Farragut big man Mike Dunigan remains the top prospect, simply because of great size, potential and grades. Then some of the changes come into play.
I believe Marshall's Ryan Hare is now the No. 2 prospect in this class. I love the way he plays. He has a little Quentin Richardson in him. He's not as polished or quite as big as the former Whitney Young star and current New York Knick, but he's relentless in taking the ball to the basket and finishing, while also very capable on the perimeter.
I love Decatur Eisenhower's Lewis Jackson. Yes, all 5-foot-9 of him. He's explosive and electric. Jackson checks in at No. 3, followed by DeAndre Liggins of Washington and Batavia's do-it-all Nick Fruendt. Liggins is atop most people's rankings and is the most highly regarded player nationally in this class. But I just feel Liggins has a long way to go, both from a consistency standpoint and offensive talent. He, to me, is basically the same player I saw last year. I have not seen the big jump top players typically make between their sophomore and junior years.
What this top five means is that the Hales combo of Matt Humphrey and Josh Crittle are not in it. Humphrey has been in a funk since the start of the season and Crittle just needs to learn to bring it every night out.
The top 10 also includes Luke Fabrizius of Hersey at No. 8, the much-improved Verdell Jones, Jr. of Champaign Central at No. 9 and one of my favorites, Mike Dinnuno of Von Steuben, at No. 10.
POINT #2 .... While I'm on the topic of Ryan Hare and Marshall, I don't think there is any doubt Marshall's Mike Stovall is the best unsigned senior prospect in the state. If Stovall were to qualify academically, as some seem to predict, some school is going to sign a gem of a player late in the recruiting game. He still has so much untapped potential, his athleticism is off-the-charts and he is able to knock down that three-point shot. His perimeter skills are vastly improved.
Stovall, if he weren't to qualify, would be a perfect prep school candidate. Why do I say that? Because I believe Stovall, with one more year of development and added strength, could play just about anywhere at the Division I level after one year of playing at a reputable and quality prep school.
POINT #3 .... The tradionally powerful south suburbs is without a doubt strong again this season with plenty of depth. However, this year it seems there might not be a true state power. I realize it's still early and there is a lot to learn between now and state tournament time, but the early going has shown that some of those highly-ranked teams from the south 'burbs are not quite what I thought. I still believe the two teams with the best chance of emerging as a "power" are Thornwood and Hillcrest. While Thornwood and Hillcrest have lost to very good teams in Marshall and Proviso East, respectively, their overall performances were puzzling.
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