I watched a handful of games via livestream this weekend ahead of this coming weekend, where a couple of big tournaments will be taking place in the Chicago area. Here are some of the standout players from the games I saw.
UA Rise Session 1
Fundamental U 2023
Jakob Blakley (6’0 PG, Larkin 2024)
Blakley was the most consistent source of offense in the game I saw. He hit a few threes off the catch and showed a very advanced pull-up game in the mid-range. Blakley plays with good tempo as a ball-handler and was effective playing on or off the ball. As the only sophomore on the team, he was the most impressive scoring the ball efficiently for Fundamental U.
Mikhail Abdul-Hamid (6’5 SG, Christian Brothers [Missouri] 2022)
It was clear that Abdul-Hamid has talent, showing potential as a smooth three-level scorer. When he showed patience offensively, he got to his spot around 15 feet and rose up well. He also has a good shot from three with solid range plus the athleticism and handle to shake defenders to get downhill when his jumper is taken away. If he can put together all of his tools, he could be a dangerous player at the next level.
Ryan Duncan (6’3 PG, Chicago U-High 2023)
Duncan wasn’t able to get going offensively, but his special passing ability was on display. In the open court and off ball screens, he made a couple of high-level deliveries to teammates. Duncan did hit a three and finished a shot in the paint, but he had his greatest impact passing the ball. He holds a couple of Division 1 offers and could be a prime Ivy League target.
Cooper LePage (6’1 PG/SG, Crystal Lake South 2023)
Energy is infectious and LePage brought it when the team was struggling to find a spark. LePage rebounded in volume, grabbing a number of offensive rebounds and fighting in traffic for defensive rebounds. He had a couple of assists, made a three, and added a layup. His defensive intensity and nose for the ball stood out in the game.
PrepHoops The Stage
JaKeem Cole (6’1 PG, Leo 2023)
Cole’s pace of play and understanding of angles stood out. He carved up the defense and made tough layups in traffic all game. The CCL Player of the Year also displayed a ton of range and pick-and-roll prowess, connecting on multiple threes and delivering some pinpoint passes off of ball screens. Cole just picked up a D2 offer last week and should continue getting scholarship looks.
Xavier Sulaiman (6’3 SG, Marist 2023)
Sulaiman continues to show that he is more than just a premium athlete. With a long, wiry frame, he glides across the floor and doesn’t shy away from contact on his drives. Sulaiman is bouncy and fluid in as a finisher, but he also did a nice job knocking down a couple of shots from beyond the arc with a repeatable one-motion shot. Defensively, he was high-energy and anticipated well to get steals. He has a lot of upside on both ends and should be on plenty of radars.
George Bellevue (6’6 SF/PF, Lincoln-Way East 2023)
A powerful athlete with a sky-high motor, Bellevue had a big dunk as the recipient of a pick-and-roll and was very active on the glass. His ability to quickly spring off of the ground made him a presence on missed shots. He also hit a pull-up jump shot around the foul line after setting up a defender. Bellevue has expanded his offensive game and should be able to play both forward spots in college.
Simon Weisserman (6’7 SF/PF, Lake Forest Academy 2023)
Weisserman drove hard from the perimeter to score off of penetration and spaced the floor to hit a number of threes. Having a high release at 6-foot-7 is a significant advantage for Weisserman, especially as a pick-and-pop option with bigs closing out. He was able to corral rebounds with his length and had no problem advancing the ball in transition. Weisserman picked up offers from a pair of excellent D3 programs in Illinois Wesleyan and Yeshiva.
Tyler Van Gorp (6’11 C, New Trier 2023)
It really seems like Van Gorp is starting to figure out how impactful he can be as a rim protector. He was swatting shots all over the floor and probably altered twice as many as he blocked. Playing like a true 7-footer, he was active on putbacks and as a finisher on interior passes. Van Gorp moves well at his size and has plenty of room for development physically. His stock is definitely going up.
Jeremiah Fears (6’0 PG, Joliet West 2025)
Fears is a jet with the ball in his hands and shifted defenders with regularity. As he got to the paint, Fears made excellent decisions, either finishing with touch or finding creative ways to set up teammates. When he needs to take over with his scoring, he is more than capable both off of penetration and with his jumper off the dribble. Fears is the top freshman point guard in Illinois and one of the best floor generals regardless of class.
