EBoss Road Show - State Farm Classic

Phog.net's Eric Bossi on the road in Illinois covering holiday hoops. Get the latest, inside.

As late as 10 pm Thursday evening the post Christmas plan was to fly into Chicago early Friday and then spend a day at the Proviso West Tournament and one at the Big Dipper Tournament. Both are traditionally talent stocked and media friendly. Unfortunately, rental car rates at Midway were out of control and Friday morning’s flight was canceled, a car was rented near the Road Show’s Roeland Park headquarters and a drive was made to Normal (IL) Community West high school for the 3A/4A bracket of the State Farm Holiday Classic.

As it turns out, the decision was a pretty good one as the Classic featured plenty of talent including a top 10 player from the class of 2011 in Mike Shaw.


Mike Shaw- Standing 6-8, Shaw is so skilled with the ball that many local observers have contended that he’ll eventually play full time on the wing. The question that has to be asked, though, is why is there such a hurry to play him out there? Playing as a versatile four man who can handle, pass and shoot, Shaw is a horrible matchup for just about any high school team. He went up and caught lob passes for jams in traffic, showed off a good looking stroke with range to around the three point line and threw some terrific passes in a very impressive 10 point effort during a runaway win. In particular his willingness and ability to use his left hand combined with great footwork for such a young guy were very impressive. Clearly, he’s a big time talent and it’s just a matter of learning to assert himself more consistently and play with more physicality on the interior.

Chasson Randle - The skinny sophomore must have felt a bit like Gargamel as he was surrounded by a bunch of smurfish guards from Springfield (IL) High. Though they weren’t blue, the little guards went out of their to make his life tough as they swiped and pulled at him. Struggling a bit from the field, the 6-2 shooting guard still showed a ton of promise with his smooth looking stroke, feel for the game and overall demeanor. A 4.0 student, he’s a smart player and excellent passer who isn’t afraid to go post up on offense if the opportunity presents itself. Even with an off game from the field in what turned out to be a pretty lopsided loss, the 2011 prospect -- who has been mentioning Kansas as a school of interest -- showed enough to understand why many think he’ll be a top 100 type player before it’s all said and done.

Joseph Bertrand - Given his lack of strength, a redshirt year may do the future Illinois guard a world of good. However, once the versatile and talented combo guard does add college level strength to his game he could develop into a guy that pays much bigger dividends than expected. Under control, athletic, confident with the ball and capable of making plays for himself and others off of the dribble, Bertrand is a very intriguing player. He fills up the stat sheet with rebounds, points, and assists and has the quick hands and lateral movement to develop into an excellent perimeter defender. Bottom line, there’s lots to like with this young man despite his lack of strength.

Matt Vogrich - There are good fits and then there’s Vogrich and Michigan. It’s almost as if the 6-4 shooting guard was born to play in John Beilein’s system that values skill, shooting, precision and grit. A dynamite shooter from deep, Vogrich’s toughness and ability to score off of slashes to the hoop is much underrated. While his quick and dangerous release from deep draws justified praise, it’s his work away from the ball to get open that is perhaps most impressive.


The Road Show has seen plenty of kids pick up technicals during it’s travels, but Friday brought a first in the world of technical fouls. A young man drew a technical for calling a referee a “crack head”. … A highly touted teammate of Mike Shaw’s is 6-5 combo forward Andre Henley. A long armed lefty, Henley struggled a bit with effort and production and didn’t play all that much in a De LaSalle romp. … One of the better shooters in the gym on Friday was South Holland (IL) Thornwood’s Michael Jackson. Hopefully, he told a few of his teammates to “beat it” after going through a game where the 6-3 shooter got far too few touches. … Here we go with the music again. No disrespect to all of the soft core rockers that read the Road Show, but what is it about groups like Maroon 5, Goo-Goo Dolls and Nickelback that make event organizers say “Yeah, She’s a Beauty by The Tubes is the perfect song to fire up some teenagers to play basketball”? Compounding the problem is that the songs are played at just a loud enough volume to be heard but you really have to concentrate to hear what the song actually is. Seriously, is there a much worse feeling than straining your ears to make out what song is playing only to realize it’s total crap? . … An early frontrunner for coolest name of the season is Rock Island (IL) High sophomore PG Royce Muskeyvalley. Throw a “Lodge” on the end of his name and he’d sound like the kind of place that a young family would go for a western weekend of ropin’, ridin’ and river raftin’. … It’s tough to argue with the defensive performance of Bertrand’s Sterling (IL) High team during the second half. The Golden Warriors allowed just nine points during the second half of their 48-30 win. … Finally, here’s a few late Christmas wishes from the Road Show. We wish that all coaches who press and foul with their benchwarmers during the final 30 seconds of a blowout loss develop a nasty rash. The Road Show would also like to see an abolishment of all gimmick defenses and stall techniques designed to slow down a star player. They rarely work and they totally ruin the experience for the kids and fans. Finally, coaches complaining that their team got dunked on late should spend more time teaching defense that doesn’t allow said dunks. …

  • Total teams watched- 90.
  • Total games watched- 58.
  • Total miles traveled- 10,708.

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