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Henricksen: Class of 2015 July notebook and review

07/31/2014, 1:45pm CDT
By Joe Henricksen | @joehoopsreport

Whether it was raising their stock or simply holding their own, the Class of 2015 did its job in July. A rundown of how a few of the top players in the senior class fared.

St. Viator's Roosevelt Smart should be picking up more offers soon, the Hoops Report says.

St. Viator's Roosevelt Smart should be picking up more offers soon, the Hoops Report says. | Michael R. Schmidt/For Sun-Times Media

(This is the third in a series looking back at the all-important month of July on the club basketball circuit, which has included features on the summer’s breakout star, Simeon’s Isaiah Moss, and a look at how the Class of 2016 fared in its attempt to open more eyes.)

The amount of information out there now in July when it comes to the club basketball scene and recruiting can be a tad bit nauseating. The Internet sites gobble it up with up-to-date evaluations and stories on players and events.

And with this Twitter thing everyone has an “opinion,” a “fact,” or a “scoop” –– and lets it be known. So many players "blow up" these days it's a wonder there are any players left to play Division III, Division II and NAIA basketball.

Even the players today let us all know what’s happening with constant updates on social media. 

Oh, how I wish it could be like it was when Jimmy Chitwood calmly told the town of Hickory, “I think it’s time I started playing ball again.” 

Imagine Jimmy in the same situation today? He would be all over Twitter and the Internet rather than walking into a meeting announcing to the town folks, “If coach stays, I stay.”

There’s no way around it other than to join the fray of endless July basketball babble. Here’s a City/Suburban Hoops Report July notebook with the focus on the Class of 2015.

Summer’s biggest Class of 2015 jump: Part II

While Simeon’s Isaiah Moss made the biggest, most significant jump this summer –– if you missed my earlier column this week, Moss is a bonafide top 10 prospect in the senior class –– Rock Island’s Tyler Hall was next in line.

The 6-3 shooting guard has the City/Suburban Hoops Report completely sold. That perimeter jumper from 20-23 feet is pure, and he gets it off in a variety of ways –– pull-ups from 15 to 22 feet, in catch-and-shoot situations off curls and screens, along with a quick release –– that makes him such a valuable commodity. 

Hall played too well in July and provides too many assets that translate to the college game not to have earned more offers than he’s received at this point.

You will be hard-pressed to find a prettier looking jumper. He’s a very good passer with vision, he’s grown from 6-1 to 6-3, has played just one year of varsity basketball and his trajectory points straight up as a prospect. Missouri Valley Conference schools here in the Midwest in need of that space-the-floor shooter in that defensive-minded league should be salivating.  

Stock risers and some random Class of 2015 thoughts ...

➥ He’s long been a Hoops Report favorite and is now beginning to receive some long, overdue “Wow, Admiral Schofield is really good” chatter. The offers and interest have grown for the rugged, physically strong 6-5 senior from Zion-Benton with an unorthodox but intriguing and extremely effective game. Expect it to increase even more following July.

St. Viator’s Roosevelt Smart, who had a strong finish to his junior year and has been steady and productive for the Illinois Wolves on the club circuit this spring and summer, should have more going on the recruiting front. He’s put together a pretty solid portfolio for college coaches over the past three years. And at 6-2 he’s an offensive scoring threat who plays hard and still offers upside.

Smart, who the Hoops Report believes is an ideal mid-major plus prospect and should have more schools at that level on him, becomes a priority locally for a program like Loyola. Ramblers coach Loyola coach Porter Moser has offered the shooting guard and will have him on campus in the coming week.

➥ There is a loooooooong list of suitors for Stevenson’s Connor Cashaw, the stuff-a-stat-sheet  6-3 off-guard who played with the Mac Irvin Fire this past July. There may not be a prospect with a wider variety of options when it comes to an individual prospect in the Class of 2015. 

There are several high-academic schools that have offered, including Lehigh, Penn, Dartmouth, Rice, Bucknell and Yale. There are mid-majors and low-majors. There are schools out East (Temple, Boston University, LaSalle) and in the Midwest (Detroit, Bradley, UIC, NIU and Loyola) and in between (Toledo, Bowling Green and Wright State). And there is one school in a BCS conference, Boston College. In total there are close to 20 offers, with interest from Notre Dame, Wichita State and Harvard. 

➥ A befuddling recruitment right now in this state is that of Christian Williams, a guard with tremendous size and length to go with a smooth game and versatility. Could this be a battle between Missouri Valley Conference rivals Bradley and Illinois State? It’s crazy more high-level mid-majors and mid-major plus programs aren’t coveting the 6-5 Williams, who will be transferring to Springfield Lanphier from Decatur St. Teresa for his senior year.

➥ The forgotten man in the Class of 2015? West Aurora’s Roland Griffin. This is a top 20 talent in the class who sat out the entire month of July with an injury, just after committing to Illinois State and coach Dan Muller. While Griffin hasn’t been talked about, he hasn’t been forgotten. Griffin was vastly improving his game and becoming a more polished combo forward.

➥ By the time July rolls around prior to a player’s senior year, everything typically does play out the way it’s supposed to play out on the recruiting front. If a player is talented enough to play at a certain level, they will be found by coaches at that level. But I do wonder if a few players in Illinois played with different AAU teams would they be viewed differently or be recruited differently? 

More than any other year that I can remember, there are a number of players in Illinois being under-recruited. The common theme in past years –– and typically repeated by college coaches –– is “Chicago and the state of Illinois are so over-recruited.” I would agree with that analysis, except when it comes to this Class of 2015.

➥ The interest and list for Simeon's Ed Morrow continues to grow, with Oklahoma State the latest to offer the 6-6 forward. 

➥ Here is the easiest way to describe Collinsville’s Emondre Rickman as he played out July: He’s one of the most improved players in the class. And when you are 6-9 with the frame he possesses, along with the ability to move and catch, the interest soars with the improvement he’s shown. Although he’s still a project and a work in progress, Rickman is far from the player that averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds a game as a junior. That size and potential is extremely intriguing for college coaches from the low-major to mid-major levels. 

➥ Unheralded Jason Gregoire of Cary-Grove, a 6-3 guard who also plays quarterback in football in the fall, put together a solid July for Fundamental U. Although he hasn't received an offer, Gregoire has received varying degrees of interest from Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Elon and Western Carolina.

➥ There are so many players in the Class of 2015 with size, which is an anomaly. But they are also the players no one can seem to make their mind up on. College coaches –– and evaluators –– go back and forth on the big men. 

The problem is finding quality, ready-made bigs is nearly impossible, so it’s a matter of picking the one out of the litter of the half dozen or so bigs they believe has the biggest growth potential and offers the most upside. Thus, players like Rickman, Lake Forest Academy’s 6-10 Diago Quinn, Bolingbrook’s 6-9 Julian Torres, Hinsdale Central’s 6-7 Matt Rafferty, Mahomet-Seymour’s 6-9 Christian Romine, St. Rita’s 6-8 Myles Carter and Hillsboro’s 6-8 Dylan Miller wait patiently.

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