It was a high-energy run to start the new year last night with a lot of familiar faces. Here are the evaluations.
Steph Harris (6’0 PG, Buffalo Grove)
Harris had an active day on both ends of the floor. He was able to force turnovers by jumping passing lanes and rotating over for deflections. Once he got out in transition, he attacked angles for some tough layups. Harris excels at finishing with his left hand, using his body to get into defenders before flipping up shots over length. Every time he got room from beyond the arc, he connected on threes. He made one three off of a hesitation and a few more off the catch. Harris is an unorthodox finisher that continues to make plays.
Jullian Acosta (6’2 SG, East Aurora)
Acosta flashed passing ability on his penetration with a couple of no look passes and dump offs in traffic. As usual, his defense was disruptive on the ball and he was able to rebound on the defensive end. Acosta didn’t look for his shot much but typically made the right reads with the ball.
Garrett Bolte (6’6 PF, Hinsdale South)
The 6-foot-6 forward was solid defensively guarding out on the perimeter and at the rim. He moved his feet and forced some tough shots off of drives. He also blocked a number of shots around the basket, going vertical and showing ideal timing. Bolte took a few defensive rebounds end to end as we have seen in the past. An effortless leaper, Bolte had a putback dunk and one-handed finish on a drive down the lane.
He is an excellent screen outlet with his ability to shoot or catch and finish in crowds. With soft hands and good touch, he was the beneficiary of some passes off of early rolls. Bolte missed a few good looks, but he showed his range from three during the run as well. He is a well-rounded forward that has a coveted motor.
Darius Duff (6’3 SG, Lake Forest Academy)
Duff’s jump shot has looked very good in recent weeks, but this may have been the best I’ve seen him shoot during a run. He made a bunch of rhythm threes in transition and off kick outs. The arc on his shot was good and he had good balance throughout his motion, even on the deep ones. During this run, he got going with his jumper and then started to knife into the lane where he is especially effective.
He had a strong dunk through a hole in the defense and scored through contact on layups. Darius has a knack for drawing contact and should be a high-volume free throw shooter. With the way that his jump shot is progressing, Duff is on the trajectory to becoming one of the best two-way combo guards in the class.
Gavin Garcon (6’0 SG, Oswego East)
No matter where you were in the gym, you probably heard Garcon communicating. He gave constant energy throughout the run, showing up on the glass, defensively, and with his activity off the ball. Garcon had a few chase down steals and was the first one off the floor for a few offensive rebounds. He scored off cuts and putbacks, but it was his leadership and voice that stood out.
Daniel Hong (6’1 PG, Barrington)
Hong came out hot with jumpers, runners, and pull-ups. As the run went on, he struggled a bit with turnovers and quick shots. But towards the end of the run, he got back to finishing and hitting long-range shots. Hong can handle the ball and create shots off the dribble as he showed. He’s at his best in pick-and-rolls and making quick decisions off the catch.
Ty Leeberg (5’11 PG, Montini)
In his first run, Leeberg did a little bit of everything. The scrappy point guard was applying pressure on the perimeter. He has a decent jump shot and knocked down a handful of threes and a mid-range jumper from the short corner. Leeberg also added a runner in the paint. His passing was on point, delivering the ball on time to cutters and shooters as well. A returning varsity player, Leeberg should bring experience to Montini.
Nick Martinelli (6’7 SF, Glenbrook South)
This may have been Martinelli’s most dominant all-around performance. We know he can score at will, hitting a pull-up three, scoring off post seals, and shaking defenders on the perimeter before finishing with power or finesse. There were numerous possessions where defenders played nearly perfect defense and Nick still managed to score. His creativity handling the ball is uncommon for a 6-foot-7 player, but it will make him a valuable scorer in college. But his defense and passing stood out during this run. He was defending in space, guarding players in the post, and rotating over for blocked shots.
A true hybrid wing, Martinelli has the athleticism and length to be a switchable defender. When he had mismatches offensively, he went to the post where he got doubled on the catch. He whipped timely passes to shooters and showed good patience letting plays develop to read where the double was coming from. Over the last two weeks, Martinelli’s teams have only lost two games. He’s already cemented himself as one of the best wings in the state, but he is a lot more than a scorer.
Bryce Moore (6’4 SG, Carmel)
It was a big day for Moore. The explosive two-guard from Carmel was lights-out shooting the ball. He got his feet set and knocked down an array of threes from all over the floor. Moore added a pull-up three in transition as well. He was feeling it and was nearly automatic on open looks. But he was still doing a lot of damage getting downhill. At 6-foot-4, he still manages to get lower than smaller defenders to slash to the rim.
Moore showed off some impressive hang time on a few open court finishes. He was gliding in the air to avoid defenders who tried to come over to contest his layups. Moore’s physical traits and instincts make him a promising defensive prospect, picking off skip passes and recovering well on the ball. Look for Moore to continue to gain more attention as he goes into his junior season.
Charlie Nosek (6’4 SG/SF, Metea Valley)
Nosek was battling all day on the defensive end. He took on the challenge of guarding Martinelli and did a great job moving his feet and making things tough. The Metea Valley wing is a high-IQ player on both ends. He is always getting deflections and steals from good positioning and activity. Offensively, he cut hard and played angles well on his drives to finish, including a dunk off of a curl. Nosek also passed the ball well during the run, finding the open man on the break.
Alex Engro (6’0 SG, Loyola)
I’ve talked about Engro’s ability to create space for his shot in the past. That was on full display with a baseline turnaround, a three on the move, and a mid-range pull-up where he elevated right over a contested hand. There were also some moves he made that didn’t lead to points but showed skill that is well beyond his years. Engro had a couple of between-the-leg snatchbacks and subtle hesitations that took defenders out of the play.
But his vision and feel as a playmaker shouldn’t be overlooked. When he got the ball in the backcourt, his first look was up the court where he threw accurate passes to shooters on the break. When he got cut off on drives, he took his time and found teammates for layups. Engro is a willing and intelligent passer that is developing as a primary ball-handler. The one thing that I always appreciate about Engro is his toughness. He plays through contact off the ball, doesn’t complain about anything, and plays with the same focus every week.
Jabe Haith (6’3 PG, Elgin Academy)
Haith was quietly one of the most proficient shooters at the run. He made most of his three-point attempts and hit a tough stepback going to his left hand. He has great size and length for a guard, shooting it over smaller defenders. On rotations, he shot with confidence. A natural point guard, Haith made a couple of really nice passes on the move for layups. He sees the floor well and made the extra pass for open shots multiple times. Only a sophomore, Haith may not be done growing and has a bright future as both a scorer and passer.
Sonny Williams (6’0 PG, Notre Dame College Prep)
Sonny didn’t have his usual day creating easy offense, but he had an underappreciated day defensively. He got a couple of steals by anticipating passes and forced ball-handlers to pick up their dribble with the pressure. While he wasn’t as efficient of a playmaker as usual, he still pushed the pace in transition and created open shots off of his penetration. Williams hit a pull-up three and hit some threes off the catch with ease. His jump shot has been consistent and will continue to complement his ability to collapse defenses. A leader and communicator at point guard, Williams has the ability to control games with his energy, passing, and defense.