There were a large number of talented sophomores and freshmen at the St. Louis AAU classic last weekend. Several are being evaluated by Illinois.
Tyler Wideman, 6'-6", power forward (Meanstreets Wilburn - Lake Central High School, Indiana)
Wideman dominated the interior in the two games I scouted. He was an absolute monster on the offensive glass by grabbing boards and finishing them strong. In one gam,e he must have had double digit points on offensive put-backs.
Wideman knows how to use his body to advantage. He has a big, thick body and, despite being undersized, uses his body and length to box out opponents and snatch boards.
The other aspect to like about Wideman is his deceptive athleticism and great footwork. He has several nice post moves, including a quick spin move he scored on several times. Wideman finishes strong through contact, receiving quite a few and-1's.
He has a good feel for dishing out of the post and also is a plus outlet passer. Wideman was one of the most impressive players at the event, and Illinois head coach Bruce Weber was on hand for one of his games.
Drake Harris, 6'-3", shooting guard (Meanstreets Wilburn - Grand Rapids Christian High School, Michigan)
Harris is a big-time shooting guard prospect who is at his best shooting from the perimeter. He has a smooth stroke that can become unconscious when he's hot. He is smooth with the ball in his hands and is a pure scorer, but not a volume shooter.
Harris recently received an offer from Michigan State to go with his Indiana offer. Those appear to be the two front runners for his services.
Tyler Ulis, 5'-7", point guard (Meanstreets Wilburn -Marian Cathlolic High School)
Ulis is a quick point guard who is an excellent leader. His size is going to be a major factor when high majors are looking at him over the next couple of years, but he has big-time game. He is a smooth ball handler and a good distributor.
Jarran Lands, 6'-6", small forward (Meanstreets Wilburn – Brownsburg High School, Indiana)
Lands reminds me of a right-handed version of current NBA player James Harden. He has a thick body and uses it to his advantage. He can bully his way into the lane and score or take a smaller defender to the post.
His athleticism is deceiving as he does not look like an athletic player. But will show glimmers at times, making scouts turn their heads. I was impressed with his ability to guard multiple positions defensively and how he uses his strength on that end as well.
Keita Bates-Diop, 6'-6", small forward (Illinois Wolves – Normal University High School)
Bates-Diop is a long and athletic forward who has continued progressing since I saw him in the spring. The first time I scouted him, he was extremely raw. He has improved his skill set to the point I can see him as a legitimate small forward prospect.
His game is continuing to extend out to the perimeter, and he is knocking down shots from mid-range at a nice rate. He even hit a few nice three pointers. Bates-Diop runs the floor well down the center of the court and can slam it home.
He is also becoming more assertive and active on the boards. His length is a force on the defensive end, blocking shots and getting deflections. The forward's confidence in his game is continuing to grow. Illinois and Michigan are hot on his trail. The Illinois staff was closely tracking him.
Peyton Allen, 6'-4", shooting guard (Illinois Wolves – Glenwood High School)
Allen started off a little slowly but picked it up big-time on Sunday. He was lethal in catch-and-shoot situations. His stroke is a thing of beauty; when he gets on a hot streak he becomes unconscious. He moves well without the ball and comes hard off screens ready to receive the pass.
Allen is smooth with the ball in his hands and is a nice facilitator. Illinois and Purdue were tracking him in St. Louis.
Trey Lyles, 6'-9", power forward (Arsenal Tech High School, Indiana – Committed to Indiana)
This was my first opportunity to see the much-hyped Lyles. He was extremely impressive with his combination of size, athleticism, and length. My comparison is a more athletic Tim Duncan.
His athleticism and skill set project him as a future NBA small forward, but will be a big man at the high school and college level. Lyles is mobile, with a high skill level and the ability to put the ball on the floor. He already has several combination moves down and loves to spin out of the post and go baseline.
I was also very impressed with his feel in the passing game. My one concern with him is at times he tries to go one on five against the defense from the perimeter. If he sticks to his strengths, he could be a potential #1 overall pick in the NBA.
