Scouting Report: Nick Rakocevic

2016 power forward Nick Rakocevic of St. Joseph's (Ill.) continues to cement his name as one of the great local bigs to watch. He lived up to the hype in an impressive win on Wednesday.

The next great Illinois big man walked through the De La Salle gym on Wednesday night — standing four inches taller than everyone else. Sophomore power forward Nick Rakocevic is "raw," you could say. He'll make the occasional turnover, throw passes over the head of his intended target and stumble in the low block.

Yet Rakocevic felt like the next coming of someone truly outstanding. Even in warmups, he looks like a senior, nailing jumpers with an incredibly smooth stroke, his ranging extending behind the three-point line. At 6-9, the 2016 prospect functions as a potential long-term stretch four, or if he grows, an ideal center for a high-major team.

His St. Joe's squad, for now, works best with Rakocevic as the third scoring option. He's accompanied by Jordan Ash (Northwestern offer) and high-level point guard Glynn Watson. They break opponents down from the outside in, with a solid dribble-drive game that would later force De La Salle into an extended 3-2 zone press.

But Rakocevic finds his role, easily. He's smooth around the hoop, appeared comfortable from the free throw line and flashed some strength on the inside. Though you would have liked him to step out and knock down midrange shots with more frequency, he stayed in control and scored 10 points on the evening.

Rather than being the conventional power forward defender, he uses his athleticism to an advantage. Late in the game, with De La Salle holding a 65-63 lead, forward Brandon Hutton drove in from the right wing and attempted to clinch the game with a layup.

Instead, Rakocevic – who struggled down the stretch at times – forced him to alter his shot. Ash then ran the length of the court and delivered the game winning basket plus the foul. If Rakocevic gains better footwork and consistency, he can be a defensive game-changer as well.

Basically, the takeaway is this: He'll receive interest from serious high-major schools if his development continues as expected. The already polished power forward reflects one of Northwestern's visions — the "stretch four." The coaching staff is beginning to monitor his growth, and they're doing the same for 2016 center Barret Benson of Hinsdale South.

Playing before, Rakocevic went beyond the hype, in demeanor and in gameplay. Watch the sophomore closely as this high school season progresses.

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