We held a short minicamp for 2023 players ahead of the high school summer leagues starting up. Here are the evaluations of the players who were in attendance.
Ahmad Henderson (5’10 PG, Brother Rice)
Henderson was the most impressive and dominant player throughout the night. If you lose him for a second, he’ll make you pay. Solid defenders weren’t able to affect his shooting, hitting contested pull-up threes on command. Henderson has the range, quickness, and ball control to be a nightmare matchup for guards. He used his hesitation to set up blowby moves where his creativity showed with runners and double-clutch finishes. Even at 5-foot-10, Henderson excels as a scorer from all three levels due to his IQ and touch. On the defensive end, he jumped passing lanes to create turnovers. So far, Northern Illinois has offered the Henderson. But expect more Division 1 schools to buy into his speed, efficiency, and shooting.
Mark Mennecke (6’1 PG, Neuqua Valley)
The gritty lefty guard was effective on or off the ball. He showed deep shooting range from all over the perimeter, lighting it up during scrimmages from three. Mennecke was comfortable stepping into shots off kick-outs. When he was able to handle the ball in space, Mennecke played angles well and made physical drives to the rim before finishing. He is a good athlete that attacks the paint for his own shot and to find teammates. Mennecke operated well in the pick-and-roll game, splitting a screen for a layup and driving by hedging bigs. After a few key graduations, Mennecke should be the focal point at Neuqua Valley.
Nik Polonowski (6’6 SF, Lyons)
Polonowski shot the ball as well as anyone during the drills. The athletic 6-foot-6 wing has the one-dribble pull-up down and made a few contested catch-and-shoot attempts off handoffs and ball screens. Polonowski showed good playmaking instincts in transition as well. He was initiating the break before dropping off passes for layups. He has a projectable frame with plus athleticism and a jump shot that will continue to produce as he ages. Polonowski attacked well off of rip-throughs and curls during the day, finishing with dunks and contact during drills. As his handle gets more fluid, he should be able to utilize his first step more often. Polonowski should be a high-academic, scholarship-level target with upside.
James Muse (6’3 SG, Prairie Ridge)
Muse was good on both ends from start to finish. During drills, he was smooth handling the ball and making passes on the move. He regularly found rollers in pick-and-roll actions during 3-on-3 play and translated that over to scrimmages. His length gave him an edge on penetration with a variety of layups around the rim. Muse really stood out on the defensive end using his ranginess to rotate and guard the ball. He blocked a shot and got a number of steals with his activity. The 6-foot-3 guard hit wing threes as well during scrimmages, off the catch, and on the move. Muse has a bright future as a two-way off guard.
Dylan Schmidt (6’3 SG, Johnsburg)
Now recognized as a big-time leaper and dunker, defenders made business decisions when he had a clear path to the lane. He gets above the rim quickly and with force, allowing him to play amongst the trees in the half-court and score above length in transition. Schmidt was knocking down jump shots during drills, showing good footwork coming off flares or shooting behind screens. There isn’t much drop-off in his efficiency a few feet behind the college line. There have been good strides over the last few months with his creativity off the dribble and passing. He was changing speeds to set up defenders and making tight-space passes. Schmidt has a lot of tools that should get the attention of college coaches.
George Bellevue (6’7 SF, Lincoln Way East)
Bellevue was the most physically advanced player at the event. He has size, length, and explosive athleticism. The LWE combo forward is a terrific two-foot jumper that is one of the better volume rebounders in the class. He grabbed rebounds on both ends and turned them into points either with putbacks or advance passes in transition. Bellevue made a couple of nice moves to beat defenders and make plays at the rim in traffic. His upside as a slasher was evident with his aggressiveness and sheer strength as a driver. He is a solid defender that is able to defend on the wing or in the post interchangeably. While his shooting is still a work in progress, Bellevue made a few threes during drills and scrimmages. He is a player that is set for a breakout summer and junior season.
