The following is a scouting report of the D-1 Elite AAU tournament at Elmhurst York High School. Illinois commitment Jalen James did not play with the Wolves because of injury, but most of the Illini's in-state targets were in the house.
Class of 2013
Jabari Parker, 6'-8", small forward (Mac Irvin Fire – Simeon Career Academy)
Simply put, Parker was dominant in his one game at the event! His skill level is higher than any player I have ever scouted at the high school level. He understands the game, his strengths and how to combine them to exploit the opponent's weaknesses. His IQ is remarkable!
He has lost significant weight since the end of the high school season. The weight loss combined with a great workout routine at Attack Athletics has made Parker more athletic and even more of an explosive player.
He opened the game with a fade away three pointer. His perimeter shot was good last year, but he is working it into a strength. He would later bank in a three pointer, which had all the coaches beside me looking in disbelief.
In this game against Detroit R.E.A.C.H. Legends, he was a monster on the offensive glass. He had to have close to 15 total rebounds, of which 10 were offensive. His most impressive one was a dunk where he grabbed the ball over two guys and threw it down on their heads.
He is such a good decision maker with the ball and has tremendous handles. Parker ended the game with 25 points. After awhile you just sit back and enjoy because he is no doubt the best player in the state of Illinois, best player in the class of 2013, and best high school basketball player in the nation.
His combination of skill, athleticism, smarts, humbleness and work ethic are going to take Parker far in this game. In my opinion, his recruitment will come down to Illinois and Duke with a decision coming November 2012.
Billy Garrett, 6'-4", point guard (Mac Irvin Fire – Morgan Park High School)
Garrett is always calm, cool and collected. He runs the Fire and is always under control with the ball in his hands. He reminds me of a famous John Wooden quote, "Be quick, but don't hurry." Multiple high major coaches were praising Garrett on the way he carries himself and understands the game.
His passing ability is good, and he has great size for the lead guard spot. He has a pure jump shot that reaches out beyond the arc. When in clutch situations, he steps up to the table. In sudden death double overtime against R.E.A.C.H., Garrett drove hard to the line and knocked down the game winning free throw.
The DePaul coaching staff is thrilled with the player they are getting, and other coaches are envious he is staying in Chicago beyond his high school days.
Kyle Davis, 5'-11", point guard (Mac Irvin Fire – Hyde Park High School)
Davis is a quick point guard who really attacks the basket with no fear. He loves to get to the rim and had an explosive dunk over several defenders in one of the Fire's games. His aggressiveness and athleticism translate into all parts of his game.
Davis enjoys making the flashy pass but can be turnover prone at times with high-risk passes. He has quick hands on defense and creates turnovers. I really like Davis and believe he has what it takes to be a high major point guard.
Xzavier Taylor, 6'-8", power forward (Mac Irvin Fire – Morgan Park High School)
I am a fan of Taylor's upside offensively. He is starting to get it and understand how to score in the post. Taylor finishes strong around the hoop and is a prospect with big-time upside.
Russell Woods, 6'-7", power forward (Mac Irvin Fire – Leo High School)
Woods is a bouncy power forward with good size and big-time potential. He is still a bit raw offensively. One thing he does do particularly well is finish with authority, as he did when he dunked in an opponent's grill. This one will be on his highlight tape for sure. Illinois remains heavily in the mix for the power forward.
Kendall Stephens, 6'-4", shooting guard (Illinois Wolves – St. Charles East High School)
The Purdue commitment has a silky smooth perimeter shot with excellent form. His shot reminds me of Reggie Miller. He drives hard to the hoop and is a slick passer. His length causes problems for opponents on the defensive end.
He was good over the weekend, but you could tell he wasn't at his best. He is still coming back from an injury, and this was his first tournament since the injury. Stephens is one of the truly special prospects in the state and ranks in the top five in 2013.
A.J. Riley, 6'-1", combo guard (Illinois Wolves – Peoria Manuel High School)
I love what Riley brings to the table with his ball handling and toughness. With Jalen James injured, Riley was forced into a ball handling role. He did a fine job of handling the pressure and finding teammates.
He hits 15-foot jump shots and is a tough on-ball defender. Riley will be a great fit for a mid-major looking for a combo guard with a lot of versatility.
Nate Taphorn, 6'-6", small forward (Illinois Wolves – Pekin High School)
Taphorn is a plus shooter with great size. He also has more bounce than one would think. He gets to the hoop with a nice first step and has a good handle. If he continues to develop other facets of his game beyond his shooting, multiple Big 10 schools will be calling.
A.J. Patty, 6'-8", power forward (Illinois Wolves – St. Joseph's High School)
Patty is a new name who jumped on a lot of teams' radar at the York event. He is active and rebounds at a high rate by getting off the floor quickly. He brings toughness and shot blocking on the defensive end.
Patty is a good finisher around the hoop and showed that with a spectacular put-back dunk in one of the Wolves's games. He is someone to keep an eye on as July progresses.
