The spring evaluation period is for college coaches to begin, in earnest, their search for players to fill their respective Class of 2018 recruiting classes this fall and to put eyes on young talent for the future.
Although the high school career of Uplift’s Demarius Jacobs just concluded this past season, the 6-3 guard has still been front and center during the live evaluation period for college coaches the past two weeks.
That’s because Jacobs, who originally signed with Southern Illinois, is now back on the open market as an uncommitted prospect. He is expected to attend a prep school in Arizona, along with his high-profile brother, Kansas commit Markese Jacobs.
As a result, Jacobs is playing on the club circuit with the Mac Irvin Fire this spring. And he’s turning heads.
The 6-3 guard certainly isn’t an unknown. Jacobs led Uplift to 22 wins and a Red-North title this past season. He filled a stat sheet, averaging 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game as a senior.
Jacobs was a City/Suburban Hoops Report second-team All-State pick and is among the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2017. He was also an All-City and Sun-Times All-Area selection.
While he does have an advantage of competing against players a year younger this spring, the smooth, athletic Jacobs has taken another big step with his game. Even with his tantalizing physical features –– Jacobs is extremely long and athletic while boasting terrific size for a perimeter player –– the knock has been his inconsistent motor and energy.
But he attacked offensively and played at an extremely high level this past weekend in EYBL action in Indianapolis. In addition to some jaw-dropping dunks and athletic plays, Jacobs has shot the ball well on the circuit (8 of 19 from three) while averaging 16 points a game. He’s also been efficient, shooting 66 percent from the field (45 of 68).
From a pure talent and athletic standpoint, the arrow is pointing straight up. Jacobs is a significant talent with a burgeoning game.
Jacobs was a coveted mid-major prospect. Now, when the dust settles after a year of prep school, Jacobs will emerge as a player who will have programs from the Atlantic 10 and American Conference on his trail, along with a number of interested Power Five Conference schools.
Other players raised their profile
In addition to Jacobs there were several Illinois high school prospects who helped themselves over the past two weeks. Here are four other players in the junior and sophomore classes who have raised their stock considerably, either in the eyes of the City/Suburban Hoops Report or college coaches.
➤ Zion Griffin, Hinsdale South
I know, I know, the City/Suburban Hoops Report keeps singing the praises of Griffin. It began last December, immediately jumping on the junior forward’s bandwagon. He continued to produce all winter and put together a breakout season, averaging 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a game. The lively and active 6-6 Griffin skyrocketed up the Hoops Report player rankings midseason and continues to climb.
But the past two weeks he had a chance to showcase his growing game to college coaches. A lefty with reach defensively and a knack for blocking and altering shots for a player his size, Griffin’s overall game continues to evolve. He has improved his range and efficiency from the three-point line while becoming more effective in putting it on the deck and getting to the basket.
Griffin is a no-brainer mid-major prospect who will garner scholarship offers from that level sooner than later.
➤ Toraze Dobbs, Uplift
Yes, a second Uplift player is on this list, joining Demarius Jacobs. The 6-5 forward has been a favorite of the City/Suburban Hoops Report for some time, but it’s time he starts generating more Division I interest. Dobbs deserves it. He did receive an offer from Incarnate Word in Texas, but this is a player who has been way overlooked by college coaches up to this point.
While he’s best suited playing a compact role offensively –– operating as a spot-up shooter, a straight-line driver in dribble handoffs or as a rim-runner in transition –– the big-bodied combo-forward competes and plays with aggression. He impacts games with those two ingredients alone. Dobbs gets on the glass and is an impressive 11 of 22 from beyond the arc in EYBL action.
➤ George Conditt, Corliss
Every year there are players who fall through the cracks or simply emerge from obscurity. Conditt appears to be one of those players as the little-known junior is set to open a lot of eyes this offseason before his senior season begins.
Conditt averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds a game as a junior. But playing in the Public League’s Blue South will often leave you searching for some attention. Now he plays on the club circuit for Team RWA.
“He’s comfortable where he is and content with who and where he plays,” says Corliss coach Henry Jones of the nondescript teams he plays for in high school and AAU.
In a small sample size thus far with evaluators and college coaches watching, Conditt screams intrigue at a legit 6-9. He’s long, agile and can really move from end to end for a big man. Throw in a soft touch shooting the basketball and the fact he’s a solid student and Conditt is a bonafide Division I prospect.
While he’s very thin and lacks strength, he boasts an enticing physical profile and terrific upside. His coach, however, says one of his weaknesses is where he’s improved the most.
“He’s actually gained a lot of strength over the past year,” says Jones. “That’s an area he’s really improved, along with his footwork.”
➤ Lance Jones, Evanston
The 6-1 guard has been a fixture among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 20 prospects in the Class of 2019 player rankings. But as a sophomore this past season, Jones played his role for a senior-dominated Evanston team that finished 28-4 and won a sectional championship.
Jones, however, is poised for a breakout junior year next season for the Wildkits. The ball will be in his hands and he will be granted more opportunities. He showcased his talent this past weekend in Indianapolis while playing with Meanstreets.
A nightmare in the open court, Jones changes gears powerfully, shows promise with his first step and, as a result, is difficult for defenders to stay in front and is capable of getting to the basket at will in space.
There is work to do to be a more consistent floor general and decision-maker, while he must become a more efficient perimeter shooter. But the tools, upside, basketball body and, most importantly, future opportunities will be there to shine as a coveted mid-major prospect with a high ceiling.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport