I tuned into a number of games across a few tournaments in the Midwest during this last weekend of the spring season. There were a lot of strong performances. Here are the standouts from the games that I saw.
Ethan Ivan (6’7 PF, Batavia)
Ivan continued to impress me in the game that I saw. He has a terrific feel on the offensive end, understanding spacing and timing cuts well. He scored on two backdoor cuts, slipped a screen for a layup, and had a powerful dunk against a press break. Ivan can do damage from three levels, hitting two threes in the game. His touch is consistent to the college three-point line and his ability to attack off the dribble is problematic for defenders at 6-foot-7. UW Parkside recently offered Ivan and he looks like a high-level D2 forward.
Austin Ambrose (6’9 PF, Batavia)
The potential of Ambrose stands out. With legitimate size at 6-foot-9, he hit a three and had a strong drive to the rim for an and-one. His outside shot is dangerous. Ambrose also got on the glass, using his length to pull in rebounds. The skilled lefty moves pretty well and has his best days ahead of him. Ambrose is going to be a target for NAIA and D3 programs.
Max Love (6’4 SG, St. Charles North)
Love lived in transition during the game I watched. He has good burst off the dribble and runs the floor hard. There were a few run-outs that led to layups. Love also showed good body control on an athletic drive to his right hand. With good length and size, along with a high motor, Love is a solid two-way prospect.
Billy Bach (6’5 SF, Lyons)
Bach is a sniper. When he got open looks, he knocked them down. Bach hit three shots from downtown in the game that I watched, getting his shot off quickly and showing a good finish to his shot. He had a few finishes on the break, scoring in one-on-one situations in transition. I like his size and shooting prowess. The Lyons wing has D3 appeal.
Brady Heckman (6’1 SG, Benet)
I haven’t seen a ton of Heckman but he played well. He does a nice job getting into the lane and creating for his teammates. His decisions led to a number of open threes for teammates. Heckman can shoot it as well, hitting two threes and looking comfortable in catch-and-shoot situations.
Illinois Attack 2022
Charlie Nosek (6’5 SF, Metea Valley)
Nosek came out aggressive driving for a layup, hitting a three, and scoring off cuts. He remained active on both ends, playing solid post defense and rebounding well. The 6-foot-5 wing got a few buckets on putbacks and face cuts. He was ready to score on the catch and attacked closeouts when needed. Nosek is set for a big senior season for Metea Valley and should get Division 3 looks.
John Riva (6’5 SG, Lasalle Peru)
Riva was the best scorer on the court. He has terrific range and hit five threes in the game I saw. The lefty has a nice skillset with the ability to do some things off the dribble. Riva drove to the rim for a lefty reverse and scored on a few crafty straight-line drives. Riva also took a charge and used his length on the defensive end. He is one of the better shooters that isn’t talked about much. Riva is going to have a chance to have an impact at the college level with his shooting.
Mason Delaney (6’3 SG, Plainfield North)
Delaney shot the lights out and hit a buzzer-beater to cap off a solid performance. He has decent size for a combo guard to go along with his ability to shoot from distance. Off of broken plays or penetration, he found open space to get his shot off. Delaney was able to drive to the rim when he had lanes as well. On the final play, he hit a tough turnaround jumper to win it.
Gavin Garcon (6’0 SG, Oswego East)
Garcon played with high energy all game. His defense was effective on the ball and in the paint. He moves his feet well and created turnovers. Garcon is a really good rebounder for his size, high-pointing rebounds in traffic. He scored on a couple of paint touches as well. Garcon’s effort allows him to play bigger than his size.
Jullian Acosta (6’2 SG, East Aurora)
Ball-handlers struggled all game trying to create against Acosta. He was a defensive hound and was probably responsible for creating at least five turnovers. He converted some steals into layups and was tough getting to the rim in the half-court. Acosta made a left-handed drive in traffic and finished a step-through against size. His on-ball defense is elite and should lead to some options over the next few years.
Epic Hoopz 2022
Isaiah Kirkeeing (6’4 SF, Crystal Lake South)
Kirkeeing had the mid-range game going. He knocked down a baseline jumper, had a stop-and-pop in the lane, and made a stepback. His length makes it tough for defenders to congest his shots. Kirkeeing made a three and was aggressive on his drives as well. He led Epic in scoring in the game that I watched. As he adds strength, he has projectable scoring ability off the dribble.
