St. Louis was the playground of many Illinois basketball prospects last weekend as their AAU teams competed for age-group championships at the Battle For The Arch. The 2014 class is discussed in part three of this report, along with one precocious 2015 point guard.
Class of 2014
Jahlil Okafor, 6'-9", center (Whitney Young High School – Mac Irvin Fire 16U)
Okafor is a truly special prospect! In his age group, he can't be guarded one-on-one. His body and overall game are eerily similar to Jared Sullinger.
He has excellent footwork in the post and a soft touch off the glass. He also has the ability to go after the ball if he misses his first shot. His elite footwork was on display against the Illinois Wolves when he posted up, did a quick spin move and finished with a finger roll.
He is a top-notch rebounder who grabs the ball at its highest point. Okafor rebounded at a high rate all weekend. He does this because he is an immovable object, has great length and blocks out well.
He passes well in the post and has a good understanding of the game. He is getting up and down the floor better now than he did during the high school season.
Defensively, he swats any shots coming into the lane by guards and stays straight up and down when blocking big men shots. He did nothing this weekend to change my opinion that he is #1 nationally in 2014.
Paul Turner, 6'-4", shooting guard (St. Joseph's High School – Ferrari 15U)
Turner stands out amongst his fellow Ferrari wings with his ability to score, especially with his jump shot. His jumper is smooth and pure. He gets his shot off in a variety of ways, whether it is a pull-up after a shimmy shake or a one-dribble corner jumper.
His plus asset at the next level will be his ability to put up big-time scoring numbers. He is a good passer who sees the floor, and rebounded well all weekend. But Turner is going to get a high major scholarship based on putting the ball in the hole.
Milik Yarbrough, 6'-5", shooting guard (Zion-Benton High School – Ferrari 15U)
Yarbrough was the first player of the weekend who stood out as he dropped 26 points in his team's victory. His body is strong and thick up top. He likes to get in the paint with dribble penetration to score. While in the lane, many times he will do a power jump-stop and then go up for the bucket. He has good body control and maneuvers well in the lane.
His jump shot is solid from mid-range. He has a flare for the game and made several touch passes that showed off his quick decision-making. Yarbrough is tough defensively and rebounds at a high rate. I like his skill set a lot and believe he will be a productive college player down the line.
Paul White, 6'-7", small forward (Whitney Young High School – Ferrari 15U)
White is a tall, thin wing from Whitney Young High School who has major upside. He is smooth with the ball in his hands and slices through the lane. He possesses good quickness and plays under control.
His passing is good, although he does have a tendency to force a pass occasionally. White has a good mid-range jump shot that compliments his attacking skills. Illinois remains heavily in the hunt for White, but he is not really concerned with recruiting at this stage.
Darius Austin, 6'-5", shooting guard (Cahokia High School – Southwest Jets 15U)
Austin has been unleashed on the AAU circuit as a playmaker and go-to scorer. He is explosive off the bounce and attacks the hoop with authority. In transition, he is like a freight train coming right at the defender. He can't be stopped.
His combination of big scoring numbers while still being a playmaker for others is what makes Austin such an intriguing prospect at this age.
Raymond Doby, 6'-7", power forward (Cahokia High School – Southwest Jets 15U)
Doby is an athletic forward who has the versatility to play in the paint as well as step out and play some small forward. I like the aggressiveness and confidence Doby has played this spring on the AAU circuit. Defensively, he can get in passing lanes to cause disruption as well as block shots.
Tevin King, 6'-1", combo guard (Providence St. Mel High School – Mac Irvin Fire 15U)
King is a strong and stocky combo guard who has a nose for scoring. He drives to the hoop strong and attacks with no regard for human life! Despite having his left wrist wrapped, he was not timid. He went at guys aggressively, attacking them off the dribble. The gritty guard gets to the line at a high rate, where he is a bit streaky.
His toughness also is evident in his rebounding ability and as an on-ball defender. He has a solid perimeter jumper when he decides to pull the trigger. Time will tell what will be King's ultimate position. But there is no doubting his toughness and tenacity.
Vic Law, 6'-6", small forward (St. Rita High School – Mac Irvin Fire 15U)
Law is a long and lanky wing who is smooth with the ball in his hands and can shoot it from the perimeter. His size and skill set at a young age make him an interesting prospect.
He has a versatile inside and outside game where he can beat defenses in multiple ways. One of his more impressive moves was a strong post-up, where he pulled up in the defender's face for two points.
Peyton Allen, 6'-3", combo guard (Glenwood High School – Illinois Wolves 15U)
Allen is a prospect who has steadily seen his stock rise over the last year, going from unknown to a highly thought of prospect. He has added significant strength, especially to his upper body since I last saw him in December.
His slick handle allows him to create off the bounce and get in the lane to finish. The range on his shot reaches out to beyond the three point arc.
He rebounds well and is solid defensively. Allen has the skill set to play either guard spot at the high school level.
Keita Bates-Diop, 6'-6", power forward (Normal University High School – Illinois Wolves 15U)
Bates-Diop is a raw prospect with intriguing size and upside. His length helps him on the boards as he is a solid offensive rebounder. He also fights hard and brings effort throughout the entire game. This is a prospect to watch down the road if his game continues to progress.
Marcus Bartley, 6'-1", point guard (Decatur McArthur High School – Peoria Irish 15U)
Bartley is a young point guard who first caught my eye at the Collinsville Holiday Tournament in December. He is a pass-first point guard with good size and an understanding of how to run a team.
His creativity in his passing can be a plus and minus at the same time. He has the ability to make plays that young point guards can't, but he can also be out of control at times. He pushes the ball hard in transition.
Class of 2015
Jordan Ash, 5'-11", point guard (Bolingbrook High School – Illinois Wolves 15U)
Ash is a smaller point guard who will be making an impact next year on the varsity level as a freshman. He is a good ball handler who can shoot it a little bit. Pushing the ball in transition is another aspect at which the young guard excels.