All three levels of the Illinois Wolves participated in a showcase format event in Ft. Wayne yesterday. Here are the standouts from the Wolves 15U, 16U, and 17U teams.
Cade Pierce (6’6 SG, Glenbard West)
It was a solid showing from the versatile, two-way guard. Pierce made aggressive moves to the rim and scored off cuts and dribble penetration. He used his 6-foot-6 frame well to extend to the rim on a reverse layup, finish a left-handed drive, and corral rebounds in traffic. During portions of the day, he acted as the primary ball-handler against pressure. Pierce is known as a good catch-and-shoot player, but his experience playing point guard will be beneficial in college. He is disciplined and active defensively using his length and strength to stand up scorers and contest shots. Pierce remains one of the most complete, consistent defenders in the state. UIC, Boston, UW-Milwaukee, Penn, and Brown have offered. Expect a big June from the do-it-all guard.
Jaden Schutt (6’5 SG, Yorkville Christian)
Schutt really got going in the second game, hitting threes in bunches. Even with hands in his face, Schutt was unaffected off the catch before knocking down deep looks. His balance when shooting on the move is always impressive. He was able to get to the foul line a bit off of some athletic drives to the rim. That’s an area where he has looked even more impressive this spring, making decisive moves and challenging anybody to jump with him in the paint. Schutt has been offered by most of the Big Ten and holds a number of other high-major offers. Don’t be surprised if his competitiveness, shooting, and athleticism attract some blue-bloods once live periods ramp back up.
Braden Huff (6’10 PF, Glenbard West)
There were times when Huff looked like a cheat code. He stepped into a handful of threes with a smooth, easy stroke that was efficient. Huff led the break off the dribble to perfection, finding cutters, making a nice euro step move, and advancing it when necessary. He showed his footwork and touch with a couple of lefty hooks as well. Huff is a highly skilled four-man that has good timing as a shot-blocker. Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Creighton, and Penn have offered.
Cooper Noard (6’2 PG, Glenbrook South)
In the games I have seen this spring, Noard has been one of the most steady scorers for the Wolves. He gave them some life against the Indy Heat with four threes and good energy. The tough perimeter scorer is fearless and relentless. There is no backdown in his game and he was good in both games of the showcase event. He had a nice look in transition to find a layup and cut well to score in the paint. His shooting and craftiness off the dribble will be valued at multiple levels. Noard is the best point guard in the 2022 class without an offer. But likely not for long. I could see low-majors, Ivys, D2s, and high-academic D3s reaching out.
Jalen Quinn (6’3 PG, Tuscola)
Quinn got sped up a bit during the start of the Indy Heat game, but once things slowed down, he was on point. Quinn broke down defenders with his quick first step to get to the rim where he finished well. He had a strong and-one on a jump stop and completed a tough reverse off of a steal. Quinn was leading teammates with passes on backdoor cuts and managed the offense well in the second game. Wofford recently offered and there are a number of mid-majors like Southern Illinois, UIC, Eastern Illinois, and Loyola Chicago who have offered as well.
Dylan Arnett (6’9 PF, DePaul Prep)
I was really impressed with what Arnett brought on both ends. He sprinted the floor for an easy finish and pushed well in transition off of defensive rebounds. The 6-foot-9 post showed good patience on the block to score with a reverse after surveying the help. When help did come, he threw a skip pass for an open three. Arnett is an athletic kid with good springs around the rim as he showed on offensive rebounds. He’s got some touch as well, hitting a turnaround from 15 feet and knocking down a three. Arnett is just scratching the surface and could catch some eyes in June with performances like these.
Al Peculius (6’6 SF, Baylor [TN])
Peculius plays with a ton of energy on the defensive end. He’s long, athletic, and aggressive guarding the ball. He showed those same traits offensively when he slashed to the rim. Peculius got out in transition for a finish, had a double-clutch reverse, and scored off of a strong putback. He is really productive attacking in straight lines and cutting off of the ball. Peculius has been offered by UIC so far.