Colin Nesler (6’5 PF, Genoa Kingston)
Nesler stood out with his post play. A physical, high-motor big with solid athleticism, Nesler worked the block well. He had a power move to score in the post, completed an and-one off a dump-off pass, and scored on a roll. He sets great screens and attacks rebounds. Nesler showed well on the defensive end as well, blocking a shot in the paint and swatting a three. He is a small college post prospect that plays hard.
Carson Seyller (6’2 SG, Burlington Central)
The bouncy combo guard was doing most of his damage in the paint. Seyller scored in transition on direct drives and had a couple of acrobatic layups off of penetration. He also scored early with a post turnaround. Seyller is active on the defensive end with really good lateral quickness and length. He projects as a plus defender at the college level at either guard spot. Another player that should hear from Division 3 and NAIA programs over the next few months.
Illinois Attack 2023
Brayden Fagbemi (5’10 PG, Neuqua Valley)
I like Fagbemi’s rhythm and shiftiness off the bounce. He has a tight handle to create against pressure. He picked his spots well to score on drives and make a mid-range pull-up. Fagbemi defends in space well and stays low to disrupt other guards. He is a solid point guard that really knows how to run a team.
Mekhi Lowery (6’5 SF, Oswego East)
Lowery has all of the tools of a serious wing prospect. He has long arms, effortless bounce around the rim, and has touch and raw skill. Playing the big spot, he was a mismatch all game. Lowery finished a roll early on, jumped the passing lane for a finish, and hit a three in the first half. He uses his length very well defensively to contest shots and switch across all five positions. When he had the ball on the break, he made a nice in-and-out move to get downhill for a finish. Bigs are too slow to stay in front of him and guards struggle to disrupt him at the rim. Lowery has Division 1 upside.
Sam Driscoll (6’3 SG, Benet)
Driscoll is an all-around guard that does a little bit of everything. He made a pinpoint pass out of a pick-and-roll, fed a cutter with a quick one-handed look, and found a teammate off the bounce. Driscoll has good lefty form with range to the three-point line. He made an elbow jumper and clean-looking corner three in the game I saw. Driscoll brings length and IQ to the defensive end where he was able to get deflections. He should continue to grow as a productive two-way guard.
Brady Kunka (6’4 SG, Benet)
Kunka filled it up on the offensive end. The physical Benet wing finished off a variety of cuts during the game, including a post-up and back door. Kunka is a good slasher that has the athleticism and size to score through contact. He got out in transition multiple times for easy looks with a eurostep and contact finish. Kunka added a catch-and-shoot three along with a couple of assists off of his penetration. Kunka should be in for a good summer.
Indiana Elite 2024
Cooper Koch (6’7 PF, Peoria Notre Dame)
Koch is a special talent with versatility on both ends. He handles the ball well in space, showing ball control in transition and out of dribble handoff actions. He took a rebound end to end before finishing with a nice spin move going to his left. Koch is smooth on the perimeter with a compact jump shot that has a high release. In the first half, he dribbled into a baseline pull-up and made a 10-foot jumper. When he posted up, he sealed aggressively and showed good footwork and great hands.
His passing may be his best skill. Koch excels as a post passer, hitting weak-side players throughout the game. He should become an elite high post player that can make skip passes, hit backdoor cutters, or get his own shot. I saw some nice mobility and timing on the defensive end as well. Koch had a monster block and anticipated well on switches. He will get stronger and more explosive as he matures, but Koch has the skill and feel to be a national prospect. Iowa and Bradley have offered so far.
Mercury Elite – Rush
Dom Trelenberg (6’4 SF, Nazareth)
Trelenberg was terrific in the game that I saw. He did a nice job finishing around the paint. The lefty wing converted multiple looks in transition and had an and-one after making a well-timed cut to the rim. He plays hard on both ends and is an effective rebounder at his size. Trelenberg hit a mid-range shot and a three, showing a solid catch-and-shoot game past the three-point line. He brings versatility and toughness that should make him a favorite for some Division 3 programs.
