The following is my scouting report from the Gym Rats Basketball National Championships. There were many Illinois targets on display at the at Spiece Fieldhouse. A quick side note before we begin. If you have never been to Spiece Fieldhouse, it is an amazing facility with the history of basketball on display. Now on to the prospects!
Class of 2012
Michael Orris, 6'-2", point guard (Illinois Old School – Crete Monee)
With as much talent on display, the player I was looking forward to scouting most was rising senior Michael Orris. The point guard recently reopened his recruitment, and Illinois is tracking him closely.
I saw Orris play three full games and parts of two others. He is a strong and toned point guard with good size at 6'-2". The first aspect that jumps out is his ability to beat his man off the dribble.
Orris consistently got in the lane from the top of the key or either wing. He slashed through the lane and finished with creative layups, while also getting to the foul line at a high rate.
His jump shot is technically solid, and he can get really hot from beyond the arc. Most important to Illinois, he is a true point guard. I thought his vision in both the half court and transition was very good. He is a creative passer and dropped several sick dimes throughout the weekend that even had the coaches impressed.
His passes are nice and crisp. Orris makes solid decisions with the ball and is a smart floor general. In transition, he pushes the ball and shows good quickness. He rebounds well for a guard.
I was also impressed with his leadership throughout the weekend. He was obviously the best player on his team, but he was a vocal leader and led by example.
Orris scored consistently in the high teens and low twenties. His standout game was a 40 point effort. Unfortunately, it was at an offsite gym, and I along with the majority of college coaches recruiting him were not there.
The schools looking at him are more interested in the fact he is a pure point guard rather than his scoring. Illinois would want him to be a solid rock provide depth and leadership. I think after seeing him this weekend, he could bring this to the table.
Gary Harris, 6'-4", shooting guard (D3 Pride – Hamilton Southeast High School)
Harris brought his "A" game against the Mac Irvin Fire in their victory. He is a big-time scorer who has a deadly perimeter jump shot. The smooth and athletic guard drives to the basket hard and absorbs contact at the rim.
Harris is excellent in transition as a finisher and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. He is a strong rebounder, skying high above the big men to snatch the ball. His recruitment is still up in the air, but he is certainly a 5-star prospect, so programs will happily wait for his decision.
Steve Taylor, 6'-7", power forward (Mac Irvin Fire – Simeon Career Academy)
Taylor is a wide-shouldered, athletic power forward who is a good shooter. Unfortunately, that can be his weakness too as he falls in love with his shot at times.
He handles the ball well and is a big-time finisher in transition. When he focuses on scoring in the post, he has good footwork and is skilled down there. Taylor should end up at a high major school when it is all said and done. He ranks as the top prospect in 2012 in a down class for the state of Illinois.
Jermaine Morgan, 6'-8", center (Mac Irvin Fire – Whitney Young High School)
Morgan has been one of the most consistent players of the summer, with Whitney Young during team camp and with the Fire. He is extremely active and is always around the ball. Although undersized, he makes up for it with athleticism and length when rebounding. He is a good shot blocker.
His skill set is pretty solid. He can stretch his shot out to 15 feet and has some nice footwork in the post. He is one of my favorite mid-major-plus targets in 2012.
A.J. Hammons 6'-10", center (Spiece Indy Heat – Oak Hill Academy, Virginia)
Hammons is one of the biggest enigmas in high school basketball. He has great size and a solid skill set. The biggest problem is he doesn't always play hard.
He certainly did when I saw him in Ft. Wayne. In front of college coaches, he showed the best motor I have seen out of him in awhile. He scored strong in the post and rebounded well by boxing out and man-handling the opponent.
Hammons has a nice post game where he can finish with power or finesse. He also showed a good passing ability and ran the floor, even beating everyone down the floor on a few occasions. Hammons showed why he is considered a high major prospect. Now he just needs to bring that effort every game.
Class of 2013
Jabari Parker, 6'-8", small forward (Mac Irvin Fire – Simeon Career Academy)
Parker made his final statement of the summer Saturday against D3 Pride and Indiana Elite. What a statement it was. He was absolutely dominant! Parker is ridiculously skilled and is a crafty scorer with a high level of athleticism. He does not take bad shots and is an efficient scorer.
The biggest improvement in Parker's game since the high school season has been the consistency in his jump shot. It has become a go-to weapon, including from three point range. The shot has great arc and a soft touch on it.
He also showed his power with several monster dunks on drives in the half court, alley-oops and in transition. In his game against D3, Parker rebounded the ball well and was particularly effective and active on the offensive boards.
His star power doesn't stop on the offensive end, as he blocks shots and is a solid defender. Quite simply, Parker is the best prospect in the country regardless of class. After seeing the way he played in July, I would go as far as saying Parker is the best prospect since LeBron James. Yes, he is that good!
