Mike Shaw has been prominent in national talent evaluations since his freshman year of high school. The 6'-8", 215 pound manchild with both strength and finesse has tremendous potential. He can bang inside, he can put the ball on the floor, and he can sink the outside shot. He is a priority recruit for the University of Illinois.
However, Shaw has struggled to show his skills on a consistent basis. Joe Henricksen of the City/Suburban Hoops Report likes his potential, but he isn't as enamored with Shaw's game as some others right now.
"Mike Shaw is a high major player, but he is one who I have not had as high as a lot of other people. I don't think he is a top 10 talent or top 25 talent in the country. There's certain aspects of a top 10 or top 25 player that you see on a regular basis that you don't see with Mike Shaw.
"Right now, I have him ranked fourth in the (Illinois) class of 2011. But a lot of people nationally have him ranked ridiculously high. I just don't see that. He's a nice player, but he's just not at that level.
"When we saw Jereme Richmond play at that age, you knew he was a top 25 talent. When Corey Maggette played at Fenwick and then went to Duke, you knew he was a top 10, top 15 talent. Derrick Rose, same type of thing. Those guys were legitimate. That's just not the case right now with Mike."
Henricksen believes he knows part of the reason why Shaw's game has not yet flowered to its fullest potential.
"Mike Shaw is still trying to figure out exactly who he is as a player. Is he a face-up four man, is he a three on the wing, will he dominate on the block? I think he's gonna have to be a face-up four man and kind of accept that role.
"It kind of fluctuates as to what he wants to do, be on the perimeter or become a factor on the block and around the basket. He is a great kid, so he has that going for him. And he has the upside and the talent. Sometimes, it takes bigger players awhile to develop and blossom.
"This summer, as well as the upcoming high school basketball season, will be important for him as far as development and establishing exactly what he is as a player."
At times, Shaw explodes on a basketball court, leaping over people for rebound slams, spinning in the post for a layup, taking a defender off the dribble for a jumper from the wing. At other times, he seems to vanish. His upside is still extremely high, once he finds a proper role and becomes consistent. Henricksen thinks Shaw's early notoriety may have done him some harm.
"That's not to say he can't become a terrific college player. I just think there's more expectations and more pressure on him than any other kid in that class in the first two years of his high school career."
That is not the case with Shaw's teammate Andre Henley. "Dre" has been able to play his own game while Shaw and seniors Derek Needham and Richie Fisher took on more pressurized roles. He is just beginning to gain the notoriety he deserves. In fact, Henricksen now rates him as the second best player for 2011, behind Illini commitment Tracy Abrams and ahead of Shaw.
"I see a versatile, big-bodied wing. He isn't great in any one area, but he's really solid in a lot of different areas. He can hit the midrange shot and knock down a three, although he needs to become more consistent with his perimeter shot. He can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He's also very strong around the basket.
"He has been a little more productive than some of the kids in that class. He hasn't been real consistent yet, but that comes with maturity and age.
"It's about getting things done and being productive, and he's able to do that. He can shoot a little bit, rebound a little bit. He's got a decent feel for the game. At times, he really stood out during his sophomore year and a little bit this springtime in AAU play."
One factor in Henley's favor is his height and bulk. Many figure he will continue to grow, making his game even more inviting to the college scouts.
"He is 6'-5" now, and both of his brothers are 6'-7", so if he can stretch out to 6'-7" or 6'-8," then you're talking about a pretty special talent. But even at 6'-5", he's a pretty skilled player. The only thing he's lacking right now is that explosiveness and sheer athleticism that you really want in a player."
The main drawback is concern over Henley's academics. He has two more years to get his qualifications in order, but he is behind at present.
"He's still got work to do academically. From all indications, he is putting in extra time at DeLaSalle. We'll see what the end results are when the school year's finally over. Obviously, he's gotten into a little bit of a hole he's trying to dig himself out of."
DeLaSalle coach Tom White has two more years to enjoy Shaw and Henley. And the Mac Irvin Fire AAU team has them during the spring and summer. That's a luxury few can claim.