By Joe Henricksen
The high school basketball season has tipped off and the seniors in the Class of 2010 are prepped for their last hurrah in a high school uniform. When looking at a senior class, it’s always a bit crazy to think back to first watching many of these seniors when they were young and how fast the time goes. Just three years ago it seemed like an eternity before Jereme Richmond would sign a letter-of-intent and be a senior. Now here we sit with Richmond still at the top of the class just as he was as a freshman at North Shore Country Day, which says a lot about Richmond as a player.
The Class of 2010 has two players far and away above the rest of the pack in terms of being premier college prospects with enormous upsides — Richmond and Robinson’s Meyers Leonard. And then behind those two, in terms of potential at the next level, are Zion-Benton’s Lenzelle Smith and Rich South’s Crandall Head in a class of their own. There is a drop after Richmond and Leonard and another drop after Smith and Head to a group of five or six players that are practically interchangeable between No. 4 and No. 10.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a close individual look at the Class of 2010 and the top 50 prospects heading into their senior season.
1. Jereme Richmond, 6-7, WF, Waukegan …. Has been the No. 1 rated player in the class since the day he stepped foot into high school. He’s a special, multi-versatile talent who has the ability to make those around him better and is probably ranked a bit too low nationally considering his feel, talent and upside.
2. Meyers Leonard, 6-11, C, Robinson …. It’s wild to think in this day of massive attention to recruiting and prospects that no one even knew who Leonard was two years ago. Now he’s clearly the No. 2 prospect in the state and among the top 50 in the country with an enormous upside. He has enough edge to his game to survive inside, plus he is active and bouncy enough to frustrate opposing big men who aren’t as athletic.
3. Crandall Head, 6-4, 2G, Richton Park (Rich South) …. Things have not gone smoothly for the athletically talented Head since he left Rich South two years ago. He transferred to Crane, had little impact on the AAU scene and transferred back to Rich South. Now, unfortunately, he’s out for the year with a torn ACL. Still, you can’t ignore the remarkable physical abilities and great upside he has. Whether it blossoms remains to be seen.
4. Lenzelle Smith, 6-3, WF, Zion-Benton …. The perfect college player who will do what is asked of him and help his team win during the four years he’s on campus. He makes those around him better and gets a lot done with his versatility, which will be huge with the talent that will surround him in Columbus. Has the ability to fill a stat sheet. He’s a competitor and has a diverse overall game.
5. Ben Brust, 6-2, 2G, Mundelein …. Over the last three years he’s gone from scrawny to actually a bit brawny. The Iowa commit does one thing as well as anyone in the class: put the ball in the hole. Yes, he’s a terrific shooter, but he’s blessed with great scoring ability. Moves well without the ball and does just enough off the dribble to keep defenses honest.
6. Ahmad Starks, 5-8, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young) …. The leader this year for the defending state champs has a knack for making big plays and hitting big shots. Yes, he’s a point guard, but he’s a shooter and scoring point guard — even at his size. He plays with tremendous confidence; he’s the kind of guy who wants to take the big shot.
7. Duje Dukan, 6-8, WF, Deerfield …. It took some time for people, including college coaches, to come around and warm up to Dukan. The Wisconsin recruit shoots it as well as anyone in the state and is extremely skilled for his size, capable of putting the ball on the floor with terrific passing ability.
8. Alex Dragicevich, 6-7, WF, Northbrook (Glenbrook North) …. He is more than a shooter. Right now has the ability to overpower high school players on the offensive end. Although not real athletic, he knows how to play the game and uses his strength to get into position for midrange shots — or getting to the basket and drawing contact.
9. Mike McCall, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Foreman) …. Saint Louis recruit can shoot over zones and in the open court can be a force offensively, both in getting to the basket and passing the basketball. He would flourish in an up-tempo system, so time will tell if the fit is right in Majerusland.
