Piper in-state rankings: 2018 class

Lead basketball reporter Derek Piper debuts his in-state 2018 rankings.


1. Ayo Dosunmu -- Point guard (Morgan Park)

The next big thing from Chicago. That is a heavy title to put on the shoulders of a junior-to-be, and it's one that's been carried by some elite-level hoopers. But Dosunmu is certainly worthy, and he proved that emphatically this spring. The 6-foot-3 point guard is wired to score, and he can get to the hoop off the dribble at will. Dosunmu has an effortless flow to his game and his intangibles are off the charts. He torched the competition in six games on the 17U EYBL circuit in May, as he averaged 18.8 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The form on his jumper is a work in progress, but he is more than capable of getting hot from deep. Dosunmu may have raised his stock higher than anyone in the 2018 class over the last three months. Another impressive month on the circuit could put him in the five-star echelon.


2. Tim Finke -- Shooting guard (Champaign Central)

Finke is a bona fide top-50 player in the country with his variety of skill, athleticism and high basketball IQ. He can shoot it, finish athletically around or above the rim, and he makes winning plays on the court. Finke was far from perfect on the 17U EYBL circuit this spring, and some bumps in the road were expected playing up a level. But Finke earned his keep in a stellar backcourt with top in-state 2017 prospect Jordan Goodwin and five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland. The Champaign product averaged 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, but he shot just 35.5 percent from the field. Finke needs to become stronger to elevate his game in big-boy ballgames, and he's a better shooter than he showed this spring. There is plenty to like about his future.

3. Talen Horton-Tucker -- Wing (Simeon)

If you haven't heard the name, take time to familiarize. Horton-Tucker is a big-bodied wing at 6-foot-4, and he doesn't look like your typical perimeter player. But he is a gamer with loads of skill and offensive ability. He is deceptively quick, and he has great handles and court vision. Horton-Tucker can use his body to get to the rack, and he has a silky-smooth three-point stroke as well. After contributing as an impact reserve last season at Simeon, he will be a prime candidate to breakout this year. Horton-Tucker is a high-major prospect and a top-100 caliber talent.

4. Xavier Castaneda -- Point guard (Whitney Young)

There are certain qualities you look for in a next-level point guard, and Castaneda has them in spades. He has playmaking savvy beyond his years. He's a determined leader and floor general. He can get his own shot, and create for others as well. Castaneda is sub-six foot, but he has a good build to his frame. He possesses plenty of quickness, including an extra gear in transition that allows him to get end to end before the opponent can blink. Castaneda is a gritty on-ball defender, and he has the toughness of a boxer. Like Horton-Tucker, Castaneda has looked the part of a high-major prospect. Both received offers from Iowa State last week, and they've been contacted by Illinois, Michigan State and others.


5. Kezo Brown -- Combo guard (Simeon)

Brown was hyped as a star in the making earlier in his career. He came off the bench at Simeon as a freshman, and his potential was evident. He was best known for his electric bursts in the open court, and he played more minutes than any freshman under Robert Smith -- outside of Jabari Parker. But Brown hardly played last season. It was later said that he dealt with a health issue and had to spend some time in the hospital. This spring, however, he has gotten back to making his mark on the court. Brown has put up some big-time scoring outings with the Mac Irvin Fire, as he's developed into a dangerous outside shooter. There's still time for him to show that he's also a high-major talent, as he was thought to be before. The biggest keys are for Brown to rechannel his floor game and ratchet up his motor.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories