By Joe Henricksen
While the Peoria area may not be pumping out big names like Shaun Livingston and A.J. Guyton of Peoria Central or the Peoria Manual trio of Frank Williams, Marcus Griffin and Sergio McClain of a decade ago, it remains a basketball hotbed.
The headliners in the Class of 2012 are Jeff “Keke” White and Jacoby Roddy of Peoria Manual. Roddy, a 6-5 senior, has committed to Wright State, while White is entertaining several mid-major offers of his own. But the Class of 2013 in the Peoria includes up-and-coming talents, such as A.J. Riley of Peoria Manual and Nathan Taphorn of Pekin, who have put together breakout performances with the Illinois Wolves on the club circuit this spring and summer.
Both Riley and Taphorn have skyrocketed up the Hoops Report player rankings in the Class of 2013 in recent months, vaulting into the top 20 and gaining interest from mid-major programs along the way. Southern Illinois just offered both Riley and Taphorn, who also sports an offer from nearby Bradley, Drake and Colorado State. Riley added offers from Drake and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Monday.
Riley is a big-bodied 6-2 point guard who has been one of the most improved players in the class over the past year. He’s strong, has a terrific feel and a knack for just making plays. He was a real bright spot for the Wolves in the opening week of action of the July period. Taphorn is a slim but skilled 6-7 wing who can stretch defenses with his shooting ability. Both Riley and Taphorn have just started to scratch the surface as players and will surely make strides between now and next season.
Gavin Sullivan, who coaches the Peoria Irish club team, confirms that the University of Albany, which plays in the America East Conference, has offered a pair of his junior prospects — guard Preston Wells of Peoria Richwoods and Alec Peters of Washington.
The Hoops Report believes Peters, a strong 6-6 wing who can really shoot the basketball, is one of the best-kept secrets currently in the Class of 2013 and is poised to see his recruitment go to another level over the next 12 months. Peters, who put together a solid sophomore season for coach Kevin Brown in helping Washington to 23 wins this past season, was terrific at the D-1 Elite Event in Elmhurst during the early July evaluation period. As a sophomore, Peters shot 45 percent from three-point range (46 of 103) and averaged 10.5 points a game.