Illinois has interest in many of the prospects in the Mac Irvin Fire program, as well as several other prospects who were in attendance at the Fire's back-to-school event. The following is my scouting report of the event.
Class of 2012
Milton Doyle, 6'-4", shooting guard ( Marshall High School )
Doyle's stock is rising. He has great size and is smooth with the ball in his hands. He is a long and athletic wing who is a big-time scorer. He is quick off the floor, and his jump shot is silky smooth. If you're looking for an under-the-radar prospect who could blow up during the high school season, Doyle could be the man.
Steve Taylor, 6'-7", power forward ( Simeon Career Academy – Committed to Marquette )
Taylor loves to hit three pointers, and he did that at the Fire tournament. I was impressed with his ability to attack his man from the wing and how well he rebounded. His tenacity is great; he has secured the #1 ranking in the class of 2012 by a mile in my eyes.
Class of 2013
Tommy Hamilton, 6'-9", center ( Whitney Young High School )
Hamilton was the buzz of the day at Riverside-Brookfield. He had not played in front of an audience for months. The first thing that stood out was how much weight he has shed. He is strong and in the best shape of his career.
He showed off his elite passing ability for a big man on both the perimeter and in the post. His footwork in the post was excellent as he drew fouls by getting his opponent off balance. When he had a smaller defender on him, he would overpower his man.
Another aspect that stood out was his ball handling in transition. He still shoots way too many perimeter shots for my liking, but to his credit he does make about 25% of them. He solidified himself back in the top 3 of 2013 in state in my opinion.
Jabari Parker, 6'-8", small forward ( Simeon Career Academy )
I talked with Parker the day before, and he said he would not be playing. He was not in the house for the Wolverines's first game of the day but arrived about five minutes before their second contest. He got the okay to play and, without warming up, was the best player on the floor as usual.
Parker has added more weight and become more athletic over the last couple of months, if that is possible. He got to the rim consistently and dominated on the interior. The play of the day for him was when he grabbed a rebound and took the ball coast to coast for a bucket.
Parker went for 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. It is scary how good he is, and he still has two more years of high school to go!
Jaylon Tate, 6'-2", point guard ( Simeon Career Academy )
Tate showed improvement on his perimeter shot. You could see it starting to become more consistent in July, and he has continued even more. He told me this is an area of his game he has been concentrating on.
Tate is slick with the ball in his hands and has a nasty crossover. He pushes it in transition and makes smart plays. Although Kendrick Nunn was not there, he seems to be starting to mesh with his new teammates at Simeon.
Billy Garrett, 6'-4", point guard ( Morgan Park High School – Committed to DePaul)
This is one of my favorite players in the state to watch. He is so smooth with the ball in his hands and is always under control. At 6'-4," Garret is a big and strong point guard who can play off the ball when needed.
He is elite in pick-and-roll situations where he always makes good decisions. His shot was not falling on Saturday as consistently as I am used to seeing it. His play of the day was when he crossed his man over, sliced through the defense, and slipped a no-look pass for a dime.
Xzavier Taylor, 6'-8", power forward ( Morgan Park High School )
Taylor showed off his shot blocking and ability to alter shots. He is a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor. It seems Taylor has added weight since I last saw him in July. He is an intriguing target because he is still a bit raw offensively but has a big upside. Even if he doesn't reach his offensive potential, Taylor will be a great contributor on the boards and defensively.
Jubril Adekoya, 6'-6", power forward (Tinley Park Andrews High School)
Adekoya has lost significant weight since July. He was in good shape then and even better now. This has allowed him to become more athletic, and he showed off some ability to play on the perimeter at the small forward position. If he doesn't grow anymore, this will be important to colleges as he is an undersized big man at the four spot.
Class of 2014
Jahlil Okafor, 6'-10", center ( Whitney Young High School )
In his first game of the day Saturday, Okafor was dominate both scoring and on the glass. He is an elite rebounder on both ends of the floor. This is because of his great size and how well he boxes out.
Offensively, he is so skilled in the post at a young age, and he has a wide array of moves to beat defenders. At times it looks too easy for him. Defensively, he is a solid shot blocker and keeps his man from the hoop.
The matchup of the day pitted Okafor against Cliff Alexander. The two basically cancelled each other out. In my eyes, Okafor is still the top prospect in the state's class of 2014, but the margin is getting smaller.
Cliff Alexander, 6'-8", center ( Curie High School )
Alexander's defense caused Okafor problems. He used his length to swats shots. On the offensive end, he was pushed a little bit away from the hoop. Alexander has a tremendous upside which might be higher than Okafor's. He has put a significant gap between himself and the other contenders for the #2 spot in the class.
Paul White, 6'-7", small forward ( Whitney Young High School )
White is a smooth and athletic wing. He has a great feel for the game and doesn't force his own offense. He takes what the defense gives him. I am a big fan of his passing ability; he has awesome vision for a small forward. This has even made the Whitney Young staff consider playing him at the point guard position.
He is a consistent jump shot away from becoming a dynamic scorer. White is without a doubt a high major player, and I believe with the graduation of Sam Thompson, he will have an even bigger role this year for the Dolphins.
Miles Reynolds, 6'-2", point guard ( Whitney Young High School )
Reynolds is a young point guard who will be important for Whitney Young as he provides stability at the point. He is smart with the ball in the half court and pushes it well in transition. His athleticism is good, and he seems to have a good basketball IQ. Reynolds has a good looking jump shot with nice rotation on it.
Erick Locke, 5'-11", shooting guard (Brooks High School)
Locke is an undersized shooting guard who puts up big numbers. He has a thick body and uses it, along with a tight handle to get to the hoop strong. His perimeter shot is solid, especially a step inside the three point line.
Kierre Perkins, 6'-6", small forward ( Morgan Park High School )
Perkins had an excellent July. He started to become an all around player by combining his athleticism with an emerging skill set. In this event, he demonstrated smooth movements while running hard and finishing in transition.
His handle is starting to get better. He has great size for a wing already, and the bouncy forward is quick off the floor when attacking the glass. Defensively, his length causes problems as he gets into passing lanes.
Class of 2015
Dennis Williams, 6'-4", shooting guard ( Simeon Career Academy )
Williams is a smooth shooting guard who is still a bit thin but has a nice frame to add weight. I really like his jump shot and believe he can develop into a nice scorer. He hits the offensive glass hard. He ranks as one of the top 10 freshman in the state.
Brandon Hutton, 6'-4", small forward ( Simeon Career Academy )
Hutton is a strong small forward who uses power to get his job done. He is a good rebounder and tough defender. He has all the physical tools you look for in a wing but needs to add more skill to his game. Like his teammate, he is one of the top 10 freshman in the state.