Class of 2018: Best of the recruiting stories and where they’re all headed

Morgan Park's Ayo Dosunmu (11) makes his way to the basket against Springfield Southeast, Saturday 03-17-18. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Nearly all of the graduating seniors in the Class of 2018 who have signed with Division I schools have either left for their college destinations or will very soon. ‘

This Class of 2018 in Illinois currently has 30 players who have signed with Division I schools. That number is again on the low side in comparison to what this state has traditionally produced, especially when you consider a few of the Division I signings in this class really seem to be a bit of a stretch.

At the end of the day, there will end up being more than 30 Division I players from the Class of 2018. There will be late-blooming prospects and others who will reinvent themselves at the prep school and junior college level over the next year or two and sign with Division I schools. An there will likely be a couple no one would have expected.

By the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s count, you can expect at least another half dozen players from this class to elevate themselves.

Lincoln Park’s Terrence Shannon and Orr’s Dannie Smith are without question two of those players. Shannon will sign with a high-major program after a year of prep school, while Smith will play Division I basketball.

It’s time to take one last look at the Class of 2018 recruiting cycle, the significant stories and where the top players in the class are headed.

Biggest Class of 2018 storyline

The late-bloomers

When you start talking about the likes of Shannon, George Conditt of Corliss and Zion Griffin of Hinsdale South, you’re talking three players who bloomed later than most. What’s exciting about all three is while they bloomed late, there is still so much left in their development. All three possess an eye-opening amount of untapped talent, potential and the coveted “high ceiling.”

In the eyes of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, Griffin was the first to establish himself as a Division I prospect, with that coming in December of 2016 –– Griffin’s junior year. But even then it took time for mid-majors to get on board. Remember, heading into May of last year, Griffin had only a Wright State offer at the Division I level.

Conditt, who was an absolute unknown through his first three years of high school, came the quickest, while Shannon came last, exploding on the scene this past winter.

Conditt’s work was all done on the club circuit in the spring and summer of 2017. Shannon, who was, for the most part, inexplicably ignored by mid-major programs throughout his senior year, blossomed this winter and has now beelined towards high-major status.

These are three intriguing but very different stories when it comes to high school recruiting and individual player development. This is unique. It would be shocking to see the same thing materialize again in the coming months in the Class of 2019.

Biggest recruiting story

Iowa State’s trifecta

Coach Steve Prohm and his staff did something that maybe has never been done before in Illinois. An out-of-state program came into Illinois and nabbed three of the top five prospects in the state.

Simeon’s Talen Horton-Tucker, a top 100 talent in the country, is the headliner. THT had a surplus of high-major suitors. He signed with Iowa State and then put together a monster senior season for the Wolverines, winning Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year.

But Griffin, the athletic forward with a big-time body, and the promising Conditt of Corliss will also be headed to Ames.

Griffin is a four-star recruit ranked among the top 100 players in the country who turned away Kansas after a monster July. Conditt picked up offers from Maryland, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Washington and others. He’s the type of 6-10 raw talent college coaches endlessly search for and can’t wait to develop.

Most important recruit

Ayo Dosunmu to Illinois

Like every coach and staff that takes over a new program, Brad Underwood and his assistants had to prioritize quickly when hired in March of 2017. The first signing day for the new Illinois staff was just eight months away.

The staff’s No. 1 priority was Dosunmu. Illinois invested more time, resources and energy into the Dosunmu recruitment and it paid off. Though it wasn’t exactly a shocker that Dosunmu chose Illinois over Wake Forest in the end, there was a definite reward for Illinois following the eight-month pursuit.

Sure, the Talen Horton-Tucker recruitment was botched as a result, but there is no denying the fact Illinois had to get one of the two stars from the city.

Dosunmu is a top 35 player in the country, according to the national rankings, and is also a big plus from a perception standpoint. The 6-4 point guard simply makes Illinois better in the backcourt. He becomes part of what could be a pretty potent perimeter attack in time, joining sophomores Trent Frazier and DaMonte Williams, junior college guard Andres Feliz and versatile 6-6 freshman Tevian Jones out of California.

Biggest Division I recruiting steal

Ryan Davis to Vermont

Based on the City/Suburban Hoops Report rankings, the ridiculous production during his senior year –– the 6-8 Davis put up 25 points and 11 rebounds a game –– and the level he’s headed to, it’s hard to top the Conant star being this year’s biggest Division I recruiting steal.