Matas Deksnys (6’7 SG, Lockport )
Deksnys keeps getting better and better. He made a bunch of threes in the game I saw, including an impressive three off of a pullback move at the top of the key. The ball comes out nicely out of his hands with NBA range off the catch or the dribble. Deksnys stopped on a dime for a transition three as well. His game has expanded from being a catch-and-shoot wing to a player that can pull-up, get to the rim in straight lines, or make an impact defensively. His length and shooting continue to be differentiators. He is the best shooter available in the 2021 class and could be a nice pickup for a school with an open scholarship.
Brady Ruggles (6’5 SG, Danville [IN])
Ruggles continues to have a nice spring showing his ability to score in bunches. He hit a few threes from the wing and added a turnaround jumper from the short corner. His pull-up is advanced from mid-range and he does a nice job getting off the ground on his threes. When he had driving lanes, Ruggles used his handling ability to attack in straight lines. Ruggles can get his own shot with his footwork or run-off screens. He looks like a D2 or low-major level player with his skill set and size at the guard spot.
Hakim Williams (6’3 SG, Round Lake )
Another unsigned senior with scholarship-level talent, Williams is a powerful wing with plus athleticism. He rebounds at a high rate on both ends, looking especially impressive creating second chances. He is tough to box out and he either scored or got to the foul line as a result of the boards. Williams does a lot of little things to impact winning, from passing to defending multiple positions. He blocked one shot at its apex in the game I watched. Williams is a nice do-it-all wing to add late in the recruiting process.
Mercury Elite – Stephens
Danny New (6’1 SG, Aurora Christian)
New provided a good scoring punch with his athleticism getting downhill and shooting. He got up near the rim on a couple of drives and knocked down a three. He is only 6-foot-1, but he can play bigger around the paint area. New was productive with his touches and has been a proficient scorer for Aurora Christian. He is most likely going to be a guard that Division 3 coaches contact.
Nick McCoy (6’2 SG, Jacobs)
McCoy played well in the game that I watched. He hit a pair of threes and made strong moves to the rim to score or get to the foul line. He has good energy defensively and is willing to defend in space. McCoy showed some decent ball-handling skills to break down over aggressive defenders as well.
Jack Vegter (6’4 SG, Lincoln-Way Central)
Shots were falling from deep for Vegter. He connected on a few long threes during the game, with one coming a few feet behind the college line. Vegter added an and-one and made some aggressive drives to the rim. The 6-foot-4 wing is a proven shooter that should be able to attract some high-academic programs over the next two months.
Mike Clarke (6’1 PG, Cary Grove)
Clarke is always solid on both ends. He got teammates the ball on time and made a few nice one-handed deliveries on the move. Defensively, he was disruptive with his active hands and battled on the inside for rebounds. Clarke got to the basket for some timely finishes as well. He is a slick finisher and heady playmaker that also has the ability to pull-up behind the arc. As more Division 3 coaches see him, he should have a lot of opportunities at the next level.
Aiden Wieczorek (6’1 SG, Huntley)
Wieczorek dragged some defenders with him on a couple of finishes. He is a bruising guard that uses his strength well to get by defenders and guard multiple positions on the other end. Wieczorek was able to play some point guard and initiate offense as well. He is set up for a solid summer that is bound to lead to some contact from schools in search of physical two-way guards.
Chicago Lockdown 2022
Owen Schneider (5’10 PG, Prospect)
Schneider is constantly looking to make plays off the dribble. He knocked down a three early and drove into traffic for a few explosive finishes among size. The 5-foot-10 guard controlled the game with his dribble-drive game and passing. At one point, he cut off of a high post entry to get an easy layup. But most of his damage was manufactured with the ball in his hands. Schneider is an impressive ball-handler with the athleticism and shooting to be a solid Division 2 guard.
Conrad Luczynski (7’2 C, Bartlett)
This was my first time seeing Luczynski this spring and he looks even taller. The 7-foot-2 center kept balls alive on the offensive glass, finished his shots around the rim, and was really good passing out of the post. He always takes a peak when he gets post touches and found multiple wide-open players off of double teams or over helping. Luczynski was the first one to the ground for a loose ball, which speaks for itself at his size. He was a reliable rim protector as well, blocking a few shots and altering many more. He lacks some agility and could get more refined in the post. But his size and instincts should garner scholarship interest.
