can bring to the table what Johnson does — which is big-time scoring ability. After watching several college programs have such a hard time scoring at times last winter, I can’t understand why more coaches aren’t salivating over a player that can absolutely put the ball in the hole in bunches. Johnson, a terrific student who has had Illinois State, Missouri State, Cornell, Harvard and Loyola show the most interest, has recently added Michigan to the list of schools that are inquiring. With so many college programs going the three-guard route, Johnson would be a perfect complement in that type of system.
Back In Action
After sitting out the year after transferring from Champaign to Hales Franciscan, Jordan Walker was as anxious as anyone for the spring and summer to arrive. And he’s looking good. Walker is so long and active around the basket, whether it be keeping the ball alive off the rim, blocking shots, put-back baskets or finishing with dunks. And boy does he run the floor. He still is limited as far as his overall skill package, but I have to believe he has plenty of catching up to do after sitting out a year.
The central Illinois Class of 2009 big man that has grabbed a lot of the attention over the past few months has been 6-9 Zeke Schneider of Metamora. But Mahomet-Seymour’s 6-8 Nick Washburn has grabbed mine. He’s far from being a refined big man, but you can’t help but be enamored with his size and body. He has gone from a relative nobody to a legitimate low Division I prospect. He has zero offers and virtually little interest from colleges currently. That will change between now and the end of July playing for the Illinois Wolves.
Odds, Ends And Other Thoughts….
Wisconsin-Green Bay, led by assistant coach Brian Wardle with his Illinois ties, continues to pound the state recruiting. I really think they have a good one in Seneca point guard Seth Evans, an often forgotten player in Illinois. He’s smart and won’t lose you games. He knocks down shots and he competes…. There are a lot of people that are extremely high on North Lawndale’s Paul Bunch. He has made strides, but I just see a player that has a long way to go. He will be a high major due to his size and potential, but he certainly won’t be an instant impact player at that level…. While they may look a little chaotic at times, I sure do like watching how hard Tai Streets’ Meanstreets play. They just get after opponents and are relentless…. I still would love to see the player Shaun Pratl of Richards would be if he was a 12-month basketball player and not splitting time with football. His feel for the game, despite not playing full-time, is pretty remarkable, especially for a player his size. He’s extremely athletic with a great frame. If I’m a mid-major program I am hounding the star of the Class 4A state championship game.