10. Reggie Smith, 5-11, 2G, Harvey (Thornton) …. A freakish athlete and highlight film when finishing at the rim. He gets after it and competes. The skills are still coming which will allow him to develop as a scorer in time.
11. Phillip Jackson, 6-8, PF, Chicago (Hyde Park) …. In time and with the right coaching he can blossom into a top defender and rebounder. Offensively he’s still raw and the year off from competitive basketball coming up will not help. However, he’s active, runs the floor and will be a hot commodity among college coaches even if he’s not on the floor this winter.
12. Jordan Threloff, 6-9, C, DeKalb …. A true big man who eats up space, uses his body and is becoming more effective on the offensive end. The promising big man, who signed with Illinois State, still needs to become a more ferocious rebounder. But he is what he is: a quality big man.
13. Brandon Spearman, 6-3, WF, Chicago (Simeon) …. A potential breakout year for the strong-bodied wing who will lead one of state’s top teams. His strength, size and athleticism will make him an effective on-the-ball defender, something that will endear him to coach Brian Gregory at Dayton.
14. Dwayne Evans, 6-5, WF, Naperville (Neuqua Valley) …. Another Saint Louis recruit is slowly moving his game to the perimeter, allowing him to play on the perimeter and make a living inside. He has a great understanding and feel around the basket, and he is unselfish. Highly productive player who gets a lot done.
15. Anthony Johnson, 6-3, 2G, Chicago (Whitney Young) …. Has shown the ability to make a lot of different plays from the guard position, both in stretching a defense with his shooting or getting something done off the dribble. Will be interesting to see what a healthy A.J. brings to the table this winter.
16. Karl Madison, 5-9, PG, Springfield (Lanphier) …. Blessed with a scorer’s mentality, Madison was a nice catch for Drake this fall. He has good quickness and can be a dangerous scorer, both with a mid-range game and from beyond the arc.
17. Rayvonte Rice, 6-3, WF, Champaign (Centennial) …. His most ardent fans will tell you he ranked among the top players two years ago. Maybe they were right. He does everything asked of him: rebound, toughness, get to the basket, knock down a perimeter shot, distribute the ball when necessary.
18. Alex Rossi, 6-5, 2G, Winnetka (New Trier) …. In the right system he will get to focus on what he does best: shooting the basketball. That will be the case at Cal. Looking for a bounce back season for New Trier.
19. Lavonte Dority, 5-11, PG, Chicago (Foreman) …. He may lack the pure explosiveness and quickness you would like, but he is physical, especially for a perimeter player. That enables him to back down foes and overpower them at the high school level, but will that translate to the Big East when he’s at South Florida? Dority has improved his perimeter shot.
20. Adonis Bailey, 6-3, 2G/WF, Oak Lawn (Richards) …. You’ve heard of workout wonders who tear up practices and offseason leagues but have not done so on the big stage? Here is that guy. High energy, bouncy wing who is skilled and not nearly as raw as you would imagine having not played a single varsity game. His upside is off the charts.
21. Eric Gaines, 6-3, 2G, Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) …. He’s a Swiss Army knife-type player who is a do-everything on the perimeter and capable of filling whatever role the Hawks need this winter. Kent State recruit can handle and pass while having the length and athleticism to be a factor on the boards and defensively. He’s still developing as a scorer and must improve his perimeter shot.
22. Anthony Shoemaker, 6-5, WF, Joliet …. A bouncy, wiry, athletic wing who can score in a variety of ways: tips, putbacks, slithering to the basket and, though inconsistent and a bit quirky, with his perimeter shot. His length, quickness and shot blocking allow to defend multiple positions.
23. Fabyon Harris, 5-8, PG, Chicago (Hyde Park) …. Tiny but competitive and tough who is always putting pressure on both ends of the floor. He’s tough to take the ball from or keeping him in check off the dribble. Throw in an improved jumper and he’s the top unsigned guard in the class.
24. Tim Rusthoven, 6-7, PF, Wheaton (Academy) …. A hard-working, productive forward who is crafty, consistent and reliable. A solid pickup for William & Mary.
