College Projections for the Top 10 (Plus 2) Prospects in the 2023 Class

Similar to the post on the 2022s, this list will project out the top 10 2023s in the state, along with two out-of-state transfers.

1. JJ Taylor (6’7 SF, Kenwood)

Projection: Star Two-Way Wing
Most College-Ready Trait: Scoring off the dribble
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Strength

Outlook: Taylor may be the best NBA prospect to come out of Chicago since Anthony Davis. He has a lethal outside shot, plus athleticism, and a smooth handle. When he’s active defensively, he can switch across the board and affect the game with his anticipation. Taylor plays through contact, but he is still on the thinner side. The sky is the limit and blue bloods will keep knocking.

2. Owen Freeman (6’10 C, Bradley Bourbonnais)

Projection: Rock Solid Rim-Runner/Face-up Big
Most College-Ready Trait: Interior scoring
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Expanding shooting range

Outlook: The most productive center in the state, Freeman possesses the agility, skill, and size that college coaches covet. He plays with a ton of energy that will allow him to get easy dunks on putbacks and rim runs. The rebounding and defense look like safe bets as well. Where he is showing good strides is on the perimeter where he can put it on the ground and knock down some jumpers. That potential plus his motor will translate well. Heavy Big Ten interest so far.

3. Darrin Ames (6’3 PG, Kenwood)

Projection: Shot Creator
Most College-Ready Trait: Explosiveness
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Consistent defense

Outlook: Ames is advanced for his age when it comes to beating defenders and hitting jumpers off the dribble. That quick first step is college-ready and he’s a powerful finisher at his size. He shows a high-IQ in the open court as a playmaker and crafty scorer as well. I’ve seen him lock up defensively, but showing that intensity for longer stretches will be key to adjust to whatever school he ends up at. A clear high-major guard.

4. Asa Thomas (6’7 SG, Lake Forest)

Projection: Three-Point Marksman
Most College-Ready Trait: Catch-and-shoot ability
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Defending in space

Outlook: Thomas can shoot the lights out and has the quick release and length to carry that success to college. Over the last year, he’s showing a lot more wiggle off the dribble to get to the rim. Physical defenders can occasionally affect his drives and balance coming off screens. Thomas is still developing physically, but he’s a gifted shooter and improved scorer from inside the arc. He’s been offered by schools like Marquette, Wisconsin, and Iowa among others.

5. Dalen Davis (6’0 PG, Whitney Young)

Projection: High Ast/TO Floor General
Most College-Ready Trait: Basketball IQ
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Size

Outlook: Davis has a calmness and steadiness about his game that should give confidence to his teammates. He will be able to impact games with his ability to play off ball screens and set up teammates off penetration. At only 6-foot, he’s not the biggest guard and could face an adjustment as a finisher in traffic. The toughness that he has on both ends should more than make up for a lack of size. Stanford, Illinois, Kansas and others are banking on it.

6. Cam Christie (6’4 SG, Rolling Meadows)

Projection: Wing Scorer
Most College-Ready Trait: Pull-up shooting
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Strength

Outlook: Christie is a natural scorer that looks like he’s still got some growing to do physically. The mid-range game and length will allow him to be an asset in late shot clock situations. He should benefit from playing point guard at the high school level as he continues to learn how to read defenses. By the time he gets to college, he should be a solid three-tier scorer.

7. Rich Barron (6’5 SG, St. Ignatius)

Projection: Catch-and-shoot/Rip-and-Go Wing
Most College-Ready Trait: Strength
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Shooting on the move

Outlook: Barron has the frame to fit into a college roster right now. He is a true big guard that shoots with range and can go through the body of a help defender. Even at his size, he has decent pop getting off the ground. Continuing to improve his lateral quickness should help him defend more positions going forward. Barron has four offers so far, including DePaul, and should get some more looks in the winter.

8. Macaleab Rich (6’6 SF, East St. Louis)

Projection: Athletic High-Motor Forward
Most College-Ready Trait: Physicality/Paint scoring
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Volume Shooting

Outlook: Rich is a freak athlete that has the combination of strength and athleticism that is rare. He will be a tough slasher and offensive rebounder. There are times where he knocks down perimeter shots, but the growing consistent from deep and the mid-range will be helpful. Defensively, he has the tools to be an impact defender early. Rich has been in contact with schools like Missouri and Kansas State.

9. Davius Loury (6’7 PF, Kenwood)

Projection: Mobile Fae-Up Four
Most College-Ready Trait: Perimeter skills
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Explosiveness

Outlook: Loury is a skilled combo forward that is very comfortable operating on the wing. His compact form should become even more efficient with more reps in college. I think he will be able to create more mismatches at the four spot with his ball skills. Loury is a solid athlete, but doesn’t necessarily jump out of the gym or blow by wings. His skill set is intriguing and is part of why LSU, South Carolina, and others have offered.

10. Ty Pence (6’6 SG, St. Joseph Ogden)

Projection: Active Shooter
Most College-Ready Trait: Motor
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Playmaking

Outlook: Pence doesn’t really have any glaring weaknesses. He’s got ideal size for a wing, has the ability to score at the rim or from three, and plays with good energy. Transition run outs and rebounding are areas where he should be effective early on in his college career. But he can really score the ball and has a nice jumper that should translate well. A great summer opened a lot of eyes and should give him some more options on top of the current offers, including Illinois.

Matas Buzelis (6’10 SG, Brewster Academy)

Projection: Proficient Jack-Of-All-Trades Guard
Most College-Ready Trait: Versatility
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Strength

Outlook: The former Hinsdale Central product would be the second-best long-term prospect in the state, regardless of class. You don’t see 6-foot-10 kids that move, shoot, and compete like Buzelis. The ability to play either role in P&Rs, outrun opposing guards in transition, and make plays above the rim are part of his five-star package. He played point guard for Full Package this summer then went to the EYBL and was one of the top shot blockers. He’s already added noticeable strength since playing at Brewster, but could use some more bulk for potential matchups in the post. There’s something different about his game and has major promise if he continues to put in the work. There is a long list of interested schools.

Jeremy Fears Jr. (6’1 PG, La Lumiere)

Projection: Impact Pitbull Point Guard
Most College-Ready Trait: Feel
Biggest Question Mark For the Next Level: Size

Outlook: Another out-of-state transfer (Joliet West) that is a high-major prospect with a bright future. Fears has playmaking savvy that seems to come naturally, allowing him to make those around him better. He’s fast but understands change of pace, which will be key when going up against bigger and quicker guards. Fears is a tenacious on-ball defender that plays with an edge. He plays older than his age and projects as an big-time college PG. Gonzaga, Michigan State, and plenty of other programs have taken notice.

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