Henricksen: A whole lot more spring thoughts, storylines

The City/Suburban Hoops Report highlighted FIVE BREAKOUT PERFORMERS from the early evaluation periods last month. But there were other prospects who opened eyes and storylines that developed over the past several weeks.

Here are a bevy of thoughts and notes from a busy month of April on the club circuit.

➤ The weekend commitment of Marist’s Justin Brown to Tennessee-Chattanooga and first-year head coach Lamont Paris flew under the radar. But it’s a story worth noting, simply because of the remarkable progress the 6-8 big man made under coach Gene Nolan and his staff at Marist.

In the 20-plus years of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, there have been very few players who have improved more as a player over the course of their high school career than Brown. The development of Brown has been pretty astounding. When watching Brown as a young high school player, no one could have envisioned a player with multiple scholarship offers by the time he was a senior.

➤ The Meanstreets 17U team has a nice collection of talented players and Division I prospects. But there isn’t a top 100 national player in the group or a whole lot of size or interior strength, which are key ingredients for many of the top teams in Nike’s EYBL.

However, Meanstreets has impressed –– and even overachieved –– through two weekends of EYBL play. Thanks to some old fashioned hustle and unselfishness, Meanstreets has been a surprise with its 6-2 start in EYBL action.

The ultimate goal is to get a few more wins over the next two EYBL events, which will be played in Atlanta and Los Angeles later this month, to qualify for the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam in July.

Through eight games at the midway point of the EYBL spring schedule, Champaign Central’s Tim Finke has led Meanstreets in scoring with 17.4 points a game. The 6-6 Finke, who is averaging 6.6 rebounds a game, has shot 32 percent from beyond the arc (19 of 59).

Young’s Javon Freeman (12.9) has been impactful while Damezi Anderson out of South Bend, Ind., has been productive averaging 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds a game.

Bolingbrook sophomore point guard Joseph Yesufu, one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 10 prospects in the Class of 2019, has been the young player in coach Rob Brost’s program who has garnered most of the early attention. But teammate Tyler Cochran is going to be a heck of a running mate over the next two seasons. He’s a jack-of-all-trades guard who has a terrific feel for the game and makes plays. Western Michigan stepped up with an offer after two weekends of the “live period” while Cochran played with the Illinois Hoopers.

➤ While taking in Terrence Hargrove during the first live period at the Nike Spring Showdown in Romeoville, it’s easy to see why he’s a City/Suburban Hoops Report top five talent in the Class of 2020. The East St. Louis sophomore passes the look test and put together a productive sophomore season. But you get more excited when you start projecting what the 6-5 wing will become as a bonafide two-way player.

➤ There aren’t many players who have generated more college interest in the opening weeks of the “live period” than Conant’s Ryan Davis. That’s what happens when you’re 6-8, big-bodied and skilled as a passer and shooter. Simply put, big men are coveted.

Wright State was the first to offer Davis, stepping up well before any others with an offer last September. But since playing in the two “live’ weekends, Davis has received offers from UAB, UC-Davis, Bucknell, Kent State, Western Michigan, Toledo, Vermont, New Hampshire and Hofstra.

Talen Horton-Tucker is entrenched as the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2018 in Illinois. That’s the type of impression the Simeon star has left since the conclusion of his junior season. THT has the type of well-rounded game you just don’t find anymore as he can pass, dribble and shoot while playing with an outstanding basketball I.Q.

But Morgan Park’s Ayo Dosnumu still remains at the top of the class. I’ve made this statement before but Dosunmu is just one of those players who was born to play basketball. With his combination of size and feel at the point guard position, Dosunmu is a unique player.

The 6-5 point guard is averaging 22.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists through eight EYBL games this spring.

➤ While we’re on the topic of Morgan Park, coach Nick Irvin’s program has thrived with dynamic playmakers in the backcourt. From Billy Garrett, Jr. to Kyle Davis to Marcus Lovett to Charlie Moore to Dosunmu the Mustangs have churned out difference-making guards over the years.

But there is an emerging big man in junior Tamell Pearson who looks to be ready to take a big step forward this coming season. It’s not as if the 6-8 Pearson has set the world on fire in EYBL action –– Pearson is averaging 5.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game –– but it’s more about the progress he’s shown as a prospect.

The long, agile big remains raw offensively, but he’s active, runs the floor, plays with a motor, competes and finds a way to impact games without putting up big numbers.

This is pretty simple. If I’m a mid-major program in need of a player with size and they’re comfortable in knowing it can develop big men, I’m taking a real hard look at Pearson and what he can become down the road.

Romeoville’s DeAndre Heckard is starting to be a little too overlooked. This is a talented combo guard who plays well in transition, shows a larger hint of explosiveness than people realize and possesses a developed pull-up game. There is growing interest with several college coaches making an effort to see the 6-1 guard over the past two weeks, but he hasn’t added any new offers which has been a surprise.

➤ Althought he’s an out-of-state player, sophomore Paxson Wojcik of the Illinois Wolves has shown he has Division I potential. Wojcik, a lanky 6-5 perimeter threat from La Lumiere, led the 16U Wolves in scoring through eight Under Armour Assocation games, averaging 17 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.

➤ When it comes to top-notch shooters in the Class of 2018 in Illinois, the list is short for Division I coaches. The lack of true shooters in the class is alarming. That’s why Young’s Justin Boyd is so attractive as a prospect. There is a feathery release and touch out of the hands of the 6-3 junior guard. He shoots it effortlessly, with range and is an ideal spread-the-floor shooter.

➤ It’s never really earth-shattering news when anyone gets excited about a top five player in the country. They are pretty easy to identify and appreciate. But when taking in an out-of-state mega-star there are still times when I am over-impressed with one of those top fivers.

That was the case in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago when watching senior-to-be Cameron Reddish, a do-everything 6-7 jaw-dropper out of Westtown (PA). Even when matched up and compared to the best of the best, this is the player I have a special affinity for when projecting two years, five years and 10 years down the road. Reddish is so Tracy McGradyish and does everything on a basketball floor you could want or ask of a 6-7 teenager.

3 comments

  • DH

    You should be proud that as good as a basketball player your Son is, he seems to be an even better kid!

  • Rance

    Joe, you mentioned Terrence Hargrove as a “top five talent in the Class of 2020.” Then you stated, “the East St. Louis Sophomore passes the look test and put together a productive Sophomore season.” Which one is it? Is he a current Freshman (Class of 2020) or Sophomore (Class of 2019)?

  • LaTasha McGee

    Proud of the hard work my son Tamell Pearson has shown over the past few months. It’s only going to get better!!!!!!!

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