Class of 2010
Phil Jackson – Mac Irvin Fire – The talent is there and getting better but Jackson has to play smarter. An ejection following two flagrant fouls in a tight game is uncalled for. It seems like plays like that were typical for the big man in July. His jumper is improving and he is a good weak side shot blocker, but he has to play under control. DePaul and Iowa State followed him closely in July.
Reggie Smith – Mac Irvin Fire – The electric athlete ran some point and showed an ability to get to the rim and score. His jumper still needs some work, but he does the little things so well. In a full court trap, he often plays the free safety that jumps the passing lanes for easy steals. Smith picked up an offer from USC during July.
Mike McCall – Illinois Heat – McCall needed to use July as a springboard to high major offers and never seemed to play consistently enough to do so. I heard he was great in the opening game of the tournament, but he came out flat when I saw him. If he can up the consistency on his jumper and limit turnovers he could be really good. Indiana State is recruiting McCall intensely.
Meyers Leonard – Mac Irvin Fire – The future Illinois big man is a legit seven feet with tremendous athleticism and upside. He is adding to his repertoire every time out and has an emerging faceup jumper and already looks to dunk with authority.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – Mac Irvin Fire – I enjoy watching Hardaway play every time out. Although shooting is his forte, he also will put it on the deck and drive for buckets. The Michigan commit is tough to defend and will be great in John Beilein's system.
Terone Johnson – Eric Gordon All-Stars – Purdue commit isn't an overwhelming athlete but uses his body to bump defenders off-the-ball to create shots. Johnson is also a good rebounder for a guard and uses this ability to push tempo and create fast breaks.
Alex Dragicevich – Full Package – The hot name in July in Illinois, Dragicevich has picked up recent offers from Xavier, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame. He played aggressively and scored inside and out, but his foot speed defensively will cause some concern at the next level.
Ahmad Starks – Mac Irvin Fire – Not many control the ball and a team as well as Ahmad Starks. In the open court, he wrecks havoc on opponents with his quickness and ability to pullup and hit shots. He's going to be a good one for Oregon State.
Class of 2011
Macari Brooks – Mac Irvin Fire – Might be the best athlete in Illinois with his ridiculous leaping ability. It's still jaw-dropping to witness Macari rise up to throw down or get a good look over defenders. His jump shot is getting better, but Macari needs to use his vertical more to get better lift. Too many times he releases a near set shot that misses its mark.
Andre Henley – Mac Irvin Fire – You won't find a lot of guys his size with his ball skills. While he is still figuring out a position, he looked good as a two with Tracy Abrams running the point. His vision and shot are the best qualities as Dre knocked down seven three-pointers in the first game of tournament play. In recognition of his play in July, Henley picked up a scholarship offer from the Blue Demons.
Nnanna Egwu – Illinois Wolves – Co-MVP of the 17 division, Egwu bounced back this second "live" period in a big way. He played aggressively, owned his area in the paint and showed more willingness to attack offensively. Potential is the big word with him.
Chasson Randle – Illinois Wolves – Co-MVP along with Egwu, Randle captured his second MVP of the second "live" period by scoring in a number of ways while being an underrated defender. He plays with such poise and intelligence and always seems to make the correct decision. His production as of right now is among the best in his class in Illinois.
Wayne Blackshear – Mac Irvin Fire – Wayne was having a coming out party with his tremendous play all week but it came to a halt when he had an asthma attack in one game. Luckily he was okay, but it was a promising display from Blackshear, who was playing more like a true two-guard.
Mike Shaw – Mac Irvin Fire – I'm really starting to like the way Shaw is playing. When he uses his combination of ability and athleticism he is tough enough, but Shaw played incredibly hard and was a beast on the boards. He also has really good hands as a defender and can defend the perimeter against some smaller players.
Tracy Abrams – Mac Irvin Fire – He hurt his thumb during pool play, but it did little to deter his ability. Abrams scored the ball, found teammates and was generally a nightmare to defend. Defensively he also plays passing lanes well, but occasionally gambles a little too much.
Class of 2012
Jermaine Morgan – Mac Irvin Fire – This is best I have seen Morgan play in a long time and he seemed to be playing with more confidence, especially offensively. He is already a skilled shot blocker and rebounder but was looking to score more often on putbacks and jump hooks.
Steve Taylor – Meanstreets – Simeon product has the most offensive skills for in-state big men in the class but didn't get a chance to showcase it very much as he was often shoved around on the block. Taylor needs to put on weight to gain better position down low but he has a bright future ahead if he continually knocks down his 18 foot jumper.
Jacoby Roddy – Illinois Wolves – Jacoby continued a solid July in which he rebounded on both ends and defended the block with tenaciousness. He is not afraid to mix it up and has a nose for the ball that allows his team critical extra possessions. Love the effort he brings.
Jelani Neely – Meanstreets – The 2012 class in Illinois is loaded with point guards and Neely is among the best. Instinctive, hard-nosed and skilled, the Simeon guard made play after play to keep Meanstreets in the game I saw.
Bobo Drummond – Illinois Wolves – Playing up in the 17's division, Drummond handles the point as well as anyone in Illinois. His scoring ability needs to improve in order for him to become a complete threat, but Bobo has the potential to be a high major point.
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