In a tournament that features some of the best programs in the Midwest, we were able to catch a couple of games today and last night at NY2LA Sports Swish ‘N Dish. Of those games that we saw, here are some of the players who stood out.
Illinois Wolves 16U
Bradley Longcor (6’3 PG, Quincy)
There’s a poise and control that Longcor plays with that has to be appreciated. He was a tactician in ball screen actions, weaving around high ball screens and allowing plays to develop before hitting rollers or knocking down jumpers off of the dribble. Longcor sets his feet well and drilled multiple threes from the wings and a few tough mid-range shots as well. The vision and feel for the game were evident offensively, but the 6-foot-3 point guard was also very impactful pressuring the ball and giving second efforts as a primary defender. He is a Division 1 point guard prospect with a very high floor.
DJ Porter (6’3 SG, Fenwick)
Porter is well-built with good length that he used well defensively. He did a nice job of cutting off scorers with his lateral quickness and upper body strength while contesting shots effectively. When spacing off of the ball, Porter connected on a handful of threes, showing off a compact and textbook jump shot. There is a lot to like about his 3-and-D potential.
Ian Miletic (6’6 SG, Rolling Meadows)
Miletic did a lot of nice things offensively, but his hustle and fight on the defensive end and for 50/50 balls stood out the most. He chased down long rebounds, sprinted to the help to take away open shots, and was ripping balls away. Miletic also had a big impact spacing the floor, burying a trio of threes, cutting hard off of the ball, and using his long strides to rip by defenders for layups. Expect him to continue to unlock his all-around skill set, but his energy and competitiveness was noteworthy too.
Jonas Johnson (6’6 SF, DePaul Prep)
A true 6-foot-6 wing, Johnson has an athletic frame and played with activity in the open floor. He got out in transition for a couple of easy layups and forced the defense to account for him with regular movement away from the ball. Johnson showed the ability to knock down an open three and defended a few different positions. Coming off a state championship year, Johnson should continue to gain confidence.
Marco Gonzales (6’3 SG, Brother Rice)
Gonzales has a scorer’s instinct but made the right play and the extra pass consistently. When needed, he sized up defenders and attacked angles to get separation and got all the way downhill for layups. Gonzales also scored on a mid-range pull-up and from an inbound seal while making a few nice passes when help came over. He will be a spark plug and instant offense for this Wolves team.
Nick Allen (6’10 PF/C, Bradley Bourbonnais)
Allen continues to grow exponentially. We saw him go to work on the block and make simple, effective post moves to get to his hook shot. His primary offense was rim running, dunking over a defender on once occasion and sprinting in front of crowds for plenty of other layups. He remains an excellent ball screen and short corner outlet with his hands and soft touch. Allen moves so well on the court at 6-foot-10, especially on defense where he recovered to throw away numerous shots. There should be little doubt that Allen is among the best big man prospects in the 2025 class in Illinois.
Sean Reynolds (6’1 PG/SG, DeKalb)
Reynolds got a handful of threes off of motion and kickouts, doing his usual damage as a baseline runner and weapon off of away screens. It was nice to see him play some point and handle it against pressure, looking more than comfortable initiating offense and beating defenders who played him too tight. He was causing problems as a shooter and threat to curl all the way to the rim or drive early in the offense. Reynolds is a high-level leader who is emerging as a combo guard who you can’t lose sight of defensively.
The Grind Family Chicago 16U
Cooper Kavanaugh (6’0 SG, Mount Carmel)
Kavanaugh was a marksman early and often for GFC. His shot looked smooth from deep range and he delivered with some big shots when the game was getting away. The 6-foot guard is more of a two guard but he did handle the ball a bit for them.
EJ Breland (6’0 PG, St. Patrick)
Tough shot making is a skill and Breland seems to be advanced in it already. Using a tight, quick handle in isolation situations, Breland made multiple difficult mid-range shots after stopping on a dime with defenders nearby. It doesn’t hurt that he has range out to the volleyball line to set things up, but he was putting on a show for stretches in one-on-one scenarios.
Nevaeh Hawkins (6’7 SF/PF, St. Patrick)
The physical tools are there for the springy, lean 6-foot-7 forward. Hawkins had a couple of emphatic blocks and was getting above the rim for dunks and rebounds. He is a solid ball-handler and slasher when he has to put the ball on the ground. When he got to the free throw line, his form looked good and the touch was there too. Hawkins could be a player that takes a big leap this summer.
