Here's a breakdown of the players that we got to see this past weekend at the Illinois Stars Shootout. Many of the players really helped themselves – showing what they could do. In no particular order, here's a short list of impressive performances:
D.J. Richardson, (6-3) - Class of 2008, Peoria (IL), Peoria Central HS, AAU Team - Illinois Stars: It's very easy to see why scouts and DI colleges are taking more interest in his game. Yesterday in the semi-final game Richardson scored when needed and also ran the team. Being 6-3, Richardson will have to become more of a combo-guard and maybe try to settle in as a point. He's very smooth and finishes well. When he was younger some questioned his jump shot; now it looks as smooth as the rest of his game. He is a very physical guard that defends the perimeter well and will only get better. According to his father they both know D.J. must get stronger and they work on that each week.
Matt Roth, (6-3) - Class of 2008, Metamora (IL), Washington HS: The knock on Matt wasn't his ability to score, but his overall foot speed. For all those who haven't seen this kid play, keeping those same "stereotyped" features with Roth is certainly not fair. He's quicker than last year during the state tournament run and works very hard on the defensive end of the floor. When you're 6-3 and can dribble across half-court and shoot the basketball consistently, there's a place for him at the college level. Matt scored 35 points on Saturday night and did so with ease – shooting the ball, taking it to the basket and finishing. His overall game looks good. Matt will make some college coach look great because of his scoring capabilities.
Kannon Burrage, (6-1) - Class of 2009, East Moline (IL), UTHS, AAU Team - Quad City Select: After Kannon's first game against a 17U team, consisting of players from the Peoria Manual Rams, Burrage finished with 19 points and six assists. During the second round game, Burrage went head on with the Illinois Elite and had one of the most impressive performances of the entire tournament. Burrage finished the afternoon session with 32 points, racking up 24 by half time. His jump shot was unstoppable and when they closed out he went to the rack and finished. For most of the game he was face-guarded and even at times had to overcome a box-n-one. At one point during the game three other teams participating in the tournament stayed around to watch Burrage. He shot two three-pointers with two and three defenders hanging on his arm. After the game one of the officials walked by the scorers table and said, "That's the best damn show I've seen all spring long."
Crandall Head, (6-3) Class of 2010, Rich South (IL), AAU Team - Illinois Wolves: Is it right or wrong to compare Crandall to his brother and former Illini, Luther Head? I saw Luther play in high school and as of this moment, Crandall is a much better prospect. So what does that say for his future? The sky's the limit for this 6-3 guard. A lot of people talk about family genes when it comes to athletes and I can see why. This kid can flat out jump out of the gym and has a nice looking jump shot. What impressed me with Head was the fact that for such a young talent he has the complete game. When I saw Head play he reminded me a lot of his older brother, but a lot stronger. At this stage he crashes the boards hard and every single time he was able to push the ball up the court, creating shots for himself and teammates. The Illini could be in a unique situation if Head Coach Bruce Weber can land all the players he's going after in the next two to three years.