Nike Global: Illinois Prospects

The Nike Global Challenge was held in Chicago this past week and featured many of the nation’s premier prospects. There were four Illini recruiting targets on hand at the event. Here we break down how each fared.

SF - D.J. Williams

Chicago (IL) Simeon

Illinois commit DJ Williams had a nice showing at the Nike Global Challenge in his home city. The 6’7” 200 pound wing has all the physical tools you could ask for in a small forward prospect. He came out looking more aggressive than usual, especially starting the game and second halves.

His jumper showed well from mid-range on several pull-ups including a sick stutter step back to open the tournament. Although he relies on his jumper quite a bit, Williams also mixed in drives showing terrific ball handling for his size.

His team only had one point guard in Ohio State commit A.J. Harris. When Harris was on the bench it was often Williams who would play a point forward role and initiate the offense. Williams did a solid job on the glass particularly on the first night where he went for 15 points (5-10 FG) (5-6 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block against Pan Africa.

Overall the Illinois commit averaged 11.7 points per game on 58% shooting from the field. He sat out the last game with a minor ankle injury that is nothing to worry about long term. If Williams plays the way he did at this event as a senior look for him to boost his ranking even more.

PG - Jalen Brunson

Lincolnshire (IL) Stevenson

The best point guard in America proved exactly why he is just that in his home state at the Nike Global Challenge. Brunson was impressive doing the things we have seen over the last three years on the high school and summer circuit. His basketball IQ is on another level compared to his peers.

While he has some athletic limitations his basketball smarts more than make up for it. His ability to control pace and run the show among the best scorers and bigs in the nation proved what we have said for a long time. When he is surrounded with elite talent he will be even better as a distributor, decision maker, and become more efficient with his shot selection.

Brunson shot the ball very well throughout the week, specifically utilizing his step back jumper, spot up threes, and scoring in the lane. In multiple games he literally just took over for a stretch.

His best performances were the last two games, starting with his match-up against USA West going for 20 points (7-11 FG) (3-4 3PT) and 7 assists. He followed that up with 16 points (6-8 FG) (3-4 3PT) and 9 assists against China.

From a recruiting standpoint, Brunson is one of the toughest reads out there. I really don’t think he is leaning one way or another heading into the official visits and could see him go in multiple directions. Illinois will have first shot with their visit to impress him and make a final statement.

SG - Jalen Coleman

La Porte (IN) La Lumiere

Coleman had an up and down week in Chicago partially because he struggled with consistency on his jump shot. When he has his shot from 15 feet and beyond falling he is pretty much unguardable. Coleman shared point guard duties throughout the week with Eric Davis on his unit. Both are combo guards, but lean toward wanting to score.

He did a solid job of initiating the offense and getting his team into sets. Coleman still got his shots up, but wasn’t very efficient until the last game. The rising senior is a slick ball handler through traffic, showing one impressive double cross where he drove his man to the paint with his left hand and finished with ease.

Through the first three games he slumped a bit, averaging 8 points while shooting just 28% from the field. He was the bright spot for his USA East team in the championship game as his jumper was going down in that one. It seemed Coleman wasn’t rushing his shot and getting his feet set in the finale. He mixed in drives, transition play, and jumpers on his way to 19 points (7-13 FG) (3-7 3PT) and 5 boards.

In my opinion it is extremely unlikely Coleman will even get to an official visit with Illinois. He will visit Notre Dame on September 5 and I expect him to be committed shortly after. UNLV seems like option #2 at this stage.

C - Marques Bolden

DeSoto (TX) DeSoto High

At 6’11” 204 pounds, Bolden is a big-bodied center that excels playing with his back to the basket. He has a couple of go to moves including a drop step. His post game has room to develop even more. He is efficient with his touches on the block and does a great job of consistently finishing through contact including a few posterizing dunks.

Bolden is a solid rebounder, particularly having a nice feel on the offensive glass. Defensively the center knows how to use his length coming from the weak side to deny his opponents.

There are a few areas where Bolden can improve, beginning with his free throw shooting. For as much as he draws contact and gets to the line he can easily add half a dozen points a game if he was better at the charity stripe. Offensively he could be more assertive demanding the ball.

At times he will be out there and not get touches. For how efficient he is, Bolden should get more opportunities. Defensively he is a little slow laterally when guarding in the mid and high post. All of these areas are correctable for the talented prospect.

He was spectacular in the first game going 5-5 from the field recording 11 points while also rebounding and blocking shots. Bolden then disappeared for three games (2 points/2 rebounds, 4 points/1 rebound, and 4 points/1 rebound). Like mentioned above he shot a high percentage in each game, but was just not overly active.

Still a very talented post that has high majors lining up for him. Illinois is just getting in the picture here and his recruitment has a ways to play out. Expect them to monitor him in open gyms and high school games throughout the next several months.

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