Without many local AAU tournaments, I watched a few games on livestream at the UAA’s first live event in Arizona and two Prep Hoops events with a couple of local teams participating. Here are some of the standouts.
Connor May (6’7 SG/SF, Palatine)
A lot of kids want the label of “big guard”, but that is an accurate description of the 6-foot-7 Palatine all-stater. May’s size and build will appeal to Division 1 coaches and his strength and aggressiveness showed up with his rebounding and defense on bigs as well as perimeter players. Throughout the game, he had times where he initiated sets and made plays off of ball screens effectively. May is an adept passer who plays with his head up, but is a multi-purpose scorer as well. He hit a three and got to the paint well off of driving closeouts. May should be getting some calls over the next few weeks.
Jack Stanton (6’2 PG, Downers Grove North)
Stanton began the game making a couple of accurate passes off of the dribble out to shooters and a few drop offs to give the bigs some opportunities down low. His on-ball defense was rock solid all game beating guys to spots to stop drives. He made a flare three and then erupted in the second half with his scoring. Stanton hit two tough pull-up threes going to his right hand on consecutive possessions and got another one to go on a pick-and-pop. The level of shooting, control, and sheer competitive drive separate Stanton. Fordham just offered, but expect more for one of the state’s premier point guards.
Jason Jakstys (6’11 PF, Yorkville)
The best uncommitted long-term big in the class, Jakstys showcases his entire game. The face-up skill at 6-foot-11 is hard to find as he was able to make a turnaround jumper out of the post, dribble into a contested elbow pull-up, and knock down a pick-and-pop three without touching much rim on any of those shots. A valued defensive presence as well, he had some blocks and was a factor inside both making bigs alter shots and keeping guards from getting all the way inside. Jakstys is being closely tracked by a number of Division 1 programs and performances like this should encourage them.
Luke Kinkade (6’2 SG, Neuqua Valley)
So far in the last month or so with Breakaway, Kinkade has shown the change games with his outside shooting. This weekend was no different. He completed an and-one three, made a few coming off of curls, and stepped into one from the top of the key. A well-conditioned athlete with no problem sprinting off different actions all game, Kinkade continued to lose defenders. He also took a charge on the defensive end and was one of the first ones back in transition defense. With the way he’s been shooting it, he’s going to have to start getting some consideration at the Division 2 level.
Chicago Lockdown 2024
Connor Williams (6’2 SG, Stagg)
Williams has a good feel for scoring the ball and doesn’t need to be a primary ball-handler to get shots. Coming off of curl cuts and off-ball movement, Williams made jumpers and drove strong to the rim for layups. He fits more as a two guard in college but he made some good decisions out of ball screens to be patient and let plays develop before getting rid of the ball. Williams is a player who D3 programs will love.
Deshawn Nolan (6’0 PG/SG, Oak Forest)
Nolan weaved his way to the basket often, particularly in the second half when he was attacking off of ball screens. He is a quick accelerator with the ball and a finisher who is willing to play through contact. Another player who knows how to use ball screens, Nolan made well-timed passes after absorbing help with his penetration. He hit a three as well and made an impression with his ball pressure in space. High-academic D3 programs should keep an eye on Nolan.
Drew King (6’9 C, Joliet West)
Looking stronger and moving well, King has a lot of traits that you look for in a young big man. On drives to the rim from teammates, he separated well to get in position for dump offs where he finished dunks and layups. King worked in the pick-and-roll to get some clean runs to the rim. He also did a nice job of staying around the paint defensively and splitting distance when hedging ball screens to avoid giving up easy looks inside. King has good potential and looks like a solid Division 2 post prospect.
Nolan Sexton (6’0 PG, Evergreen Park)
Sexton has in-the-gym range and was letting it fly. He made a pair of threes off of the bounce, one coming from beyond the college three-point line. Sexton lifts up into his shot very well and doesn’t tend to get phased by defenders running at him. The 6-foot guard also has solid speed with the ball and scored in transition well while adding some short jumpers in the lane after getting a step on guys.
Fundamental U 17U
Braeden Carlsen (6’4 SG, Wauconda)
Carlsen has so many different ways to score, taking what the defense gave him when he was being played tight. When he drove to the rim, he picked up speed and muscled his way inside to finish plays. He probed well inside of that 12 to 18 feet area, making a couple of short jump shots and keeping his dribble alive until he was ready to make a play. A deadeye shooter, Carlsen hit a tough pull-up three from the wing as well. His defensive effort can’t be taken for granted, possessing college-level strength at the spot and moving well side to side. Carlsen is a difference maker who more college coaches need to see.