Lance Whitaker, 6'-2", shooting guard (Illinois Wolves – Bartlett High School)
Like Riley, Whitaker brings a lot of intangibles to his team. It all starts with his ability to guard both guard positions effectively. He is a good on-ball and help defender.
Offensively, he is a good passer and understands the game. His mid-range jump shot is pretty good. I love Whitaker as a role player for a high major. He can bring a lot to a team and does whatever his coach asks of him to win."
Alex Foster, 6'-7", combo forward (Meanstreets – De La Salle Institute)
Foster is a "tweener" between being a power forward and small forward. It is becoming clearer to everyone, including him, that if he wants to play at the high major level, he is going to have to be a small forward.
His overall athleticism is improving, and he's becoming a better ball handler. His shot still is not consistent enough, and while he attacks the hoop hard, he has a tough time finishing at the rim.
He really started to make the transition to the three at the Nike Elite 100. Since that time, he has made some strides for the qualities needed to play the position, and I can see him continuing to improve in that regard.
Alvin Ellis, 6'-3", shooting guard (Meanstreets – De La Salle Institute)
Ellis's stock is sky rocketing! He has always been a big-time athlete, but now his game is starting to match his athletic ability. This is always great to see from a scouting perspective during the junior year.
One of the biggest improvements has been the consistency of his jump shot. He shot the ball well at DePaul in late June and continued that at York. His stroke is smooth, and he can pull it from anywhere on the floor.
He is also a big-time finisher! One on play, he caught a huge alley-oop pass that he threw down on two guys' heads! He followed up with a pass behind his head to a teammate for a jam. Ellis has established himself as a top 10 prospect in the state for 2013.
Kendrick Nunn, 6'-1", combo guard (Meanstreets – Simeon Career Academy)
Nunn is another prospect whose stock is on the rise. He is continuing to get stronger and has grown some since the high school season ended. One thing has not changed, as he is still one of the best shooters in the country. His catch-and-shoot ability is one of the best in the country for his age.
He is continuing to improve his overall game. His passing ability has improved significantly, as he finds the open man and is not just looking to score.
I was also impressed with his strides in ball handling. He maintained his handle in tight spaces and sliced through the defense. His first step is super explosive, and he's an athletic finisher at the hoop.
Nunn received an offer from Illinois after Bruce Weber and Jerrance Howard watched him play for two days in York. Nunn ranks as one of the top guards in the state regardless of class.
Jaylon Tate, 6'-2", point guard (Meanstreets – Simeon Career Academy)
Tate showed up late for Meanstreets's opener, but he made an immediate impact with a steal, which he took to the other end to finish with a three pointer. His vision in the half court is great, and he understands how to run a team.
Tate's jump shot is consistently good. In my experience from scouting, you can never put too much of a premium on point guard play, and Tate is toward the top of that list in Illinois.
Jubril Adekoya, 6'-6", power forward (Meanstreets – Andrews High School)
The undersized big man is a high volume rebounder by using his thick body and good positioning. He also has impressively nimble footwork in the post for a big man. I like his soft touch around the hoop and his toughness.
His height is the biggest aspect holding him back right now from being a high major prospect.
Preston Wells, 6'-0", point guard (Peoria Irish – Richwoods High School)
Wells visited Illinois last season for Midnight Madness and then flew under the radar for most of the high school season. He is a small and slender point guard who is a solid player. His set shot is nice, and he has good athleticism. Wells is most likely going to be a mid-major recruit.
P.J. Thompson, 5'-9", point guard (Spiece Indy Heat – Brebeauf Jesuit High School, Indiana)
Thompson is a smaller point guard with a nice three point shot. He is a good floor general and makes solid decisions with the ball. Illinois has shown some interest and was present at his games.
Quentin Payne, 6'-4", shooting guard (Spartans – St. Charles North High School)
Payne stands out with his athleticism and ability to beat his man off the dribble. He has good size and plays extremely hard. His jump shot is pure, with flawless mechanics and great elevation. Payne will be a quality mid-major plus player at the next level.
Coaches Spotted Tracking Teams
Illinois Wolves 15U- Illinois, Valparaiso, UIC, IPFW, Northwestern, SIU, Tennessee, DePaul.
Mac Irvin Fire 15U- Illinois, Michigan State, Depaul.
Southwest Jets 15U- Illinois, SIU, Xavier, Purdue, Michigan.
D-Rose 15U- Illinois, Tennessee.
Illinois Wolves 16U- Illinois, Purdue, UIC, Western Illinois, Colorado State, Northwestern, Illinois State, Ohio.
Spiece 16U- Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, Butler, Tennessee, Northwestern, Memphis, Xavier.
Fire 17U- Illinois, DePaul, Toledo, Ohio, Iowa State, Minnesota, Memphis, Notre Dame, Bradley, Tennessee, Michigan State, Providence.
A scouting report on the 2014 and 2015 prospects at Elmhurst follows in part two.