With a glimmer of hope for a season, it was good to feel some optimism in the gym. But it was also a reminder not to take any opportunities for granted. We had a run with good energy throughout. Here are the evaluations.
Josh Harris (6’4 SG, Timothy Christian)
The Illinois College commit got going as the run progressed. Harris was out in transition a lot, finishing on the left side with layups and a dunk. He added a couple of threes as well. Harris is a capable scorer from all three levels and projects as an impact player at Illinois College. If a season occurs, look for Harris to lead a talented returning core at Timothy Christian.
Nathan Boldt (6’9 PF, Barrington)
Boldt showed some perimeter skills at 6-foot-9 during the run. He pushed in transition off defensive rebounds and got to the rim a couple of times for finishes. He also hit a corner three off an offensive rebound and has decent form from the outside. A returning varsity player at Barrington, Boldt’s game will continue to expand as he adds strength to play through contact.
Chase Bonder (6’6 PF, Libertyville)
Bonder had one of the best performances yesterday. The inside-out forward hit threes, blocked a number of shots, and had some nice finishes around the rim. He has a fluid three-point stroke with range that extends to the college line. He’s a mobile athlete that showed good elevation on a couple of dunks. His energy and competitive edge stood out. Bonder was active on the offensive glass, sprinted the floor, and got on the ground for loose balls. At 6-foot-6 with the ability to shoot, defend, and put it on the ground, Bonder has the tools to be a scholarship player. He has a projectable frame as well and isn’t afraid of contact. Bonder will star at Libertyville this season if games are played and should have a huge summer with Fundamental U.
Darius Duff (6’3 SG, Lake Forest Academy)
Duff is consistently producing at a high level every week. His 15-18 foot jumper was on point, making multiple pull-ups in rhythm. He drove into traffic and made sound two foot decisions to find open teammates. A high-end athlete, Duff almost caught a body on a drive down the lane. Even if he doesn’t play as a full-time point guard, Duff is able to involve others and make plays to initiate offense. Duff hit some threes during the run and was effective defensively as well. Look for him to be a leader on a LFA team hit by transfers. Duff is a definite Division-1 talent who checks a lot of the boxes that coaches look for on and off the court.
Daniel Hong (6’1 PG, Barrington)
Hong was setting the table early and stayed on the court the whole day as a result. He easily had double-digit assists during the run with advance passes and looks to find cutters. When he had space, he made a handful of pull-up threes and mid-range shots. But he was very good finishing against length, using both hands to score. Hong has been one of the best players on the court the last few weeks.
Elijah Hutchinson (6’2 SG, Wheeling)
Hutchinson didn’t get a ton of shots, but showed his athleticism. He can defend the backcourt spots with his quickness and has the explosiveness to recover if he gets beat. On the offensive end, he had a few tough drives and scored through contact. Hutchinson has upside as a slasher.
Asher Jackson (6’3 SG, Carmel)
Jackson was streaky from the outside but made some threes off the dribble. The 6-foot-3 guard can handle the ball and has some potential creating his own shot. Jackson has a good frame that allows the lefty to get to the basket. He hit a floater going to his strong hand.
Bryce Moore (6’4 SG, Carmel)
Moore was the high scorer during the run and was unstoppable for portions of the day. Coming off of a game-winner the night before in the Hammond league, Moore kept the momentum. He was relentless on the offensive glass and cut hard when his defenders turned their heads. With the ball, Moore got going early with jumpers and then aggressively got into the paint off the dribble. He had dunks off of lobs, putbacks, and in transition. Moore’s body control was evident as he evaded defenders or played through bumps. He’s set to be an impact player in his third varsity season at Carmel.
Cole Bonder (6’5 PF, Libertyville)
The younger Bonder brother was either on the winning team or got asked to play the next game. His physicality, unselfishness, and IQ will make him a solid player for Libertyville. He sets great screens and knows how to force switches. When he got the ball in the post, he scored over his right shoulder after getting deep position. Bonder made some nice passes out of the post as well. Cole is strong at 6-foot-5 but runs the floor well. He was a reliable outlet in transition and in the screen game, including a catch-and-shoot three. Bonder showed good touch on his jumper and it should be a more reliable weapon as he matures. I would expect Bonder to be a key contributor in his sophomore season.
Alex Engro (6’0 SG, Loyola)
Good things happened when Engro touched the ball. He showed the whole scoring package in limited touches, scoring off the bounce and hitting his usual spot-up threes. Engro had multiple crafty finishes in traffic including a eurostep, turnaround jumper, and a high-arching scoop layup. He’s got a killer instinct with the ball, always looking to make a play. But he is equipped to play on or off the ball with his vision, shooting, and dribbling skills. On a younger Loyola team, look for Engro to make his mark in his first season on varsity.
Dylan Schmidt (6’3 SG, Johnsburg)
We have to check on the rims after Schmidt comes to a run. He had a couple of powerful one-handers on fastbreaks. When he wasn’t finishing over the rim, he showed agility to beat defenders in straight lines for layups. Schmidt also showed off his lethal outside shot, making a handful of spot ups and one pull-up a few feet in front of the half court circle. Schmidt is on a good trajectory and will give Johnsburg a bunch of production on both ends.
Sonny Williams (6’0 PG, Notre Dame College Prep)
Without much of a warmup, Williams came out on fire hitting his first two threes. He kept the pace and shot a high percentage for the rest of the run. Sonny made good passes in transition to open shooters and cutters. He is too quick with the ball for most guards to stay in front of him, usually leading to layups or open kick outs. When he had mismatches, he blew by defenders for layups. But he didn’t force things, and took most of his shots off of rotations. Playing on a team with three of the top seniors in the state, Williams will do more floor spacing and attacking in transition. He should be one of the better defenders and playmakers at NDCP as well. If games are able to be played, Williams will be a crucial piece for a consensus top 5 team in the state.
Kelton McEwen (5’11 PG, Bartlett)
Nothing seems to shake McEwen. If he faces tight defense or physicality, he plays through it. McEwen was putting on a shooting display once again, knocking down threes off the dribble without hesitation. He has a knack for creating space and finding creases. Even when players tried to target him, he stood his ground defensively. That toughness and fight is a good sign for a young player. As he gets bigger and stronger, he will be a plus defender with how well he moves laterally. McEwen also got on the offensive glass and finished in traffic. The last two weeks, he has shined against varsity players and college-level talent. I would take McEwen on my team any day. He could be a four-year varsity player at Bartlett.