Zion Young (6’7 PF/C, Fenwick)
Young went to work down low. It’s always refreshing to see post players who use their weight without playing out of control and take what the defense gives them. He set up a left-handed drop step well with a few bumps and scored on a few putbacks. Young was active with his hands defensively as well and was willing to find a body on box outs. One of many sophomores on Fenwick, Young should only get better.
Illinois Wolves 17U
Angelo Ciaravino (6’6 SG/SF Mount Carmel)
Ciaravino turned the tide with his timely slashing and transition finishing for the Wolves. His fearlessness as a driver to take it hard to the rim and find angles to score was impressive. He’s wiry but very fluid and tough when he gets inside of 15 feet. The Mount Carmel standout made a floater and a couple of double clutch layups in traffic, in addition to converting on the break after making plays defensively with active hands. He didn’t settle for jumpers, but Ciaravino also has a polished pull-up game and outside shooting ability. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had 10-plus Division 1 offers by the end of June.
Cole Certa (6’5 SG, Bloomington Central Catholic)
Coming off an All-State season, Certa is one of the more sought-after guard prospects in the state. Facing tight defensive focus, he didn’t get many clean looks, but did hit a three off of a pindown and was willing to draw eyes and make passes to teammates. Certa has really progressed well with his off the dribble game, attacking off two or three dribbles to make plays. Mid-to-high majors will stay involved.
Eoin Dillon (6’9 PF, Peoria Notre Dame)
Being able to shoot the three at 6-foot-9 like Dillon can is uncommon. His shot was pure from distance, making a couple of them from the catch and off one dribble. He’s got a lot of perimeter skill with decent ball control and runs into shots with good balance. Dillon showed some flashes defensively as well getting his hand in the passing lanes and poking some balls loose. He has a solid frame as well that should aid him as a stretch four.
Jaheem Webber (6’9 C, Normal)
One of the bigger centers at the tournament, Webber wasn’t being moved on either side of the floor. His timing as a shot blocker and ability to just wall up and affect shots was solid. He didn’t give up ground on his post seals offensively either, catching it deep and either scoring over a shoulder or making a sound pass to a cutter or shooter on the weakside. Webber’s size is noticeable, but he’s got instincts and IQ inside. He holds a couple of Division 1 offers so far.
Jaylan McElroy (6’7 SF, DePaul Prep)
McElroy may be the state’s best defender in his class. The speed, length, and tenacity when switching onto ball-handlers and making them uncomfortable is incredibly valuable for a 6-foot-6 player. He made life miserable for whoever was handling the ball in his area and turned that into easy offense. More of a ball-mover, secondary playmaker, and driver than an isolation player, McElroy sprayed in points with baseline cuts, quick drives, and putbacks. He will be attract more college attention this spring.
Jehvion Starwood (6’3 PG/SG, Oswego East)
Starwood played a good amount of point guard for the Wolves and did a nice job of balancing facilitating with being aggressive. His first step left some defenders in the rear view a few times as he jetted to the rim where he was at or above the rim on his finishes. The athletic lefty was a difference maker defensively for stretches when he got up and turned guys around half court. He also added a three when given time. Starwood has clear talent on both ends of the floor that continues to move in the right direction.
Greater Purpose Athletics Black 17U
Cam Cerese (6’3 PG/SG, Lake Park)
Cerese didn’t get anything easy, but he still managed to find ways to be productive. A great pull-up shooter and creative scorer, he made stop-and-pop shots with good elevation on them. As the defense keyed in on him, he found ways to get to the foul line and did a good job moving his feet and pressuring the ball on the defensive ends. Cerese is going to be a player who opens a lot of eyes this spring.
Dejuan Graise (6’4 SG, Tremper [WI])
Athletically speaking, Graise can really make plays in the open floor. He was flying up the wing and was quick getting middle with some shift to his game as a ball-handler. The Wisconsin guard knocked down a three with time and space and knifed to the basket numerous times. Being 6-foot-4 with the quick-twitch athleticism he has should prove beneficial going forward.
George Bellevue (6’5 SF/PF, Lincoln-Way East )
Bellevue was ultra-aggressive from the jump. He took it right at the opposing bigs and was relentless going for second and third chances. An unsigned senior, Bellevue scored with spin moves, turnarounds, mid-range shots, and dump offs. Using his strength and athletic ability, he picked an angle and sought out contact. There are a number of D3 programs who have offered Bellevue thus far.
