POINT #1 .... There is no question the City/Suburban Hoops Report has been very critical of the Class of 2009 -- this year's juniors-to-be -- over the past two years. As is usually the case, it's dangerous to project a class very early in their careers. This class was going to challenge the Illinois Class of 1999 as the weakest class we've seen in this state over the last 15-20 years. A lot has changed since the season ended in March.
POINT #2 .... The Class of 2009 still lacks the big-name, no-brainer talent at the top. There is no Top 25 national talent in this group. And the overall depth of the class once you get past the top 10 or 12 players is not very deep. But make no mistake, this class is clearly going to be better than the Class of 1999 as the players in the top dozen have really progressed nicely. The individual jumps made by Diamond Taylor of St. Joseph, Brandon Paul of Warren, Nik Garcia of Niles West and Jordan Walker of Hales Franciscan (formerly of Champaign Central) have helped elevate the status of this class.
POINT #3 .... The class remains very guard heavy, with only Eureka's Jordan Prosser being a high-major big man talent. But in the end we could end up seeing a dozen players in this class end up playing in high-major conferences before it's all said and done, something I would have never have projected a year ago at this time. So here is an updated list of how the Hoops Report sees the Class of 2009 following summer play.
1. Diamond Taylor, 6-3, 2G, Westchester (St. Joseph) .... Still needs to gain weight, strength but is the best pure scorer in the class. He has so much untapped ability, which will be showcased the more he plays and the stronger he gets.
2. Marcus Jordan, 6-2, PG/2G, Chicago (Whitney Young) .... Hoops Report has liked Marcus a little more than others based on what he brings to the floor each time--focus, physical strength, and plays hard. All his skill levels continue to improve every time you see him play.
3. Jordan Prosser, 6-8, PF, Eureka .... The best big man in the class and size is always coveted.
4. Chris Colvin, 6-2, PG, Chicago (Whitney Young) .... He solidified himself this summer with his consistency. Has shown the ability to play the point and play it pretty well. Has a great knack for getting in the lane with penetration.
5. D.J. Richardson, 6-3, 2G, Peoria (Central) .... Hoops Report wish he would play hard all the time, show the passion on a consistent basis. Nonetheless, he's a talent when he wants to be.
6. Brandon Paul, 6-4, 2G/WF, Gurnee (Warren) .... A gifted athletic wing who has really only begun to blossom. Another player who needs to get after it consistently, especially on the defensive end where he can be a bit lazy. That won't fly this winter with Warren coach Chuck Ramsey.
7. Joseph Bertrand, 6-4, PG/2G, Sterling .... Hoops Report has dropped Bertrand from the top three due to his continued passive play. His upside is as high as anyone in the class, but the productivity should have shown a bit more by now.
8. Darius Smith, 6-1, PG, Chicago (Marshall) .... He's often the forgotten man in this class. But he brings so much to the table. He sees the floor well and gets after you defensively. Still needs to tighten up that perimeter shot.
9. Michael Haynes, 6-6, WF/PF, Chicago (Washington) .... If he can show the ability to play comfortably out on the wing, the sky is the limit for Haynes. He has a tremendous body and terrific athleticism but lacks the ballhandling, decision-making and shooting ability to play outside right now for 30-plus minutes.
10. Nik Garcia, 6-5, 2G/WF, Skokie (Niles West) .... Hoops Report has had this kid high for a long time and now he has shown everyone why. Plain and simple, he puts the ball in the basket. He's a terrific shooter, has size and length and is now showing the ability to put the ball on the floor and little more. Plus, he's more athletic than people give him credit for.
11. D'Mitri Riggs, 6-2, 2G, Bloomington; 12. Jordan Walker, 6-6, PF, Chicago (Hales Franciscan); 13. Cortney Bell, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Lincoln Park); 14. D.J. Cooper, 5-8, PG, Chicago (Hales Franciscan); 15. Tramel Owens, 6-1, 2G, Maywood (Proviso East); 16. Jack Cooley, 6-8, PF/C, Glenview (Glenbrook South); 17. Marcus Rodgers, 6-5, WF, Chicago (Morgan Park); 18. Xavier Humphrey, 6-4, WF, Oak Park (Fenwick); 19. Brian Conway, 6-3, WF, Chicago Heights (Bloom); 20. Anthony Ahlers, 6-6, PF, Putnam County