I had the opportunity to check out the practices for the 16U and 17U Breakaway teams last night. There was a lot of promising talent in the gym, with a number of big, skilled wings standing out. Here are evaluations from the Breakaway players that I saw.
Arius Alijosius (6’2 SG, Stagg)
Alijosius looked every bit like a deadeye shooter. He shot it at a high clip during drills and in live segments, making threes from a standstill and on the move. When he had the ball in space, he made a couple of nice passes to find teammates. If Alijosius can use his length and anticipate defensively, he can provide more of a defensive impact to complement his three-point marksmanship.
Jacob Bozeman (6’4 SF, Downers Grove North)
A lanky wing with good defensive upside, Bozeman showed some instincts on the defensive end. During one-on-one portions of the practice, he moved his feet well to stay in front of the ball. Bozeman has solid shooting form and was able to connect on threes throughout practice. He’s got a 3-and-D profile and looks like he still might grow.
Chase Collignon (6’5 PF, Hinsdale Central)
Collignon’s athleticism stood out. He was fluid getting out and elevating for dunks in the open court. At 6-foot-5, Collignon showed his physicality grabbing rebounds in traffic and finishing a few strong takes to the rim. He battled well for position when defending in the post, using his aggressiveness to his advantage. While he made some jumpers at different points, his strength is in the paint either on putbacks or rip-and-go moves from the perimeter.
Hampton Dauparas (6’6 C, Providence Catholic)
The big man has good feet and knows how to use his weight. His touch was solid during shooting drills with some mid-range and three-point looks coming out clean. Once live drills began, Dauparas impressed me with his IQ in the post and as a roller. When post defenders fronted him, he timed up his seals to get easy layups on reversals. He also set rock-solid screens and took direct angles to the rim on rolls. Dauparas has a solid foundation to build on as a 6-foot-6 center.
Sam Millstone (5’10 PG, Palatine)
Millstone has a quick, tight handle that allows him to get a step on defenders. There is a great pace that he plays with to dictate tempo and make plays for his teammates. He made a few excellent passes off the dribble, including a pinpoint P&R dime and a no-look to a cutter. Millstone can shoot the three behind screens and looked confident with his jumper.
Collin Moran (6’6 SF, Providence Catholic)
During the 1-on-1 drills, Moran was very active defensively with his ball pressure. He’s a long-armed wing that was competitive on his penetration as well. He handled it pretty well and looked good pulling up and knocking down shots during individual drills. As he adds strength and continues to develop his feel, Moran should be to utilize his skill set to a greater degree.
Max Niesman (6’0 PG, Oswego)
Niesman is a creative ball-handler that has some flash to his game. The 6-foot guard displayed some shooting ability off the dribble with range. He also did a good job of driving downhill to draw help. I can tell that Niesman has a playmaking sense that can work well in pick-and-rolls. He gets the ball up on the backboard quickly when he takes layups and floaters and knows how to vary his rhythm.
Nik Polonowski (6’6 SF, Lyons)
Polonowski communicated well all practice, staying vocal and providing good energy. Whenever he got a running start, he finished with strong one-handed dunks. Polonowski’s pull-up going to his right hand looked good during drills. That shot will be a valuable addition with how well he finishes and shoots from three. In live segments, he scored in the paint using different angles to score around help. Polonowski showed good leadership qualities on top of his performance.
Graham Smith (6’5 SF, Lyons)
I knew Smith could jump, but I didn’t realize he had bounce like that. There were a couple of big-time tomahawks that he did during transition drills. Overall, he had one of the better days scoring from multiple levels and defending on the wing. He was nearly automatic from the top of the key. The high release on his shot also allowed him to shoot over defenders on short jumpers where he used his upper body strength to create separation. The 6-foot-5 Smith does a lot of things well.
Tyler Swierczek (6’5 SF, Palatine)
Swierczek is a solid all-around player who plays with toughness on both ends. He made athletic moves to the rim during on-air drills and live portions, taking hits as a ball-handler without losing balance. Swierczek had good lift on his 15-foot pull-up during drills as well. He even added a left-handed finish with his back to the basket. Swierczek can act as a utility player that fills multiple roles.
