Posted On: 03/10/18 3:00 PM
We evaluated over 120+ high school basketball games at PrepHoopsIllinois during the high school basketball regular season. With the season wrapping up we thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the best performances of the season. These are all performances that we saw and not just heard about. Here is part 2 of our 20 Best Performances!
SG Dajuan Gordon (Curie – 2019)
Gordon had one of the best performances of the holiday tournament season at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament in the quarterfinals. The Curie junior was a prospect we were pretty aggressive with his ranking after a strong spring and summer with Team Rose despite having not seen much varsity time. He more than lived up to his top 15 status! Gordon is extremely projectable with a 6’4” long frame with broad shoulders where he will definitely be able to add strength. Still fairly thin. His athleticism jumps off the floor. Explosive with the ball in his hands winning off the bounce and getting to the cup. He is learning how to finish in different ways including a euro step. Also is improving as a rebounder getting on the glass for offensive put backs. He is going to be a plus shooter long term with a clean release. Defensively if he wants to lock in he can be really good. Gordon went for 21 points and 8 boards.
SG Evan Myers (Carmel – 2019)
Myers was one of the breakout players of the final day at the Centralia Holiday Tournament. In their morning game in the annex Myers woke everybody up with his perimeter shooting. He drilled five triples in the first half off the catch. Continued that shooting into the second half and made some key free throws as well. Mixed in an and-1 late. He had 27 points in their win over Confluence.
PF EJ Liddell (Belleville West – 2019)
Liddell was an absolute force on his way to leading Belleville West to the championship and earning MVP honors at the Centralia Holiday Tournament. The 6’7” power forward has gotten stronger especially in his upper body. He was aggressive from the jump in both games we saw. He got deep post position almost every time down the floor and finished with an array of post moves. Really liked the short turnaround jumper. Several spin moves in the lane. Ball handling has improved looking extremely smooth attacking from the mid-range and even beyond the arc on occasion. Finished multiple monster slams above the rim. Works well in the pick and roll in the few times he was put in those positions. Didn’t shoot it much from three in the first game, but connected from beyond the arc in the final. With all that said where he might have been best was on the glass gobbling up rebounds at an insane rate on both ends. Offensively he grabbed a lot of boards and then converted second chance opportunities. An area that we noticed significant improvement was his passing. He made quite a few quality dishes including cross court out of the post to shooters. Defensively he showed he is one of the better shot blocking prospects in the 2019 class projecting the rim well in both games. His stat line in the semi against Alton was 24 points, 8 rebounds, 8 blocks, and 5 assists. In the championship game he had 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
PG Jack Marinko (Edwardsville – 2018)
The 6’0” point guard is a tough and scrappy leader that elevates the play of those around him. As a scorer he is a capable three point shooter especially off the catch. In this game he did most of his damage getting to the basket in both the half court and transition. Crisp handles in traffic and his speed allow him to get to the rim where he finishes well around traffic. He has a repertoire of scoring moves inside with runners, floaters, scoop shots, and acrobatic layups. Despite his scoring barrage he is also a quality passer. Shows a feel for getting others and really understands his team’s offense and where others should be. Pushes it in transition and finds his teammates. Marinko had 32 points and 6 dimes against TF North.
