Archive for the ‘Off the Record’ Category

Pat Logs In

September 7, 2007

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.

DJ Visits Illinois, SIU Offers a Pair

August 16, 2007

DJ Richardson visited the University of Illinois yesterday.  MSH has reason to believe that DePaul is in very good standing with Richardson as is Ohio State

-MSH believes that Anthony Johnson will be visiting Illinois on the same weekend as Chris Colvin.  We think that Both will be offered scholarships.  We do not believe that either will commit at that time but we feel there is a good chance both may commit eventually.

 –SIU offered scholarships to both Jordan Prosser and Nik Garcia.  Garcia is visiting Iowa today.   

Ahmad Starks of Whitney Young and Brandon Spearman of Hales Franciscan both visited Valparaiso Yesterday where both were offered scholarhsips. 

Foggy Forecast: Recruiting Predictions

August 12, 2007

Yes, we know, trying to predict where a kid will play is like trying to predict an NCAA Tournament Bracket.  But we figured, why not?  We all know how fun those brackets are!  So here are the predictions of Pat Benninger and Jason McGee of MidStateHoops.com on some of the top uncommitted prospects in the state of Illinois.  Let the discussion begin.   

Pat Benninger: 

Matt Roth to Indiana.  I think Roth is extremely intrigued by the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten.  He would have really liked to attend Illinois but they were never completely sold on him so never offered.  Bradley and St. Louis were both neck in neck until Sampson came into the picture.

Iman Shumpert  to Marquette.  It comes down to UNC and Marquette for Iman.  The attraction to play for the Tarheels is more than overwhelming to him but he realizes that he has more room to grow as a Golden Eagle.  Thoughts of Dwyane Wade come to mind and he knows he can make a bigger impact on the collegiate scene in blue and gold.

Scott Suggs (Washington, MO) to Illinois.  Washington is a very good situation for Suggs and Coach Romar invisions him being the next Brandon Roy but, at the same time, Scott realizes that there are some problems with in the Huskies system as they are debating over who gets what scholarships.  It should boil down to Illinois and MizzouCoach Mike Anderson has a style that fits Suggs and there is an opportunity to play immediately but the staff is heavily recruiting other players who play his position as well which tells me that Mizzou may not be as viable of an option as most believe.  Coach Weber was one of the first to offer Scott a scholarship and though the Illini have a style that differs from the Tigers it still fits Suggs’ style of play.  The opportunity to play immediately for the Fighting Illini is inevitable and with them lacking the ability to score, the ball will be put in his hands right away.  In addition, UI has a lot of young talent on the perimeter and if they get an inside presence to go along with the 2007 and 2008 recruiting class they have a chance to be big time contenders on the nation scale.

Jason McGee:

Matt Roth to Bradley.  Roth will keep it local and become a Brave.  He is flattered by the attention of an Indiana offer, but realizes that Bradley is the place for him and truly is the school of best fit.  Rick Majerus has done a great job since taking over at SLU, but Roth will ultimately decide to stick with what he knows best, Coach Jim Les. 

Iman Shumpert to Marquette.  Shumpert will eliminate the ACC schools by reasonable deduction.  He will not choose Georgia Tech over North Carolina.  If he went with the ACC, North Carolina would be the pick.  He did not let the Tarheels into his recruitment this late only to say no for another ACC program, Georgia Tech.  But, because he does not feel that he will have the best chance to succeed there, he will choose neither of the schools.  Like Roth, Shumpert is flattered but will stick with the original gameplan.  Marquette has produced plenty of Chicago talent of late and Shumpert plans to be the next in line. 

Scott Suggs (Washington, MO) to Missouri.  Suggs is going to keep it in the Midwest.  That means Washington is out.  They have so many players on scholarship I find it unlikely that a standup coach like Lorenzo Romar would boot out or force away any of his players to make way for a new recruit.  While playing for Illinois is a great proposition,  Suggs will decide to stay local and play for Mizzou.  Coach Anderson plays a style taylor made for Suggs and he knows that he can thrive in his system more than any other.  It will be a tough choice but in the end Suggs will please the local contingent and stay home. 