Collin Moran (6’6 SF, Providence Catholic)
Moran was able to show his perimeter game, playing primarily on the wing and off the dribble. He has natural touch as a shooter, making short pull-ups, mid-range shots, and a couple of threes during drills. Even at 6-foot-6, he plays more like a wing than a post. Moran attacked the basket when he had slower defenders on him, winning straight-line drives to get to the rim/ He lacks some strength and physicality that could help his ability to defend and create against more size.
Logan Brown (6’4 SF, Glenbard West)
Brown is an athletic wing with a strong build, good length, and a high motor. He passed the ball well when he drew help on drives. The lefty scored a couple of times by putting his head down going to his strong hand. Brown made a few short pull-ups and had a good eurostep floater. His energy was noticeable, crashing the glass hard for second chances and defending with a purpose. Brown has some things to work with going forward on a stacked Glenbard West team.
Donovan Collins (6’0 SG, Bolingbrook)
The 6-foot combo guard can go. Collins showed his tight handle by crossing up initial defenders to get to the rim, get to his mid-range, or set up angles to find teammates. When he came off of ball screens, Collins was ready to shoot, and that opened up passing opportunities. He is a dynamic scoring guard that really shot it well from the corners. His vision as a playmaker was noteworthy as well, threading the needs multiple times to find layups. Collins is a combo guard that should be on some radars.
Max Niesman (6’0 PG, Oswego)
Now more than ever, coaches want point guards that can shoot it off the bounce. Niesman was on fire pulling up from behind the arc. He made a stepback three after rejecting a screen and stopped on a dime in transition. Niesman has ideal ball-handling ability for a lead guard, able to weave through defenses and control it in pick-and-rolls. The decision-making was on point throughout the night, finding rollers and shooters easily. I like the activity defensively that he showed to get steals with his quick hands. Niesman is a point guard that could excel in a pace-and-space system.
Alex Engro (6’1 PG, Loyola)
Engro has continued to add to his game and is poised to be one of the breakout guards in the Catholic League. He looked great as the primary ball-handler during scrimmages showing a tight handle, patience coming off screens, and the ability to deliver pinpoint passes when help came. Nothing was rushed. He used his body well to create an advantage and put on a clinic from the mid-range. Engro hit step backs, around the foul line, elevated over defenders in the short corner, and got lost on a few elbow pull-ups. The 6-foot-1 guard also hit some threes during the drills and probed through traffic for finishes. He looks stronger and quicker off the dribble than earlier in the year. Once more coaches are able to see him live, I think there will be a nice list of schools reaching out to Engro.
Ian Ravagnie (6’3 SG, Huntley)
Ravagnie was spraying in three after three during the shooting drills. He has a good release point on his shot and doesn’t waste much movement getting it off. Once scrimmages started, he came out firing. He stepped into threes with no hesitation and added a pull-up three off of a crossover in transition. Ravagnie is a very skilled two-guard that has a solid frame. He got downhill really well during 3-on-3 to score through contact. Heading into his junior year, Ravagnie is set to take another big step forward.
Collin Wainscott (6’0 PG, Marmion)
Wainscott was an orchestrator offensively during the scrimmages. He anticipates how the help defense reacts to his penetration and leads teammates to open shots. Wainscott’s jump shot is pure, making a high percentage of his one-dribble pull-ups and threes during drill work. He made an NBA range three off of the catch during the live portion and dribbled through the lane for a mid-range look. The Marmion guard has a great sense for how to use ball screens. He always has his dribble alive and gets rid of it as soon as there is an open teammate. His floater and short pull-up game give him options in the pick-and-roll when defenders take away his threes. Even without some size, Wainscott is a scholarship level point guard.
Donovan Nichols (6’0 SG, Barrington)
A floor spacing combo guard, Nichols made his high-arching threes during drills and hit a couple during the scrimmages. He had a stop-and-pop jumper and a few transition layups as well. Nichols has a quick trigger when he catches it on the perimeter. The Barrington guard has a decent first step and some quickness in the open floor as well. As Nichols gets bigger, he will be able to play though some more contact on his drives. His shooting is a big asset.
