High School Basketball Notebook (Dec. 16)

The week ahead is a big one as the pre-Christmas events get rolling and some of the nation's top teams will be going head-to-head.

State of Illinois Basketball


After spending Saturday and Sunday in Illinois watching the best the state has to offer, it's easy to see why so many college coaches have spent a considerable amount of time in Illinois.

"It's a goldmine," one college coach said this past weekend.

While the 2009 class is just so-so, it picks up tremendously in 2010. Jereme Richmond is a terrific prospect and appears to be putting it together, while guys like Crandall Head, Meyers Leonard and Anthony Johnson are all extremely talented prospects in their own right.

Then in 2011 it gets even better. The three names that come up the most are Sam Thompson, Wayne Blackshear and Mike Shaw, but there are a number of other high major prospects out there like Tracy Abrams, Chasson Randle, Jacob Williams and Nnanna Egwu.

Georgia and North Carolina have had some strong classes recently, but look out because the state of Illinois has it rolling.

Top Guard Not Named John Wall?


The 2009 class is certainly thin at the guard spots, and with the early signing period long gone there aren't many guards available.

John Wall is the best guard available and Eric Bledsoe, a top 10 PG in the class, is a name that has come up a lot, but it appears that Darius Smith is also putting himself in a position to be recruited by high majors. The 6-foot-2 guard is one of the best guards in Chicago and if Sunday was any indication there are a lot of interested parties.

Smith is a high-energy guard that seems to always be around the ball. He's quick off the dribble, gets his hands in passing lanes and has a quick release on his jumper. He also has the ability to play on and off the ball.

At the Loop Capital Shootout this past weekend, Smith had Iowa, George Washington, Toledo, Indiana and Creighton in the crowd taking a peak at him. Although we weren't able to catch up with him after is game, if the Chicago (Ill.) Marshall standout is interested in taking his recruitment all the way to spring, then he'll have no shortage of options.

Need A PG? Wait Till 2011


Obviously a number of schools need to close their 2009 classes with a point guard and many will take lead guards in the 2010 class, but it's the 2011 class that appears to be loaded with floor generals.

In our early Top 10 for the class of 2011 there are two point guards – Austin Rivers and Marques Teague -- that check in among the first five prospects. But the talent in the class doesn't stop there. Myck Kabongo, of Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's, is making a push for a strong ranking, as is Kevin Ware, Tracy Abrams and Quinn Cook.

"Considering the lack of quality depth at that spot the last couple years it has the potential to be a loaded one," a high major coach told Scout.com.

Although it's early to make judgments on the class, this class of PG's could be the best one over the past few years. Guys like Chasson Randle continue to improve, while others like Naadir Tharpe, Derrick Wilson and Deville Smith aren't quite known nationally, but have loads of interest from college coaches.

On Tap This Week


Despite having games to prep for college coaches will be out in full force this week evaluating and searching for prospects during the pre-Christmas high school tournaments.

Among the top events this week are the City of Palms Classic, Iolani Classic and Kreul Classic, with the City of Plams leading the way with what might be one of the best fields ever created for a high school event.

The event in Fort Myers (Fla.) has plenty of start power. Lance Stephenson, Kenny Boynton, Wally Judge, Leslie McDonald, Shawn Williams, Roger Franklin, Noel Johnson, Maalik Wayns, Michael Gilchrist, John Wall, C.J. Leslie and Austin Rivers are just a few of the names that will be at the event. The deal gets rolling on Thursday at Bishop Verot High School.

Down the road about two hours, the Kreul Classic has put together an impressive field as well with guys like Tristan Thompson and Brandon Knight headlining the strong 26-team event, which will be held at the Coral Springs gymnasium.

Out in Hawaii, the Iolani Classic will tip off on Wednesday. Among the high profile teams in attendance are Oak Hill, DeMatha, LeFlore, Putnam City, Whitney Young and Montrose Christian.

While those three tournaments will get plenty of attention, there are still some other quality events like the King of the Bluegrass, Chick-fil-a Classic and the Windy City Classic that have put together great fields as well.


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