Pat & Jason: 

Stan Simpson to Arkansas.  Simpson has a lot of family in the Little Rock area and would love to be close to them.  He has a good relationship with former Marshall star Patrick Beverly and likes the SEC style of play.  He visits UA on September 22nd.

Kenyon Smith to Illinois State.  The Redbirds are real big on Smith.  They are the biggest Division I program to offer and the Missouri Valley is awfully hard to turn down.  He fits the style well and loves the facilities and coaching staff.  Easy pick.

Who Has Become the Power in Illinois?

August 3, 2007

In the state of Illinois, there are twelve Division I schools: Bradley, Chicago State, DePaul, Eastern Illinois, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois-Carbondale, Northwestern, Loyola and Western Illinois.  With the addition of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville next season, there will be thirteen.  The most prominent schools in correspondence with their conference are DePaul of the Big East and Illinois of the Big Ten.  However, there are two other programs who are becoming nationally known program in Missouri Valley Conference schools Bradley and Southern Illinois-Carbondale.

Over the past few seasons, Southern Illinois-Carbondale has seen a very high success rate.  They’ve been to the NCAA tournament a boat load of times and made a Sweet Sixteen run last season, only to lose a close battle to a very tough Kansas squad. Coach Chris Lowery has seen success through his defensive play.  However, he has been adding more and more offensive weapons to his program.  This season he added Carlton Fay who rated as the state’s top post player only behind DePaul’s Mac Koshwal.  Additionally, they added Justin Bocot who is a scorer deluxe though he won’t be eligible to participate in college athletics until the 2008-09 season.  The addition of do-it-all point guard, Kevin Dillard, only strengths the Salukis offense.  Look for them to continue to work their way into national supremacy.

DePaul is the biggest school in the Chicago area but their success rate hasn’t been very high in recent years.  Last year, Coach Wainwright picked his efforts back up and added a few big time recruits in 6’4″ Dar Tucker and 6’8″ Mac Koshwal.  Both should be immediate impacts this season.  He also landed Willie Walker and Thijin Moses, two of the best in-state prospect, a season ago.  If the Blue Demons want to be a successful team in the future, they’ll have to continue to pull in big time recruits to compete with the other teams of the Big East Conference.  Also, Coach Wainwright will need to develop players a lot better as Wilson Chandler, an NBA draft pick this past season, didn’t improve much, outside of added body strength, since his high school years.  His draft selection was based a lot on potential.  If Wainwright learns to develop the high quality recruits he has continued to get, DePaul may become the “beast of the Big East”.

The University of Illinois has been the powerhouse school of the state for a long time. However, since their 2nd place run at the beginning of Bruce Weber’s term, it seems that they have been slipping from the top slowly but surely.  Recruiting has been a big question under Coach Weber and staff.  They haven’t been able to land the state of Illinois’ big dog since they took over as they’ve lost Shaun Livingston to Duke (opted for NBA draft), Julian Wright to Kansas, Jon Scheyer to Duke, Sherron Collins to Kansas, and Derrick Rose to Memphis.  Last season it was brutal watching the Fighting Illini on offense.  Hopefully recruits-Demetri McCamey and Rodney Alexander will be able to add more offense though there is a strong sense they will need even more.  2008 prospect, Iman Shumpert, would be an amazing get for the Illini but he has virtually eliminated them despite numerous rumors stating that the staff is still involved.  Additionally, they continue to lose the instate recruits that have been called “Plan B” but have consistently failed to get their “Plan A” players.  Bruce is a good coach with great principles, especially defensively, but his style of play is more suited for a mid major program with a great deal of role players.  The problem is he’s going after the wrong people and isn’t recruiting in-state hard enough.  There’s no reason they should not have the top recruiting class in the state on a year in, year out basis.

