Saturday, June 30, 2007

Boatright the real deal.... for a freshman

POINT #1 .... Much has been made about the recent commitment of East Aurora freshman-to-be Ryan Boatright to coach Tim Floyd and USC. And many of the comments, some of which have been very critical of the process, are made by people that have never seen him play.

Everyone has their own perspective and what they think is the right way to handle recruiting. The majority of people out there feel its ridiculous for a kid to commit (and a major college coach to offer a scholarship) before even entering high school. A lot can obviously happen in four years, whether it be with the player's development or the program and coach the player committed to.

But if a college coach is a strong enough talent evaluator and can project a prospect's future when they have just turned 13 or 14, all the more power to him. Who are we to say they're nuts? It's their job! The problem occurs when--and if--these coaches start pulling the scholarships off the table before signing day. But until that starts happening at an alarming rate--and it probably won't because a coach never wants to establish that reputation in the recruiting world--we all need to accept this is the trend that is happening across college basketball recruiting.

POINT #2 .... The kid can flat-out play. He already has an unbelievable feel for the game, terrific ballhandling skills and is a capable shooter for a kid coming out of the 8th grade. He has plenty to work on, but after watching him play it's pretty easy to see he's a Division I prospect. Yes, even at this age. His biggest drawback is his size. He's listed at 5-10 but is probably closer to 5-8 or 5-9. And he's a very slender kid who doesn't look as if he's going to get a whole lot bigger. I remember watching his father play, Mike McAllister, an overachieving 5-8 point guard at East Aurora in the early 1990s. McAllister had a terrific March and helped lead coach Scott Martens' club to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in 1992.

POINT #3 .... My biggest concern with such an early player commitment is the pressure it places on the young player. You can already see it, where people are scurrying around the gym trying to find out who the player is that committed to USC a few weeks out of 8th grade? How will this impact young Ryan Boatright in the next couple of years as he adapts to playing varsity basketball for coach Wendell Jeffries' Tomcats? Every kid will handle it differently. It will be fun to see how Boatright handles the added pressure and watching him develop over the next four years.

What everyone needs to remember is that he is still just 14 years old and has so much room to grow as a player. He's a talented, talented kid that, with continued hard work and proper focus, could very well live up to the unbearable expectations placed upon him.

Friday, June 22, 2007

U of I Camp loaded with talent .... and observations

POINT #1 .... As mentioned in the post yesterday, the biggest story the Hoops Report came out of the Illinois Satellite Camp at Moody Bible Institute with was the continued rapid rise of St. Joseph junior-to-be Diamond Taylor. The Hoops Report has vaulted the silky smooth offensive weapon to the top of the Class of 2009, right there with Sterling's Joseph Bertrand. When it's all said and done, everyone will have Diamond Taylor at the top--or near the top--of this class in Illinois.

In addition to Taylor's emergence this spring and early summer, the Hoops Report is also convinced that Iman Shumpert of Oak Park is the No. 1 player in the senior class. Everyone has him among the top top three now, but he's always listed behind either Farragut's Mike Dunigan or Washington's DeAndre Ligggins -- or both. But projecting the three of them, I just really believe Shumpert is the most complete player of the three, has the most potential of the three and will undoubtedly have the best college career of the three.

POINT #2 .... All reports indicate Jereme Richmond, the 6-6 sophomore sensation who has already committed to Illinois, will be transferring to Waukegan next year. Richmond remains the top prospect in what appears to be a star-studded group of prospects in the Class of 2010. Solidifying himself right behind Richmond in the sophomore class is Whitney Young's Anthony Johnson. Wow, what a talent this 6-3 guard is. He's phenomenal in the open court, is a great finisher and a very capable shooter. There is no question Johnson is the No. 2 player in the class and will be a high-major prospect.

POINT #3 .... While I'm on the topic of super sophomores, the class continues to shine--even with all the build up around its potential since they all entered high school a year ago. While Richmond is the top prospect and Johnson is right behind him, there are several others that shined at the Illinois Team Camp. St. Joseph sophomore DeAndre McCamey is going to be a special point guard. While there will be endless comparisons to his brother Demetri McCamey, the former St. Joe's standout who is headed to Illinois, they really don't compare to one another at the same stage of their career. DeAndre is already a true point guard, while Demetri learned (and is still in the process of learning) the postion on the fly during his junior and senior years playing for St. Joe's and the Illinois Wolves.

There is not a whole lot of debate with Richmond at No. 1, Johnson at No. 2 and McCamey at No. 3 in the sophomore class. The player, though, that in my mind has pushed himself into the top five is New Trier's Alex Rossi. The 6-5 combo guard's basketball I.Q. is off the charts. He's so polished for a kid his age. I believe Rossi is the No. 4 sophomore in the loaded Class of 2010.

Another player who has improved is Thornton's Reggie Smith. When I first watched Smith I felt he was a little overhyped coming into high school. However, he has showed lately he's more than just a superior athlete. I questioned his overall basketball skill set, but he showed at the Illinois Satellite Camp at Moody Bible that he has improved his stroke from outside and is a capable scorer.

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.