I was out at Supreme Courts last night to watch the Illinois Attack 16U teams and some of the 15U players. Both groups were missing a few players, but here are the evaluations of the players who were there.
Anish Buddaraju (6’2 SF/PF, Geneva)
Buddaraju looks like he’s just starting to grow into his body and already uses his long arms to impact games as an interior defender and rebounder. During drills, he ran the floor well and moved more like a wing than a four. As he continues to get stronger, Buddaraju should be able to score more on rolls and dump offs as well.
Blake Fagbemi (5’10 PG, Benet)
Coming off a solid weekend, Fagbemi looked best in 5-on-5 attacking off the bounce. When he comes off of ball screens, he either makes a quick move against soft coverage or draws out mismatches on switches. Once he got to the rim, he shifted laterally well to slip around helpside defense. He should continue having a productive spring.
Bobby Grganto (6’6 PF, Downers Grove North)
For being 6-foot-6, Grganto showed good speed as a rim runner and perimeter defender with seasoned footwork on the block. Some kids are just big, but he actually has functional strength and maneuvered out of the post with well-timed pivots, dropsteps, and jump hooks. What stood out most was how well he worked as a screener in P&R actions, getting good angles, knowing when to rescreen, and catching in traffic to make plays. In short rolls, he handles it well enough to get to the rim but made some nice extra passes as well. Grganto’s controlled athleticism and competitiveness on both ends are great to see from a multi-sport athlete.
Bryce Turner (5’10 PG, Lockport)
Turner has burst and misdirection moves in the open floor that serve him well as a primary ball handler. Once 5-on-5 started, he was solid as a playmaker in ball screens finding rollers and driving hedges to the rim. Turner has the physical tools to be a ballhawk on the defensive end and he showed some flashes of that during the scrimmages. He’s a capable scorer, but can get things going when he’s snapping the ball up the court and using his speed to create.
Damien Lewandowski (6’4 PF, Oswego East)
I really liked the energy that Lewandowski brought during the scrimmages. He’s got a solid build and good size to match with his activity on the glass. When shots went up offensively, he was fighting for second chances and was efficient on looks around the rim. As a post player, his cutting and consistent movement should wear out opposing bigs.
Jack Crowley (6’1 PG/SG, Downers Grove North)
The 6-foot-1 combo guard can really shoot it. Crowley’s form looked efficient during drills and was even better during the games pulling up off the dribble and lifting up into jumpers off the catch. He sees the floor well as a ball-handler and has the type of patient that you look for in a guard. A smart pick-and-roll player, Crowley made the simple plays, whether he was taking shots when defenders lost him or letting plays develop before dishing to teammates. There’s a lot to like about his shooting and passing, especially for a guard who looks like he will get a lot taller.
Jaden Edwards (6’0 PG, West Aurora)
A smooth and calm operator, Edwards had some of the best pace among the players at practice. There was a sense of urgency with his penetration but his decisions never seemed rush. He made some jump shots with time and space and was effective leading the break and delivering pinpoint passes to teammates for open layups.
Jake Maquet (6’5 PF, Montini)
Every team needs a kid who is willing to give maximum effort on both ends like Maquet. Sometimes kids go through the motions at AAU practices, but Maquet was hustling through drills and playing hard during the scrimmages. He slowed up guards coming off ball screens with active hands and recovered back to bjgs defensively. On offense, he does the dirty work with solid screens and crashing the glass.
Josh Gutierrez (5’10 PG/SG, Lyons)
Gutierrez had a very focused approach at practice and brought that discipline to the scrimmage portion. It was hard to find flaws in his defensive ability, being both aggressive but in position. His best trait is how he guards, but he also has a decent looking jump shot and some quickness getting to the rim.
Josh Tinney (6’0 SG, Waubonsie Valley)
One of the more natural scorers of the group, Tinney’s strength at the guard position is a big asset when he puts his head down. In the drill, he shot the ball well on his stop-and-pop jumpers and was effective using his quick trigger from three on the scrimmages. He has the build to be a solid defender and moves well to get back in front of the ball. Tinney is an opportunistic defender as well, capable of jumping passing lanes.
Moses Wilson (6’3 SG/SF, Waubonsie Valley)
Wilson looked about as good in practice as he did over the weekend. From handling the ball to set up straight line drives to hitting threes at a high clip and getting up on his finishes, Wilson has a ton of ability that should translate. From the wings and corners, he looked comfortable spraying in threes when the ball got reversed his way. The transition dunks are to be expected at this point, but the grace and range that he has with the ball in space stands out. He was taking one-on-one matchups defensively personally and got in a stance to stay in front of the ball. If he’s able to bulk up, he should be able to be hold his ground to use his length more.