25. Chris Olivier, 6-7, PF, South Holland (Seton Academy) …. A much-improved big man who has raised his stock considerably. Big bodied post who shows a nice touch and becoming a better finisher.
26. Walter Lemon, 6-2, 2G, Chicago (Julian) …. He’s about as explosive with the ball in the open court as you will find. An exciting talent who can get a bit out of control but can break down a defense with his drives to the basket and is a big-time finisher.
27. Patrick Miller, 5-10, PG, Chicago (De La Salle) …. You may not call him the “best” or the “biggest,” but he is awfully valuable and is always in attack mode. He can get into the lane and get you in foul trouble with his great strength. Could his shooting accuracy improve? Absolutely. But that doesn’t diminish his significant contributions.
28. Jay Harris, 6-0, PG/2G, Oswego (East) …. Shifty with the basketball and a nice scoring touch. He’s slender and isn’t an overwhelming athlete, but he’s a smooth scorer who specializes in knocking down shots.
29. Sean McGonagill, 6-1, PG, Riverside-Brookfield …. A pure point guard who is more interested in setting up his teammates than chucking shots. While he’s a coach on the floor, he’s also blessed with great shooting ability. He doesn’t just find ways to win — he creates them. A steal for Ivy League Brown.
30. Tommy Woolridge, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Foreman) …. Often overshadowed by highly-regarded teammates Mike McCall and Lavonte Dority, anyone who has seen Woolridge at his best knows his capabilities. Eastern Illinois signee will put points on the board in bunches and defend to death when asked to.
31. Jarod Oldham, 6-3, 2G, Decatur (Eisenhower) …. Wiry 2-guard who provides some size and length on the perimeter. Still battling a streaky shot and inconsistency but shows flashes.
32. Isaac Smith, III, 6-1, 2G, Chicago (Leo) …. With James Pointer gone, the backcourt — and the Lions, for that matter — belongs to Smith. While capable of knocking down perimeter shots, he’s quick and athletic enough to score off penetration. Eastern Illinois slid in and nabbed Smith before big senior year.
33. Alex Brown, 6-8, PF, Herrin …. Raw is the word but is already a defensive presence with his shot blocking ability, length and quickness off the floor. Still needs to physically mature and make strides offensively.
34. Jeff Johnson, 6-8, PF, Champaign (Centennial) …. Visions of Bill Laimbeer roaming the perimeter and knocking down shots come to mind. Johnson brings a similar role with his size and touch. He’s not afraid to go down on the block, but he’s still a work in progress in the post.
35. Hollis Hill, 6-0, PG/2G, Chicago (Vocational) …. Excellent one-on-one player with the ability to shoot the basketball with range and score. Isn’t a natural at setting the table and running the show but shows the capability to improve in that area.
36. Dave Dudzinski, 6-8, PF, Maple Park (Kaneland) …. He’s a multi-skilled, coordinated face-up 4-man with some size and length and who runs the floor well. The Holy Cross recruit will knock down jumpers and has a nice nose for the ball.
37. Jermaine Winfield, 6-4, PF, Chicago (North Lawndale) …. Highly undervalued, this Hoops Report favorite is absolutely relentless and does what is needed to win. His interior scoring and rebounding, along with an improved face-up game, will be key for a North Lawndale team that lost a lot of punch.
38. Vincent Garrett, 6-5, PF, Chicago (Marshall) …. Is there anyone more fun to watch finishing the break? Blessed with the body that opens eyes and the athleticism that dazzles. Now it’s a matter of making strides in how to play the game and improving the skill level.
39. Paul Bunch, 6-10, C, Chicago (North Lawndale) …. Still big, still huge and still the ultimate project. Long arms and size will allow him to block shots and be a defensive presence. He’s improved his offensive game. Still too mechanical, slow instincts and must be able to move better.