Sonny Williams (6’0 PG, Notre Dame College Prep)
Williams played with good pace yesterday. He attacked the paint at every chance, hitting floaters and layups. The majority of those touches led to dump-offs and kick-outs to teammates. Williams made a step back as well. His explosive handle really opened things up for the offense, both in the half-court and on the break. The 6-foot guard knows how to run the show.
Asa Thomas (6’6 SG, Lake Forest)
I continue to see Thomas’s game expand. He rebounded well in his area and passed the ball well. He drove the ball with purpose, making the right plays under control. Thomas also got a steal in the backcourt and finished with a quick spin move. As usual, the long-range bombs were falling for Thomas. The 6-foot-6 guard is cash from three. Look for Thomas to continue to grow, as he has made it clear that he is one of the top wings in the 2023 class.
Cam Christie (6’4 SG, Rolling Meadows)
Christie is developing into a dangerous three-level scorer. He scored from the mid-range with his go-to pull-up. He made a one-dribble baseline shot from around 17 feet that looked natural. Christie made a three and scored at the rim during the day. His jump-shooting is a strength, but he is showing more willingness to use his skill to get to the rim. Christie was consistent in the two games. He has high-major potential.
Xavier Sulaiman (6’2 SG, Marist)
Sulaiman put on a finishing display, going above the rim for a couple of impressive dunks. He turned good defense into easy points using his hands and athleticism to excel in transition. Even though Sulaiman did a lot on the break, he moved off the ball well in the half court. His shot has looked fluid most of the spring as well. Once Division 1 coaches are able to reach out, expect Sulaiman to get some calls.
Troy Cicero (6’1 PG, Joliet Central)
Cicero showed good poise this weekend. He had a nice pull-up jumper from mid-range and made some nice plays to get to the basket. Playing mostly on the ball, Cicero showed good flashes as a playmaker and on-ball defender.
Jaheem Webber (6’9 C, Normal)
Webber played up with 16U for a game as well, looking as good as I’ve seen him. The big center scored with his back to the basket with a few hooks. He does a great job of keeping it high to avoid letting smaller defenders strip him. Webber had a couple of powerful dunks, separating on dribble drives to give his guards a passing angle. He showed good feet and reaction defensively blocking shots as well as walling up. Webber is a promising big that knows how to play on the inside.
Cole Certa (6’3 SG, Bloomington Central Catholic)
Certa has that natural knack for scoring. He has serious range, hitting a number of threes. Long-armed at 6-foot-3, he has wiry athleticism and a solid handle. I like his defensive upside with how well he pressures the wing right now. In the games I have seen this spring, Certa is a consistent standout performer on both sides of the floor. He projects as one of the better players in central Illinois over the next three years.
Kelton McEwen (5’11 PG, Bartlett)
McEwen impacted the games with his shooting, passing, and anticipation defensively. He jumped the passing lanes well and created turnovers. The 5-foot-11 guard is an energetic defender that looks to make plays. McEwen hit some tough jumpers, including a stepback going left from three, and scored in transition. The touch on his floater in the middle game was a big asset in pick-and-rolls. He passed it well off the bounce, hitting a cutter and leading the break for layups. McEwen has been a killer for most of the spring.
Jehvion Starwood (6’3 SG, Yorkville Christian)
Starwood was the spark that helped the Wolves come back from down 15. His athletic drives to the rim gave them a boost and he also had a monster block in that game. Starwood scored with a mid-range pull-up, but his ability to play the passing lanes and get to the rim ignited them.
Angelo Ciaravino (6’3 SG, Mount Carmel)
Ciaravino has a smooth offensive game and good defensive instincts. He made threes off the catch. When Ciaravino was guarding the ball, he moved his feet and made it tough on guards. His length is an advantage as a rising sophomore, disrupting the flow on ball reversals