Donavyn Sayles (6’6 SF, Rockford Lutheran)
Sayles showed his perimeter game with a number of jumpers. He started with a mid-range jumper then followed it up with a couple of threes. He made another three in the second half. That’s an important development with his strength in the paint. Sayles is a versatile defensive player that rebounds well. As Sayles gets more comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter, he should be able to flex between the three and four spots in college.
Sebastian Blachut (6’2 SG, Lake Park)
Blachut got to the rim with a purpose. He had two big dunks earlier and slashed to the rim well for layups throughout. When he has the ball on penetration, Blachut does a good job of surveying the court and looking for open teammates. He moves the ball within the offense and picks his spots to score. His athleticism is an asset on the defensive end getting into passing lanes and contesting shots well. Blachut is a solid Division 3 guard that has a lot of upside.
Chicago Lockdown 2023
Luke Newhall (6’4 SF, Walter Payton)
Newhall looked good getting downhill and bullying smaller defenders on his drives. He took hits, maintained his balance, and completed plays on straight-line drives. He scored going left and right, using his frame well to create angles. Newhall made a corner three and rebounded well. His physicality allowed him to carve out some space against bigger players to battle on the glass. He was solid defensively. I think Newhall still has some untapped athleticism that might show as he matures.
Matt Moore (6’7 PF, Hillcrest)
Moore continued to keep balls alive on the offensive glass. He had well over five offensive rebounds in one game that I saw. His quick jumps are just as beneficial on the defensive end where he blocked shots and made life difficult on anyone taking a shot around the paint. Even though he struggled with finishing at times, he never gave up on the second and third chances. That energy led to and-ones and kick-outs. Moore has been a breakout post player this spring and has loads of potential.
Jackson Niego (6’0 PG, Lyons)
Niego showed off the entire finishing package. He made a running layup off the glass, hit a left-handed floater on the baseline, and finished another floater off two feet in the paint. His touch on those shots is consistent and a key weapon as a point guard. His court sense finding teammates in transition and kicking out on drives stood out. The ball was snapped around when Niego was at the point, with everyone getting a touch. He made a nice stop-and-pop floater around the foul line as well after attacking a closeout. Niego is another player who has stood out every time I have watched this Lockdown team.
Team Swish 2024
JJ Hernandez (6’6 SG, Glenbard North)
Hernandez put his athleticism and versatility on full display. He rebounded everything in his area, going out of his area and grabbing misses in traffic. He had multiple put-backs after snatching offensive boards. Hernandez was excellent on the defensive end, rotating over to help teammates and erasing shots. He pinned one shot off the glass and had another emphatic rejection later in the game. Playing the middle spot of the zone offense, he made plays getting to the rim and finding cutters. Hernandez possesses great instincts as a playmaker with the ball skills to make things happen. The sky is the limit for Hernandez, especially as his jumper becomes more consistent.
Tim Handy (6’2 PG, De La Salle)
It was an impressive showing from Handy with his shot-making and explosiveness. He weaved through the lane for a finish early on and had a strong left-handed drive. Handy was aggressive all game from all over the court, hitting a three and an elbow jumper as well. In a game where points weren’t coming easy, he manufactured the best looks. Handy had a few nice passes as well, including a transition dime to find a rim runner. He is a 2024 prospect that has the tools to be a big-time recruit.
Richard Lindsey (6’4 SF, Simeon)
The talent is evident with Lindsey. With his long, lean frame and slick ball-handling skills, the intrigue is understandable. Lindsey made a three and was active around the paint. He also had a big block on the defensive end and forced a number of turnovers and tough shots. Simeon will be loaded next year, but Lindsey has upside that is worth tracking.
Team Ten Jabari
Payton Kamin (6’5 SG, DePaul College Prep)
Widely considered one of the top shooters in the 2024 class, Kamin had to work for everything. He still managed to get some good looks, making a nice spin move to get to a floater and hitting a three. Kamin has legitimate size at 6-foot-5 with limitless three-point range. He probably isn’t done growing and will only continue to develop as a creator off the dribble.
Jarvis McNeal (5’9 PG, Bogan)
McNeal has breakaway speed and a crisp handle to make use of it. He was getting to the rim regularly, drawing a ton of fouls on penetration. McNeal hit a three as well. His quickness translates well defensively as a ball hawk that makes life tough on opposing guards. McNeal is a promising young point guard prospect.