I was out in Schaumburg to watch the Greater Purpose Athletics 16U and 17U groups ahead of the Prep Hoops tournament. Here are some of the standouts.
Ben Person (6’4 SG/SF, Johnsburg)
A rangy wing, Person was active off of the ball with timely cuts and understanding for when to drift off of penetration to get in the eyesight of ballhandlers. The ball looks good coming out of his hands on his shot and he minimizes wasted dribbles on drives to the rim with solid footwork. Person will continue to develop his all-around game.
Cam Cerese (6’3 PG, Lake Park)
In the portions of practice where he was playing, Cerese was going through drills with intensity and focus while making tough shots during live portions. He is a decisive ball-handler that creates space efficiently but was also very precise with his movement off of the ball to get open and catch it in his spots. Cerese is a kid who prioritizes winning and shows that on both ends of the floor.
Dejuan Graise (6’4 SG, Tremper [WI])
Graise continues to jump out from an athleticism standpoint. Whether he was skying above the rim to get offensive rebounds or flying to the basket on drives, he got up in the lane. Graise’s jumper looked on-balance in the shooting drills, which should help him stretch out defenders to open up those lanes to attack. There were a few impressive takes to the rim throughout the night.
Dom Marcentelli (6’1 SG, Downers Grove South)
Marcentelli is a competitive two guard who looked best during the scrimmages and 5-on-5 sections. He roams around the three-point line and can step into shots from a few feet behind the line as he showed with a few shots from distance. On the defensive end, he did a nice job of anticipating off of the ball.
Jake Hornok (6’2 PG/SG, Cary Grove)
Of the guards across both age groups, Hornok had the strongest build. He plays with physicality on both sides of the court and has the ability to add some extra heat on his passes. Hornok shot it well off the catch from three and looked good elevating on one-to-two dribble pull-ups. More of a point guard than a two, Hornok is rock solid.
Malachi Johnson (6’2 SG, Rockford Guilford)
Johnson, another shot maker for the 17U group, displayed good rotation on his jump shot and the footwork to find some space to get away from defenders. Around 6-foot-2, Johnson has a strong, aggressive play style when attacking the rim that showed during the scrimmages. His passing was solid off of penetration as well when help came. Johnson is another name to note for the live period.
Mitch Humphrey (6’5 SG/SF, St. Viator)
Humphrey had it going from the three-point line. An excellent shooter off of rotations, Humphrey is a quick gatherer who doesn’t often pass up open looks. Especially when he is guarded by bigs in smaller lineups, he has the range to draw guys out and showed the ability to take a few dribbles to get to the paint. Humphrey was the top marksman of the group.
Anestis Hadjistamoulou (6’0 PG, Glenbrook South)
The most impressive player during the scrimmages, Hadjistamoulou has a seasoned feel for the game, particularly in pick-and-roll actions. With his tight handle, he can neutralize ball pressure and score in a variety of ways against different coverages. He probed off of screens for a couple of threes and pull-ups and some accurate and on-time passes to teammates. Hadjistamoulou has the complete game and toughness to take over games at the point guard spot.
Ben Schneider (5’10 PG, Prospect)
Another talented two-way guard for the 16U team, Schneider stays in pursuit of the ball defensively with quick reactions, fast hands, and high IQ when choosing angles to cut off the ball. On the offensive end, he collapsed the defense frequently and had a number of tough finishes inside. When left open, Schneider can really shoot it from deep as well.
Elijah Dougherty (5’11 PG, Rockford Christian)
Playing up with the 17U group, Dougherty’s skill and quickness with the ball stood out. His first step and ball control give him an edge in one-on-one situations where he finishes well with both hands. Dougherty also has the lateral quickness that should translate to defensive impact as he continues to develop physically.
Jayden Rodriguez (6’3 SG/SF, Evanston)
Looking like he’s back to full health, Rodriguez was showing versatility during the drills. He is a wing that can handle the ball well, put his head down to get downhill, and step into perimeter shots as an off-ball option. The strong, 6-foot-3 Evanston sophomore will continue to round back into form as the spring progresses and has a lot of tools to track.
Josiah Calvin (5’10 PG/SG, Glenbard East)
Another player who is getting back into the flow of things after an injury, Calvin’s speed and court sense don’t seem to have taken a hit. The change of direction off of the dribble and crafty layups that he converts are hard to teach. In the scrimmages, his ability to shoot the gaps and keep opposing guards guessing was noteworthy.
Ryder Raya (6’0 SG, Notre Dame College Prep)
For only being 6-foot, Raya covers a ton of ground defensively. He’s got a chance to be a shutdown defender and showed that potential throughout the scrimmages by giving multiple efforts on rotations and closing driving lanes. Raya can play on or off the ball, looking best as a direct driver who can drive closeouts or hit an open catch-and-shoot three.
Tyler Thick (6’8 PF/C, Hinsdale Central)
The biggest player of the group was also the most energetic. He was a constant communicator and turned up the intensity once 5-on-5 started with hard runs from rim to rim leading to layups and a dunk. Thick rebounds well in his area and really clears out space on the interior to get boards. There is a lot to like about his face-up potential as well, shooting the three comfortably and at a high rate when given space.