I was at Zion Benton today for the fall league games to check out some of the teams from the northern suburbs. Of the games I saw, here are some the standouts.
Nick Taylor (6’7 SF/PF, Glenbrook South 2024)
Taylor was causing problems all game with his motor and athleticism. He cut with intent and was tenacious on the glass, often elevating in traffic for layups and putbacks. Taylor showed his explosiveness and power with two big lob dunks. On the occasions where he didn’t score, he drew contact that should have him at the foul line in the winter. Taylor also hit a pair of threes and went vertical defensively. Entering his second varsity season, Taylor looks ready to have a monster season.
RJ Davis (6’2 SG, Glenbrook South 2023)
Davis had a good performance defensively keeping quick guards in front of him. He knocked down a three and looked comfortable pulling off the catch. Look for Davis to step into a leadership role as the top returning scorer for the Titans.
Gaven Marr (6’3 SG, Glenbrook South 2023)
Often attacking from the wing, Marr did a nice job rejecting screens and attacking baseline. The help often wasn’t quick enough, as he used his length to get the ball to the backboard quickly. Marr ran out in transition for a dunk and made a three as well. He’s got some craftiness to his game and plays angles well. Marr is a high-academic D3 recruit.
Anestis Hadjistomolou (6’0 PG, Glenbrook South 2025)
Against an aggressive full court press, Hadjistamoulou handled pressure well and was a catalyst as a playmaker. I’m transition, he had a couple of pinpoint lob passes and dump offs for easy shots. When he looked for his shot, Anestis connected on a three and was able to get into the lane for a few layups and drawn fouls. He will be a key piece in his first varsity season.
Katrell Weekly (6’2 SG/SF, Michelle Clark 2023)
A high-energy wing with quick bounce, Weekly was effective early on around the paint as a finisher and rebounder. He was fearless getting to the basket and didn’t shy away from contact. Weekly rebounds like a big and plays with a lot of heart on both ends. He should have a good senior season.
Cordy Johnson (5’9 PG, Michelle Clark 2023)
Johnson probably hit over ten threes between the two games. He was hunting open looks and shot a high rate against the zone. There weren’t many occasions where he hesitated and has a set shot that extends past the college line. Johnson isn’t the biggest guard, but he found a way to score in crowds. He should have some big scoring outputs this year.
Jake Fiegen (6’3 SG, New Trier 2023)
The Cornell commit was making his presence felt the entire game. He hit seven threes from all over the court, including multiple NBA range and contested corner threes off of curls. His efficiency was impressive, making the most out of his dribble and playing off of his catch-and-shoot ability. Fiegen has great footwork and body control that aides him as a shooter. With how well he has improved his strength and lateral quickness, Fiegen looks like a lockdown perimeter defender. He guarded all over the floor and was forcing ball-handlers off their spots. Fiegen will be an All-State player this year and should he one of the most effective guards in Illinois.
Tyler Van Gorp (6’11 C, New Trier 2023)
Van Gorp was unguardable to start the game, scoring a quick nine points on layups and dunks. There was no one over 6’3 to challenge him around the rim, but he also showed some touch knocking down a three at the top of the key. He swatted a couple of shots and affected plenty others. His ability to change ends is noteworthy at 6-foot-11, even beating bigs down the court for a runner on one occasion. Van Gorp should have an elevated role as the interior focal point for New Trier.
Colby Smith (6’2 PG/SG, New Trier 2025)
One of the promising sophomores in in the state, Smith was patient as a playmaker. He got into the lane and manipulated the defense well with his eyes to get open looks for others. Smith is a good athlete that changing speeds to get to the paint. He made solid decisions all game and was able to convert on the shots he created including a three and a couple of drives. Smith is only going to get better with time.
