With the July session underway, a lot of teams throughout Illinois are getting prepared for the first live AAU periods in over a year. Here are some teams that should give college coaches a good bang for their buck this month.
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One of the top teams in the nation, this 2022 Meanstreets team is loaded. They have a few out-of-state players that make a huge impact. Versatile 6-foot-9 forward Jalen Washington and power wing Ty Rodgers are both highly coveted by a number of Big Ten and ACC programs. Washington has crisp footwork in the post with the ability to play in the paint or win face-up battles. Rodgers has improved his handle to get to the rim more efficiently where he puts defenders under the basket.
They also feature some of the top 2022s in Illinois. Whitney Young’s A.J. Casey has all the tools you look for in a high-major wing, with length, athleticism, perimeter skills, and defensive upside. Kam Craft (Xavier commit) is the most explosive scorer I have seen in the class. He’s a special shot-maker at 6-foot-6. Nick Martinelli (Elon commit) had an impressive June with Glenbrook South, scoring all over the floor, breaking defenders down, rebounding in traffic, and guarding multiple spots. There are games where Martinelli and skilled four-man Robbie Avila (multiple mid-major offers) come off the bench. That should say enough about their depth.
St. Charles North forward Ethan Marlowe is back from injury as well, adding another 6-foot-8 player that can stretch the floor and play a few spots. They also have two guards from out-of-state who are dynamic with the ball. Kareem Rozier is a quick, high-IQ point guard and I haven’t seen 2023 guard RJ Taylor miss an open three. Meanstreets has a bunch of Division 1 talent that plays well together.
Illinois Wolves UAA
Explosive sharpshooter Jaden Schutt and 6-foot-10 mismatch Braden Huff spearhead the Wolves. Schutt has an advanced approach to go along with the ability to shoot from NBA range, pull up off the dribble, and dunk in traffic. His creativity and passing have taken major leaps. Huff continues to impress me every time I see him with his mobility and skillset. A true four-man that can handle the ball in transition, Huff works well out of the high post as a passer and face-up scorer. Both are high-major players with bright futures.
Their primary point guard is Tuscola’s Jalen Quinn, a rock-solid mid-major prospect that has a smooth offensive game. He adapted quickly to the competition in the spring and should be a reliable playmaker that finds ways to get into the lane. 6-foot-6 guard Cade Pierce, another Glenbard West product, pulled in a number of offers over the last few months. He really defends, makes plays for others, shoots it well, and has a projectable body and play style.
Ivy league and high-academic D1 schools should be keeping close tabs on 6-foot-2 shooter Cooper Noard. He’s really good in the screen game and has a slick handle to get downhill. Al Peciulis is a strong 6-foot-6 wing from Tennessee, but he fits right in with his tenacity and slashing ability. UIC has offered him. The player who may have had the biggest rise in June was 6-foot-9 big Dylan Arnett, who showed that his upside is starting to be realized. He runs the floor hard, has some touch, and is willing to mix it up on the glass. Low and mid-majors have offered so far.
Amarion Nimmers from Rock Island joined them late in the spring and he should bring some athleticism to the Wolves on the UAA circuit. The Wolves are set to compete in the UAA.
Mac Irvin Fire EYBL
The Fire have a deep 2023 group that may occasionally play up, so I am including them all here. 2023 JJ Taylor is a superstar and future pro. The ball comes out of his hands cleanly and he has range on his pull-up out to the volleyball line. He’s the whole package. 6-foot-9 Brewster guard Matas Buzelis is a two-way force that is adept at creating offense for himself or others. The work is showing and he has turned into a monster over the last year. Power five schools are all over those two 2023s along with Darrin Ames, a 6-foot-3 point guard that can jump out of the gym and shoot on the move. LSU is among the schools to offer him last month.
2022 Trey Pettigrew has become effective playing on or off the ball. His spot-up shooting has improved and he is just as good on the break as a scorer or facilitator. NMH forward Danny Wolf opened some eyes in the spring with his passing and handle at 6-foot-10. He plays like a big guard, leading the break off the bounce or with long outlet passes. Wolf can shoot it as well and has a lot of coaches intrigued.
6-foot-9 Kyle Thomas is another transfer that looked great for Fenwick in June. His quick leaping ability gives him a huge advantage on the offensive glass and as a rim protector. He projects as a rim runner in college, with offers from Arizona and Illinois. The guard play for the Fire is strong, but Jaylen Drane is a consistent scorer and ball-handler for them. He should be Simeon’s go-to guy this year and has a way of beating defenders that looks effortless.
2022 Fundamental U Black
Fundamental U plays very well together and is the only in-state team to knock off Meanstreets so far. Bryce Moore had a big spring attacking the rim and creating havoc defensively. At this point, he looks like a clear Division 1 guard. 6-foot-8 Jackson Munro has an old-school game that is fun to watch. He goes to work with his back to the basket and keeps the ball high in the paint. Munro showed good energy defensively and shooting touch in the spring. Loyola Maryland has offered. I like 6-foot-4 guard Will Shank a lot. He’s a tough lefty that plays through contact and can score in bunches. There is an edge to his game that will translate well to college where he is a scholarship-level kid.
Yogi Oliff is another guard that should get some offers with how well he controls the game, makes passes on the move, and picks his spots to score. 6-foot-7 Chase Bonder complements Munro very well with his floor spacing ability and cutting prowess. He is really good as a catch-and-shoot option from 15-feet out to the three-point line and has good agility.