Kyle Olagbegi (6’6 PF, Lincoln-Way East )
Another Lincoln-Way East product with a nice list of Division 3 looks, Olagbegi found his rhythm in the second half and made an immense difference, starting with a big lob dunk. For being as big as Olagbegi is, his movements are deceptive and explosive. In addition to the dunk, he pulled in rebounds in traffic, scored in the lane off direct drives, and hit a tough pull-up.
Malachi Johnson (6’2 SG, Rockford Guilford)
Johnson played well overall on both ends. Being 6-foot-2, he was able to grab multiple offensive rebounds and just seemed like he wanted it more than other players on both teams at times. That nose for the ball showed up defensively with a couple of steals getting into the passing lane. Johnson hit a long three and worked his way into the teeth of the defense. Johnson played with an edge and should garner more interest if he can replicate that.
Mac Irvin Fire 17U
Calvin Robins (6’5 SF/PF, Kenwood)
Robins was flying through the air for long stretches with his showtime dunks. There wasn’t a ton of resistance or contesting going on up above the rim off of his cuts or in transition. He brought the same energy to the defensive side where he pinned a few shots and controlled the paint at only 6-foot-5 with his rim protection. Robins is a high-academic wing who just makes plays.
Chris Riddle (6’5 SG/SF, Kenwood)
Riddle is looking healthier after missing time at the start of the high school season. Still a Division 1 talent, he got going early with a three and multiple run outs in the open floor. Riddle has a strong base and is a potentially lockdown defender with his ranginess at that size. Look for more impressive showings as he gets in rhythm.
Stefan Cicic (6’11 C, Riverside Brookfield)
There weren’t a ton of 7-footers walking around, but Cicic was flirting with the label and brought that size to the forefront early on. He dunked all over another big and was hard to stop from getting positioning down low where he had a high release on his hooks. Cicic is also a capable shooter who displays a lot of raw but projectable skill. In the midst of an All-State junior season, Cicic caught the attention of a number of coaches.
Tayshawn Bridges (6’2 PG/SG, Hillcrest Prep)
Bridges has to be one of the more gifted players in the tournament. When he wanted to get to a spot, he had the handle and burst to do so efficiently. But rather than shoot at a high volume, he set teammates up, made a couple of nice drop off passes in transition, and created offense as needed. He did have a monster tomahawk in the first half, but he leaned on his passing prowess for the most part. The frame and dynamic playmaking that you need to be a high-major guard were all apparent.
Chicago Hoops 16U
Bradley Stratton (6’2 SG, Marmion)
Stratton started to heat up in the second half when he got some openings. He connected on two threes and made a lefty floater off the glass. The shot mechanics are clean for the Marmion shooter who should elevate into a big role for the Cadets next year.
Caleb Lindsey (6’5 SF, Saint Laurence)
Lindsey has the body of a modern wing with his wide reach and agility at 6-foot-5. Doing most of his damage from three, he sank a pair of threes from a few feet behind the arc and gave some glimpses of what he could do defensively in one-on-one situations on the wing. As Lindsey adds strength, he should be able to really shut guys down on that end.
Khalil Jones (5’11 PG, St. Laurence)
The game seemed to slow down for Jones as it progressed, making more two foot decisions and finding his comfort from the perimeter. The St. Laurence guard hit a three in the second half and was able to break down defenses on a regular basis for floaters and layup attempts. He’s got the speed and shot creating ability that should lead to more open looks for Chicago Hoops in coming tournaments.
Reid Olson (6’0 PG, Niles North)
Olson took quality looks from three for the majority of the game and continued to make the extra pass to get teammates open looks. He made a long three early off of the catch and then hit another one in transition late along with a mid-range shot off of the bounce. The ability to extend defenses with his range and create driving lanes can’t be undersold. Expect Olson to have a big spring on and off the ball.
Breakaway Basketball 17U
Connor May (6’7 SG/SF, Palatine)
May made plays all over the floor, making his presence felt early on the glass with his rebounding and ability to push the break. He finished off a putback and had a couple sweet drives to the rim for layups where he utilized his footwork for spin moves and two-foot finishes. A solidly built 6-foot-7, May had no issue taking a smaller defender in the post and punishing him. May is an genuine multi-level scorer who attacks the mismatch he has.
