The following is a scouting report of the top players that participated in the 3A and 4A state championships this past weekend in Peoria. Rock Island was crowned the champion in 3A in a double overtime victory over Centralia. Simeon and its trio of Illinois recruiting targets took home another title in 4A.
Class of 2011
Chasson Randle, 6'-2", point guard (Rock Island High School – Stanford)
Randle showed what makes him such a special player this weekend in Peoria. He is a winner in the truest sense of the word. He led his team to a 3A state championship despite not having huge scoring outputs in either game. The senior understands the game and makes smart plays with the ball.
His perimeter shot has good form and elevation off the floor. Despite this fact, he struggled shooting the ball all weekend (1-11 3pt FG).
In the championship game, Randle came out with a scoring spree, but other than this spurt he was not a huge scorer. His floor general skills are evident as he moves the ball around the perimeter and hits the open teammate.
Randle rebounds well for a guard and doesn't mind mixing it up on the defensive end. He had several impressive steals. In the semi-finals, Randle posted 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 1 steal. In his team's championship victory, he went for 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. The guard will be a solid four year contributor for Stanford.
George Marshall, 5'-11", point guard (Brooks Academy – Wisconsin)
It was certainly an up and down weekend for the Brooks guard. On Friday afternoon, he could not throw the ball in the ocean. Known as a streaky shooter from the perimeter, Marshall trended cold in the semi-finals, shooting 1-12 from the field. He never got in the flow of the offense, and his perimeter sidekick was just as bad from beyond the arc.
It was another story in the 3rd place game. He shot the ball much better from the perimeter as well as showing the ability to get into the lane. Marshall likes to break his man down off the dribble with his quick ball handling skills. He is not overly explosive or fast, but he does have a quick first step.
Marshall fits nicely into Bo Ryan's system and what he looks for in Badger point guards. In Marshall's first game he had only 5 points. He came back strong in the consolation game by scoring 19 points along with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Keith Gray, 6'-7", power forward (Brooks Academy)
Keith is the more advanced prospect of the Gray twins. He has nice length and bounce to his game. The aspect that impressed me most with him was how active he was on the offensive glass. He fights hard on the glass and uses his quickness to grab boards.
The senior also showed the ability to step out and hit a 15 foot jump shot. Keith went for 12 points and 12 rebounds on Friday. He then posted 8 points and 11 rebounds Saturday.
Kevin Gray, 6'-7", power forward (Brooks Academy)
Kevin is similar to his brother in many aspects. He is not assertive on the boards but still does a very solid job. He is long and athletic, but he is still very raw offensively.
To be effective at the next level, both of the twins will need to bulk up considerably. Kevin had 7 points and 5 rebounds in the semi-finals, followed by a performance where he scored 7 points, had 4 rebounds and 2 blocks Saturday afternoon.
R.J. Kwiatkowski, 6'-2", shooting guard (Centralia High School)
High school basketball fans in southern Illinois have known about Kwiatkowski for a while, but this was the first opportunity for many other scouts and fans from around the state to see the Orphans's senior.
He is a tough, hard-nosed player who can really stroke it from the perimeter. This is the best aspect of his game, but he can also get to the hoop strong off the dribble or by making flex cuts and receiving passes.
Kwiatkowski is a smart player who understands what his strengths are and how to best use them. He is fearless on the court. He had 23 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in the victory that sent Centralia to the title game. Against Rock Island Kwiatkowski went for 15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.
Rashawn McElrath, 6'-6", power forward (Simeon Career Academy)
I have seen the Wolverines and their numerous high major prospects more times than I could count over recent years. While watching them, the guy that always makes a play that makes you drop your jaw in amazement is Rashawn McElrath.
His athleticism is superb! He can jump out of the gym for an earth-shattering dunk or huge block. He is not overly skilled offensively, but he seems to always be in the right spot at the right time. Defensively, he brings energy and quickness to the table.
McElrath is the glue that holds Simeon together and steps up when a loose ball is needed or a rebound has to be grabbed. In the championship, he stepped up to the free throw line and made huge free throws to secure his second state championship.
The knock on McElrath is he's too small to play power forward and not skilled enough to be a wing. He is just a player and will be a nice find for a lower Division 1 program.
The senior had 17 points on an efficient 5-6 from the field and 7-7 from the line. He also recorded 2 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist. In the final, he dropped 9 points and 4 rebounds including 7 big free throws.
Johnny Hill, 6'-3", shooting guard (Glenbard East High School – Illinois State)
Hill has nice length for the shooting guard position at the mid-major level. He is an average athlete with a decent handle who can shoot the ball from the perimeter.
When he wants to score, he can do it in bunches as he has done all season for his squad. He is pretty efficient scoring from the field and can hit the long ball.
In the semi-finals, he single-handedly held his team in the game with 22 points (3-4 3pt FG), 5 rebounds and 3 steals. He came out with another quality effort in the consolation game by posting 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. He will be a nice four year player for Illinois State.
