With it being the offseason, we’ll have some time to dive deep into players. These posts will detail a prospect’s potential role at the next level, their most college-ready skill, and an important area of improvement.
I will be posting similar college projections for a number of players in the 2022 and 2023 class along with a select few for the 2024 class. The top 10 for the 22s and 23s will be available for everyone and additional projection posts will be for subscribers.
1. Jaden Schutt (6’5 SG, Yorkville Christian)
Projection: High-Level Shooter/Slasher
Most College-Ready Trait: Shooting (on the move and off the catch)
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Secondary playmaking
Outlook: Schutt is the top shooter in the state and one of the more explosive finishers when he has a head of steam. But shooting will probably be his calling card at the next level with how comfortable he is running off of screens and making contested jumpers. Keep an eye on his playmaking and pick-and-roll development this year. Schutt brings a business-like approach that is bound to produce results. Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois, and Duke are among some of the suitors.
2. AJ Casey (6’8 SF, Whitney Young)
Projection: Active Two-Way Combo Forward/Switchable Defender
Most College-Ready Trait: Defensive versatility
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Consistent offensive production
Outlook: The defensive impact that Casey has shown across multiple positions stands out. He’s also an excellent rebounder, cutter, and finisher around the rim. While he can knock down jumpers with space and has a solid handle, Casey might not be a primary or secondary scoring option in college. Which is fine, because he’s really good at a lot of things that impact winning. Gonzaga, Florida, Illinois and others are involved.
3. Braden Huff (6’10 PF, Glenbard West)
Projection: Playmaking Face-Up Four
Most College-Ready Trait: Touch/Shooting range
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Defending quickness and athleticism in the frontcourt
Outlook: As skilled as they come for a post prospect at the next level and beyond. Huff will be a weapon immediately as a floor spacer with his sweet lefty stroke. Coaches will be able to utilize his passing skills out of the high post, mid-post, or slot. He’s added weight and has a good foundation to build on too. Huff is a plus shot blocker, but may need time to adjust to containing quick guards or springy bigs with size. Virginia Tech, Gonzaga, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State and more have offered.
4. Nick Martinelli (6’7 SF, Glenbrook South)
Projection: High Efficiency/High Energy Interior Scoring Wing
Most College-Ready Trait: Efficient bucket getting
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Volume perimeter shooting
Outlook: Martinelli was one of the most efficient scorers in the EYBL and shot over 60% last season. The way he scores with timely cuts, precise footwork, and varied finishes will translate. I think his defense and rebounding get underappreciated. As a senior, I’ll be looking to see him take and make more jumpers and carry that on to Elon.
5. Ben VanderWal (6’7 SF, Timothy Christian)
Projection: Hard-Nosed Catch-and-Shoot/Attacking Wing
Most College-Ready Trait: Grit/Consistency
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Creativity off the dribble
Outlook: Toughness travels. VanderWal rebounds, protects the rim, and puts his body on the line. Wait until he gets into a college strength program. He’s been around 40 percent from three all year. His ability to get downhill to draw fouls or finish in traffic might end up being more of an asset than his shooting. There are still some limits to his one-on-one game, but VanderWal will be successful because he does things the right way and has the talent to match. Mid-major offers like Northeastern, W&M, Furman, and Bucknell have rolled in.
6. Jalen Quinn (6’3 PG, Tuscola)
Projection: Downhill playmaking PG
Most College-Ready Trait: Dribble drive and finishing skills
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Reliable shooting
Outlook: Quinn is going to find a way into the lane, even against experienced college guards. He’s already that shifty and creative, but developing a consistent perimeter shot would really open things up. I’ve already seen improvements over the last 12 months. Quinn’s defensive instincts and passing will show at Loyola where he should be able to grow with a promising, young core of local talent.
7. Trey Pettigrew (6’3 PG, Kenwood)
Projection: Dynamic shot-creating combo guard
Most College-Ready Trait: Getting separation off the dribble
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Efficiency/Spot-up Shooting
Outlook: Pettigrew can go offensively when he’s feeling it. He excels with the ball in his hands as a scoring guard. At times, he struggles to move and knock down shots when playing off of the ball. But once he gets to college, expect good things from his ability to break down defenders. Georgia, Illinois, Penn State, Nebraska and others have offered.
8. Robbie Avila (6’9 PF, Oak Forest)
Projection: Pick-and-pop four/small ball five
Most College-Ready Trait: Perimeter skills
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Guarding ball screens
Outlook: Avila is a knockdown shooter with great IQ that gives him an edge at 6-foot-9. He is going to be used in pick-and-pop situations and as an outlet that can make pinpoint passes to keep an offense in motion. One area where he will need to continue to improve is with his quickness and defensive instincts. Avila has so much to offer offensively that he may be able to learn through any growing pains on the other end. Loyola, Lehigh, SIU and other schools have pursued Avila so far.
9. Cade Pierce (6’6 SG, Glenbard West)
Projection: Big, versatile 3-and-D guard
Most College-Ready Trait: Defense
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Creating his own shot
Outlook: Pierce will have coaches kicking themselves a few years from now. He’s one of the top wing defenders, rebounders, and passers in the class. But because he’s not a big-time scorer, he doesn’t get as much attention. If you add in his shooting, cutting, and physical upside, Pierce’s value as a top-end glue guy is clear. Look for a more athletic, aggressive player this winter. UIC, Penn, Loyola Maryland and others have offered.
10. Christian Jones (6’5 PG, East St. Louis)
Projection: Lanky pass-first, defensive-minded guard
Most College-Ready Trait: Vision
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Aggressiveness offensively
Outlook: Mizzou got a commitment from Jones before more schools got to see the budding potential. He is the type of playmaker that passes guys open and can see over defenses. Jones is instinctual defensively which should give him a good base when adjusting to SEC speed. As an underclassmen, he shot it more, but Jones didn’t shoot a lot as a junior. His form is sound and he made a lot as an underclassmen. If he can shoot well enough to force defenders over screens, the vision will flourish.
+1 Kam Craft (6’6 SG, TSF Academy)
Projection: High-volume 3-level scorer
Most College-Ready Trait: Relentless scoring ability
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Playmaking
Outlook: The recent Buffalo Grove transfer is going to score in any gym he enters. Craft is so gifted as a shot maker from different angles and actions. At Xavier, he will be immediate offense and should be an asset both as a floor spacer and end-of-shotclock outlet. What happens when he’s missing shots? I’ve seen him use his length defensively and go up into crowds for rebounds. When it comes down to it, a bucket getter like Craft will get buckets.