Chicago DeLaSalle is playing in the State Farm Basketball Classic Tournament in Bloomington-Normal. They won their first two games despite some weather related frustrations on the trip from Chicago. The Meteors have excellent upperclassmen, but sophomores Andre Henley and Mike Shaw are too good to sit on the bench. Coach Tom White raves about both of them.
"'Dre' is good. He's good. He can handle the ball, he has guard type of skills. And yet inside, he's got the biggest hands in the world, so he can finish inside. And he's a hell of a competitor. So it's just getting him a spot on the floor.
"The sophomore group that are now juniors only lost two games their first two years, and the seniors have been conference champs since they were freshmen. So it's just a problem to find spots for him.
"He's a talent though. He's a big body. His dad's a 7 footer, I anticipate he'll grow. And he can handle the ball. He's a three point shooter and he has good handles. He's a player. He's very good."
Mike Shaw is getting recognition as possibly being one of the top ten players nationally in the 2011 class. The 6'-8", 210 pounder is broad shouldered, athletic, fluid and has skills of a much smaller player. Coach White will undoubtedly run out of adjectives to describe him before he graduates.
"Mike is just a stud. He's coming off a sprained ankle and didn't play alot. I'm just trying to get him healthy a little bit here. He makes a lot of hustle plays, he gets the ball inside, he can jump out of the gym. And he's a nice kid.
"He doesn't know how to be big-headed yet. He's humble. And he's really a student of the game. I think that's the big thing that people don't realize. Both Michael and Andre are sophomores, but they're really smart players. They really understand the game.
"They're used to always playing up because of their size, so they're more mature from playing with the older kids. We like playing against bigger kids so he can cover somebody. When he covers somebody little, he kind of lapses and tries to block shots, all the things a young kid would do instead of banging and getting in front of the kid. I'm happy to have them both. They're both really good players."
The 6'-5" Henley didn't have a great game against Normal U-High but was much improved against Rock Falls. Shaw played with the varsity as a freshman, but Dre is just getting used to the action at this level.
"Last year, I didn't do too much. I played on the sophomore team. This year, I play hard to prove what I can do and show people that we can win."
The lefty will likely be a guard in college, but he is versatile enough to play several positions. With upperclassmen Derek Needham and Richie Fisher occupying the two guard spots, he looks for other ways to help the team.
"If we've got main guards that handle the ball, and they're doing a great job taking care of the ball, then I'm just gonna play with the big men, play on the wing, do what my team needs."
Henley is about ready to explode on the scene, and his attractiveness to colleges is just beginning to mushroom. While he has only one offer from SIU so far, that may be about to change.< P>"I'm hearing from Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina is thinking about it, Iowa State, a bunch of schools."
Mike Shaw scored 10 points against Normal U-High. He showed good form on two free throws. He had two dunks including a flying lob; he made a quick inside move for a layup; and he drove from the free throw line, split two defenders and completed a nifty scoop layup. One time, he brought the ball up the floor, did a crossover to get open for a pull up corner jumper. He missed, but it was a guard's move.
Shaw must face many smaller players who are not at the same level of ability as those he faces on the AAU circuit. But he knows it is in his best interests to take all teams seriously.
"You've just got to look at it like everytime you're out there, you've got to play hard and treat everybody the same. I was always told, whenever I'm out there, play hard. That's what I'm gonna do."
Shaw is good friends with Chicago Mt. Carmel point guard Tracy Abrams, who recently committed to Illinois. Inevitably, he was asked if that option is appealing to him.
"You never know what's gonna happen. That's a good opportunity for Tracy. Now he can just worry about getting better. He don't have to worry about going through all the recruiting stuff.
"It's early. I'm gonna wait and see what's out there. I want to go on all my visits, unofficial and official, and just have fun and get the experience."
When pressed specifically about his interest in Illinois, he reiterated is in no hurry to finalize a college destination.
"Illinois is an option. Right now, I'm just gonna take my time. I'm just having fun right now."