I went to check out the 2023 Chicago Lockdown team ahead of the first live period this weekend. They’ve got a tough, disciplined team that boasts some impressive athleticism and shooting across different positions. Explosive 6-foot-4 guard Dylan Schmidt from Johnsburg was not in attendance, but he is an impact player that had a big first weekend at a PrepHoops event. Here are the evaluations of the players who were at the skill-focused practice.
Jack Ryan (6’0 SG, Glenbard East)
Ryan shot it well from three and the mid-range. He showed the ability to elevate on his pull-up, which will be beneficial as a 6-foot shooter. Ryan can come off of curls and pull the trigger effectively without losing momentum. During finishing drills, he was solid around the hoop and got up above the rim on a few occasions. Ryan is going to be able to space things out for Lockdown and has enough athletic ability to attack overaggressive closeouts or get out in transition.
Jackson Niego (6’0 PG, Lyons)
Niego is a complete point guard that should have a breakout spring. While going through handling drills, he changed speeds, had the ball on a string, and didn’t take any reps off. His precision as a passer was noteworthy, able to deliver them right where they need to be off of lobs, crosscourt passes, or dump offs. At 6-foot, he showed good athleticism and north-south burst to get downhill and has a strong build that allows him to absorb contact and make plays in traffic.
Niego was knocking down jumpers all night, showing great arc on his three-point shots and the body control to get himself settled before shooting off of motion. He was also constantly encouraging and talking to teammates during the practice, which always stands out. He practiced against a mid-major PG at Lyons all year, but Niego is a scholarship-level floor general who displays winning traits in his own right. I would expect D2, NAIA, and high-academic D3s to be in pursuit.
Jarrod Gee Jr. (6’5 SF, Leo)
Gee showed promise as an attacking wing. He’s wiry and mobile, covering a lot of ground when he made dribbling moves and exploding above the rim for a few dunks. Gee stepped into a couple of threes throughout the practice, showing a good follow through that should lead to more results as he progresses. When he shot pull-ups, he got off of the ground well and looked capable of making shots off of one or two-dribble pull-ups.
During the practice, he handled the ball fairly well in open space and finished well even around the rim. Gee’s size and athleticism will stand out to coaches who are looking for an active wing. If he can impact games on the defensive end and with his energy to go along with the slashing, Gee will be on more radars. He’s going to continue to grow and tap into his potential.
Jimmy Navarrete (6’2 SG, Brother Rice)
Navarrete has decent size and athleticism which was evident when he was driving to the basket and finishing. He has long strides and doesn’t waste any dribbles when penetrating. It looked like Navarrete was used to timing up cuts and knowing how to get angles to finish. During the shooting portion, he was putting some heat on his passes and hitting defenders in the chest. He should provide quality minutes for them this spring.
Leirre Collier (6’2 SG, Marist)
Collier is a dynamic difference-maker with the ball. The tempo and explosiveness of Collier stood out early on. His moves during ball-handling drills had some rhythm and force to them. He has serious strength and athleticism, as he showed on a few rim-shaking dunks. Collier plays with power but still leans on his skill, which makes for a nice combination. He was one of the best at putting it on the floor to either make or quick move to get to the rim or dribble into a pull-up. The Marist combo guard really knows how to change gears on the move.
His perimeter stroke looked easy and under control. He has a high finish to his shot that will give him a little bit of an edge when going up against closeouts from defenders with length. The ball rotation was solid and he made a good share of his catch-and-shoot opportunities. Collier seems to have a very quiet confidence that should translate well as he continues to face tougher competition.. But I think his ability to be patient and play with pace is going to make him a dangerous pick-and-roll player and allow his game to expand. Collier is another under-the-radar player that should be getting some looks from scholarship-level schools.
Matt Moore (6’9 PF, Hillcrest)
Moore was very impressive all night. Still raw at 6-foot-9, Moore is a high-level athlete that runs and jumps as well as any big in Illinois. He has a lot of bounce around the rim and effortlessly throws down dunks off of dump off passes, lobs, and penetration. Moore’s length and quickness aid him on the defensive end as well, but he showed some promise shooting hook shots at the high point in and around the lane. His value as a lob threat and finisher along the baseline is going to be immense in the coming months.
I also liked what I saw from his touch on the perimeter. He has good shooting form and made a fair share of threes both from the standstill and from pick-and-pop work. That’s just icing on the cake for a player that can get above the rim as well as he can. Moore is putting the pieces together, but has the projectable game, defensive chops, and the catch-and-finish ability that college coaches covet. There should be a lot of intrigue at the very least from coaches after this weekend.
Nick Niego (6’2 SG, Brother Rice)
A pure shooter with deep range, Niego might have the quickest release that I’ve seen in the junior class. He doesn’t waste any motion on his shot and takes it right from the catch into his shot. A large part of that was how good his footwork was before receiving passes, both off the catch and when he was shooting on the move during drills.
His pull-up was just as proficient. It didn’t matter if he was drifting, sprinting to the top of the key, or catching on a ball rotation, he was always on balance. Niego also showed solid ball control and made accurate passes consistently. He has to be one of the top shooters in the 2023 group and projects as an elite Division 3 floor spacer.
Ryan Kenney (6’7 PF, Brother Rice)
Kenney was moving well at 6-foot-7 when running or cutting to the rim. While his footwork is still developing on the block, he has a big frame and has some touch in the paint on hook shots. As a two-foot jumper, Kenney dunked frequently with force. He positions his body well for dump off passes to score. As a roll man, he was able to keep the ball high and catch passes under control. As he matures, he should be able to refine his frame and get even quicker on the interior. Kenney should still have his best days ahead of him.