Jack Stanton (6’2 PG, Downers Grove North)
Stanton is going to show up whether it’s an empty gym or a sold-out arena. He had a surgical performance with timely jumpers when big shots were needed. On two occasions when the other team was going on a run, he hit pull-up threes to shift momentum. He also sprinted off the ball for curl threes and knocked in a mid-range shot. There’s little variation in his mechanics and he has no issue shooting over bigs due to how high he jumps on his shot. As a passer, he got them into sets against some aggressive defense while limiting mistakes. He may be the top PG prospect in the 2024 class.
Jason Jakstys (6’11 PF/C, Yorkville)
They went to Jakstys early with some height advantages and he started to take full control of the paint on both ends. He went coast to coast for an and-one off of a defensive rebound for an and-one and threw down a pair of dunks in the second half. Around 6-foot-11, he takes up a ton of space defensively and opposing bigs were unsuccessful in moving him off his spot or shooting over him, leading to ample blocked shots. Jakstys is a long-term big who always shows pieces of what he can be down the line.
Talen Pearson (6’6 SG, Nazareth)
Pearson was excellent on the defensive end with a tough matchup for most of the game. He stayed in front, denied the ball to make the catch hard, and used all of his 6-foot-6 frame to affect shot attempts. Offensively, Pearson drove to the rim with attitude and finished the game on a dunk. His ball-handling and passing skill allow him to flex to different positions within their offense. But he was critical guarding the ball.
Denard Bros 17U
Calvin Worsham (6’7 SF/PF, Christ The King)
Worsham leaned on his low post game and cutting to score against smaller defenders. He had contact finishes and wasn’t affected by the attempted physicality to slow him down. Early in the game, he added a three-pointer off of the catch as well. It looked like a locomotive at times when he was pushing it in transition. I liked how Worsham defended in the latter part of the game as well to stunt without leaving the hottest shooter.
DeKwon Brown (6’3 PG, Peoria)
Once he came back into the game from some early foul trouble, Brown took complete control of the game to lead them back from a double-digit deficit. The outside shooting was efficient and frequent, hitting stepbacks, catch-and-shoots, and other threes when defenders went under screens. His IQ and sense for teammates when he penetrates opened up shots for others all game. Brown also was critical in slowing down the shooting specialists defensively.
Ryan Mbouombouo (62 PG/SG, Latin)
Mbouombouo came in off of the bench and showed the athleticism and scoring prowess that helped him average over 20 points a game this season. He got to the rim multiple times on straight line drives and had a putback by staying active in the paint. The defensive energy that he brought in the full court helped to speed up the tempo of the game and get the other guards off of their rhythm. He remains an under the radar guard prospect.
Tavariyuan Williams (6’6 SG/SF, De La Salle)
Williams had one of those games where he showed a little bit of everything. He made back-to-back threes at one point, delivered on a mid-range stepback, and stopped at full speed in transition for a short jumper to avoid a charge. His skill level offensively is a unique luxury to have with his size, playing more like a guard than a wing. There was plenty to like about how he forced turnovers defensively to get them back in the game and build a lead as well. Division 1 programs will continue to prioritize Williams.
Chicago Lockdown 17U
Alejandro Diaz (6’1 SG, Fenton)
From the jump, Diaz came out aggressively and cashed on a few threes. At 6-foot-1, he has a good stroke and gets his shot off fairly quickly. He also banked in a three later in the game and had an acrobatic finish through two defenders. Diaz had a strong junior year for Fenton and looks to be carrying that momentum into the spring.
Connor Williams (6’2 SG, Stagg)
Williams is a well-rounded offensive player who did a lot for Lockdown during the game. He started with a three coming off of screens and then cut hard to the front of the rim for a layup. Although he’s more of an off guard, Williams has good height and length to go along with the pace and body control needed to be successful at the position. He delivered some cross court passes on a rope and kicked it out to shooters well. The Stagg guard also elevated well on a baseline pull-up and got to the line. Division 3 coaches should already start circling Williams as a player to contact in the coming months.
Nolan Sexton (6’0 PG, Evergreen Park)
Another player who had a terrific junior year, Sexton did a nice job of advancing the ball up the court and getting it to players on time to score or make the next play. He made the defense pay for giving him space with a handful of long-range bombs. Sexton’s shooting is an elite skill that should carry well into college, just like his toughness and communication should as well.