It's just about time for high school basketball season to start, so that means it's time for the post-summer rankings for the top prospects of each respective class to come out. Our very first feature will be the Top 25 Prospects For 2008 In The State Of Illinois.
Much has happened to the Illinois Class of 2008 since the last rankings came out in the spring, as five-star prospect DeAndre Liggins, four-star prospect Jeremiah Kelly, and three-star prospect Jelani Poston all have gone to Prep Schools outside the state, allowing for much movement, and new faces, in this set of rankings.
The top prospect for the 2008 class is none other than Oak Park-River Forest point guard Iman Shumpert, who will be heading to Georgia Tech. Iman has the ability to play both guard spots effectively and efficiently, and has no real flaws to his game. It's our belief that he should be Mr. Basketball in the State of Illinois. But if he was challenged, it would be by the second rated player in the state, Farragut center Michael Dunigan. Dunigan has always been a defensive force, but he has shown recent progress in his offensive game around the basket, and complements it with outstanding leadership skills on the court. This future Oregon Duck is going to be a force in the Pac-10.
The third selection is brand new to these rankings, because he is brand new to this state and country. Our selection is 7'1" Lake Forest Academy center Aziz N'Diaye, who has a chance to be the best prospect in this 2008 class. Already a defensive monster, he possesses outstanding athleticism and a very promising offensive game.
Our fourth selection is someone with a polished offensive game who will be heading to Saint Louis University. Vienna center Brett Thompson has an amazing back-to-the-basket game. He is able to make a hook shot with either hand and also has range out to the arc.
Rounding out the top five is Champaign point guard Verdell Jones, who has seen his stock skyrocket recently. The 6'4" lanky point guard has the ability to do anything off the dribble, has an amazing three point shot, and has been trying to improve his speed and quickness.
Our sixth and eighth picks are both going to join Michael Dunigan at Oregon.
Humphrey is a rangy athletic guard that excels in the fullcourt, defends well, and has a streaky shot from the perimeter. Crittle is a powerful forward with a face-up and back-to-the-basket game who possesses very soft hands and nice touch. For not being overly athletic, Crittle knows how to position himself for rebounds.
Our seventh and ninth picks are also going to be college teammates. John Shurna and Nick Fruendt are each committed to Northwestern.
Shurna might have shot up the rankings more than anyone in the state. He was a relative unknown this time last year but is now one of the best in his class.
Shurna has an outstanding inside-out game, and increased strength will make him a terror at the college level.
Fruendt has long been compared to Duke guard Jon Scheyer. Both are the same height and have similar skills.
Fruendt possibly moves better without the ball than anyone in his class, and has a killer midrange game. Both future Northwestern Wildcats will excel in the Big Ten.
Rounding out the top ten is Purdue-bound point guard Lewis Jackson.
Jackson is possibly the most athletic, and most exciting, player in the country. As fast as a jet in the open floor, he is able to break defenses apart in the halfcourt and play above the rim, even though he is just 5'9".
His only weakness is his perimeter jumper, but Lewis has shown dramatic improvements after working hard at it over the summer.
The next ten players on the list have the potential to crack the top ten and are every bit as talented.
This list starts with Simeon power forward Stan Simpson, who recently committed to Illinois. Simpson has a raw offensive game, but is a very good rebounder, and the transition of moving to Simeon should help him refine his offensive abilities. Carl Richard is next. He has taken his game to a new level, morphing from just an athlete into a well rounded basketball player.
Committed to Indiana State, he may very well turn into a high major talent and be a major force in the Missouri Valley.
Point guard Kevin Dillard, who is committed to Southern Illinois, should also excel in the Missouri Valley.
The heady point guard has turned it up a notch this summer with his Meanstreets AAU club and has developed an outstanding outside shot.
The next two guards on the list have flown under the radar most of the AAU season, but have high major games. Dion Dixon has shown glimpses of being a star at Crane. He is able to get to the basket at will and shows a very nice outside shot.
Ryan Hare has shown tremendous athleticism in the open floor, and possibly uses the baseline better than any Illinois prospect in the last ten years. Dixon is still uncommitted, while Hare is headed to Oregon State.
The next three prospects are not just great shooters; they are elite ones. Possibly the worst shooter out of the three, but the better prospect, is point guard John Moran of Jacobs.
He has an outstanding jumper, especially from midrange, and excels on the defensive end. There still are questions about whether he is a pure point guard, but he should be able to play either guard spot in the Missouri Valley.
Matt Roth was offered by Indiana University because he's the best outside threat in the entire country. He still needs to refine his game, but will be able to produce from the perimeter from day one.
Possibly the prospect with the most potential from these three is Dayton-bound forward Luke Fabrizius, who at 6'9" is possibly the second best shooter in the country.
Once he adds strength/weight, he could become an unstoppable force in the A-10.
Barnes, who is the teammate of top-prospect Shumpert, has amazing athletic ability and an improving outside shot, but plays out of control at times.
The 6'" Lindfors plays in the post, has an amazing outside shot, and just needs to add strength to be able to dominate at the college level.
Rounding out the Top 25 are Tyler Storm, Jeremy Robinson, Rob Belcore, A.J. Rompza, and Kevin Stineman.
Storm is a high IQ player who should be able to play three positions in the MAC. Jeremy Robinson shows a lot of athletic potential and could become a great role player in the Missouri Valley.
Belcore should be a top-notch sniper in the Ivy League.
Rompza should be a very good point guard at Central Florida if he adds much-needed strength, and Stineman has taken the challenge of heading to SIU-Edwardsville, a program that will be Division I his freshmen year.
Stay tuned for the 2009 Illinois Rankings, which Blue Demons Nation shall have shortly.