Billy Garrett, 6'-4", point guard (Mac Irvin Fire – Morgan Park High School, committed to DePaul)
Garrett is one of my favorite players to watch. He is always under control and is a true leader from the point guard position. The rising junior understands when to push the ball and when to control the tempo.
His ball handling is solid, and he makes great decisions with the ball in his hands. He has become very solid with his three point shot. DePaul got a steal in Billy Garrett, Jr.
Kendrick Nunn, 6'-2", shooting guard (Meanstreets – Simeon Career Academy)
In my opinion, Nunn established himself as the #2 prospect in the state for 2013 with his closing performance in Ft. Wayne. He is the best catch-and-shoot guy in the state, and it is not even close. When he comes off screens he creates separation, receives the ball and fires. More time than not, his shot is straight money!
He has always been great at this, but his shot has become even more deadly. His passing and ball handling have improved significantly since May; he could play some point in college when needed. Nunn is smooth with the ball in his hands.
He attacked the hoop with authority, including several monster dunks on backdoor cuts and in transition. His defense is becoming better, cutting off wing passing lanes with his quickness and athleticism. Nunn has established himself as an elite prospect in my eyes with the way he played in July.
Jaylon Tate, 6'-2", point guard (Meanstreets – Simeon Career Academy)
Tate made a solid closing statement at Ft. Wayne. He led his team to the championship game of the 16 and Under tournament. He was quick off the bounce when getting in the lane to score. Despite his slender frame, he explodes to the hoop and finishes strong.
His passes are crisp and strong. He makes good decisions in both the half court and transition. Tate's shot is going down more consistently from three point range and is solid as always from 15 feet.
I like the way he pressures the ball at the point with his quick hands. Tate proved he is a high major point guard and will be heavily recruited throughout the Midwest.
Alex Foster, 6'-7", combo forward (Meanstreets – De La Salle Institute)
Foster came out and rebounded assertively in the several games I watched him play. He even showed some shot blocking ability. Offensively, he is starting to show signs of being a small forward but is not there yet.
His ball handling is solid, and he's very mobile for a 6'-7" forward. Next year is going to be key in how college coaches view him and at what level he will ultimately play.
Alvin Ellis, 6'-3", shooting guard (Meanstreets – De La Salle Institute)
Ellis is another prospect who has continued to elevate his stock. As a sophomore and in the spring, he was a great athlete who was on the verge of realizing his potential. He started showing glimpses of his potential in July.
He is a high level athlete who is smooth with the ball in his hands. His perimeter jumper has great height off the floor, with a consistent release point. He can beat his man off the bounce and finish with strength.
His feel for passing is excellent as he often finds the open man while driving to the hoop or makes the extra pass for an even better shot. Most importantly, Ellis is becoming more consistent game in and game out. Ellis is a high major prospect for sure.
Jubril Adekoya, 6'-6", power forward (Meanstreets – Andrews High School)
The first aspect that stood out was how much weight Adekoya has lost over the last several months. He has become more athletic and agile. His game is stretching to the point where he can now knock down a 15-foot jump shot.
He is still the strong rebounder that he has always been, but he gets more bounce off the ground when grabbing them. He shows nice footwork in the post and also displays a quality passing touch. He is a mid-major-plus player who continues to add to his game.
Malcolm Hill, 6'-5", small forward (Southwest Jets – Belleville East High School)
Hill is a smooth wing who showed great explosion at the hoop. He finished with authority and power at the rim like I have not seen before. His first step is so quick, and he glides through defenders with a tight handle. His game looks like a young George Gervin.
I love how easily and effortlessly he scores the basketball. He does not take many bad shots and is an efficient scorer. When doubled, he finds open teammates and gets them the ball in a position to do damage.
His length allows him to rebound at a high rate. He could develop into a monster defender at the college level. If Hill adds strength, there is nothing standing between him becoming an all-conference player at the next level. He has solidified a top five ranking in the state in his class.
Demetrius Jackson, 6'-1", point guard (MBA Select - Marian High School, Indiana)
This was my first opportunity to see Jackson in person, and I came away impressed. He is a strong and powerful guard who got into the lane whenever he wanted. His first step is quick, and he finishes strong around the basket. It seems when in the paint, he hits another gear most other guards do not have.
His jumper was solid all weekend, and he was especially feeling it Friday against the Southwest Jets as he dropped 28 points. He was absolutely dynamite with his three point shot, where he would stop on a dime and pull straight up.
Jackson also has a great hesitation move that allows him to create space to get his shot off. He rebounds at a high rate for a guard and is a tough on-ball defender. He pressures the ball, turns his man and then strips him.
Jackson's game is reminiscent of Kemba Walker. Time will tell if he can be that good, but there were a lot of positives to like in his game. Big 10 schools are all over him.