Class of 2012
Steve Taylor, 6'-7", power forward (Simeon Career Academy)
Taylor continues to develop from prospect to player. He has consistently put up solid numbers on the year for the Wolverines. The junior has a quick spin move that he can turn to either shoulder and score with a high release.
He is starting to develop more power in his back-to-the-basket game by positioning his body well and being aggressive. Taylor rebounded at a high level as usual in the two games in Peoria. He snatches the ball out of the air and beats opponents to the ball with his quickness.
The aspect that really caught my attention, especially in the semi-final game, was his ability to pass the ball from the block. He consistently found the open shooter for the assist. He also makes nice decisions out of the high post.
Taylor went for 5 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists on Friday. That was followed up by posting 8 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals in the state championship game. Taylor is still my pick as the state's top class of 2012 prospect as the high school season ends.
Aaron Simpson, 5'-10", point guard (North Chicago High School)
Simpson came out on fire in the second game of the day Friday afternoon. He is a scoring point guard who can also distribute, but he looks to put the ball in the hole first and foremost.Simpson can knock down the three ball as well as the mid-range. He is a volume shooter who needs to get lots of shots to get his points. The junior has a quick first step and can get in the lane off the bounce.
He is a tough and strong guard who has a knack for scoring. I would like to see him develop his point guard skills more and work on his shot selection. A comparison that could be made is another Chicago scoring point guard and Kansas State Wildcat Jacob Pullen.
Simpson had 14 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist. In the 3rd place game, the guard dropped 20 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Simpson is one of the top 5 prospects in the state of Illinois in the class of 2012.
Darius Paul, 6'-7", small forward (Warren High School)
Paul is the younger brother of former Illinois Mr. Basketball and current Illini guard Brandon Paul. They have several differences in their games. The younger Paul is taller and stronger than his brother was at the same age. He uses his size and strength to get to the hoop and score.
His athleticism is good, and he's a tough defender. The area he does not match up with his brother is his perimeter stroke at this point.
He had a solid junior campaign and was one of the main reasons Warren finished second in 4A. In the semi-finals, Paul went for 16 points and 9 rebounds. Against a tough and suffocating Simeon defense, Paul managed 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.
Illinois is not in the mix for Paul's services at this point, but that could change over the summer. Iowa is a Big 10 school that is showing interest.
Anthony Beane, 6'-2", point guard (Normal Community High School)
There are a numerous point guards in 2012 that are bunched together in a group, and none have broken away from the pack. Beane made his case in Peoria, especially on Friday night against Warren.
He is a plus ball handler who is good at driving and kicking to open teammates. The best aspect of his game was pushing the ball up the court in transition. He has good speed and makes the right decision when going down the floor.
His release is a bit slow, but he can nail a spot up jump shot. He showed the ability to put pressure on the ball on the defensive end.
Beane scored 19 points and recorded 3 boards in Friday night's game. On Saturday he came back with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He will probably end up in the Missouri Valley, possibly playing with his father at Illinois State, depending on how he plays on the circuit this spring and summer.
Class of 2013
Jabari Parker, 6'-7", small forward (Simeon Career Academy)
Parker is halfway to history! Only one other player has won four state championships, and that is former Illini Sergio McClain.
The Simeon sophomore has now won two titles in two years. Parker is a multi-skilled forward who can play different styles and various positions. He is listed on Simeon's roster as playing point guard through center. At the college level, I project him as a big small forward.
At the state finals, he showed off his strong game around the basket. He is still learning to play in the post, but he already has several quick spin moves that allow him to get points.
Overall, he is active around the hoop whether it is making a sharp cut in an open passing lane or getting after the offensive glass. He always seems to be around the ball.
Out on the wing, Parker has a quick first step that allows him to get by the defender. He is also developing his jump shot. It is still a work in progress, but he did hit a three point shot and showed a quick baseline turnaround jumper.
Parker is a willing passer who makes good decisions. He has an old school feel to his game and has such an advanced mind on the court.
Parker posted 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in Simeon's semi-final victory against Glenbard East. In the title game, the super sophomore went for 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks and 1 steal.
Parker has the highest potential of any prospect in the state regardless of class. He is Illinois's number one target and has made a strong case over the high school season to be ranked #1 overall nationally in the class of 2013.
Kendrick Nunn, 6'-1", shooting guard (Simeon Career Academy)
I'm really not sure what happened at the end of the year with Kendrick Nunn. He was on fire every time I scouted him throughout the year until the last three games. He only played limited minutes in Peoria. Earlier in the year, Nunn was without a doubt one of their go-to players to get points.
The sophomore had 2 points and 2 rebounds in the semi finals. He then had 5 points and 3 rebounds in the championship game against Warren. I am still very high on Nunn and the potential he possesses for the collegiate level. He is certainly a player the Illini will be tracking in the spring and summer.