By Joe Henricksen
We write about the exploits of Simeon’s Jabari Parker and the club programs like the Illinois Wolves, Meanstreets and the Mac Irvin Fire on a regular basis. We talk about up-and-coming young players and rising seniors who are adding offers by the week. But there is a group of players out there who are playing for scholarships in July, players that are hoping for a college coach — or three or four — to take notice and appreciate all they bring to the table. Some of these players are as underrated as Emmanuelle Chriqui.
These players are hoping for a low-Division I offer or even some money from a Division II or NAIA program. Here is a look at a few players who hope to make a lasting impression the last week in July as college coaches look on.
Cory Arentsen, Breese (Mater Dei)
This is the only player outside the Chicago area on the list, but he’s also arguably the state’s most overlooked — or the least talked about — Division I prospect. Arentsen has two valuable assets: good size for a perimeter player and an ability to knock down shots with range. The 6-3 guard has been very impressive with his St. Louis Eagles team this July as one of the state’s purest shooters in the senior class. He may be a specialist at the Division I level, but he’s a good one.
Kory Brown, Elgin
The 6-4 wing really came on strong for Elgin and coach Mike Sitter in the second half of the season. He put up big numbers in February and March in leading his team to the school’s first Upstate Eight Conference title since 2001 and helping the Maroons to a Class 4A regional crown. On the season, Brown was a stat-sheet stuffer, averaging 16.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3 steals a game. He’s also willing to play defense and has improved his perimeter jumper. Brown hopes to leave an impression this July that will warrant some scholarships and options for him at the Division I and Division II level.
Mike LaTulip, Prospect
The size and frame will turn some college coaches away, but LaTulip is without question one of the elite shooters in the state of Illinois. While playing with his Full Package club team and his high school team this summer, LaTulip has been as consistent with his shot as anyone in the Class of 2012. The kid can fill it up and with range and a quick release. In addition to his shooting prowess, LaTulip competes at a high level and is an excellent student academically.
Cameron Harvey, Wheaton Academy
The 6-3 wing committed to Wyoming in November of 2009 but opened things back up again last summer. Harvey, who fell a bit off the radar after his commitment to the Cowboys, will be heading to Wheaton Academy this coming year after playing for Gene Pingatore at St. Joseph. The big, strong wing has had some solid moments this summer while playing with NLP.
Kyle Nelson, St. Charles North
Throw the 6-8 versatile post player in the group of most improved players in the Class of 2012 over the past 12 months. While Nelson still must get stronger, he has the size and skill college coaches covet. He can face up and knock down shots from 10, 15 and 18 feet and in small spaces has the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket for a big man. Nelson has impressed the Hoops Report this summer, including a July run with the Spartans and his St. Charles North teammates.
Eddie Presniakovas, Plainfield South
When discussing the state’s best perimeter shooters in the senior class, Presniakovas needs to be in the discussion. The 6-2 guard, who plays with the Illinois T-Wolves, can fill it up and shoot it with range. A solid student academically, Presniakovas could have some nice options for himself before it’s all said and done.
Will Nixon, Plainfield South
A teammate of Presniakovas on both Plainfield South and with the Illinois T-Wolves, Nixon has been rock solid this summer. An intriguing 6-6 active forward who rebounds, blocks shots, plays hard and has shown he is willing to do a lot of the dirty work around the basket and on both ends of the floor. Though Nixon is projected as a Division II prospect, he has really elevated his stock and made coaches at the low-Division I level take notice.
Andre Norris, Plainfield Central
It’s a run on Plainfield kids here in the Hoops Report blog! But the slender 6-7 Norris, who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds a game this past season, is so long and active. He brings some versatility to the 4-spot as he’s capable of handling the ball pretty well and getting to the basket. Although still raw offensively, Norris finishes above the rim and has been an overlooked player on the circuit.
Brock Benson, Hinsdale South
Another prospect who brings another quality and dimension to the table: academics. Benson is solid in the classroom. Combine the academics with the fact he’s a 6-6 back-to-the-basket player and Benson, who plays with the Illinois Wolves, is looking to generate more interest. South Dakota State has offered, while a few other low-Division I and Division II schools have shown interest.
Dante Bailey, Glenbard East
Bailey helped the Rams to a third-place finish in Class 4A this past season, including knocking down three big 3-pointers in the semifinal loss to Simeon and scoring a game-high 16 points in the third-place win over Normal. Bailey is a kid with size who can knock down shots. He has played hard this spring and summer and put together a few solid performances as a 6-6 face-up 4-man who can help spread the floor.