Nolan Hurter (6’2 SG, Downers Grove North)
Hurter is a ball and body mover who looks like a player that could fit in just about any style of play. When his defenders turned their heads, he made hard cuts to the hoop and gave similar energy running his lanes. At his age, Hurter has good height for a two guard that helped him pull in some tough rebounds. He looked to be a reliable shooter with consistent mechanics, making threes in the scrimmages and drills with confidence. Hurter’s savvy play was nice to see.
Pierre Pointer (6’1 SG/SF, Plainfield North)
Listed at 6-foot-1, Pointer plays a lot bigger. He kind of has that rugged, pitbull mentality of constantly looking to attack and be physical defensively. There were a few occasions when he took it right through a defender’s chest to get a shot inside. Pointer has a workable jump shot and some feel for his mid-range game, making a tough jumper off of a quick crossover move. He’s going to continue to get better.
Sincere Martin (6’0 SG/SF, Waubonsie Valley)
Another workhorse of a wing, Martin plays with infectious energy. He was one of the more vocal players in terms of encouraging teammates while he was subbed out and staying engaged. That’s always a good sign to see a kid actively uplifting those around him. Normally a bruising driver, Martin shot a number of jump shots and hit a couple of hesitation pull-ups and some threes. If he’s making those consistently and staying under control with the ball, he’s going to be tough to defend. Martin was another player who was giving a concerted effort to get stops and rotate defensively to force tough shots.
Tristan Saunders (6’3 SG, Joliet West)
Saunders seems to keep getting taller and more explosive while still being a quality scoring threat. He changes ends well with or without the ball and got up near the rim during the drills at the beginning of practice. Saunders has a high-arching three ball that looked good when he was able to get his feet planted. He complements that with a strong right hand drive and some creativity around the rim to finish.
Tyus Payne (6’3 SF, Waubonsie Valley)
Payne is one of the bigger sophomores for Attack, but was on the perimeter a good amount during the scrimmages. He got to his 15-to-18 foot jumper a couple of times and gave some help on the glass before throwing outlet passes or bringing it up himself. Payne has the type of frame that should add muscle well and give him an advantage on the inside. He should be able to become a factor in the mid-post with time.
Whitman Charboneau (6’2 SG, Neuqua Valley)
One of the more dynamic all-around players for the Attack, Charboneau displayed a quick one-two gather on his shots and the ability to change speeds and directions under control. He doesn’t rely on his athleticism often, but he’s got a good burst off of the dribble and has some elevation as a finisher and help side defender. Pull-up shooting is his bread and butter, making long twos from a couple of different spots. His passing ability can sometimes be overlooked, but he anticipates cutters very well when he’s handling the ball.
Evan Frieders (6’4 SG, Kaneland)
Frieders has great size for a guard at his age and possesses a smooth offensive game. Once he took his time on offense, he drilled open threes and looked good driving to the lane and getting shots in traffic. There’s a ton of promise defensively as well, as Frieders is a gifted athlete who can cover space and affect shots at their peak.
Jake Victor (6’0 SG, Naperville North)
For a freshman, Victor has a developed upper body and speed that stood out even amongst the older players. During the drills, he ran the wing with the same intensity that he had when trying to get a layup during the scrimmages. Victor also hit a three that had solid rhythm and competed well as an on-ball defender.
Marc Sanchez-Giron (6’5 C, Oswego East)
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanchez-Giron ended up at 6-foot-9 plus. Still growing into his body, he has a developing frame and has a decent understanding for where to be off of the ball. He pulled in some rebounds and showed that he can wall up inside, which will be important traits as he gets a more solid base.
Nathan Silagi (6’2 SG/SF, St. Francis)
Silagi fit in well with his scrimmage group as a hustler and capable three-point threat. Another kid who looks set to grow a little bit more, he has above-average length and solid defensive IQ in terms of his positioning and angles that he takes. I’d imagine based on his mechanics that shooting will be a plus for him going forward.
Zach Johnson (6’0 SG, Oswego East)
Johnson had one of the better looking strokes of the group with a clean finish to his shot. During scrimmages, he primarily played off of the ball, but he has some quickness driving left. Johnson will be able to stretch out defenses but he’s also got a little scrappiness to his game that should help him guard the backcourt spots.