Thursday, June 21, 2007

Diamond Taylor shoots to top of '09 class

POINT #1 .... No, nothing has changed in regard to the Class of 2009. It's still a very weak class with no surefire, no-doubt-about-it superstar at the top and no real quality depth to speak of when it comes to Division I prospects. Throw in the fact that there is very little size in the junior-to-be class and it's easy to see why this is the weakest class to come through Illinois in well over a decade.

POINT #2 .... There are a number of guards who will be battling to be considered the state's top prospect in the Class of 2009. Darius Smith of Marshall and D.J. Richardson of Peoria Central were regular household names very early in their careers and ranked near the top. Both Marcus Jordan of Whitney Young (yes, it's official, he has transferred from Loyola Academy) and Joseph Bertrand of Sterling made huge strides during their sophomore seasons and are now among the top three prospects in the latest Hoops Report player rankings. But the player the Hoops Report feels has made the biggest jump--and perhaps one of the biggest jumps in recent memory in such a short period of time--is St. Joseph's Diamond Taylor.

POINT #3 .... There will be people out there that may call it ludicrous, but the Hoops Report now believes Taylor is, along with Bertrand, one of the two best college prospects in the Class of 2009. This is a kid some people don't even have in their top 10 in the class of 2009. After watching Taylor for two days at the Illinois Satellite Camp at Moody Bible Institute, Taylor showed he is without question the most complete scorer in the junior class. He has a beautiful stroke and rotation on his shot from three-point range, has already developed a mid-range game with a nice pull-up jumper for a prospect with his amount of experience and, despite his slight build, he's not afraid to take it to the basket.

While his slender frame and overall lack of strength is still clearly his biggest drawback and often prevents him from finishing around the basket consistently, his scoring mentality and capabilities are so far above and beyond the other top players in this class. He still has work to do and he knows it, whether it be improving as a ballhandler, getting a stronger off-hand or adding weight and strength. Nonetheless, Taylor, who played minor minutes off the bench for St. Joe's last season, will be a coveted high-major prospect after playing this summer with Mike Mullins' Illinois Wolves and Gene Pingatore's young St. Joseph team.

Here is a look at the updated top 15 players in the Class of 2009.... 1A. Diamond Taylor, 6-3, St. Joseph; 1B. Joseph Bertrand, 6-3, Sterling; 3. Marcus Jordan, 6-2, Whitney Young; 4. Darius Smith, 6-2, Marshall; 5. Jordan Prosser, 6-7, Eureka; 6. D.J. Richardson, 6-3, Peoria (Central); 7. Michael Haynes, 6-6, Washington; 8. Chris Colvin, 6-1, Whitney Young; 9. D'Mitri Riggs, 6-3, Bloomington; 10. Cully Payne, 5-11, Burlington Central; 11. Xavier Humphrey, 6-3, Fenwick; 12. D.J. Cooper, 5-9, Hales Franciscan; 13. Anthony Ahlers, 6-6, Putnam County; 14. Nik Garcia, 6-5, Niles West; Cortney Bell, 6-5, Lincoln Park.

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