There are so many mid-major programs throughout Illinois and across the Midwest who would like a do-over with this one, forgetting their concerns over his lack of pop off the floor and overall athleticism.

Vermont is a rock solid basketball program; the Catamounts won 27 games this past season and reached the NIT after winning 29 games and playing in the NCAA Tournament the year before. But the fact Davis, a big man with skill and shooting range out to the three-point line –– in an age where big men are impossible to find –– is headed 1,000 miles to play in the America East Conference is the exact definition of “recruiting steal.”

Biggest Division II recruiting steal

➤ Dusan Mahorcic to Lewis

The City/Suburban Hoops Report’s praise for the Niles Notre Dame star has been unabashed. He has size, moves well, runs the floor, plays hard and has emerging offensive tools that will only get better and more polished.

The 6-9 Mahorcic just may be the most improved player in the class over the past 12 months, and he’s a steal for coach Scott Trost and the Flyers at the Division II level.

Biggest Division III recruiting steal

Justin Hardy to Washington University

This one isn’t even close. And for the second straight year the Division III program in St. Louis locked up the best Division III prospect out of Illinois. Last year it was Benet’s Jack Nolan, who went on to a stellar freshman season this past year.

This year Hardy is without question the biggest recruiting get in Division III. He had several Division II offers while averaging 20.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game this past season.

First-year coach Pat Juckem, who replaces the great Mark Edwards, who stepped down in March, has an Illinois tandem to lean on in coming seasons.

Five overlooked 2019 recruits –– and why

Darius Beane to Southern Illinois

For whatever the reason, Beane seemed to be the forgotten man in this class. Maybe it’s because he played in the southern part of the state. Maybe it’s because he switched AAU teams. Maybe it was because for so long college coaches assumed he would go to SIU, where his father is an assistant coach.

The attention or recruitment of Beane never picked up a ton of steam considering the talent and upside Beane brings to the table. This past year Beane, who scored 1,617 career points, averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists a game.

This long, athletic 6-3 guard with size and versatility has talent and tremendous upside and was big pick-up for the Salukis.

Armon Brummett to Bradley

This is a real wild card in the class as the Decatur MacArthur star is blessed with an enormous amount of raw talent, enough talent that at one time he was regarded as one of the top 15 prospects in the class early in his career. He’s an electric all-around athlete who plays multiple sports but turned some off with his emotional, sometimes wild, play.

The 6-4 guard not only brings size to the perimeter, but he can score the basketball and is offensively blessed. He averaged 18.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game as a senior.

Now, can coach Brian Wardle and his staff harness it all and get the most out of Brummett’s clear-cut talent?

Maurice Commander to Tennessee-Chattanooga

After opening eyes on the club circuit last July, the 5-10 point guard may not have had the kind of senior year many, including the City/Suburban Hoops Report, thought he would have this past season. Commander battled an injury and then shared the backcourt with Marquise Walker.

But the Hoops Report has been so high on Commander since his play went to another level last summer. The potential is there for Commander to be a catalyst for coach Lamont Paris, who begins his second season at Chattanooga.

Javon Freeman to Valpo

All Freeman has done in his high school career is produce and win. The 6-3 guard, who brings a whole lot to the table as a player, won a state championship as a junior and finished second in the state as a senior while leading the team in scoring.

As a result, this was one of the outstanding mid-major recruiting wins for a mid-major program and a level Freeman has a chance to thrive at.

He was a consistent jump-shot away from being a high-major recruit, which is an area that will only get better in college. In time, Freeman has the potential to be an all-Missouri Valley Conference player for Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich.

Messiah Jones to Wofford

Kudos to Mike Young, a highly-successful and respected coach who runs a highly-underrated program. He snuck into Illinois, an area he and his staff have hit hard over the past decade, and stole the Simeon star late in the process.

Jones, a workhorse with athleticism and toughness, originally signed with Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference. When coach Nike Medved left Drake for Colorado State, the 6-5 Jones opened up his recruitment and found a place he loved in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Now Jones has a chance to flourish in the Southern Conference, where players like him have thrived while playing for Young and Wofford.

Jalen Shaw to Triton

Triton went out and won the Division II Junior College National Championship in March and has become a national power at that level. As coach Steve Christiansen’s program heads to the JUCO Division I ranks next season, it adds a big man in the highly-ranked Shaw who Triton beat several junior college powers for.

