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PAT BENNINGER OF MIDSTATEHOOPS.COM GOES OFF THE RECORD TO GIVE SOME MUSINGS ON RECRUITING AS IT PERTAINS TO SOME OF THE STATE’S TOP TALENT:

I am very shocked to see Jeremy Leonard (De La Salle) go as far under the radar as he has.  He is a solid guard that has proven he could be an immediate impact player at the mid major level.  He could also fit well in some high major programs.  At 6’2″ he brings good size and strength to the floor and is very poised.  He can handle it and is a great passer and 3-point shooter.  There isn’t much the kid can’t do yet it seems St. Louis and Marquette are the only schools who have showed considerable interest.  He played with The Supreme Kings this past summer so didn’t get a lot of exposure but I’d urge all high majors and mid majors to jump on this kid…he’s the definition of a sleeper.

Donald Stewart saw his stock drop a bit competing with Spiece Indy Heat this year (due to lack of exposure, not level of play) but it shouldn’t stop coaches from evaluating the 6’5″ 190 lbs combo guard.  Stewart can handle and distribute the ball and can score from beyond the arch and off the drive.  He’s very long and rebounds better than a lot of guards due to his size.  He is also a very good defensive player.  Perhaps his best asset is his leadership ability.  He seems to find ways to win.  When discussing Champaign Central everyone talks about Verdell Jones III, and rightfully so, but this kid is no slouch.  He’s got offers from Indiana State and Tennessee Tech while Chattanooga, James Madison, and Oakland have shown heavy interest.  I think he’ll be a great addition to any mid major program and would have a chance to start right a way at that level.

Speaking of Verdell Jones III, I’m hoping Bruce Weber is going at him hard with the recent loss of Darius Miller (Kentucky).  Since Jones is a consensus top 150 player with good height at the guard position and is right in their backyard, there is no reason not to try to grab him.  He’s a great redshirt candidate and will be a good backup or backcourt teammate for Demetri McCamey.  I think there is still a chance for a solid 2008 class for the Fighting Illini with all the established high school and JUCO talent showing interest in the program, I’m just hoping the staff will close the deal, which I think they are capable of doing, especially with 6’5″ Mario Little of Chipola.

Bloomington senior Darieus Perry was nothing more than a sparingly used role player last season but had an outstanding July evaluation and picked up an offer from Southern Missouri State (a D2 going to D1 in the 2008-09 season).  UMKC and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville are highly interested as well.  Duquesne has also stepped up their interest.  Chicago State and Central Florida are two others who are actively involved.

If a school needs a player with some real size there are a couple unheralded prospects available in the 2008 class.  Steve Goins is a 6’10” 250 lbs center with a wide body and good strength.  He rebounds well and is improving his shooting touch and footwork.  He’s a project but he has a chance to make some noise after a couple years of Division I development.  He attended Chicago Leo last season but has been rumored to have transferred to Chicago Curie.  Bloom Township just produced 6’8″ Delvon Johnson (Western Illinois) and now have 6’10” Jawan Nelson.  Nelson is a lot more polished than Johnson and has a lot more size but isn’t nearly as athletic.  He takes up space and moves well and a lot of colleges have begun to take a gander.  6’10” 215 lbs Trey McCorkle (Bismarck-Henning) and 6’9″ 265 lbs Ryan Connelly (Springfield Lanphier) could also make some smaller Division I schools happy campers.

If any colleges out there were disappointed that they loss out on Demond Watt (who was one heckuva player) to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi now is your chance to get another one…Proviso West forward Byron Woods has a game that greatly resembles Demond’s.  Though Woods isn’t as strong, he’s a relentless rebounder and a tenacious shot blocker.  He has the agility of a perimeter player, is a hard worker, and is always active.  At a bouncy 6’7″ I’d say he’d be a great pickup for a mid major team that needs a rebounder.

Isiah Nunn of Moline is a player who doesn’t always get his respect but he has proven to me that he’s a Division I talent.  He’s 6’6″, long, and extremely athletic.  His skill development has been very consistent over the past two years and he has proven that he’s willing to work and earn his keep.  I think he could play at the mid major level in time but would be best fit at the smaller Division I level.  If he continues to develop his outside shot and his ball handling, he will be an All-Conference small forward by the time he’s a college junior.  He competed with both Rising Stars and Ft. Sooy-No Limit.

I’m not much of a fan when it comes to undersized power forwards at the Division I level but I think Paris Carter could be very good in the low major ranks as a post and equally as good on the wing at the mid major level.  He’s about 6’5 1/2″ and is very strong and athletic.  He rebounds well and plays an aggressive style of play.  I love his toughness.  He’s been one of the main and most underappreciated factors for the success of a Full Package team that featured Supo Sanni (Homewood-Flossmoor), Iman Shumpert, and Stan Simpson.

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