Jaquan Lyle, 6'-4", point guard (Spiece Indy Heat – Bosse High School, Indiana)
The biggest thing I love in Lyle's game is his passing. He is one of the best passers I have seen in a long time. His vision in both the half court and transition is phenomenal. He has a feel for where his teammates are going to be. He has a knack for placing the ball where it needs to be, putting the right amount of juice behind it.
Lyle is quick off the bounce and has a slick handle. He is not a big-time scorer on the AAU level, but he is looking more to distribute than score. His jumper needs to improve.
My biggest concern with Lyle is his demeanor on the court. At times he looks disinterested. Several onlookers noticed the same thing. This needs to improve because Lyle's potential ceiling as a prospect is sky high if he wants to shoot for it.
Xavier, Indiana, and Illinois were tracking him throughout the weekend. The feeling is Indiana is going to be tough to beat for his services.
James Blackmon, 6'-2", shooting guard (Spiece Indy Heat - Bishop Luers High School, Indiana – Committed to Indiana)
Blackmon is a big-time scorer with a great shot. He moves well without the ball and nails three pointers when coming off screens. He is an elite shooter from all levels, with a quick release. He is smooth with the ball in his hands and easily accelerates toward the hoop. Indiana got a big-time guard in Blackmon.
Trevon Bluiett, 6'-5", small forward (Spiece Indy Heat – Park Tudor High School, Indiana)
Bluiett is a thick-bodied small forward who bullies his way to the hoop with a strong handle. He is a crafty scorer with a solid jump shot, although he does have a slight hitch at the top of it. At times, his coach also put him in a point forward role to initiate the offense. This is a prospect to watch progress over the next year.
Tyus Jones, 6'-2", point guard (Howard Pulley - Apple Valley High School, Minnesota)
Jones was a member of USA's 16 and Under national team and was impressive again in St. Louis. He drew many top coaches to his games, and the attention was warranted.
Jones runs his team effectively and understands pace and tempo. He does not rush things and makes sound decisions. His vision both in transition and the half court is above average, and he can pull up to nail jumpers. Jones is a national recruit who will be a coveted point guard in 2014.
Austin Gilmann, 6'-9", center (St. Louis Swish – Oakville High School, Missouri)
Gilmann was a prospect who first came on my radar with his play at the Collinsville Holiday Tournament. Big men with Gilmann's skill set and size do not grow on trees. He has great height and length. Although he is thin, I can see he has added some muscle since I last saw him in December.
He is very skilled and deceivingly athletic. In the pick-and-roll gamem he sets a solid screen and flows well to the hoop, where he finishes strong. He rebounds well and was effective on the offensive end with put-backs. This is a sleeper who a lot of colleges are missing out on. With a filled-out frame, he could without a doubt be a high major player.
Omar Sherman, 6'-9", center (Team Texas – Duncanville High School, Texas)
When playing against a team of stars in Spiece Indy Heat 16's, it was Sherman who came out with the win and the buzz. He is a big lefty power forward who dominated on the offensive glass. Sherman probably scored 16 points on offensive rebounds in the game I watched. He is extremely strong and has a nice shooting stroke, even hitting a three pointer. This is a name to watch down the road.
Class of 2015
Jordan Ash, 6'-0", point guard (Illinois Wolves – St. Joseph's High School)
Ash proved once again why he is one of the top incoming freshmen in the state. I knew he was athletic, but he took it to another level in St. Louis. He had two spectacular blocks, including one where he ran down the man from behind, leaped insanely high, and swatted the shot before flying into all of the college coaches. The coaches were looking at each other in disbelief.
He is starting to get to the hoop more consistently and is doing it with some explosion. Ash is a smart player who knows how to run his team. He's an excellent distributor.
One of the knocks I had was his jump shot. He has made great strides in this area and is consistently hitting mid-range jumpers and showed it could stretch beyond the arc. Ash is one of the truly elite 2015 prospects in the state of Illinois.