Barrington's Rapolas Ivanauskas (25) drives to the basket over Conant's Daniel Sotos on Jan. 18. | Jason Glosniak/For Sun-Times Media
With over 40-plus Illinois-based club basketball teams competing in the NY2LA Summer Jam –– the best Midwest event of the July evaluation period –– it was a chance to catch a glimpse of so many Illinois prospects from across the state over the four-day weekend.
While the the City/Suburban Hoops Report will have more from the NY2LA Summer Jam later this week, it has selected one player from each class who starred at the Summer Jam and took advantage of what July has to offer –– the opportunity to be seen and raise their reputation.
Class of 2015: Tyler Hall, Rock Island
There seems to be two different types of breakthrough performers in July –– the one who comes completely out of nowhere and the one you’ve patiently been waiting on who finally busts through.
Tyler Hall is the latter.
The Rock Island senior guard certainly hasn’t been an unknown. Even though Hall doesn’t play in the Chicago area or for one of the high-profile club programs in this state, he’s been mentioned, ranked and evaluated by plenty of scouts and college coaches over the past 12-18 months. Hall has been among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 20 prospects in the class, and he’s received his fair share of scholarship offers, ranging from low-Division I schools to programs in the Mid-American Conference.
However, after the weekend he put together at the NY2LA Summer Jam in Wisconsin, the City/Suburban Hoops Report will be shocked if all the schools who were him-hawing around are finally getting off the fence when it comes to should we or shouldn’t we offer him. It’s so difficult to find a player who is as pure and polished of a shooter and scorer at his size and position. Plus he’s an outstanding passer with vision.
The smooth-shooting 6-3 guard with beautiful shooting mechanics and an ideal release was dynamic on the offensive end. There were games where Hall scored in every imaginable way –– coming off screens and curls, catch-and-shoot situations, pull-up jumpers, contested shots, shooting it with range and finishing around the basket. It’s so clean off his hand you expect it to go in each time he takes good shots.
There are times he will take some wild shots, and he’s going to have to pick things up on the defensive end. But Hall is surely a talent that warrants a lot more looks this final weekend of the July evaluation period from those who have yet to see much of him. He’s talented enough and college coaches are always in need of a pure shooter.
Hall was so impressive at times this past weekend he looked the part of a top 10 player in this Class of 2015 in Illinois.
Class of 2016: Rapolas Ivanauskas, Barrington
The 6-8 junior was already among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top five prospects in the Class of 2016, yet the up-and-coming forward continues to get better and better every time you watch him. Promise, intrigue and upside are inserted in any conversation regarding Ivanauskas, who the Hoops Report profiled here in April.
Physically, he’s underdeveloped and far from the point of where he needs to be and will ultimately get. However, that’s part of what makes him so enticing as it’s exciting to start projecting him when his body fills out and he adds the much-needed strength.
Ivanauskas has some ability to put it on the floor, possesses a great deal of scoring acumen and versatility as a skilled, face-up 4-man. You also won’t find many players at his age who are as advanced in using both hands around the basket. He will knock down a mid-range jumper, extend out to the three-point line on occasion and is just getting better in every facet of his game.
It’s safe to say Ivanauskas will ultimately be a high-major player at the end of the day and one who will push St. Joseph’s Nick Rakocevic for that top spot in the Class of 2016 in Illinois.
Class of 2017: Justin Smith, Stevenson
The 6-5 forward, who played a small role off the bench for a loaded Stevenson team this past year that finished third in the state, impressed at the Summer Jam. Playing with the Playground Elite, Smith had a knack for making a variety of plays, whether it was rebounding, blocking shots or finishing around the rim.
Blessed with a big-time body for a young player and some athleticism to go with it, the next step for Smith, one of the Hoops Report’s top five prospects in the Class of 2017, is to become more comfortable on the perimeter and consistent with the jumper, along with the natural progression of assertiveness.
Class of 2018: Tim Finke, Champaign Centennial
While the City/Suburban Hoops Report has labeled Carbondale’s Darius Beane as the top in-state prospect in the incoming freshman class, Centennial’s Tim Finke is right up near the top.
The 6-4 guard, who is the younger brother of current Illinois freshman Michael Finke, has some serious basketball tools for a young player and puts them all on display while playing with the Illinois Irish. He showcased his talents at the NY2LA event and is poised to be an impact player sooner than later at the high school varsity level.
Finke already possesses a high skill level, including the ability to shoot with range, pass and put it on the floor well. You wonder where he will be and what type of player he might become if he gets anywhere close to the size of his 6-10 brother.
(The City/Suburban Hoops Report will take a lengthy look at all the top performers from the NY2LA Summer Jam later this week.)
Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport
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