So it has been well known for a while that the class of 2016 isn’t stellar with the D1 talent that the state has become known for over the years. What are this group’s strengths and weakness as a class?
One of the strengths that stands out is the depth at the point guard position. It is led by the state’s new top 2016 prospect in Morgan Park point guard Charlie Moore. The lead guard is the only high major prospect, but is followed by potentially seven more division one players and double digit division two prospects. They come in different shapes, sizes, and skill sets. There are scoring point guards like Devin Gage, Micah Bradford, and Jarrin Randall. Then you have pass first lead guards like Tommy Lucca and Matty Smith. Other D1 prospects that have a nice balance include Mike Smith and Tarkus Ferguson.
The overall depth at the D2, D3, and NAIA levels has a chance to be very good. For D2 programs there are quite a few tweener kids positionally that might fall down to that level because they don’t look the part, but will be a standout at the right school. The D3 and NAIA ranks have a lot of tough kids that might not have the upside, but they are competitors and you know exactly what you are getting.
A position at the small school level that has a chance to be above average is the post. You have a lot of D3 and NAIA prospects that fit the mold. Some kids that just outwork their opponents and are productive that will be great at that level include Ethan Pogge, Jack Clausel, Jordan Cunningham, Ammar Becar, and Matt Mahlke. There are also several bigs at that level that present some upside and might have their best hoops ahead of them like Zach Grady, Peter Blust, Bryant Jefferson, and Donovan Ferguson.
The most glaring weakness is the lack of elite national prospects. In recent years the state has had five stars such as Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander, and Jalen Brunson. There is no prospect like that this year. This class features five high major prospects that are considered top 150 kids when comparing them to players across the nation, but no one that is a potential one and done.
When you look at the state of Illinois in the past three years with the 2013, 2014, and 2015 groups there were around 50 potential division one prospects in each class. Not all of those players ended up there for various reasons, but they had that type of talent. This group currently has around 30 prospects that are under consideration at the D1 level.
The position that lacks much depth at all is the small forward spot. There are a few prospects at the top who stand above the rest, most of which have already committed. After that there is just not the number of prospects that you like to see at any of the various college levels.