Yesterday, we took a look at the top high school talent in the state of Illinois from the class of 2010. Today, we move on to a look at the class of 2011. Loaded with high major talent, the 2011 class is deep and exactly who sits atop it -- for this analyst's money it's Wayne Blackshear -- has been hotly debated by local and national scouts for a while now.
As always, this is just one opinion and it wouldn't be a surprise to see these rankings change a bit over the next year. Also, keep in mind that I have to have seen a player play to include them. Because of that, a guy like James Siakam doesn't make my top 12 (although I will include him in my best of the rest) since I've yet to see him play.
Illinois High School Basketball Class of 2011 Top 12
1. Wayne Blackshear- A celebrated prospect since middle school, Blackshear is an athletic wing who has greatly improved his all around game. A terrific slasher who can also stretch defenses with his shooting, he showed good toughness during the summer. Like any young kid he can be a bit inconsistent, but he's a potential McDonald's All-American type talent.
2. Sam Thompson- With his almost frightening athleticism, Thompson is among the most electric run and jump guys in the entire country. Now, the skinny wing is developing the game to match his athleticism. His handle is improving, he's a respectable jump shooter and he's learning how to use his athleticism to make a difference in a game without totally relying on it.
3. Chasson Randle- The reason Randle places so highly is because while so many others in the Illinois 2011 class are inconsistent, he's quite reliable. Not only is he reliable, he's talented. Perhaps more of a natural two guard, he's got a well developed mid range game and a great feel for scoring. As he's gotten the chance to run the point, he's displayed advanced decision making and a steady demeanor.
4. Mike Shaw- From a pure talent standpoint, an argument could be made that Shaw is the top player in his class. Starting with the positives he is a skilled big man with excellent feet, soft hands and soft touch. He's more explosive athletically than given credit for and can be a matchup nightmare. On the downside, there have been too many times where he just floats to the wing and doesn't make any impact on the game at all.
5. Ryan Boatright- Is he a little wild? Yes. Is his shot selection a bit frustrating at times? Absolutely. But, that doesn't change the fact that Boatright is an extremely talented backcourt player. He's athletic, has a tremendous first step and plays with loads of confidence. It might be risky placing him so high, but his upside is worth taking a gamble on.
6. Tracy Abrams- The fact that it's taken this long to get to the Illinois pledge is an indicator of how deep the 2011 class is. A pure scorer who plays with toughness and confidence, Abrams is more of a combo guard than a pure point. While his decision making skills have improved over the last year, scoring is what he does best and because of that he'll be able to play on or off the ball in Champaign.
7. Nnanna Egwu- Talk about an interesting prospect. At this stage in his development Egwu is raw and almost unsure of himself on the floor. But, he's got a tremendous motor, great size and he never gives up on plays on the defensive end. His hands aren't bad, he runs the floor hard and is a big man with loads of potential.
8. Jacob Williams- A versatile wing who is steady, Williams doesn't necessarily wow you in any one area. Instead, he's solid across the board and does a little bit of everything. As he fills out his long and skinny frame, he looks to be a high major prospect.
9. George Marshall- He hasn't exactly gone without praise, but Marshall isn't the most highly publicized either. What he does, though, is play the point guard position with toughness and make winning plays. Yet another potential high major guy.
10. Macari Brooks - Even though his listed 6-foot-2 might be a little generous, Brooks can play. More of a slashing, gambling two guard who likes to attack off the dribble, he has at least become a threat with the jumper. As he learns to play under a little more control, he'll only see his stock rise.
11. Andre Henley- There are still some who feel that Henley could be the top player in the state. Standing around 6-foot-5, he is a flashy guy at times but the question is what position he really plays. Right now, he looks to be more of an undersized four with good ball handling skills than a natural three man.
12. Abdul Nader- For the final spot in the top 12, Nader is a good choice for taking a leap of faith. Not nearly as well known or evaluated as anybody else on the list, something about him says that he'll be a player. Nearly 6-foot-6, he's got all the athleticism and a great frame. If he can polish his skills, high majors will watch closely.
Best Of The Rest
Hayden Hoerdemann- Perhaps the state's top shooter in 2011.
James Siakam- Need to see him play. Highly regarded.
Donivine Stewart- Not the quickest guy, but knows how to score.
Jay Parker - Underrated floor general.
J.R. Reynolds- Lengthy shooter with some upside.
Roosevelt Jones- High energy, physical wing.