The 16U Illinois teams had solid performances at the UAA live session. Here are the standouts from the 16U teams that I saw.
Asa Thomas (6’7 SG, Lake Forest)
Thomas is one of the top shooters in the state, but he really showed a complete game this weekend. He scored in a wide variety of ways, working as a screener and ball-handler at different times. When he was involved in ball screens, he did a nice job of slipping out to threes and scored on a roll as well. Having plus size at 6-foot-7 gives coaches the luxury to move him around. It was a three-point show from Thomas coming off of handoffs and pulling the trigger off of the catch. He went on a stretch where he made three in a row in a tight game. His handle is developing, looking comfortable making plays off the dribble. Thomas took one rebound up the floor, beat a defender, and dished it off for an open look. He also was effective using his length around the paint defensively. Thomas has a long list of Division 1 offers and projects as one of the top players in the 2023 class.
Cam Christie (6’4 SG, Rolling Meadows)
The best way to describe Christie is smooth. He made a couple of long twos off of the dribble, which is his go-to when he needs to create. The 6-foot-4 guard probed in the lane and was able to find holes in the defense to get his shot off. He had a pinpoint pass to a roller and connected on some threes as well. Ole Miss offered Christie this weekend and more power five programs should follow. He can fill it up and hasn’t even maxed out physically yet.
Hunter Duncan (6’1 PG, Fenwick)
Fresh off of joining the Wolves, Duncan made an immediate impact with his defense and playmaking. He got after ball-handlers defensively, using his strength and quickness to knock guards off of their path. Duncan got a couple of steals using his hands well to poke balls away. Playing primarily the lead guard, he broke down defenders and either finished strong around the rim or made good passes to teammates. The La Lumiere transfer looked right at home.
Chris Martin (6’6 PF, Mundelein)
Martin brought some physical punch to the Wolves. When he came in, he rebounded out of his area and protected the rim well. Martin scored on a drive with a spin move from the mid post and on putbacks.
Arius Alijosius (6’2 SG, Stagg)
Alijosius brought the burner to Atlanta. He was piling up points from behind the arc with threes coming off of staggers, pindowns, and kickouts. His shot comes out cleanly every time, showing good range and consistency on his jumper. Alijosius got out on the break for some finishes and added a lefty floater. But his ability to make contested threes and get square coming off of screens is advanced. Alijosius should be one some radars with shooting prowess and length at the guard spot.
Nik Polonowski (6’6 SF, Lyons)
Another knockdown shooter for Breakaway, Polonowski hit multiple threes in a number of games this weekend. He was really good shooting from the wing and made a corner 3 on an inbounds play as well. Polonowski has a good base and ideal size at 6-foot-6 to quickly get off shots over defenders. He had a couple of aggressive drives to the rim where he elevated to the rim for finishes. His shot making led to hard closeouts which allowed Polonowski to use his strength to get downhill. When he was away from the ball, he was excellent crashing the offensive glass. Polonowski is a plus shooter, rebounder, and athlete that has the traits to be a scholarship player.
Graham Smith (6’5 SF, Lyons)
Smith showcased his power this weekend. He drove to the rim on multiple occasions and got separation with a slight hip or shoulder bump. Smith scored well in that 8 to 12 foot range with push shots after playing through contact. When he got all of the way to the rim, he showed his athleticism and body control. He stepped into threes well throughout the weekend and is a productive outside shooter. Defensively, he turned some steals into points and can defend three spots with his strength and activity. Smith is a dual-sport athlete that should be on the scholrship radar for hoops.
Bryce Coleman (6’5 SG, St. Rita)
Coleman was a standout this weekend scoring well from three levels. He made mid-range pull-ups around the foul line, got out in transition for layups and a poster, and shot the three. After missing some time with an injury, Coleman looks back to form using his size and skill to impact the game. He gave the Hoopstars a lot of production in the paint, but he showed that perimeter touch as well. Coleman has offers from Nebraska and Bowling Green so far.
George Bellevue (6’5 SF, Lincoln Way East)
Bellevue was relentless attacking the basket. His combination of size, strength, and explosiveness make it tough on any type of defender. He took some jumpers, but his best offense came on straight line drives, transition looks, and cuts. Bellevue is an elite rebounder that went all over the court to get boards. He was stout defensively staying in front of the ball and coming over on the help side. Bellevue has plenty of untapped potential that should catch the eyes of college coaches.
Dylan Schmidt (6’3 SG, Johnsburg)
Schmidt spaced the floor well and attacked closeouts when needed. His athleticism was on display as a rebounder where he was crashing for defensive boards and mixing it up offensively. Schmidt is a microwave scorer for the Hoopstars that gave some good energy.
Grant Welch (6’3 SG, Moline)
Welch showed good strength on his penetration, scoring in traffic a few times. He’s a knockdown shooter as well that can get going in a hurry from three. At 6-foot-3, Welch is able to make plays in crowds and shoot over most guards. The size and scoring instincts of Welch are worth tracking going forward.
Cooper LePage (6’1 PG, Crystal Lake South)
LePage got to the foul line early and often. He didn’t shy away from contact and finished off some aggressive right handed drives. His drives have gravity, sucking in help defenders and allowing him to kick out to open players. LePage can shoot it as well and is capable of hitting multiple threes in a game. His on-ball defense was solid, staying in front of the ball and applying pressure. LePage is the driving force for Fundamental U at the point guard spot.
Owen Guest (6’4 SG, Chesterton [IN])
Guest was on fire from three. He drilled multiple long balls as a floor spacer, showing a smooth outside shot. With good length at 6-foot-4, Guest moves well and plays effectively off of the ball. He drove baseline for a finish as well, looking comfortable in straight lines as a penetrator. The Chesterton guard has some tools to work with going forward.
Dennis Estepp (6’0 SG, Grayslake Central)
Estepp shot the ball well this weekend. He has a very quick one motion shot that he can pull from a variety of actions he made a some threes, hit a pull-up, and scored on the break against contact. Though he lacks some strength, he played with toughness and used his skill on the perimeter to create. Estepp gave much needed production for Fundamental U at times.