Posted On: 05/3/18 3:00 PM
PrepHoopsIllinois headed to Indianapolis this past weekend for the Nike EYBL and Under Armour Association. It was a great weekend of hoops. What are some the things we learned? Find out here!
Fire and Meanstreets Rivalry is Still Alive
The rivalry between the two Nike programs in Chicago is still alive and well. The two met up on Saturday night at EYBL with a ton of coaches and Chicago fans in attendance. We thought it might lose a little of its luster with only seven true 2019 Illinois prospects seeing the floor, but it was intense from the jump. Mac Irvin Fire stormed out to a big lead, but Meanstreets rallied to get the win. It had everything you expect out of a Fire vs Meanstreets game. High level play. Trash talking from players, coaches, and fans. An intense desire to win by both teams. One of the best games of the weekend!
Kahlil Whitney Looks Like McDonald’s All-American
This Chicago native who started off his high school career at Solorio and is now at Roselle Catholic (NJ) put on an absolute show over the weekend! He has continued to get stronger in his upper body and the athleticism is still there. His skill level has improved tremendously which has allowed him to score with jumpers consistently and win off the dribble. He looked like a McDonald’s All-American.
Francis Okoro Nearing a Decision
The state’s top 2019 prospect is nearing a decision. He took an official visit to Oregon a few weeks back and literally drove from West Lafayette to Indy after his Purdue official. Okoro says he wants to see Illinois for an unofficial visit and then will make a call. Whatever program gets him is landing a game changer inside with his physicality, rebounding, and offensive potential.
2020 Class Nationally Looking Strong
The 2019 class nationally at the top is just ok. It doesn’t have quite the pop that some recent classes have had. In many ways similar to last year’s class. The 2020 group is a game changer however! With the NBA eying a potential of allowing high school prospects to enter straight out of 12th grade there is a strong possibility that a lot of players we saw this week could be in the mix for first round spots. Some of them include N’Faly Dante, Josh Chistopher, Scottie Barnes, Jalen Johnson, Moses Moody, RJ Hampton, Bryan Antoine, Anthony Edwards, Josh Green, Nico Mannion and more. Right now Dante and Hampton have the inside track to be potentially the #1 overall pick.
Phenom University Impresses On Big Stage at 16U Level
Speaking of 2020’s Phenom University out of Wisconsin put on a show in their game at the main venue on Saturday afternoon. This group is loaded with high major talents led by 2020 Jalen Johnson who is a 6’8” point forward is outstanding vision and scoring pop. He is complimented well by elite 2021 6’8” small forward Pat Baldwin Jr who can flat out shoot it from deep and is so projectable long term! Jamari Sibley and Desmond Polk also came up with big games for Phenom.
Indy Heat Front Court Duo Both Five-Star Talents
The two best prospects in the Indiana 2019 class went to work at EYBL. Keion Brooks and Trayce Jackson-Davis are both posts that play off each other well. Brooks is a versatile face up four that can stretch the floor with his shooting, take guys off the bounce, and use quickness around the hoop. Jackson-Davis is a more traditional back to the basket player, but was impressive showing improved athleticism around the rim. Dynamic inside duo for Indy Heat!
DJ Jeffries is Impact Recruit for Kentucky
There has been a lot of talk about James Wiseman for Bluff City, but we came away very impressed with what DJ Jeffries did for the Tennessee based EYBL program. Jeffries is a mismatch that can play both the three and four. He is physical down low and can attack off the bounce. Kentucky got a great early pledge in Jeffries.
Stars Shined at UAA on Sunday
At Under Armour on Sunday I saw some of the top prospect that I haven’t seen in person and for the most part they really shined. Mudiay Elite’s RJ Hampton was unguardable showing a complete offensive game passing and scoring at will. Nico Mannion displayed the vision and swagger we had heard about. Bryan Antoine is a big and physical scoring wing that went off. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was dominant in a number of ways for KC Run GMC. Anthony Edwards went nuts in the second half scoring 43 points against the Illinois Wolves.
Tom Welch Continues to Produce and Rack Up Offers
From an in-state prospective one of the most intriguing storylines of the spring has been the play of Naperville North’s Tom Welch. He has been a mainstay in the top 30 throughout his career, but is prepared to take a major bump in the next update. He has gotten stronger, is playing more aggressive, and is physical around the hoop both scoring as well as rebounding. That has translated into offers as he has picked up around eight offers in the last week and a half from low and mid-major programs.
National Talent vs Illinois Talent
After watching EYBL and UAA for three days one thing that we already knew was made crystal clear. Illinois just doesn’t have the elite national talent at the five-star, four-star, or three-star levels that it used too. Seeing some of these players made me think about the days when the 8-10 players in Illinois were no brainer high-majors. Those days are long gone. There are a lot of parents, players, and travel team coaches that think their sons are no doubt D1 players. Watch a day at either of these events and reevaluate! The classes of 2019 and 2020 are definitely not up to par in Illinois on a national level right now.
Facilities to Host Major Events in Illinois
I went to two amazing facilities with Nike being in Westfield just north of Indy and UAA in Fishers which is northeast of the city. Both venues were outstanding with eight courts at Nike and six at Under Armour. These venues were built to host events like this. Over the years many of my colleagues and I have talked about how nice it would be to have a venue in Illinois where these events could come too. You need at least six courts, shot clocks, enough parking, and hotel accommodations in the area. Also enough space on each court for fans, media, and college coaches. Maybe one day we will have a shoe circuit event in Illinois! They say if you build it they will come!