Bradley University has been very successful in recent years.  Their trip to the Sweet 16 two seasons ago has helped Coach Les establish himself as one of the top mid major coaches throughout the nation.  He racked up a top 50 recruiting class for this upcoming year and is in position to have an even better class in 2008.  In fact, he has already gotten consideration from a few instate recruits who aren’t considering other instate schools.  Lewis Jackson recently trimmed his list to five and Bradley was included while Illinois and DePaul were not, despite offering him.  Additionally, though the Fighting Illini are seemingly out the BU Braves are still in contention to land 6’4″ super prospect, Iman Shumpert along with North Carolina, Marquette, and a short list of others who have all offered.  They are doing a great job recruiting instate and could see themselves with a class of Shumpert, Jackson, and 6’3″ sharpshooter, Matt Roth.  It would easily be the best 2008 class in the state.

It looks as if the sleeper instate program will be Illinois State.  They’ve probably got the best hire of any mid major this season.  Coach Jankovich is a coach with a winning tradition and an uptempo style of play which will fit the Redbirds much better than the unorthodox style of play Porter Moser used.  He will utilize both his athletes and his shooters to the best of their abilities.  Don’t be surprised if the Redbirds finish in the top three of the MVC this season.  Jankovich’s recruiting efforts have also proved worthy already in the early part of his term as head coach by landing Decatur’s 6’8″ Jeremy Robinson over Big Ten and Big XII programs.

It looks as if the Salukis will have the top team coming into the 2007-08 season and are beginning to build their program to be the state’s best along with Coach Les and the Bradley Braves as it seems both will surpass the Fighting Illini in the near future unless there is a change in bench personnel.  DePaul has a chance to host a very solid season as well and with Tim Jankovich at the head of the ship Illinois State may be on tap to being mentioned with the elite teams in the Midwest in the near future.

AAU and High School Basketball, The Issue of CONTROL!

July 20, 2007

The big issue of AAU is control…who has the control of players? Their parents? Their AAU coaches? Their high school coaches? Shoe companies?

A lot of average high school coaches don’t like AAU basketball because they feel they can’t control and influence their players to the level they want.  Some of them do things such as hold back college letters using the excuse, “we don’t want this to get to their head.”  However, holding mail back is illegal and pursecutable by law but it seems no one has any harsh feelings towards those coaches.

There are some high school coaches out there who coached at the collegiate level, usually as assistants.  Because these coaches have been through the recruiting process, they usually approach the situation pro-AAU.  It is easier to see a great deal of players at the same event against greater competition than see one or two players all the way across the nation against an average high school conference game.

A lot of AAU programs are signed with shoe companies.  This makes it a lot more difficult to make your own decision.  The programs who are filtered money from Nike, adidas, or Reebok usually push their kids to college schools sponsored by those companies, however, in the end it is STILL the player’s decision.  A lot of the AAU coaches in shoe sponsored programs do do some of the things that average high school coaches do including hold back letter and information from certain schools, which is again wrong and illegal, but if a college coach likes you enough, they WILL find a way to contact you. Additionally, if a parent doesn’t like the way their son or daughter is being treated with an AAU program don’t blame all of AAU…get out of that program!  There are many other AAU teams that he/she could join if they are talented enough.  There are good AAU teams out their as well.

From my experiences throughout AAU and travel ball, it seems the best AAU teams are those who are self supported.  This way, there is no outside influences about players’ recruitment.  Usually, these are the teams who have grown up together and the coaches are in it for the best interest of the player.  In these programs, parents are playing an active role and are much involved with the AAU process.  These situations are the best because your children are with coaches you trust.

The bottom line is that AAU basketball has helped a lot of kids.  There are influences in certain programs but the majority of AAU teams are not corrupt as only a small percentage are connected with shoe companies.  Many players who would have settled for Division III basketball playing high school basketball have earned Division I scholarships through AAU and it is a program that cannot be denied.  It is here to stay, love it or hate it.