The Glenbard West duo of 6-foot-3 Paxton Warden and 6-foot-8 Ryan Renfro gives good minutes off of the bench. Warden can heat up from three, defends well, and has improved as a finisher. Renfro has been on a tear over the last few months. It’s so hard to find a big that is willing to crash the glass, roll hard, rotate defensively, and provide constant energy. He has a decent outside shot, but he is a potential low-major prospect with his size, athleticism, and motor. Fenwick’s David Gieser gives instant offense as a shooter off the bench. He’s a high-academic target.
Breakaway has a lot of continuity in this group that allows shows on the court. The duo of 6-foot-7 Ben VanderWal and 6-foot-6 Bobby Durkin may be the best shooting combo in the state. VanderWal picked up his first Division 1 offer from William & Mary and the floodgates started to open. The secret is out on the athletic wing that is relentless at getting to the rim, capable of shooting off the catch, and willing to defend and rebound at a high rate. Durkin is a special perimeter shooter that has great arc and a quick release. The size and ability to make plays within the offense should attract Ivys and low-to-mid major programs.
In the spring, Garret Bolte was one of the best sixth men in the state. The combo forward has continued to show that he can shoot it at a high rate with time and space. His rebounding, defensive versatility, and strength putting it on the ground should get interest from D2, NAIA, and high-academic D3 programs. Riverside Brookfield’s JP Hanley is another strong-bodied shooter and York’s Nick Hesch is a lanky four that sprints the floor and can step out to the perimeter.
They have a couple of other solid Division 3 prospects in sharpshooters Drew Cwik and Jake Quast. Cwik is a point guard with some shake off the dribble and Quast had a huge June knocking down threes and making aggressive moves to the rim. Zeke Williams has the defensive excellence to attract college programs and showed a developed short pull-up game. He’s heading into his fourth varsity season at Naperville North. Point guard Brennan White does a nice job getting everyone involved and can make open threes as well.
The Hoopstars team featuring Liberty commit Zach Cleveland and reclassified 2022 big KJ Debrick is tough and athletic. Cleveland is a do-it-all forward that can contain one through five defensively, get out in transition, and hit jumpers on kick-outs. He will be a difference-maker at Liberty. Debrick has been blocking everything, rebounding out of his area, and making threes. The 6-foot-10 big is going to be a coveted center prospect. Jeremiah Jones is a guard that is going to be on the rise this month. Eastern Illinois just offered him and his elite defense and athleticism are hard to miss.
AJ Redd from Saint Ignatius is an intriguing 6-foot-4 guard who looked really good in June. He is a natural point guard that is developing a complete scoring game. Athletic wing Nick Harrell is another defensive-minded player that is growing as a ball-handler to showcase that explosiveness at the rim. The Hoopstars have a deep program with solid players that they may have with this team on any given day.
M14 National Adidas
Coming off a big first weekend to start the month, M14’s national team looks ready to go. High-upside wing Patrick Robinson puts his big frame to good use on his drives to the rim. He is knocking down threes more regularly and has been more assertive for longer stretches. D2 Lewis offered him last month on a visit. Versatile guard Lane McVicar is an under-the-radar prospect that has the features of a 3-and-D player but adds good playmaking instincts. He has shown the ability to be a primary ball-handler. Naperville Central guard Jonah Hinton is a steady guard that brings an athletic punch. I like his footwork and ability to create separation with his handle. He should be a scholarship player.
West Aurora wing Ty Rogers is building off of a solid June where he showed his mid-range game and ball skills. He’s a unique 6-foot-7 prospect that can score in the post with turnarounds or make moves on the perimeter. Trent Tousana is a solid point guard that would be an excellent Division 3 floor general. He is tough, smart, and able to score or distribute as needed. Tousana is also a big shot maker.
A player to track is 6-foot-8 Marial Puou, an athletically gifted forward that has a lot of defensive tools and open-court flashes. Marmion’s Sean Kavanaugh is a great shooter that knows how to get open. He will be another D3 target.
Young & Reckless
The backcourt of Damari Wheeler-Thomas and Tavari Johnson lacks size, but that’s about it. Johnson has been one of the big performers since the spring, showcasing his finishing, shooting, and passing skill. A bunch of low-to-mid majors have offered him. The same can be said for Wheeler-Thomas who is also a terrific pick-and-roll player that defends the ball relentlessly. Both are Division 1 guards that start next to 6-foot-4 wing Justin Mullins. After a high-scoring spring, Mullins got a lot more attention for his hot shooting and slashing. But his defensive impact is going to be his best college quality as a lanky, quick wing stopper.
Will Grudzinski is an impressive two-way shooter that acts primarily as a floor spacer for Y&R. But he can score on one-dribble pull-ups and straight-line drives as well. Grudzinski is a good athlete that should be contacted by every Ivy League program that recruits the Chicago area. Gabe Madej is another high-academic wing that can light it up from three. He has a strong frame with the upper-body strength and base to play on the inside. Xavier Lewis does a lot of little things for Y&R, often battling bigger five men and beating them to the glass or dunking on them. He is a fearless four-man that plays with high energy all of the time on both ends. He could be a low-major small-ball four.
Their bench has some size in unsigned 2021 rim protector Troy Glover and 6-foot-8 forward Dominic Commisso, a face-up four. Commisso is still putting all of the pieces together, but he has upside as a rim-running forward that can step outside to beat slower defenders off the dribble. Y&R has been tough when at full strength and has plenty to offer college coaches.