Sherod Dent Jr. (6’6 SF, Notre Dame College Prep)
The newest NDCP forward was a load when he tried to get to the paint. The big-bodied wing can handle the ball, shoot from three, and bully smaller defenders. He drilled a number of threes during scrimmages, looking very comfortable stretching the floor. Dent does a great job of getting square before putting up shots. His post ups and drives were effective as defenders struggled to keep him off the block. Once he got to the paint and spun or drop stepped, it was too late for help. Dent should be able to play either forward spot at the next level.
Trevon Roots (6’5 SF, Marmion)
Roots stood out in a competitive group with his motor and athleticism. His shot-blocking was tremendous, swatting shots at their apex and meeting guys at the rim. He is the type of player that could switch screens without giving up much of an advantage. Roots handled the ball a lot, making plays for teammates and finishing off a couple of crafty moves early in the offense. I didn’t realize that Roots could create for himself as well as he did. There could be some value in using him as a high-post weapon in dribble handoffs. Roots will play more on the interior for Marmion where he will be more of a rim runner. While he works on his shooting range, the defense and offensive energy should carry Roots.
Tyler Jasek (6’6 PF, Oswego East)
The physical stretch four found his stroke early and didn’t cool off. Jasek has a good finish to his jumper and gets his feet set well. He made a bunch of threes from the corner and wing off of kick-outs. At 6-foot-6, he is a strong kid that has a nose for the ball as a rebounder. He pursued missed shots out of his area that led to some putbacks. When Jasek had post-up opportunities, he made good passes out of double teams. Jasek plays hard, can shoot it, and has some skill attacking off the dribble as he showed on a couple of rip throughs. He could be a strong D3 post prospect with upside.
Payton Pitts (6’1 PG, Francis W. Parker)
Pitts is a solid, cerebral point guard that has good strength for a lead guard. During drills, he made a good number of catch-and-shoot threes. Once live sessions began, he was looking to get his offense in the paint where his upper body strength was an advantage. Pitts finished well off of two feet in crowds and whipped a couple of passes out to shooters. His defense was sound, moving his feet well to stay in front of the ball. Pitts is a high-academic floor general that does a lot of the little things.
Simon Weisserman (6’7 PF, Lake Forest Academy)
Weisserman was a reliable outlet in the screen game and as a rim runner. He is an inside-out forward that shoots it well with time and space. He had a face-up jumper out of the mid-post and showed his touch during drills. His size at 6-foot-7 gives him an edge matching up against traditional bigs that don’t like to guard in space. Weisserman handles it well enough to attack closeouts and has the bounce to dunk in traffic. He showed solid hands catching and finishing on the move in transition or as the recipient of passes off of penetration. Weisserman has an intriguing set of tools to track.
Cole Bonder (6’5 PF, Libertyville)
Bonder has a unique combination of strength and skill. The big lefty is a capable outside shooter as he showed during drill work. He has a compact, quick shot that extends past the three-point line. But Bonder is just as comfortable sealing and exposing mismatches on the block. He scored well going over his right shoulder for hooks. When help came, he was ready to make on-point passes. One area where Bonder is going to stand out to coaches is as a screener and outlet coming off. He set rock-solid screens and caught tough passes before finishing. While he didn’t have to do much of it, he projects as an asset in the short roll game with his ability to pass or make jumpers. Bonder is a post prospect that is headed in the right direction.
Nick Gouriotis (6’4 PF, Burlington Central)
Gouriotis was running the floor and capitalizing on open shots all night. He turned long offensive rebounds into threes and mid-range shots. Gouriotis showed a consistent outside shot with really efficient finishing in transition. The 6-foot-4 big was able to use his screening to open things up for guards Gouriotis was the recipient of a number of advance passes from outrunning his defenders in transition as well.