We had a run yesterday with a very competitive group of players from the 2021, 2022, and 2023 classes. Here are the evaluations from this week’s run.
Steph Harris (6’0 PG, Buffalo Grove)
After starting a little slow, Harris controlled games with his defensive tenacity. Quick, active, and relentless, the 6-foot guard was all over offensive players as soon as they crossed half court. His pressure led to a bunch of steals and rushed shots. Most players are not able to dictate the flow of the game with their defense, but Harris was locked in on that end. Offensively, he didn’t shoot as well as in previous weeks but was good in transition and as a cutter off the ball. Harris is the definition of a gamer.
Damian Zivak (6’6 SG, Barrington)
Barrington’s lead guard had a solid day on both ends. He was standing up ball-handlers, using his upper body strength to hold his position defensively. Zivak was effective scoring from all three levels, hitting elbow pull-ups, spot-up threes, and finishing crafty layups in traffic. The big guard is a physical mismatch for most backcourt players and he has the skill to create against slower wings and bigs on switches. Zivak is a tough shot-maker that will be a valuable addition to whatever level he attends.
Garrett Bolte (6’6 PF, Hinsdale South)
Bolte is so productive in a variety of areas. He was one of the top rebounders at the run and went coast to coast for finishes whenever the transition defense was lagging. He showed good handle to beat aggressive defenders using spin moves and crossovers to escape them. Once he gets to the rim, Bolte is a quick jumper with very good body control. He had one tomahawk in transition. Even when he doesn’t dunk the ball, he gets over most help defenders with his bounce. Bolte’s set shot from three is consistent. He made a few jumpers from the top of the key with confidence and hit a one-foot fall away from the short corner. When he had size mismatches, he went to the block and wasted no time burying defenders. I’ve been very impressed with his defensive versatility as well. For a combo forward, he protects the rim and moves his feet on the perimeter. A good student as well, Bolte has the floor of a solid D2 player.
Adidas Davis (6’3 PG/SG, Buffalo Gove)
Davis shot the ball very well for much of the run. Outside of a few quick threes, he was efficient from behind the three-point line in catch-and-shoot situations. There were a few times where he was able to get all the way to the rim with his left hand as well. Davis made an impact with his defensive presence as well. The lanky, 6-foot-3 frame allowed him to get deflections and contest shots. He was the first one to the ground for a couple of loose balls. Look for the combo guard to be instant offense for Buffalo Grove.
Darius Duff (6’3 SG, Lake Forest Academy)
Duff was one of the best playmakers throughout the day. He passed up good shots for great shots on multiple occasions. Matched up with another Division-1 caliber defender in Moore, Duff didn’t force things but remained aggressive. He stopped on a dime for mid-range pull-ups and his three-point stroke looked good. As usual, Duff was shining in transition either running his lanes or handling the ball. He had a thunderous dunk at one point that everyone in the gym heard. Darius has a projectable frame that will add strength to his already explosive build. His defensive potential is immense with his physical tools and willingness to guard multiple positions. The arrow is pointing up for the LFA guard.
Daniel Hong (6’1 PG, Barrington)
Hong had another week where he caught fire and didn’t cool off. After a bit of a slow start, Hong made hesitation pull-ups from three on command. He has great balance when he takes stepbacks or retreat dribbles into shots. The shifty handle and plus court vision were evident again, finding cutters all day. Hong has some flashiness as a passer but he doesn’t sacrifice passing accuracy. His pick-and-roll IQ is also advanced for a junior in high school. As more coaches get a chance to see Hong, he should get serious interest.
Gabe Madej (6’6 SF, Fenwick)
Usually doing work on the perimeter, Madej used his size well to score on the interior. Some early outside shots weren’t falling, so he got going with straight-line drives and finishes in transition. His footwork was impressive when maneuvering around help defenders. Gabe has a high skillset and feel that leads to good decisions. He made a baseline jumper off a fake handoff and connected on threes as we can expect. His range is deep and he can get shots off against size or quickness. Madej is a strong rebounder that gives coaches flexibility to play him at multiple positions. The big shooter should be one of the top scorers on a deep Fenwick team before having a breakout summer. Ivy League schools will take a long look.
Bryce Moore (6’4 SG, Carmel)
Moore was one of the most impressive prospects at the run. He has a lot of skills that are going to translate well to the college game. Long, athletic, and rangy, Moore was covering ground defensively and making life tough on other guards. He is an excellent rebounder that high-points missed shots on both ends. The 6-foot-4 two guard has a fluid handle that he showed in the open court and in the isolation situations that he had. Moore created mid-range looks with his crossover and had other shots that he didn’t make but looked comfortable taking. His three-point shot looks fine, but he didn’t hit any during the run. If you don’t stop Moore early in transition, it’s either going to be an and-one, layup, or free throws. He was relentless as a finisher when he built up a head of steam. The one thing that stood out the most to me was how well Moore moves without the ball. He got countless layups from making hard, timely cuts. Moore has the profile of a Division-1 wing right now, and that’s with his jumper still developing.
Alex Engro (6’0 SG, Loyola)
The run was full of older players who have college interest for the most part, but Engro had the best showing. He put on a scoring clinic from start to finish, making contested mid-range shots, finishing in the paint with runners or layups, and delivering a steady diet of threes. You can’t lose track of the Loyola guard for a second or he will rise up and knock down long-range shots. Some of the defenders gave good shot contests, but his unorthodox release is too high to be affected. Engro has a smooth offensive game that starts with his ability to handle the ball. He was getting extra attention on penetration and threw passes to shooters. Defensively, he was working to fight through screens and stay in front of the ball. His length is very deceptive and he blocked three or four shots from bigger players. Engro communicates well on the defensive end. He has a quiet leadership that is going to serve him well. Like most 2023s, he needs to get stronger, but the skill and intangibles are ideal.
Dylan Schmidt (6’3 SG, Johnsburg)
Schmidt is becoming a better dunker every time I see him. He had three dunks off a shot fake drive, straight-line drive, and a putback. He is gaining confidence and has continued to show growth in finding ways to get to the rim. His rip through is effective and his shot fake needs to be respected given his shooting ability. We didn’t have the NBA line out there this week, but Schmidt hit a shot off of a handoff that was at least a few steps behind it. He hit another three after making a pullback move at the top of the key. The next step for him will be getting more comfortable with his counter moves when defenders go all out for the initial move. He has a couple of showtime plays every week at this point, but he hasn’t even scratched the surface of how good he could be.
Xavier Sulaiman (6’2 SG, Marist)
The high-flyer needed a few games to get warmed up, but once he did, defenders had to either foul him or hope he missed a shot at the rim. With a 40-plus inch vertical, Sulaiman elevates effortlessly over defenders. He is a next-level slasher that can put his head down and get to the rim in one dribble from the wing. He knifed to the basket on a few occasions and made tough, acrobatic layups look routine. A solid shooter that can heat up, he added a three off the catch. But most of his damage came in transition where he is a problem with his speed and bounce. He nearly had a putback slam that he ended up just tipping in during one of the games. He projects as a combo guard at the college level but should be playing a lot of point guard for his high school team. Sulaiman is one of the most exciting guard prospects in the 2023 class and was impressive at Xposure Runs and the Pangos Camp a few months ago.