The Chicago Showdown was sponsored by Basketbull, LLC, a company affiliated with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Teams battled over two days for an invitation to the Hall of Fame "National Invitational" on July 11th and 12th.
The 17-U Illinois Kings won the Chicago Showdown championship by upsetting the 17-U Illinois Wolves, 17-U Illinois Warriors, and 16-U Illinois Wolves in succession. The Kings were keyed by the marksmanship of Luke Labedzki (Bartlett), Nick Kladis (Hinsdale Central), and Nick Valla (Marist). This trio has played together for three years now, and their experience and team chemistry showed.
Below we take a look at some of the standouts from the tournament…
Class of 2010
Nick Valla – Guard – Illinois Kings (Marist High School) – Valla might not have gotten the accolades of teammates Sean McGonagill and Nick Kladis, but he is a tough guard who loves to lock-down on defense and run the offense with efficiency. Valla gives opponents fits on both sides of the ball with his intelligence and patience. His toughness reminds us a bit of Chris Kramer.
Mike McCall – Guard – Illinois Heat (Foreman) – McCall has completely changed his game since his jumper became reliable last summer. While the old McCall would attack the basket relentlessly, this version mixes and matches the offensive game to give opponents fits. The handles and court vision need to improve but McCall has improved a lot over the last two years. On Saturday, McCall nailed a game-winning shot for the Heat in the morning and a repeated with a buzzer-beater to send it to overtime during the afternoon session.
Ryan Walker – Guard – RBS All-Stars (Bolingbrook) - DePaul guard Will Walker's little brother leads the attack for RBS. What Walker lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and leadership presence.
Jay Harris – Guard – Illinois Old School (Oswego East) – Harris went head-to-head with Illinois Heat guard Mike McCall and showed that he could really play. Harris can score in a variety of ways and also showed the ability to run some point. He's an underrated player to watch.
Tramel Weathersby – Guard – Illinois Old School (East Aurora) – Weathersby, like teammate Jay Harris, is a bit underrated but will quickly make a name for himself over spring and summer if he attacks the basket the way he did this weekend. After a slow first half, Weathersby attacked the rim hard and got to the line on multiple occasions against the Illinois Heat. Playing in attack mode will only benefit Weathersby as he has a nice frame to take contact at the rim.
Mario Redmond – Forward - Illinois Wolverines (Crete-Monee) – Redmond has always been tantalizing with his combination of body and athleticism but he always leaves me wanting more. The perimeter skills still need to improve, but Redmond has a chance to go places with the way he can get to the rim.
Jarod Oldham – Guard – Illinois Wolves (Decatur Eisenhower) – Oldham was very impressive on Friday as he showed tremendous ability and great body control to score in a variety of ways. A combo guard, Oldham seems comfortable with the ball in his hands, although he never had his turn to run the offense.
Wayne Simon – Guard – Illinois Wolves (St. Joseph's) – We still have yet to see many guards that can rebound the way Simon does. Even though he is right around six feet tall, Simon has a tremendous nose for the ball and seems to be involved in nearly every important play on the floor.
Alex Dragicevich – Forward – Illinois Wolves (Glenbrook North) – You won't find many in Illinois that can shoot the ball better than the Glenbrook North product. While deep perimeter shooting is his forte, the junior will also use a variety of dribble-drive moves to free up space for a mid-range pull-up. For his size, he still needs to attack the rim more, but that will improve down the road.
Josh Humphrey – Forward – Illinois Wolves (Crete-Monee) – While he isn't the outside shooter that his older brother Matt is, you will be hard-pressed to find a player that has improved as much over the high school season. Humphrey is an intelligent player who attacks the basket hard. If the outside shot improves, he already has good size for a wing player.
Anthony Shoemaker – Forward – Illinois Wolves (Joliet Township) – There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Joliet junior, and some of it is warranted. Shoemaker is athletically superior to many his size and has some nice moves around the rim. The jumper is the problem. At times, Shoemaker's jumper look way off as his mechanics still need to be improved. If the jumper improves he has a shot at being high-major.