PF Dusan Mahorcic (Niles Notre Dame – 2018)
From a physical standpoint Mahorcic has legit size and length for the four position at the college level. About 6’8” with long arms. The first thing that jumps off the floor about him is his athleticism and ability to run the floor. He flashed that over the summer, but seemed to still be learning how to use his body and wasn’t all the way coordinated. That has changed. He is confident out there and it is showing. Mahorcic runs the floor tremendously well. Many of his scores came by simply running the floor hard and being rewarded with passes. Several times he finished with layups and a couple others he caught it farther away from the hoop so he shot a sweeping runner. Looked very fluid getting up and down the court. The coordination has really improved catching passes in traffic with his strong hands and goes right up for finishes. In the post he created deep post position before the catch and also sealed well in the high/low. He didn’t start this game for whatever reason, but the first three times he touched the ball he scored in the post. Quick and skilled moves on the block. He can handle it a bit out of the mid and high post with a couple quick dribble and long strides to the hoop. Got fouled a few times and was just ok at the line. Would like to see him improve a bit more there. He flashed the ability to shoot it over the summer, but he only took one jumper in this game and missed it. Solid second jump recording a couple offensive rebounds. Did a nice job defensively on the glass rebounding in his area with toughness. On that end of the floor he showed mobility and lateral quickness being able to stay with a guard Kenny Strawbridge on several occasions staying in front of him. Shot blocking presence when guarding his man using his length and timing. He finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
SF Landon Wolfe (Effingham – 2019)
Wolfe is a one man show for Effingham. This isn’t the Effingham team last year that featured his brother and another excellent small college prospect. The 6’5” small forward made huge strides over the summer and has taken another leap in his game as a junior. He is a smooth shot creator that can get his jumper off from pretty much anywhere on the floor and knows how to create space. Moves well without the ball to get open coming off screens and curls. Always ready to shoot as soon as the ball touches his hands. Also has the ability to create his own shot pulling up and taking it to the hoop with solid handles and strength. Soft touch on his three point shot with a lot of arc. He can post up against small defenders with quick moves inside. Wolfe is a quality wing rebounder. Just a tough kid that is a bucket getter. He had 33 points against Centralia in an opening round loss at the SIT.
SF Javon Williams (Centralia – 2018)
Williams might be playing football in college, but he is quite a high school basketball player. He was absolutely dominant against Effingham as the Flaming Hearts had no answer for him in the quarterfinals at the Salem Invitational Tournament. The 6’2” Williams is a thick bodied wing that doesn’t have much projectability, but that doesn’t matter on the high school level. He opened by drilling three triples in the opening minutes. Williams is a consistent shooter from three off the catch. Not as good off the bounce. He is a tough to stop when he is going downhill and getting to the rim. Did that on a number of occasions using his superior strength to run over defenders for buckets. Williams is also a beast on the glass. Grabbed several offensive rebounds for put backs. His passing also shined through in this contest. He made several fantastic finds to cutters within the Orphans offense. He had 35 points in a win.
Talen Horton-Tucker (Simeon – 2018)
Iowa State commit Talen Horton-Tucker started off a bit slow against Curie on their home floor, but then he got it rolling. The 6’5” small forward has a strong body, but has slimmed down throughout his career and his athleticism has reached levels quite honestly we didn’t see at a young age in his career. He is an incredibly tough cover off the bounce with his size, strength, and handles in traffic. Shifty in short spaces and can finish through contact. THT had several monster jams including a transition one where he crossed his man and took off a good distance away from the hoop. He did manage to connect on a few tough step backs. Finished with 24 points.
DJ Steward (Fenwick – 2020)
The long and rangy point guard is one of the two elite prospects in the state of Illinois in the sophomore class. His length played a huge factor on the defensive end in this contest. He got steals and deflections on quite a few occasions and then used his elite speed in transition to score at the other end. So fast in the open floor! His jumper wasn’t on most of the night although he did hit a corner three. Most of his points came on drives to the hoop where he finished with acrobatics at the rim. This kid just has that “it” factor you can’t teach. Steward finished with 25 points in the win over DePaul Prep.
C Francis Okoro (Normal West – 2019)
The top 2019 prospect in Illinois opened the day at the O’Fallon Shootout with a dominant performance. Okoro stands at 6’9” with a college ready body right now. What impressed me so much about him is how hard he plays at all times. Okoro runs the floor insanely well for a player of his size. He fights and claws for post position every time down the floor despite having defenders draped all over him. Understands how to give his guards a big target to throw the ball into. He had quick and assertive moves throughout the game. Opened the first possession with a spin and slam. Consistently got deep post position which opens up so many avenues for him to score. Powerful finisher on the interior that also showed some touch on a hook shot. At times he did lose the ball when bringing it too low. Connected on a mid-range jumper and is an excellent free throw shooter for a post. The best part of Okoro’s game is the way he rebounds. Yes, the opponent wasn’t the tallest, but he high points every board and grabs it with two hands then throws a crisp outlet. Okoro is one of the premier 2019 rebounders in the country. Elite rebounder in traffic. Defensively he only had one block, but he altered many others throughout the game. His final stat line was 24 points (9-11 FG), 13 rebounds, and 1 block.