Illinois has spent much time and energy recruiting basketball prospects at De La Salle Institute. Four players the Illini are recruiting played against the #1 player in the nation. This is my scouting report on the evening's events.
Class of 2011
Mike Shaw, 6'-8", power forward (De La Salle Institute – Illinois)
Shaw put DLS on the map, and this was the school's night to thank him. He gave them one more tough effort in his home gym before saying goodbye.
The forward is a wide-shouldered, strong force on the interior. His toughness and aggressiveness is more evident now than ever in his game. Shaw has a nice back-to-the-basket game and now has the willingness to play in the post.
He can also step out and hit a perimeter jump shot, hitting a corner three pointer early in the game. The difference being he is now using the perimeter part of his game as a compliment rather than his primary offensive threat. He boxes out well and plays hard on the boards.
"Defensively, Shaw was able to push Anthony Davis away from the hoop and not allow him to get deep post position. He made him work on the perimeter for his points.
The senior will bring exactly what the current Illinois team is missing with his presence and ability to fight on the interior. De La Salle head coach Tom White discussed what Shaw brings to the table.
"He is a warrior. He dives on the floor, rebounds the ball, blocks shots, does all the things you need to win games."
He will be able to contribute right away for the Illini. Shaw posted 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 2 steals in the victory.
Anthony Davis, 6'-9", power forward (Perspectives Charter High School – Kentucky)
Davis is without a doubt the most impressive combination of size and athleticism in the class of 2011, and it is not even close. He has guard skills with big man size. The Kevin Garnett comparisons are legitimate for a player with his talent level.
His handle is great on the perimeter, although he does have a tendency to lose it close to the basket. He gets to the foul line at a high rate and has a pure stroke from the charity stripe.
Rebounding the basketball is where Davis sets himself apart. His numbers are crazy. His insane length allows him to grab boards that are anywhere near his space. The All-American discussed his play during his senior year.
"I have been averaging 32 points, 22 rebounds, and 7.5 blocks. I try to get my team involved more and not be a one man show."
He had several plays where he basically threw the ball off the backboard to allow himself a better shot because he has that much confidence in himself as a rebounder. On defense, he alters shots around the interior and has good quickness to defend his man.
Davis posted a ridiculous 25 points and 23 rebounds while doing everything in his power to keep his team in the game. The big man is currently the top player nationally in our rankings. Be honest, how much does that mean?
"It means a lot. I try not to let that get to me. Rankings can change easily. As soon as I get big headed that I am #1, I could soon be #106. I try not to let it get to me and continue to play hard."
There is no doubt he is legit and will be a future NBA player. This is a crazy statement considering just a year ago, no one knew who Anthony Davis was. He talked about his rise up the national rankings and all the changes of the last year.
"It has been real crazy. A lot of college coaches, recruiters, and scouts calling. Just a lot of everything. I try to take it lightly and not worry about it. I just keep working hard and try to get to the NBA one day."
Dre Henley, 6'-6", small forward (De La Salle Institute)
Henley is a player who has seen his status go from top 10 in the state and in contention for a national ranking as a young player to dropping off the radar. One of the reasons was he was out of the Chicago spotlight for a season as a junior to get his academics in order at Brehm Prep. He transferred back home to DLS to play his senior season.
On senior night the lefty rose to the occasion. He came out gunning from the wing position. At times over the years he has been tentative, but that was not the case on this night. He knocked down multiple three point shots with his smooth left-handed stroke. Henley talked about his perimeter shooting capabilities.
"A lot of people do not know it is there, but I catch them off guard with the sweet left-handed jump shot."
When motivated, the forward can be a nice asset to a team. But he has not been consistent over his career. The senior played great on this night with 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. He is waiting until after the season to make his college decision. Right now he is focusing on the high school season and is not mentioning schools looking at him.
Class of 2013
Alex Foster, 6'-7", small forward (De La Salle Institute)
Foster played very well for DLS in this game. He was a great zone breaker. He got in the middle of Perspectives' 2-3 zone and made plays. The sophomore caught the ball high and made quick maneuvers in the lane to get to the hoop. He can hit the mid-range jumper, drive to the hoop, or make a smart pass when playing in the paint.
From the wing, Foster has an improving handle that should allow him to play a small forward position at the next level. He runs the floor like a deer, and this makes him a monster in the transition game.
On the boards, he is starting to contribute at a higher level as his young career is progressing. Defensively he shows a knack for blocking shots. He had one very impressive swat of Anthony Davis.
Overall, I really like Foster's game and potential. He is a smooth player with great size and skill set. He currently holds an offer from Illinois as well as most of the Big 10. Look for his recruitment to come down to Illinois and Purdue. Foster posted 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal in this game.
Jaylon Tate, 6'-2", point guard (De La Salle Institute)
Tate was extremely impressive leading the Meteors from the point guard position. The first aspect that stands out for Tate is his leadership skills for a sophomore.
This is the most important role as a point guard, but it is rarely seen in a sophomore in high school, especially with veteran teammates. He controls the floor, and you could notice he was running the show and directing what was going on.
Tate sees the floor and swings the ball with crisp passes. He has creativity in his point guard skills but is not overly flashy. His ball handling skills are a plus that allows him to penetrate in the lane to score or dish.
Tate also shows the ability to score in a variety of ways but is a pass-first point guard who looks to set up his teammates first and foremost. Tate talked about his skills at the point.
"I just want to be a good floor general and get everybody involved first and get my points later. I am focused on getting the team involved and getting the win."
Coach White discussed what he likes about his floor general from an offensive perspective.
"He just goes. He moves the ball up and down the floor and can handle the ball. He doesn't fear anything."
On the defensive end is where Tate really stood out. He is a great on-ball defender with quick hands and anticipation. The sophomore pressures his opponent with the ball. Tate also helped down on Anthony Davis when he would get the ball on the block. He talked about his defensive abilities.
"Our coaches stress defense a lot. I just wanted to put pressure on the guards and Anthony Davis. He is a real good player. We focused our defense on him."
Tate finished with 11 points, 2 assists and 2 steals. He is a player who is high on the Illini's radar despite not holding an offer. Tate could be one of the primary recruiting options at the point guard spot in 2013. His last visit to Illinois was for the Purdue game in February. He says he enjoyed his time in Champaign.
"It was a good game even though they lost. It was a real good visit. I like the atmosphere and the crowd. I really like Coach (Bruce) Weber. I thought it was a good visit, and I had fun.
Alvin Ellis, 6'-4", shooting guard (De La Salle Institute)
Ellis is a shooting guard with a high level of athleticism. He has good size and length. The guard plays hard, is all over the court, and has a nose for the basketball. He is still somewhat raw as a player but has big-time upside. His head coach talked about his high flyer.
"He is just so athletic and has the longest arms in the world. He is 6'-4" and gets up and down the floor. He is really a great finisher."
Ellis is a standout on defense. Right now he plays a complimentary role for his team, but his time to shine will come soon. High majors have already taken notice as he has visited Illinois multiple times.