It was a very competitive, intense run this week with a lot of close games. There was a lot of good guard play in this one.
Steph Harris (6’0 PG, Buffalo Grove)
It was another terrific performance for Harris last night. He won the most games at the run and was looking comfortable scoring against pressure. Constantly finding creases in the defense, Harris knifed his way through traffic to finish tough shots. Even when defense stood him up, Harris hit a few stepbacks and threes after creating space. He got out in transition well in this one, turning turnovers and defensive rebounds into early offense. When playing off the ball, Harris spaced the floor and made spot-up threes. His energy on both ends rubs off on his teammates and should help him lead as a college floor general.
Damian Zivak (6’6 SG, Barrington)
Zivak showed his versatility and efficiency throughout the run. The big guard has a physical frame that allows him to drive through defenders. But he has the ability to use finesse in the paint as well, completing a number of double clutch layups to score around the help. Zivak has a nice outside stroke that produced a high-percentage from three during the run. There isn’t any wasted motion in his game, getting where he needs to and using his footwork to maneuver in tight spaces. At 6-foot-6, he has vision and passing flair to find open teammates as well. Zivak can do a lot of things on the court and has a college ready body. He projects as a D1/D2 type of guard.
Darius Duff (6’3 SG, Lake Forest Academy)
Duff’s ability to get to the rim is on another level. He was blowing by solid defenders without a problem, finishing with both hands and absorbing contact well. His quickness and confidence attacking closeouts is already at a Division-1 level. Duff made decisive moves to get to his spots and got good separation regularly. His outside shot wasn’t falling last night, but he did make a couple of pull-ups and a three on the wing. He does a good job of getting space and moving off the ball, so it is just going to be a matter of getting really consistent with his shot. Duff moved the ball and defended well as we have been accustomed to seeing. He still looks like one of the better two-guards in the 2022 class.
Daniel Hong (6’1 PG, Barrington)
This may have been Hong’s best run so far. He was knocking down jumpers from all over the court. He made more pull-ups than anyone else at the run, including a couple from three. There was a stretch when he went back and forth with Harris hitting tough shots on both sides. Hong has a very tight handle and is just as good shooting off the dribble as he is spotting up. In past runs he was mostly finishing in the paint, but he produced with his jumper and got to the basket when necessary. There is no reason why Hong shouldn’t play a big role in his first year at Barrington and start to garner some college interest heading into next summer.
Lane McVicar (6’5 SG, DeKalb)
McVicar brought tenacity to both ends as he normally does. He was getting deflections, poking balls away, and creating steals. Lane has ideal wing size to guard both spots on the wing and should be able to guard three or four spots for DeKalb. McVicar made threes from a standstill and off step ins off the dribble. He was also effective attacking the paint, especially in transition. From the jump, he was looking to get all the way to the rim when the defense was retreating on the break. He did a lot of little things well, looking for his teammates off of his drives, communicating defensively, and rebounded well. McVicar showed again that he has one of the better shot fakes in the area, getting defenders off the ground on multiple occasions. The 2022 wing is on the right trajectory heading into his junior year.
Fernando Perez (6’3 SG, Larkin)
Who says the mid-range game is dead? Perez was excellent from 17-feet and in for much of the run. He has a lot of ways to get to his pull-up, using crossovers and hesitations to set up his shot. He added a three as well. Perez has a good first step and plus athleticism as well. The 6-foot-3 guard was breaking down defenders and finishing straight-line drives. When Fernando is on the floor, he plays incredibly hard. That combination of effort and scoring gives him impact as a two-way wing.
Jordan Streeter (6’6 SF, Whitney Young)
A long, lanky wing, Streeter is a slasher with solid potential as a spot-up shooter. He hit a three during the run and got to the basket for a couple of finishes. Defensively, he used his length and quickness to cover ground and defend on the perimeter. As he gets more comfortable with his outside shot, Streeter will be able to complement his ability to get to the rim.
Alex Engro (6’0 SG, Loyola)
I’ve seen Engro adjust to how defenders are playing him and improve defensively every week. Even when players tried to take away his outside shot, he used his ball-handling skills to get to the rim, manufacture pull-ups, or draw help to find teammates. Alex rushed a few shots, but for the most part he was creating rhythm shots with his handle. He didn’t get a ton of clean looks off the catch but he made a handful of threes when defenders lost track of him. It was automatic whenever he was uncontested. Off the ball, he was got a number of buckets from hard cuts. We know Engro is going to be a proficient offensive player, but he was very active defensively. He stayed in a stance and used his hands to get strips. Engro continues to make an impact and should be on some radars soon.
Nate Kwiecinski (6’6 SF, Loyola)
Kwiecinski finished well around the rim in this run, getting out in transition and using his size in the paint. Nate struggled shooting the ball, but his release is smooth. It will just be a matter of getting consistent because the mechanics are there. At 6-foot-6, he made some good moves to freeze defenders. The skill is there for Kwiecinski, making well-timed passes and handling the ball in space. But I think his IQ and feel for the game is what will make him a serious college prospect. He knows where to be and is a noticeably competitive kid. Nate rebounded and showed good agility on the defensive end again. I don’t think Kwiecinski knows how good he can be yet, but he is one of the more promising 2023 wing prospects in the state.
Mason Montgomery (6’1 PG, South Elgin)
A very athletic combo guard, Montgomery was pretty quiet for much of the run. He almost had a poster putback dunk and had his head near the rim on a few rebounds. He did hit a three from the corner and had some nice drive-and-kicks. The explosiveness is obvious. Montgomery should be able to lock-up opposing guards defensively and use his speed to get to the rim and the foul line during the season.
James Muse (6’2 SG, Prairie Ridge)
Muse can do a lot of things on the floor as he showed during the run. He was one of the more steady defenders, playing solid defense on multiple players and using his length well. Muse at 6-foot-2 has a strong build that helps him as a finisher as well. He showed good pace off the dribble and put his head down a few times to score in traffic. The best way to describe his game is active. Muse crashes the glass and can shoot with time. He hit a three and a pull-up at the elbow to go with his strong takes to the rim.
Nik Polonowski (6’6 SF, Lyons)
Last week, Polonowski was doing a lot of damage from the outside. Yesterday, he was making his presence felt at the rim. The big, strong wing from Lyons took it coast to coast a few times and had some acrobatic finishes. He did hit a three and showed his effortless stroke on multiple occasions. He is very comfortable spacing the floor but he has the size and athleticism to cause problems on the inside as well. Polonowski had a putback off of a strong offensive rebound as well. Using his 6-foot-6 frame, Nik contested everything defensively. He should be able to defend three through five. Polonowski has the profile of a shooter that should be able to play stretch four or create on the wing.
Dylan Schmidt (6’3 SG, Johnsburg)
Maybe the most impressive day out of anyone last night, Schmidt was scoring from start to finish. He has a quick release from three and hit three in a row at one point. While on the wing, Schmidt spaces the floor ready to either shoot or slash to the rim where he is a big-time finisher. Many have seen his poster dunk from last night already, but it was a perfect display of what he is capable of doing in the open floor. A very explosive one-foot leaper, he is either finishing over defenders or using his hang time to get around someone. Once he starting hitting all of those threes, defenders pressed up and gave him runways to the basket. As Schmidt starts to use that athleticism more on the defensive end and sharpens his handle, he is going to be a terror. One of the more overlooked players in the class right now.