Garrett Bolte (6’6 F, Hinsdale South)
Bolte shot the ball well throughout the practice in drills and team segments. His follow-through is consistent and he shoots it with confidence from three. Guarding primarily on the perimeter, he looked really good defending in space and staying active with his hands. Whether he plays the three, four, or five, he provides the athleticism and competitiveness to switch across positions. Bolte put it on the floor to get to the lane in straight lines and was efficient on post touches. A scholarship level player at the D2 or NAIA level.
Drew Cwik (6’1 PG, South Elgin)
The strong combo guard did a nice job advancing the ball in transition through the pass. He found shooters with a few good passes off the bounce. Cwik has deep shooting range and a quick release. He’s a threat to shoot once he gets to the volleyball line, off the catch or dribble. Cwik has college-level shooting ability that will get a coach’s attention. His development as a playmaker is only adding value. He should be a solid D3 prospect.
Bobby Durkin (6’6 SG, Glenbard West)
Durkin didn’t miss much during shooting drills. The ball comes out of his hands with great rotation and he doesn’t lose much efficiency on his pull-up. When he gets his feet set, he delivers. Durkin is a lot more athletic than I realized, both running and jumping. He was dunking easily in weave drills and changed ends well. I was also impressed with his body control and ability to put spin on difficult layups. At this point, I feel comfortable saying that Durkin has Division 1 game as a big, high-IQ shooter.
JP Hanley (6’4 SG, Riverside Brookfield)
Hanley is a proficient catch-and-shoot two guard. He understands spacing very well and kept wide even during the drills without defense. Hanley shot it best from the wing off drive-and-kicks and transition walk-in threes. When isolated in space, Hanley was solid using his physicality to stay in front of the ball. He got off the ground pretty well during finishing drills as well. Hanley has some toughness that works well with his size and shooting ability. He should see heavy interest from D3s as well as some D2 and NAIA schools.
Nick Hesch (6’6 PF, York)
Practices really give me a chance to see who likes to compete. Hesch played with a high motor from the start to end of practice. The 6-foot-6 forward ran the floor well during drills to either finish or knock down jumpers. His footwork on the catch was solid, staying under control to make decisions. He made a pick-and-pop three while going live and was a presence in the paint. Hesch rebounded well, walled up, and gave high-level help defense using his length to make shots difficult inside. I liked what I saw from Hesch.
Pat Laurich (6’7 PF, Downers Grove South)
Laurich scored with some finesse in the post on a few occasions. He made hooks over his left shoulder and hit a turnaround as well. Long, lanky, and with decent mobility, Laurich was decent in the individual portions when he had open space to get out and run. He has some size and touch to work with.
Jake Quast (6’3 SG, Hinsdale Central)
Quast showed out well during the practice on both ends. He was applying good pressure defensively and was using his lateral quickness to force counter moves. His shooting was on point for most of the practice, spraying in threes during drills and translating that to competitive portions. Quast handled pressure well and scored on straight-line drives and a nice crossover to a layup. Quast could be a solid D3 wing.
Ben VanderWal (6’7 SF, Timothy Christian)
VanderWal was moving well in transition and looked explosive in the paint. He handles the ball well in the open court, keeping it low despite having a 6-foot-7 frame. A fluid athlete that finishes with authority, VanderWal gets off the ground quickly. On the perimeter, he has become one of the more lethal wing shooters. Sometimes his shot came out flat, but when he had good balance, he hit an array of threes during shooting drills. The touch was there on pull-up threes too. VanderWal is a no-brainer for low-to-mid major D1s with his consistent production, versatility, shooting, and intangibles.
Brennan White (6’0 PG, Benet)
The 6-foot Benet guard had a good practice as a playmaker and shot maker. White stopped on a dime a few times to make pull-ups around the elbows. In individual drills and when they went to team stuff, White’s three-point shooting stood out. Even though he is a smaller point guard, he elevates well on his jumper. White made some precise passes and handled decision-making well. Another Division 3 guard for coaches to track.
Zeke Williams (6’2 PG, Naperville North)
This was the best that I have seen Williams shoot. He hit more catch-and-shoot threes than I could count and did so with some hands in his face. He probably has at least a +4 wingspan that gives him an edge when shooting over taller defenders. Williams made a turnaround jumper and some pull-ups in that 10-15 foot range. Defensively, his recovery speed was impressive. A true shutdown defender, Williams probably had the best practice overall. He could attract some low-major interest if he continues to show that his outside shot is reliable.