AAU player movement heats up

By Joe Henricksen

We are just a few days removed from the IHSA basketball state tournament but the AAU/Club travel season already kicks off this weekend with tournaments.

While it’s old news, the biggest change of personnel on the AAU circuit involves the state’s best college prospect, Jereme Richmond of Waukegan, heading to the Mac Irvin Fire this spring and summer. Richmond joins a ridiculously loaded roster of high-major Division I talent after playing with the Rising Stars program that last several years.

At a younger level, the Illinois Wolves 16U team will be adding Class of 2012 star Bobo Drummond to the mix. The gifted Peoria Central point guard will only enhance a roster that includes four high-major prospects in Class of 2011 stars Chasson Randle of Rock Island, 6-9 Nnanna Egwu of St. Ignatius, 6-7 Devon Hodges of Romeoville and 6-5 Jacob Williams of Bartlett.

However, don’t shed a tear for the always-strong Rising Stars program over the loss of Richmond. In addition to key standouts returning in Mundelein high-scoring guard Ben Brust, 6-10 big man Jordan Threloff of DeKalb and the New Trier tandem of 6-5 Alex Rossi and 6-9 Fred Heldring, the 17U team will welcome two huge additions.

Zion-Benton’s Lenzelle Smith, who played with NLP last season and is one of the top three or four prospects in the Class of 2010, will be with the Rising Stars program. In addition, state tournament hero Rayvonte Rice of Class 3A state champion Champaign Centennial, will be heading north to play with the Rising Stars. Rice now ranks as one of the Hoops Report’s top 12 prospects in the class.

There are also rumors that Smith could very well be changing addresses in high school as well, with Waukegan being the destination. However, those rumors are completely false, according to people very close to the situation. Smith has every intention of being at Zion-Benton next year.

But back to the Rising Stars team, throw in the likes of Mike Springs, a point guard out of Waukegan, and Seton Academy’s Kenny Stevenson, Jr., and the Rising Stars are poised for a big spring and summer under CEO and coach Mike Weinstein. This spring the Rising Stars will be traveling to the Milwaukee Swish ‘N Dish, and the King James Classic in Ohio in April, followed by the Spiece Run ‘N Slam in Fort Wayne and the Bob Gibbons Tournament in May.

Brust, who missed the end of the season with an injury, will be back healthy and playing for the Rising Stars this spring. He has a ton of mid-major offers on the table, but he is being closely evaluated by four high-majors in Stanford, Cal, Washington State and Marquette. Notre Dame, Northwestern and Iowa have shown an interest. Florida State has just recently entered the mix for Rossi.

This should prove to be a huge spring and summer for Threloff. His true size — he’s 6-10 with a huge body — and rapid development definitely peaks the interest of high-major schools who will closely monitor to see how he stacks up athletically. Threloff is currently the No. 8 prospect in the junior class in the Class of 2010.

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