This past weekend I attended the Chicagohoops Spring Tip Off Classic and Illinois Spotlite to scout many of the top players from 2012 through 2015. Many are being recruited by Illinois. Let's take a look at the talent!
Class of 2012
Steve Taylor, 6'-7", power forward (Simeon Career Academy – Mac Irvin Fire 17U)
Taylor is fresh off a state championship with Simeon where he was a major contributor. He is now a key player for one of the most high profile teams in the state of Illinois. He showed off his shooting from beyond the arc. This has become a major threat for him.
His post game is solid and continuing to develop. He still ranks as my top guy in Illinois for 2012 and one Illinois has to be considering if they want a big man in that class.
Aaric Armstead, 6'-4", shooting guard (Hales Franciscan High School – Mac Irvin Fire 17U)
Armstead was a player I really liked in the state playoffs with Hales. He continued his great play with the Fire. The swing man has a strong physical body from the guard spot that allows him to get in the lane and score from the paint.
He is very good athletically and gets out in transition where he is a finisher. The most impressive part in the junior's game is his three point shot. In one game he made three consecutive treys from the wing with perfect form and mechanics.
High majors are starting to show interest in Armstead, but none have stepped up to the table with an offer. He is a very good prospect.
Derrick Randolph, 5'-6", point guard (Whitney Young High School – Mac Irvin Fire 17U)
Randolph is extremely fast and lightning quick in tight spaces. He gets in the lane at will, and despite his size is not afraid to absorb contact. His passing ability is solid, and he is a good leader from the lead guard spot.
He ranks right there with all the other top point guards in the Illinois class of 2012. He could be a long-shot option if the Illini want to go for a floor general in 2012.
Class of 2013
Malcolm Hill, 6'-5", shooting guard (Belleville East High School – Southwest Jets 16U)
This sophomore for the Jets really impressed me. He is long and athletic with a smooth overall game. The wing contains an explosive first step and goes very hard to the hoop. Many times he draws fouls and gets to the line where he is a good free throw shooter. His ball handling is solid and was shown on a late end-to-end drive in crunch time. Hill ranks as a top 10 player in-state in my book.
Sterling Brown, 6'-4", shooting guard (Proviso East High School – Mac Irvin Fire 16U)
Brown has an sweet-looking jump shot with great rotation that he can hit from the midrange to beyond the arc. His strong body allows him to get to the basket and finish with athleticism.
He also contributes on the defensive end where he had a spectacular block on Saturday. I would rank Brown as a top 10 prospect in his class in-state.
Billy Garrett Jr., 6'-4", combo guard (Morgan Park High School – Mac Irvin Fire 17U)
The Morgan Park guard really showed off his dead-eye shot from beyond the three point arc as a catch-and-shoot guy. Garrett is intriguing because of his size, skill set, and ability to play either guard spot. He told me he recently picked up a Florida State offer.
Deonte Burton, 6'-4", small forward (Brewster Academy, NH – Terry Porter Elite 17U)
Burton is a thick-bodied forward who likes to play on the interior. The lefty is a power player and showed nice footwork around the hoop. He is athletic and had a couple of spectacular dunks.
He has several high major offers including Illinois, but he is not concerned with recruiting at this point in the process.
Class of 2014
Jahlil Okafor, 6'-9", power forward (Whitney Young High School – Mac Irvin Fire 16U)
The big man from Whitney Young was probably the top prospect at either of the events I attended this past weekend. Okafor has a great physical body that will allow him to play strong in the post. His body and game is eerily similar to Jared Sullinger.
When in the post, he shows elite footwork and uses his body well to seal his man and score. He has gotten in better condition since the beginning of the high school season. This has allowed him to run the floor better, which he did great over the weekend.
In my opinion Okafor is the best 2014 prospect I have seen regardless of state. He is certainly #1 in Illinois and already has offers from Illinois, Michigan State, and DePaul.
Paul White, 6'-7", small forward (Whitney Young High School – Ferrari 15U)
White is extremely long and versatile. His upside is tremendous considering his athleticism and skill set at such a young age. His handle is very good, as shown on several explosive moves to the hoop with slick ball handling.