Chris Olivier – Center – Illinois Wolves (Seton Academy) – If layup lines dictated scholarship offers, then this kid would have coaches drooling. Olivier is very long and athletic for being 6'8, but he has little-to-no game experience. Still, you can never overlook athleticism of that caliber on a big guy and with some improvements he has a chance to be pretty good.
Mike Gabriel – Center – Rising Stars Blue (Lincoln Park) – Blue-collar big man does all the little things very well. Rebounding and defending are his strengths as Gabriel also continues to grow and improve offensively. Gabriel already has a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois.
Kyle Cain – Forward – Illinois Warriors (Thornton Fractional North) – This unsigned senior is believed to be headed to prep school. He is already receiving interest as a Class of 2010 recruit. Cain rebounds well and has a good nose for the basketball. He kept the Warriors in games with a lot of putbacks. He finishes well around the basket.
Dwayne Evans – Forward – Illinois Warriors (Neuqua Valley) – Evans' game just keeps on improving every time we see him. The 6-5 forward is starting to develop his game away from the basket and does well scoring both inside and outside.
Brandon Spearman – Guard – Illinois Warriors (Simeon) – Spearman struggled with his shot on Saturday. He will need to come up with better performances than that to attract more high-major interest.
Ahmad Starks – Guard – Illinois Warriors (Whitney Young) – This diminutive point guard has verbally committed to Oregon State coach Craig Robinson. His aggressive play on both ends of the floor forced the Warriors semi-final game versus the Illinois Kings to overtime.
Class of 2011
Nnanna Egwu – Center – Illinois Wolves (St. Ignatius) – A year ago, Egwu was just a freakishly long athlete who could run. Now, he is becoming a basketball player. While still raw, Egwu is in better position and has some good timing for a player who has played very little basketball. He even displayed some touch on a nice face-up, baseline jumper. Egwu is a defensive presence in the paint when blocking shots and forces opponents to alter their shot. According to Wolves coach Mike Mullins, Egwu received a scholarship offer from Northwestern today.
Chasson Randle – Guard – Illinois Wolves (Rock Island) – Didn't have his best weekend, but still is head and shoulders above many in his class. Randle is still a tremendous scorer who maneuvers his way around defenders very well. The shot wasn't falling and his consistency needs to improve but that will come with time. Randle also received an offer from the Northwestern Wildcats today.
Jacob Williams – Forward – Illinois Wolves (St. Patrick's) – Williams showed a little rust after missing the high school season, but there is little doubt that he is a big time player. When his legs come back, Williams should get to the rim with ease, and in that downtime he must have worked on his jumper because it looked much better.
Royce Muskeyvalley – Guard – Illinois Wolves (Rock Island) – Underrated because of his backcourt teammate Chasson Randle, Muskeyvalley is jet quick with the ball and a solid on-the-ball defender. He is one of the quickest players in Illinois and is very patient with the ball. While most players that fast will produce more turnovers, Royce does a nice job of using his speed as a weapon. I didn't see many outside shots, but he can be very good if that portion of his game develops.
Class of 2012
Bobo Drummond – Guard – Illinois Wolves (Peoria Central) – Reminds us of Donivine Stewart in his ability to control the game so well at such a young age. While he is not overwhelming athletically, Drummond is confident running an offense or attacking opponents off the dribble. The jumper still needs some consistency, but on a fast break Bobo is absolutely deadly, as he seems to make the right decision most of the time.
Michael Mache and Matthew Mache – Forwards – Illinois Wolves (Glenbard West) – This was our first chance seeing the twin big men and they were very impressive. They both have above-average athleticism and good court-awareness for underclassmen big men. They are only going to get better and better as the travel season progresses.
Chicago Showdown Recap
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