Owen Giannoulias (5’10 PG, Glenbrook North 2024)
Giannoulias went on a three-point barrage as part of what had to have been a 30-point performance. He got going early off of layups and then was drilling threes off of sets and kick outs. Also a skilled passer, Giannoulias should be able to open things up for the scorers on GBN during the season. He’s going to be able to set guys up or make defenses pay for helping off.
Josh Fridman (5’10 PG, Glenbrook North 2024)
Another dynamic guard for the Spartans, Fridman’s quickness allowed him to get wherever he wanted with the ball. When isolated on the perimeter, he made quick moves and got downhill often and finished with craft. Fridman is a solid pick-and-roll decision maker who hit a three behind a screen and probed into a tough mid-range pull-up.
Braeden Carlsen (6’4 SG, Wauconda 2024)
Carlsen had a slow start but started cooking in the second half. A strong guard that handles it well in one-on-one situations, Carlsen hit a couple of threes off of size up moves and showed the ability to get his feet set quickly off the dribble. He also added a few NBA-range threes and showed a nose for the ball on putbacks. Carlsen will step into a leading role for Wauconda.
Cayden Mudd (6’0 PG, Wauconda 2024)
The other star for Wauconda, the long-range sniper made a handful of triples throughout the game. His motion is repeatable and he does a nice job getting off the ground. Mudd elevated on a tough pull-up around the elbow and sprayed in some other shots from the volleyball line. He will co-star with Carlsen this year for a team that lost a lot to graduation.
Cole Bonder (6’5 PF, Libertyville 2023)
Bonder made a few threes early and showed some toughness on both ends. He took a charge and got good rebound positioning throughout the game. Bonder is an experienced player for Libertyville who will give them size, leadership, and an inside-out scorer.
Prince Adams (6’7 SF/PF, Evanston 2023)
Adams showed a ton of projectable traits at 6-foot-7 with a plus wingspan. He’s highly active on the the defensive end and does a great job of crashing the offensive glass. Adams threw down a big dunk off of a steal and was a presence inside all game. He continues to display scholarship-level ability with high upside.
Josh Thomas (6’6 SF, Evanston 2023)
Thomas may be the highest jumper in the senior class. He had two skyscraper dunks and a big chasedown block. He plays like he’s closer to 6-foot-10 with his leaping ability. Thomas acted as a prime vertical threat capable of going up over defenders. Very fluid and agile defensively, Thomas has a prototype build for a wing. The arrow is pointing up for the impact transfer.
Eli Aldana (6’0 PG, St. Viator 2023)
Aldana had his way offensively, carving up the defense repeatedly for layups and rhythm shots. He drove hard and made scoring basket cuts. A very deceptive creator, Aldana operated comfortable in traffic. The four-year guard added a three and played with the poise you would expect out of an experienced guard. Aldana will be a cerebral college guard.
Mitch Humphrey (6’5 SG/SF, St. Viator 2024)
Humphrey gives Viator some much-needed length but also a premium shooter. The 6-foot-5 wing went on a tear in the first half with a number of catch-and-shoot looks. His shot cord out cleanly and his release is fast at his size. I’d look for Humphrey to fit in nicely and get plenty of shots created by the Viator guards.
Joey Hernandez (5’9 PG, St. Viator 2025)
Hernandez is a scrappy guar who got after it defensively, fighting for positioning and trying to take charges. He played the role of an on-ball irritant who can slide his feet. Using his speed, Hernandez got a few open court layups and showed good arc on a made corner three. Only a sophomore, Hernandez has a year of varsity experience under his belt to build on.
Drew Rodgers (6’7 PF/C, Deerfield 2025)
Rodgers is an impressive sophomore big. He runs the floor like a deer, pulls in tough rebounds, and has an edge about him. The athletic 6-foot-7 post snatched a few misses up around the rim and used his power to get up to finish. Defensively, that explosiveness allowed him to disrupt actions in the paint. As he develops, his run-and-jump ability should allow him to he a lob threat and transition weapon. Rodgers is going to take another step as a sophomore.