Jake Fiegen (6’3 SG, New Trier 2023)
Fiegen shook off a slow start and caught fire from deep. He had a stretch where he hit back to back threes and added another from the corner shortly after. Fiegen showed some layers to his scoring package, draining a three off a dribble handoff, cutting backdoor for a layup, and knocking down a one-dribble pull-up after getting the defender to bite on a shot fake. Beyond the shooting, Fiegen showed a ton of toughness diving after multiple loose balls and locking up when defending in 1-on-1 situations. Fiegen is a strong, gritty shooter that should be able to fit a role at low-major or Ivy League programs.
Niko Abusara (6’4 SG, Benet 2023)
Abusara has so much talent, but it still feels like he doesn’t get enough attention. The long-armed, skilled guard showed great ball control in pick-and-rolls and in space to create space to separate from defenders. He rejected a few screens to get layups but also thrived as a playmaker when the hedge defender was out of position. Abusara got into frequently the lane and used his pivot and length well before scoring over the top. Defensively, he plays even bigger than his 6-foot-4 listing with is plus wingpan and has good lateral quickness. Abusara looks more and more like a D2 prospect.
Mark Nikolich-Wilson (6’6 PF, Rolling Meadows 2023)
The defense struggled to handle Nikolich-Wilson around the paint, scoring numerous times in the dump off spot. A wide-bodied post with nice touch, he gets the ball out of his hands early and makes push shots nicely. He was more than comfortable attacking from the perimeter, scoring a few times on drives from the arc and even handling the ball in ball screens occasionally. Nikolich-Wilson was a load.
Tsvetan Sotirov (6’7 PF, Rolling Meadows 2023)
Sotirov came in and instantly stretched the floor. He made three triples and wasn’t showing any hesitation on the catch. Not bad for a player who is 6-foot-7. Sotirov’s size and shooting ability are an intriguing combo. He also moves well and looked good running in transition.
Bryce Tillery (5’8 PG, Hillcrest 2023)
Playing for one of the top programs in Iowa, Tillery was making an impact with his tenacious on-ball defense. He was an irritant against a talented Full Package backcourt, creating some turnovers and turning a steal into an alley-oop dunk on one occasion. He got into the lane offensively and made a long pull-up two as well. Tillery thrives in the role of a traditional two-way point guard.
Chicago Lockdown 2023
Matt Moore (6’9 PF, Hillcrest 2023)
Moore was terrific as a finisher around the rim. He threw down a big putback dunk, powered one in off of a dump off pass, and was catching and scoring in traffic all game. But Moore also made a wing three while using his length, athleticism, and activity to dominate in the paint. On the other end, he affected shots in the lane and did a nice job containing in space He more than caught the eye of coaches this weekend, picking up Division 1 offers from Radford and New Orleans today.
Dylan Schmidt (6’4 SG, Johnsburg 2023)
Schmidt’s versatility and athleticism left a mark on the game. Playing multiple spots throughout the game, he knifed to the lane and used his hang time to complete some tough layups. Schmidt finished off a lob and hit a three at the top of the key as well. It doesn’t take long for Schmidt to heat up, able to score in volume when needed. But he also showed well defensively and as a passer, flying around to make plays and finding bigs underneath. Schmidt should be a scholarship level two-guard.
Leirre Collier (6’2 PG, Marist 2023)
Easily one of the most underrated guards in the 2023 class, Collier was instant offense from multiple spots on the floor. He got defenders off balance with his handle and capitalized stepback threes, middle drives, and ball screen rejections to score. His ball screen game looked developed, manufacturing great looks including a nice dump off pass for a dunk after splitting a screen. The play of the game had to be his transition dunk after forcing a steal. Collier is a very good guard that is finally healthy enough to show it.
Jackson Niego (6’0 PG, Lyons 2023)
Niego did what he does best: orchestrate. You can’t place enough value on physical defense, getting guys the ball where they can score, and leading. He threw a pinpoint lob from just inside of half court, dropped off a handful of pocket passes that led to buckets, and threw a bounce pass in transition to get an easy look. Niego used his upper body strength to score through contact, but he was in floor general mode the majority of the game. If I’m a college coach, I’d love his ability to run a team and be a physical defender.
