I viewed the live stream of the first Meanstreets minicamp on Sunday that featured a number of prospects in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 classes. Here is the analysis for the Illinois players who attended.
Sean Burress (6-1 PG, Thornton)
Burress shows good burst off the dribble, turning the corner to beat defenders to the rim. Without great size, Burress gets the ball out quickly on his shots. He plays nicely off of his hesitation dribble, setting up his penetration or pulling up from the outside where he has a one-motion shot. I really like his energy and relentless nature when attacking the rim. His performance definitely opened some eyes.
Brandon Hall (6-4 SG, Thornton)
Another gifted Thornton guard, Hall played like a vet. He is a tank when putting his head down as a slasher, providing regular finishes through contact. His ability to create off the dribble is developing, looking balanced off of separation moves. With his strong frame and explosive athleticism, Hall projects as an excellent wing defender as well. He is a high-flyer in transition that has a college-ready body.
Grant Newell (6-7 PF, Whitney Young)
Newell was the most well-known 2021 prospect at the event and was doing a lot to reinforce his standing as one of the top forwards in the state. The 6-foot-7 forward has an easy release from three which will translate well to the college line. He is active on the glass and as a rim protector, working well with his quickness off the floor. DePaul has offered Newell, but he is still a bit under the radar on the national scale given his potential as a stretch four.
Jaehshon Thomas (6-2 PG, Whitney Young)
Thomas was a bucket whenever he looked for his shot. Well-built at 6-foot-2, he is solid weapon in the dribble-drive game. He had a couple of nice finishes in traffic, evading defenders to complete the play. Shooting is what separates Thomas. He is a knockdown outside shooter with great efficiency off the catch or on the move. As a natural combo guard, he can space the floor well, but he also looks like he can become a dangerous pick-and-roll option. The Whitney Young guard will have a huge senior year.
Robbie Avila (6-7 PF, Oak Forest)
One thing that stood out about Avila was his footwork. He really understands how to create an advantage with his pivoting. The regular efficiency and passing instincts were there for the Oak Forest forward. He might not have the leaping ability of some of the other bigs at the event, but he got to his spots and showed a ton of versatility. Mid majors have been most active with Avila, but schools like Purdue, Virginia Tech, and NC State are also showing interest. Playing in the EYBL will do him wonders
AJ Casey (6-8 SF, Whitney Young)
Casey didn’t disappoint, showing off as much potential and skill as anyone at the event. He covers so much ground off the dribble, gliding through moves without losing his rhythm. Whitney Young’s newest star had some thunderous dunks and lived above the rim. His jump shot has a high release that makes it very difficult to contest. Defensively, he is a one through five switcher that gets in passing lanes and recovers to block shots. Casey showed that he has all of the prerequisite perimeter skills to thrive on the wing. The list of offers will continue to grow for one of America’s top prospects.
Kam Craft (6-5 SG, Meanstreets)
Craft is as complete of a scorer as you will find in Illinois, regardless of class. The shooting drills showed how effortless his shot is from the outside. He has great lift on his pull-up and creates space on his stepback, which allow him to connect on tough shots off the dribble. With long arms, he plays bigger than his 6-foot-5 listing on the defensive end. Known more as a scoring machine, he showed the ability to close space with his length. Craft is always in attack mode and always a threat to drop 30. Schools like Maryland, Nebraska, and DePaul have offered one of the most proficient scorers in the country.
Keynan Davis (6-4 SG, Romeoville)
A new face to the Meanstreets program, Davis displayed advanced offensive skills. He has very smooth footwork on his pull-up, stepping into shots nicely during the drill portion. He looks closer to 6-foot-5 and has ideal skills for an off-guard. Even though he wasn’t particularly aggressive, Davis still made an impression with his potential as a shot creator.
Ethan Marlowe (6-8 PF, St. Charles North)
Arguably the breakout player of the event, Marlowe looked like a prospect with serious Division-1 upside. For a 6-foot-8 player, he handled the ball with impressive control during the drills. You wouldn’t expect to see a forward looking so comfortable stepping into threes off the dribble. He played a stretch four role as a sophomore, but Marlowe is looking more like a big wing with his improved creativity. I would expect for the calls to start coming in sooner rather than later.
Amarion Nimmers (6-2 PG, Rock Island)
One of the Illinois players from outside of the Chicago area, showed why he is being recruited by more than 10 schools. He is a slippery scorer that moves fluidly with the ball. Nimmers finishes with finesse in the paint and has a flare about the way he plays. When left open, Nimmers steps into threes with confidence. I really like his potential as a three-level scorer that can create in space.
