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Posted On: 03/19/18 5:00 PM
PrepHoopsIllinois evaluated the 4A State Finals this weekend. Check out our evaluations of all the prospects at the event from the semifinal round!
SG Javon Freeman (Whitney Young)
This top 10 wing lived up to that billing with his play in Peoria. The long and angular wing sliced and diced his way through the Evanston defense willing his team to the win. He opened up the game getting a pair of steals and taking them the other way for scores. Length and anticipation allows him to get steals. He got in the paint pretty much whenever he wanted in this contest. Scored on multiple acrobatic layups. Freeman didn’t shoot any threes in this game. Did a nice job on the defensive glass. Finished with 25 points (11-13 FG). He is headed to Valpo next season.
PG Xavier Castaneda (Whitney Young)
Castaneda is the other star senior on the Dolphins. The South Florida commit pushed it in transition and scored from the mid-range on one nice shot flashing to the free throw line. He was solid going for 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 dimes.
SG Malachi Smith (Belleville West)
This Wright State commit struggled shooting it at state. The top 20 prospect was 4-11 from the field in the semis. Connected on a pair of mid-range shots and got out in transition. Also didn’t shoot well at the foul line. Sometimes the shooting backdrop in the college arena bothers guys. That might have been the case with Smith. He was active defensively playing nice perimeter defense. Finished with 8 points. Think he will be a nice fit at Wright State to what they have coming back.
C Jalen Shaw (Larkin)
Shaw is the top uncommitted post in the state of Illinois. He showed some of the reasons why at state. The 6’10” post has great physical size and length. Solid athlete that has a bit of coordination problems at times, but runs the floor pretty well. He is still raw in some aspects, but has made strides over the last year. Shaw scored on a nice up and under along with getting on the glass for a pair of tip ins. Against Liddell and Randolph he was effective getting on the offensive glass. Defensively he had one block. He got in foul trouble in this contest. Shaw finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Coveted JUCO prospect.
SG Anthony Lynch (Larkin)
Lynch was also in foul trouble throughout picking up his third early in the second quarter which limited his aggressiveness. He is a crafty wing that has the ability to score well in the mid-range. The top 50 senior is a sound pull up shooter from 15-18 feet. Played with the ball in his hands a lot in this game making several nice passes. Lynch had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 dimes. Projects as a quality D2 prospect.
PF Matt Hall (Evanston)
Hall had the game of his career in the semifinals against Whitney Young. The 6’7” power forward displayed potential early in his career, but never quite developed like we thought he might. On the big stage he played excellent. Hall got on the glass at a high rate especially on the offensive end with multiple put backs. High pointed boards in traffic. Showed some touch around the hoop. He had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Hall is worth a look as a developmental big at the D3/NAIA level.
PF EJ Liddell (Belleville West)
The state’s most dominant junior prospect showed why to a state wide audience in the semis. He opened the game with two triples pulling up with great confidence off the bounce. It was his official arrival to fans that hadn’t seen him. Became his school’s all-time leading scorer a bit later on a quick post move where he finished with a monster dunk. Liddell is just so quick and fundamentally sound with his post moves. Knows how to draw contact and finish through it. Multiple and-1s. Defensively he set the 4A single game record in this contest. On back to back possessions he had four blocks alone. Great timing and anticipation from Liddell. Underrated passer that makes sound decisions out of the post finding teammates. He had 24 points (7-12 FG) and 7 blocks. High-major player.
PF Keith Randolph (Belleville West)
Randolph is the other intimidating presence inside for Belleville West. At 6’6” he has broad shoulders and tremendous strength. He was dominant in the semis against Larkin. The junior played physical on the interior getting on the glass for second chance opportunities. Scored on a couple post ups and got to the foul line where he shot better than he did during the season. Randolph is a plus rebounder. He had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Currently holds over a dozen D1 football offers so will go that route in college, but if he would decide to play hoops instead he would be a D2+ prospect with the chance to elevate into low-major as a senior.
PG Lawrence Brazil (Belleville West)
Brazil is the unsung player in the starting lineup. The lead guard is at his best playing off Liddell and Randolph inside with his perimeter shooting. Spot up shooter that hit a pair in this game from deep. Went for 8 points. Brazil is a small college kid at the next level.
PG Pierre Black (Larkin)
Black is a shooting point guard that plays mostly off the ball. He is a plus spot up shooter coming off the bench going 5-9 from three point range. The junior got scorching hot in the second half trying to get his team back in the game. Moves well without the ball and relocating to get clean looks. He had 15 points. Small college prospect.
SG Myles Baker (Whitney Young)
Baker is a top 10 junior in the state and played like it in the semis. The smooth shooting guard was a major reason his team won the game. Baker made some athletic layups on slick takes to the hoop. When nobody else other than Freeman was scoring he had some key buckets to keep them in the game. Baker did struggle shooting overall going 4-12 from the field including going 0-3 from deep, but definitely made an impact with 10 points. Baker will be a very interesting prospect to watch this spring. He holds an offer from St. Louis as of now.
SG Lance Jones (Evanston)
Jones is a prospect that we have steadily risen up the board to where he is now in the top 20. He is a combo guard with strength and athleticism. Jones really struggled shooting from the field against Whitney going shooting 3-16. Just couldn’t get anything to drop throughout the contest. Hit one wing three and that was about it. We are still believers in Jones heading into the spring as a low-major to mid-major prospect. He had 10 points.
PG Jaheim Holden (Evanston)
Holden is a sub six foot point guard that is quick and shifty with the ball. The lefty like his running mate Jones couldn’t make shots in this game. Jumper just wasn’t falling throughout the contest. He shot 2-13 from the field. The jump shot consistency will definitely have to improve this spring and summer. Like how he works in the pick//roll coming off ball screens and finding teammates. Pesky defender that pressures opposing lead guards at the point of attack. He had 8 points and 5 dimes. Chance to be a D2 prospect.
PG Tyler Beard (Whitney Young)
The #5 2020 prospect in the state didn’t play the majority of the season. When he came back late in the year he was used as a spark off the bench and the point guard did just that against Evanston coming up with three huge plays. Beard high pointed rebounds on the offensive end for put backs. He had multiple and-1s. The explosive guard went for 8 points and 3 boards in limited minutes. He has a chance to make major noise on the circuit and recruiting scene this spring!
SG Blake Peters (Evanston)
With their two junior wings struggling it was the freshman who stepped up on the big stage for Evanston. Peters is a 6’0” shooting guard with a well-built frame. He can really shoot it from the perimeter. Peters caught fire from three going 5-7 from deep. Quick release, deep range, and knows how to set up his shot off movement. More than just a shooter as he has some quickness and athleticism especially when defenders close out hard on him on the perimeter. Interesting to see how his game evolves, but is a candidate to debut in the top 10-15 in the first 2021 rankings.