Kendall Stephens, 6'-4", shooting guard (Illinois Wolves – St. Charles East High School – Committed to Purdue)
Stephens had a great spring, followed by a solid July. He is an elite shooter with awesome mechanics. He looks like a young Reggie Miller. His combination of length and ability to shoot are going to make him a star in the Big 10.
Jared Brownridge, 6'-0", combo guard (Illinois Wolves - Waubonsie Valley High School)
This young man had a big spring, and it is paying off with mid-major-plus offers and interest. His three point shot has become a deadly weapon. He had it on full display in one game, where he made five three point shots in the first eight minutes of the game.
Brownridge is a good passer who moves the ball and is a team player. His stock has gone way up with his play in July.
Nate Taphorn, 6'-7", small forward (Illinois Wolves – Pekin High School)
Taphorn is one of the hottest names in the state. He is a deadeye shooter with great size and underrated athleticism. Although he is known for what he does behind the arc, he can drive to the hoop and finish when asked to do it. I love his leadership and passion for the game.
Denzel Irving, 6'-5", small forward (Illinois Wolves – Peoria Richwoods High School)
Irving is a strong forward with great athleticism. He excels in transition and had several rim-rattling dunks over the course of three days.
Semi Ojeleye, 6'-6", small forward (MoKan – Ottawa High School, Kansas)
The small forward was one of the top performers of the weekend. It was uncanny how he opened each and every game I scouted with a three pointer from the wing. His shot has good form and is mechanically sound.
Ojeleye is a strong and physical small forward who attacks the hoop with authority and strength. His body is insanely strong! He uses great power and ferocity in scoring off the bounce.
His handles are solid, and he is smooth with it in transition. He rebounds well and destroyed teams on the offensive boards. He currently has five offers in the fold, and many other high majors are interested.
Moshawn Thomas, 6'-8", power forward (Michael Finley Bumblebees – Hyde Park High School)
Thomas is a long and athletic forward who causes havoc on defense. He is still raw offensively, but he gets out in transition, including several monster slams. He has a ways to go in refining his game, but if he does that and adds some strength, he will be a nice asset to a mid-major program.
Richard Freeman, 6'-7, power forward (Spiece Indy Heat – Lawrence Central High School, Indiana)
Freeman is a strong left-handed post player who finishes around the hoop. He is a good rebounder and a defensive presence. I like his upside as a prospect. He should have a breakout year as a junior.
Austin Rudder, 6'-2", shooting guard (MoKan – Nixa High School, Missouri)
Rudder is an elite shooter who is great coming off screens. He is money from several steps beyond the arc. He was the second best shooter behind Nunn at the event. He would be a great fit for a team looking for a specialist.
Listed below are the colleges following the various 17U and 16U AAU teams in Ft. Wayne last weekend.
Fire 17U (Parker, Taylor, Garrett, etc)- Illinois (Jerrance Howard), DePaul, Michigan State, Indiana, Northwestern, Stanford, Detroit, Xavier, Michigan, Notre Dame, UIC, Marquette, NIU, Loyola, UC Davis, SIU, SIUE, Illinois State, Indiana State, and Northern Illinois.
Old School 17U (Orris)- Illinois (Jay Price, Sean Harrington, Howard), Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Butler, Indiana State, SIU, Missouri State, Kent State, UIC, Ball State, and Toledo.
D3 Pride 17U (Harris)- Illinois (Howard), DePaul, Michigan State, Indiana, Northwestern, Stanford, Detroit, Xavier, Michigan, Notre Dame, UIC, Marquette, and NIU.
Meanstreets 16U (Nunn, Tate, Ellis, Adekoya, Foster)- Illinois (Howard), Indiana, Michigan State, DePaul, Memphis, Marquette, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Toledo, Missouri State, Northwestern, Northern Illinois, Wichita State, Ohio, Bradley, Valparaiso, Butler, Ball State, Stanford, Kent State, and Illinois State.
Wolves 16U (Stephens, Taphorn, Brownridge, etc)- Illinois (Howard, Harrington, Price), Wichita State, Xavier, SIUE, North Dakota State, Purdue, Bradley, Northern Illinois, Kent State, Valparaiso, Iowa, UIC, UC Davis, Bowling Green, DePaul, and SIU.
Spiece 16U (Blackmon, Thompson, Freeman) – Illinois (Price, Howard), Northwestern, Indiana, Valparaiso, Wichita State, Toledo, Butler, DePaul, Memphis, Marquette, Cincinnati, Fordham, Evansville, and Minnesota.
MBA 16U (Jackson)- Illinois (Price), Michigan State, Indiana, UIC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Minnesota.
Southwest Jets 16U (Hill) – Illinois (Howard, Price), DePaul, Michigan State, Indiana, UIC, Michigan, Missouri State, SIUE, Memphis, Xavier, Evansville, and Kansas State.
MoKan 16U (Ojeleye)- Illinois (Price, Harrington), and Toledo.