Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The most underrated player in Illinois?

POINT #1 .... There are always differences of opinion as it relates to unheralded and underrated players. Is it the legit Division I talent that will land somewhere but should really be recruited by a high major? Is it the player getting limited Division I interest but should be more coveted? Is it the player no one knows anything about and simply needs to be evaluated more and found?
When it comes to being underrated on the national scale, there are a few players from Illinois I feel are a bit underrated as far as where their recruitment is going and where they fall on the national scale of rankings.

POINT #2 .... Yes, Washington's Matt Roth has been garnering headlines as a sharpshooter since his freshman year in high school. I believe he's the best shooter the state has seen in over 20 years. He is getting plenty of Division I interest and has basically narrowed his choices to Saint Louis and Bradley. However, he's received very little national attention. I will be interested to see if Roth puts up a big couple of weeks on the AAU circuit if a Big Ten school will come calling.

A couple of other players that have flown a bit under the radar nationally are Kenyon Smith of Simeon, who is set for a big breakout year this winter, and Carl Richard of Richards. While both Smith and Richard have received offers and will be Division I, mid-major players when it's all said and done, I can't believe the recruitment for these two players is not at a more feverish pitch among the nation's (and midwest's) mid-majors. The final player who is vastly underrated is Whitney Young's Bryan Hall, an attacking guard who flourishes in transition and just needs to tighten up his jump shot. He's a terrific kid and student and is without question a Division I talent.

POINT #3 .... When it comes to simply being the most underrated player in Illinois, the one player very few people know about, it's Matt Toth of Sandburg. The 6-8 senior does everything you would ask for a big man to do. He's strong and isn't afraid to mix it up, he provides a presence inside, passes well out of the post and from the high post, can step out and face the basket and put it on the floor if he has to, has a nice touch out to 17 feet and a great nose for the ball. So he brings all of these intangibles and skills to the table? And he's 6-8? What's the catch?

There are a few things that have prevented Toth from being a household name and more coveted on the recruiting trail. The biggest being he plays below the rim, doesn't have a lot of lift vertically and, while he does run the floor very well for his size, is limited athletically. He didn't have a monster junior year at Sandburg and he plays for a low-profile AAU program in the Illinois Machine. So while college coaches and talent evaluators spend countless hours watching the Illinois Wolves, Ferrari, Mac Irvin's Fire, Rising Stars and Illinois Warriors play in event after event, Toth continues to fly under the radar.

I have seen a lot of big men commit and sign with Division I schools that are a lot less talented than Toth, so it will be interesting to see just where his recruitment goes from here. I have Toth among the top 35 players in the senior class. We'll see if the underrated label disappears before signing day in November or in the late signing period next April.

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