July Storylines in Illinois


Posted On: 07/1/18 6:00 AM

It is officially July!  What does that mean?  The SUMMER OF LEBRON….oh wrong channel.  The turning of the calendar to July means that the July live period is just around the corner.  These are three five day periods where college coaches can evaluate prospects.  Here we take a look at some of the storylines heading into this critical month.


Illinois Players at Peach Jam

Meanstreets and Brad Beal Elite 17U both qualified for the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam in North Augusta.  While Meanstreets has a lot of its stars from out of state there are still quite a few in-state products with Lance Jones, Marquise Walker, Chris Payton, and Keeshawn Chambers.  BBE is led by three studs from Illinois in Oregon commit Francis Okoro who we expect this to be his final tournament before he officially reclassifies to 2018, #1 2019 EJ Liddell from Belleville West, and #4 Terrence Hargrove out of East St. Louis.  They have a chance to make some noise.  Also worth watching is Meanstreets 16U squad who features the three of the top six prospects in the 2020 group in DJ Steward, Tyler Beard, and Ahron Ulis.


EJ Liddell Narrow Things Down?

The state’s top prospect in Belleville West power forward EJ Liddell.  The reigning Mr. Basketball and state champion will be playing his final three tournaments on the circuit over the next few weeks.  Although many think his recruitment is down to a Bragging Rights Battle it really isn’t and at this stage there is no clear leader or firm group at the top.  We will look to see if that solidifies as he gets closer to cutting his list before taking visits.




Commitment Watch

Only a pair of commitments on the board in 2019 right now with Markese Jacobs long standing commitment to Kansas along with the recent verbal of Crystal Lake post Alex Timmerman to Bucknell.  Who could be next?  We know that there are at least a pair of big men that are close to pulling the trigger on a commitment.  There always seems to be a few that get shut down right before July or early in the month as schools want to lock down their player before things could blow up.




2019 Breakout Stars

Every July there are several prospects that take it to the next level at literally the most critical month of their playing career.  Who could some of those guys be this July?  No way to tell this early, but here is a guess at some of the contenders for that.  Dajuan Gordon (Curie), Nate Ferguson (Lemont), Marquise Kennedy (Brother Rice), Ray J Dennis (Oswego East), Tujautae Williams (Orr), Antonio Reeves (Simeon), Trey Boston (Downers Grove North), Greg Outlaw (Bogan), etc.




Will 618 Duo Get Some Respect?

Players from southern Illinois that are not in the metro east hardly get the attention they deserve from a lot of media and college coaches.  That needs to change when it comes to a duo from the 618 in Effingham’s Landon Wolfe and Nashville’s Bryce Bultman.  Each is ranked inside the top 30 and for whatever reason haven’t gotten the looks that we believe they deserve at the low-major levels.  Wolfe runs with the Illinois Irish while Bultman is the point man for the Illinois Bears.




Fight for #1 in 2020

Adam Miller from Morgan Park held serve in the latest 2020 rankings at the top, but it continues to get closer and now it is a three way race for that spot.  Miller had a great spring after coming back from an injury closing strong with the Mac Irvin Fire on the 17U level.  DJ Stewart put on shows with Meanstreets 16U team throughout the spring scoring and dishing.  Tyler Beard played better than both of them at the Nike Elite 100 Camp and the Whitney Young standout is looking to make another jump in July.



More 2020 PGs

Reggie Strong, FarragutThe strength of the 2020 class is clearly the point guards and it goes beyond just the three mentioned above.  Ahron Ulis (Marian Catholic), Marcus Watson (Morgan Park), and Reggie Strong (Farragut) are also among the top 8 overall.  We will be watching closely as these three could rack up some offers over the next month.





Which 20020 Bigs Emerge?

We were hoping that in the spring we would begin to see the big men in 2020 separate themselves and others emerge.  Not really the case.  Kenwood’s  Seryee Lewis was the only one that took the bull by the horns and he earned the top spot along with a top 10 overall ranking.  Centers Nate Seputis (Lincoln Way East) and Devon House (Sterling Newman) are in a tight battle for the top five man in the class.  We hope that the rest of the class steps up and a lot of “prospects” turn into productive players.




Max Christie Bonanza Begins

When it comes to the 2021 class at the top it is a wrap!  Rolling Meadows 2021 guard Max Christie is the best and it isn’t close.  He might be the best prospect in the state between the 2019-2021 groups.  The rising sophomore is starting to land offers from regional high-majors and the interest could be growing among blue blood programs.  Expect Christie to come out of the month with an array of offers from coast to coast.




Battle for #2 in 2021

Brandon Weston, PSA Cardinals, Lake Forest AcademyAfter Christie it is really up in the air for the second spot in the 2021 class.  As you will see in the rankings released tomorrow it comes down to a battle between Brandon Weston (Lake Forest Academy) and Ahamad Bynum (Simeon) with two other Illinois Wolves standouts heavily in the mix as well.  Each will have their chance to state their claim this month.





Who is Best in 2022?

We will not have an official ranking for the 2022 class for at least another year, but you can start the debate now…..Amari Bailey or AJ Casey?  Morgan Park’s Amari Bailey has gotten a lot of hype early and on the court he has earned it playing up two age levels and holding his own on the Mac Irvin Fire with a skilled offensive game at 6’4”.  Simeon’s AJ Casey is a big man at 6’7” with size, length, skill, and mobility on both ends of the floor.  Both have insanely bright futures!




Last July for AAU?

Will this be the last July live period for travel team basketball?  It could be with the rumors of the NCAA changing to a camp type setting of 3,000 player camps.  Not ideal for coaches.  Definitely going to be a lot of talk about this in the stands over the next month!