This is big from a perception standpoint as Triton is poised to become a major player locally and serious option for junior college talent.

Where top players in the Class of 2018 are headed …

• Kani Acree, 6-5, Carbondale (Ball State)
• Chase Adams, 5-6, Orr (Link Year Prep)
• Darius Beane, 6-3, Carbondale (Southern Illinois)
• Quinlan Bennett, 6-2, Proviso East (Undecided)
• Justin Boyd, 6-3, Young (Wabash Valley Community College)
• Cameron Burrell, 6-6, Morgan Park (Eastern Illinois)
• Armon Brummett, 6-3, Decatur Eisenhower (Bradley)
• • Xavier Castaneda, 6-0, Whitney Young (South Florida)
• Dravon Clayborn, 6-0, Niles North (Grand Valley State)
• Maurice Commander, 5-10, Curie (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
• George Conditt, 6-10, Corliss (Iowa State)
• Eddie Creal, 6-3, Romeoville (Western Wyoming Community College)
• Jared Crutcher, 6-5, West Aurora (Lewis)
• Ryan Davis, 6-8, Conant (Vermont)
• Ayo Dosunmu, 6-4, Morgan Park (Illinois)
• Raekwon Drake, 6-5, Orr (Moberly Community College)
• Kenyon Duling, 6-2, Morgan Park (Cowley Community College)
• Tim Finke, 6-6, Champaign Central (Grand Canyon)
• Branden Ellis, 6-3, Warren (Lynn University-Florida)
• Damaria Franklin, 6-3, Niles North (State Fair Community College)
• Javon Freeman, 6-3, Whitney Young (Valparaiso)
• Isaiah Fuller, 6-1, Oak Park (Missouri-St. Louis)
• Zion Griffin, 6-6, Hinsdale South (Iowa State)
• Robert Harvey, 6-3, Hillcrest (Maryville-St. Louis)
• DeAndre Heckard, 6-2, Romeoville (Tyler Community College)
• Jalen Hodge, 5-11, O’Fallon (Louisiana-Monroe)
• Messiah Jones, 6-5, Simeon (Wofford)
• Justin Hardy, 6-5, St. Charles East (Wash-U St. Louis)
• Talen Horton-Tucker, 6-4, Simeon (Iowa State)
• Anthony Lynch, 6-1, Larkin (Lewis)
• Treavon Martin, 6-8, Curie (SIUE)
• Tyree Martin, 6-8, Curie (Missouri Western State)
• Cardell McGee, 6-2, Springfield Lanphier (Vincennes Junior College)
• R.J. McGee, 6-4, Kenwood (Taylor Made Prep)
• Kendle Moore, 5-11, Danville (Colorado State)
• Tyronn Mosley, 6-5, Orr (Woodstock Academy Prep)
• Tamell Pearson, 6-9, Morgan Park (UAB)
• Drew Peterson, 6-7, Libertyville (Rice)
• Xavier Pinson, 6-2, Simeon (Missouri)
• Kenny Pittman, 6-2, Simeon (Oakland)
• Joe Reece, 6-7, East St. Louis (Old Dominion)
• Colton Sandage, 6-1, Bloomington (Texas-Arlington)
• Isaiah Saulsberry, 6-3, Harrisburg (Maryville-St. Louis)
• Ethan Schuemer, 6-6, Willowbrook (St. Cloud State)
• Terrence Shannon, 6-6, Lincoln Park (Woodstock Academy Prep)
• Sam Shafer, 6-6, Lincoln-Way East (Southern Illinois)
• Jalen Shaw, 6-9, Larkin (Triton College)
• Dannie Smith, 6-5, Orr (Link Year Prep School)
• Malachi Smith, 6-2, Belleville West (Wright State)
• Kenny Stawbridge, 6-3, Rockford Lutheran (UMKC)
• Morgan Taylor, 6-1, Marist (Incarnate Word)
• Kaleb Thornton, 6-0, Bolingbrook (Woodstock Academy Prep)
• Nas Turner, 6-6, Kenwood (Northern Michigan)
• Ben Wolf, 6-8, Naperville Central (Northern Michigan)
• Jake Wolfe, 6-4, Aurora Christian (Lipscomb)
• Zion Young, 6-3, Simeon (Western Illinois)

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