Tavarius Vinson (7-0 C, Dyett)
Vinson is a traditional center that mans the paint. He can struggle in an up-tempo game, but deters shots anywhere in his area defensively. As an outlet, Vinson can finish easily and has the size to space the floor vertically. Vinson is the best 7-footer in the state and should continue to improve.
Keon Alexander (6-6 PF, Bolingbrook)
It’s all about energy with Alexander. He looks tenacious whenever a shot goes up, crashing the glass at a high rate. He was finishing high above the rim during the drill portion. Although he isn’t a shooter at this point, he doesn’t try to go outside of his game and dominates in the paint. He is a pick-and-roll outlet and defensive stopper at the four spot.
Darrion Baker (6-7 PF, St. Rita)
Baker made a statement with his performance. The long, active forward was an impact paint presence on both ends. He is starting to develop physically to complement that agility that makes him a constant mismatch. Baker is a combo forward, but he can block shots and get the ball off the rim like a big. He just has the look of a next-level prospect. And he is much more than a bouncy forward, also able to push in transition, pass off the dribble, and shoot with time. Siena has offered Baker.
Richard Barron (6-4 SG, St. Ignatius)
Even as a 2023 player, Barron was one of the most physically imposing prospects at the event. His strength was evident in transition where he showed speed and force as a finisher. Barron was able to show off his ball-handling skills during the drills and ran the wing more during scrimmages. He has the versatility to defend on the perimeter and in the post, a skill that won’t go unnoticed by college coaches.
Dalen Davis (6-0 PG, Whitney Young)
There is something special about Davis. He is able to control a game with his playmaking or scoring. A modern point guard, Davis has premier vision and shooting ability off the dribble. As a sophomore, he will spend much more time handling the rock, where he shines. Davis makes quick, precise decisions with the ball, not letting the ball stick. With his athleticism, strength, and point guard skills, it’s not surprise that Illinois and DePaul have already offered Davis.
Jalen Griffith (5-9 PG, Simeon)
Griffith was one of the more exciting players to watch. He is lightning quick and shifty off the dribble. It’s like he is moving at an entirely different speed than everyone else. The 5-foot-9 guard manufactures shots by breaking down defenders and jetting to the basket where he can float shots up over the help. Western Illinois has offered Griffith, who looks primed to develop into one of the best guards in the city.
Raeshom Harris (6-3 PG, Bloom)
Harris showed a lot of his versatility. He scores with or without the ball, rebounds well, and defends on the perimeter at a high level. His ability to be the leading scorer or act as a complementary weapon that picks his spots will be valued. Harris has a wiry frame that will continue to add strength. Given how hard he plays, it’s easy to see how impactful Harris will be early on at Bloom.
Jackson Kotecki (6-8 PF, St. Ignatius)
Kotecki looks like he is filling out his frame, playing with strength and aggression on both ends. He has impressive length and athleticism that shows up as a shot blocker and dunker. Now at 6-foot-8, Kotecki’s shot looked fluid off the catch and he put the ball on the ground well. The extra strength is going to allow Kotecki to be a more impactful rebounder, defender, and finisher. His inside-out game will blossom as a sophomore.
Marcus Pigram (6-3 SG, Whitney Young)
Pigram is yet another weapon for Whitney Young this upcoming year. A big guard at 6-foot-3, Pigram pushes well in transition where he is strong and decisive as a finisher. He’s got the makeup of a natural scoring wing, willing to fill it up from a number of areas. Pigram projects as a high octane scorer that lives at the foul line.
Kaiden Space (6-0 PG, St. Rita)
Another gifted St. Rita underclassmen, Space is a creator that can really shoot it. He has a mature approach and rhythm, looking like he is in full control at all times. Space takes what the defense gives him, whether that be a runner, mid-range look, or an open three. At 6-foot with a strong frame, Space was able to penetrate to draw help. Siena offered Space earlier this month.
Bryce Tillery (5-8 PG, Hillcrest)
Tillery was the shortest player at the event but was as tough and steady as anyone. He has the presence of a leader on the court, making extra effort plays and running the offense. There is a lot to like about his playmaking upside, probing into the paint, and finding teammates on time. Even though he lacks height, Tillery is strong enough to be effective on both ends.