An aspect that stood out was his passing ability in transition. He has a knack for pushing the ball up the court. He said he could possibly see himself as a point-forward down the line. White has the skill set for it. The freshman ranks as one of the top 5 prospects in a loaded class of 2014 in Illinois and an elite prospect nationally.
Milik Yarbrough, 6'-5", small forward (Zion-Benton High School – Ferrari 15U)
Yarbrough is a thick-bodied small forward who uses his strength to his advantage. As a power guard, he gets to the free throw line a high percentage. His shot is nice from mid-range and behind the three point line.
He also contributes on the boards including several tough offensive rebounds. Yarbrough has an Illini offer and ranks in the top 5 in 2014 in Illinois.
Paul Turner, 6'-4", small forward (St. Joseph's High School – Ferrari 15U)
Turner has a strong and athletic body with top notch athleticism. His jump shot is silky smooth, and he's fairly consistent with it. When looking at Turner, I see an explosive scorer who has the ability to put up huge scoring numbers as his high school career goes on.
His most impressive move of the day was when he crossed his man over, blew by him, and finished at the rim for an and-1. Turner also has an Illini offer and solidified his top 5 ranking in the state. He could be a potential 5-star down the line.
Darius Austin, 6'-5", combo guard (Cahokia High School – Southwest Jets 15U)
Austin played unbelievable in the Jets season opener. He showed the ability to get to the interior and be a dominant scorer in that area. His passing ability was electric, as he dropped several dimes that made the crowd buzz, including a full court diagonal bounce pass on the money for a layup.
The class of 2014 guard rebounded at a high rate in the paint. It seemed like Austin played with a lot more freedom with the Jets as opposed to the high school season with Cahokia. It was like he was unleashed!
Look for big things to come for Austin this spring and summer. Austin ranks as one of the top 10 prospects in the class of 2014 in the state of Illinois.
Raymond Doby, 6'-7", power forward (Cahokia High School – Southwest Jets 15U)
The versatile forward played well for the Jets. As a low post threat, he has excellent footwork and a soft touch around the hoop. Doby excelled on the glass on both ends of the floor and at an especially high level on the offensive end.
Another area that stood out was running the floor and getting points in transition. Just as his teammate, Doby is a top 15 player in the state's class of 2014.
Marcellus Lewis, 5'-11", point guard (Chaminade High School, MO – St. Louis Eagles)
Lewis came out to play Sunday morning for the Eagles. He is a scoring point guard who has an explosive passing ability. His vision and intangibles are at a high level. The freshman is quick off the bounce and likes to score on the in the lane.
He also sticks his nose amongst the trees and contributes on the boards. If he continues to grow in height and game, he will have high major offers soon. Illinois is showing heavy interest already.
Kierre Perkins, 6'-7", combo forward (Morgan Park High School – Mac Irvin Fire 15U)
Perkins is an intriguing player because of his athleticism and ability to be versatile on the floor. He projects as a high major player down the line.
C.J. Rivers, 6'-2", point guard (Cahokia High School – Southwest Jets 15U)
Rivers is a guard who can really push the ball in transition. He is a lefty with good ball handling skills and a smooth stroke from the perimeter.
Don Henderson, small forward (Rich East High School – Meansteets 15U)
Henderson is a small forward from Rich East High School who rebounds well and has excellent length. His offensive repertoire is versatile. The athletic swing man has nice acceleration to the hoop and scores well in the lane. His perimeter shot is pretty consistent as well.
Class of 2015
Miles Carter, center (Will Attend St. Rita High School – Mac Irvin Fire 14U)Carter was the first player of the day at Merrillville to stand out to me. He has a great combination of size and strength. He excels at blocking shots with his outstanding length.
On the offensive end he is still a bit raw, but he has only been playing the game of basketball for 12 months. He did show nice footwork and a soft touch around the hoop. Another area that impressed me was his offensive rebounding.
Armani Chaney, point guard (Will Attend St. Rita High School – Mac Irvin Fire 14U)
Chaney is a small point guard who is a true floor general. He sees the floor well and gets the ball to his teammates. His leadership from the point guard position was evident. The point guard is quick with the ball in his hands and can shoot well from the perimeter.