40. Will Triggs, 6-4, WF/PF, Edwardsville …. A player that worked hard to eliminate the ‘tweener label. While he can still get plenty done around the basket as an undersized 4-man, he’s evolved into a solid wing player. Signed with Austin Peay.
41. Jonathan Gac, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Mt. Carmel) …. Ready to serve as the perfect complement to the tremendous Caravan perimeter attack. He’s improving as a rebounder and finisher, while also expanding his offensive game. Will be a closely watched unsigned big man this winter.
42. Ben Brackney, 6-4, WF, Lincoln …. Bucknell-bound shooter will lead one of the top Class 3A teams in Illinois. Has nice size on the perimeter and the ability to spread the floor with his knockdown perimeter shooting.
43. Marvin Jordan, 5-10, PG, Peoria (Manual) …. His playmaking skills and defensive abilities are progressing quickly. And the future Ball State Cardinal can get where he needs to on the floor with his tight ballhandling and surprising strength.
44. Aaron Williams, 6-5, WF/PF, Chicago (Vocational) …. Productive, winner, quality kid with a nice frame and body. A bit of a ‘tweener but has the ability to play a little out on the perimeter while being a factor around the basket and on the boards.
45. Wayne Simon, 5-10, PG/2G, Westchester (St. Joseph) …. Has a crafty, old school feel to his game with a mid-range jumper he can knock down consistently. Though slightly built he finds ways to get to the basket.
46. Fred Heldring, 6-10, PF, Winnetka (New Trier) …. Big body with the ability to run the floor and step out and knock down the 12-15 foot jumper. Still needs to battle and bring it more consistently. Signed with William & Mary.
47. Lee Skinner, 6-6, PF, Lombard (Glenbard East) …. Rapidly rising unknown who gets better and better. He’s added strength and is finishing better and through contact. Long, active, consistently knocking down 15-foot jumper and can really run the floor.
48. Mario Redmond, 6-6, PF/WF, Crete-Monee …. Certainly passes the look test with the body, athleticism, length and — did we way athleticism? Western Illinois signed a big finisher on the break who could develop into a versatile defender. Still looking for more consistent production heading into his senior year.
49. Mike Gabriel, 6-7, PF, Chicago (Lincoln Park) …. He brings a toughness to the interior and makes an impact in the paint with his body, strength and hard-nosed ways.
50. Marin Kukoc, 6-6, WF, Highland Park …. There aren’t many players that have improved more in the last 18 months than the son of Toni Kukoc? He matured both physically and mentally, and he’s now capable of playing both inside and outside. A breakout year ahead?
51. D.J. Bennett, 6-8, PF, Orland Park (Sandburg) …. Arguably the most intriguing prospect in the class. A physical specimen with little experience, size, length and just-don’t-do-those-type-of-things-at-that-size athleticism. Yes, he’s still raw. But the potential is alarming.
52. Lawrence Alexander, 6-2, PG/2G, Peoria (Manual) …. Combo guard who is flying under the radar. Has the ability to score, both in getting to the basket and with the jumper.
53. Kashaune McKinney, 6-3, 2G, Park Forest (Rich East) …. Still developing all-around game, but he brings some offensive abilities. With heavy graduation, McKinney becomes the guy for the Rockets.
54. Antoine Cox, 6-3, WF, Bolingbrook …. Athletic freak on the wing who has missed a lot of time with injuries. Still piecing things together as a player.
55. Austin Weber, 6-5, WF, Northbrook (Glenbrook North) …. Another rapidly improving player in the senior class who can shoot the heck out of the basketball.
UNDERRATED FIVE OUTSIDE THE 55 ….
Sean Montgomery, 6-5, PF, Calumet City (T.F. North)
Brandon Snowden, 6-0, 2G, Oak Lawn (Richards)
Gerald Dorsey, 5-10, PG, Tinley Park
Jeff Dirkin, 6-7, PF, Oak Park
Victor Davis, 6-4, PF, Galesburg
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