Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sizing up Class of 2008

POINT #1 .... The Derrick Rose hysteria has moved on. The Simeon senior star will always be the centerpiece of the Class of 2007 in Illinois, with the St. Joe's duo of Evan Turner and Demetri McCamey falling in line after Rose. That leads us to next year's senior class, a much-maligned class over the last couple of years due to many players not living up to their early expectations and hype. How does the top of this class stack up as we head into the over-analyzed, nit-picky offseason of spring and summer basketball?

The Class of 2008, as the Hoops Report has repeated a number of times, simply doesn't have the poster boy, the surefire McDonald's All-American at the top--the Derrick Rose, Eddy Curry, Julian Wright or Shaun Livingston. Farragut big man Mike Dunigan puts himself at the top with his body, size, wingspan, upside and, with the right work ethic and coaching at the next level, probably boasts the most potential of any player in the class. DeAndre Liggins of Washington is a gifted, versatile player but with definite limitations. These two players will undoubtedly be the two state players ranked on all the Top 100 national rankings, with both likely being among the top 50 prospects nationally.

POINT #2 ....Then there is Iman Shumpert of Oak Park, who I absolutely love and have had ranked as the No. 3 prospect since his breakout this past season. I honestly would not be shocked if Shumpert, before it's all over with, elevated himself into the top 50 nationally. While he remains overlooked by some even here in Illinois (how is he not in everyone's top five before now?), he's without question the most overlooked player nationally from the state of Illinois. His size and length for a guard is what jumps out at you. He has incredible hands for a guard, defensive instincts that constantly put him in passing lanes, can shoot with range, has a mid-range game already and oozes scoring ability. Don't be surprised to see Shumpert skyrocket up national rankings, where he is currently barely a blip on the radar prior to the heavy portion of the AAU circuit. Shumpert can be an all-conference caliber player in a high-major conference down the road. I am going to send you way back in time for a player comparison, but if you were an avid college basketball fan in the 1980s, Shumpert's play reminds me a lot of former Georgetown star David Wingate, who teamed with Patrick Ewing and Reggie Williams on those great Hoyas teams.

The Hoops Report's Top 20 Class of 2008 prospects entering the summer: 1. Mike Dunigan, 6-10, Chicago (Farragut); 2. DeAndre Liggins, 6-5, Chicago (Washington); 3. Iman Shumpert, 6-3, Oak Park; 4. Lewis Jackson, 5-9, Decatur Eisenhower; 5. Verdell Jones, 6-4, Champaign Central; 6. Nick Fruendt, 6-5, Batavia; 7. Matt Humphrey, 6-4, Oak Park (Fenwick), 8. Ryan Hare, 6-3, Marshall; 9. Josh Crittle, 6-8, Chicago (Hales Franciscan); 10. Brett Thompson, 6-10, Vienna; 11. Jeremy Robinson, 6-8, Decatur Eisenhower; 12. Matt Roth, 6-2, Washington; 13. John Moran, 6-1, Jacobs; 14. Stanley Simpson, 6-9, Chicago (Leo); 15. Kevin Dillard, 6-0, Homewood-Flossmoor; 16. John Shurna, 6-8, Glenbard West; 17. Luke Fabrizius, 6-9, Hersey; 18. Carl Richard, 6-4, Richards; 19. Mike DiNunno, 6-0, Chicago (Von Steuben); 20. Dion Dixon, 6-2, Chicago (Crane).

POINT #3 .... While the top of this class may not have the star-studded players we've seen in the past, the Class of 2007 has a nice supply of mid-major and mid-major plus prospects. There is actually a little bit of depth to this class. And as always is the case, players emerge from relative obscurity and become bonafide Division I players. We saw that happen in the last six months with Leo big man Stan Simpson, Glenbard West's John Shurna and Richards' Carl Richard. When that happens it only elevates a particular class.

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