Nick Niego (6’2 SG, Brother Rice 2023)
Known to have a flamethrower at this point, Niego came out firing from three. He pulled up behind a ball screen to make his first, then made two more tough ones from the wing on back-to-back possessions. Niego spreads the entire defense out with his ability to shoot from deep, and that threat opened things up in the lane for Moore and others to operate. He has an elite skill that translates.
Illinois Bears 2023
Caden Hawkins (5’10 PG, Carterville 2023)
Hawkins is a wired scorer that can fill it up. At 5-foot-10, he has very good lift off the dribble and was able to elevate over defenders. He buried a three off the catch and made a few more after creating space out of the triple threat. Early on, he showed a nice change of pace to create a driving lane and scored on a cut. Hawkins is a dynamic shooter that should be on the radar of D3 coaches.
Grant Fridley (6’3 PG, Wesclin 2023)
The McKendree commit didn’t look for his shot and made the right basketball plays off of his penetration. Fridley has great court vision and has a sense for where his teammates are going to be when he has the ball. What stood out most was that he was always willing to make the simple play. Fridley’s size and length cause problems on the defensive end, getting deflections and steals often. He’s a solid lead guard.
Kade Lustenberger (6’5 SF, Carterville 2023)
Lustenberger was making the most of his three-point opportunities, hitting corner threes at a high rate. He’s got good size for a wing and long arms that he can use on the defensive end. That positional size goes well with his clean outside stroke. Lustenberger is a solid perimeter shooter that may be able to project out to a stretch four in college as he adds strength.
Tyler Franklin (6’5 PF, Cobden 2023)
Franklin is a physical forward that can step out and knock down jumpers. He utilized his wide base well to get his matchup off their spot, score inside, and grab rebounds in bulk. The 6-foot-5 forward made a couple of strong drives to his left hand and finished below the rim. Franklin made a corner three and has shown the ability to make threes in volume. He is a quality forward that should be a quality inside-out option.
Cade Altadonna (5’11 PG, 2023)
Altadonna, a tough lefty guard, drove the lane well during the game. He went coast to coast, split the help to score, and cut to the right spot to get a drop off pass. Altadonna spaced out to the corner and hit a three as well, coming off the bench and contributing right away. A multi-sport athlete, Altadonna has good athleticism and body control that will help going forward.
ET21 Buckeyes 2024
Cale Cosme (5’5 PG, Brother Rice 2024)
Don’t let the height fool you. Cosme is fearless and scrappy, sprinting after loose balls, getting steals, and absorbing contact on his takes to the rim. He has a tight handle and is excellent at playing angles and using his body to bump defenders before they can elevate to block shots. Cosme got to the line over 10 times and converted on most of them. When he didn’t look to score, his drives created attention and allowed him to facilitate. Cosme also has deep shooting range that makes him a threat. He is a tough, undersized point guard that knows how to make plays.
Tasso Mikroulis (6’2 SG, Lemont 2024)
Mikroulis came out of the gate ready to go, hitting three corner threes in the early portion of the game. He can really shoot it off the catch and knows how to move within the offense to get shots in rhythm. Mikroulis had a nice baseline drive to score, but the rest of his points came from deep. It was a solid showing.
Thon Bill (6’8 PF, Timothy Christian 2025)
Long and lanky, Bill contested everything in his area and got a hand on some of the shots. He is still gaining strength, but he did a nice job of making life difficult in the paint. The offensive upside was evident. He finished off a straight line drive from the perimeter and showed off a decent lefty stroke on a made three. Bill is a big that is definitely worth tracking over the next few years.
Alex Keizer (6’4 PF, Timothy Christian 2024)
Keizer knocked down threes and showed his strength on a few bull rushes to the paint. At 6-foot-4, he has a good size advantage when wings or guards were on him and he took advantage. Keizer scored on a reverse layup and had another physical move to get to the rim in a few dribbles. He plays a nice role for the Buckeyes team and can cause some mismatches.