Jakob Blakley (6’0 PG, Larkin)
Blakley got going with a mid-range jump shot, one area where he excels as a lead guard. When the pressure got ramped up from the other team defensively, he was unaffected by it and managed to get where he wanted to with the ball. He also had a hard direct baseline drive where he scored on a double clutch at the rim. At 6-foot, Blakley has a good frame that will continue to add muscle and complement his attacking play style. Scholarship-level programs should feel good about putting the ball in his hands.
JJ Hernandez (6’6 SF, Glenbard North)
Hernandez was playing the Swiss-army knife role for Fundamental U on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he made a couple of good interior passes to find guys for some easy ones. They returned the favor and delivered Hernandez with a couple of dump offs around the rim that he converted. Athletically, Hernandez moves well and uses his wingspan to rebound at a high clip and change games defensively. Hernandez will continue to bring a lot of different layers to the game that impact winning.
Logan Feller (6’4 PG/SG, New Trier)
Feller was really a factor on the defensive end with how well he stayed in front of the ball and disrupted things with his long arms. He has a wide base defensively and keeps his feet active to make other guards have to work to get a step on him. Playing primarily as the point guard, Feller was rock solid controlling the ball and making decisions within the flow of the offense. He’s an intriguing two-way guard that is highly efficient offensively. Should get a ton of high-academic D3 looks.
Nick Taylor (6’7 PF, Glenbrook South)
Taylor was making extra effort plays all over the floor and it led to a number of buckets on the offensive end. Playing against a taller big with slower feet, he had some athletic takes to the rim, getting low on his drives and consistently creating an advantage off of face-ups. He’s such a quick and powerful leaper around the rim, letting him play above the rim as a rebounder on both ends and when coming over to contest shots from the weakside. The lefty forward continues to produce and look like a player who will find a way to make things happen at the next level.
Illinois Wolves 17U
Angelo Ciaravino (6’6 SG, Mount Carmel)
Whatever you need from an energy or scoring standpoint, Ciaravino seems willing to provide. He was a notable defensive asset for the Wolves staying in front the ball and rotating well. Most of his offensive output came in the paint, with a couple of nice drives to the rim, an impressive and-one dunk, and a nifty post up score when he got a defender buried underneath the rim. Continuing where he left off earlier in the month, Ciaravino remains a high floor two-guard prospect.
Cole Certa (6’5 SG, Bloomington Central Catholic)
One of the standouts of the entire UAA this weekend, Certa was dominant scoring the ball. He buried a couple of NBA-range threes, including an and-one three from the top of the key. His understanding of angles and increased comfort handling the ball has made him an all-around monster offensively with how well he shoots it. On a few different occasions, he went on runs where he set up defenders and made decisive moves to get to his stop-and-pop jumpers. He looks and plays a bit taller than 6-foot-5 and has definitive high-major scoring ability. Certa should be in the top 100 discussion nationally.
Daniel Johnson (6’7 SG/SF, Whitney Young )
Doing a lion’s share of his damage from the mid-range, Johnson got to 15-to-18 feet off of a few dribbles and was drilling pull-ups. When you consider his length and mobility, it’s easy to see where that middle game will translate to the college level. He got out in transition fairly well and gave quality defense on the perimeter, particularly when contesting shots. Johnson is the best available senior in Illinois.
Eoin Dillon (6’9 PF, Peoria Notre Dame)
I love Dillon’s size and shooting ability. He’s got a flamethrower and made multiple threes throughout the game. Very good from the top of the key and the wings, Dillon spaced out off of pick-and-pops and as a trailer or lift guy within the offense. He’s not just a standstill three-point specialist either. Dillon is a solid athlete and projects well as a ball-handler at the four spot who should be able to play well out of dribble handoffs. When the shot clock was running out in the second half, he improved well and got space off of the dribble for another three. He continues to rise and should be high on the list of local stretch fours.
Jehvion Starwood (6’3 PG/SG, Oswego East)
Starwood didn’t have to score a lot, but it’s been great to see his development as a point guard. I saw numerous times when the other team was going on a run or the Wolves just had a turnover, and he slowed things down and got them into their offense. The 6-foot-3 junior can dance with the ball when needed but was also efficient and tactical with when he decided to use his explosiveness to get by defenders. Starwood had a poster dunk and made plays defensively with his activity. While we’ve had him on the Division 1 radar for a while, Starwood looks to be refining his complete game.
M14 National 2024 2
Cam Morel (6’3 SG, Aurora Christian)
A solid, strong two guard, Morel couldn’t miss from three early on and went for over 20 points. He made a three after getting a defender off his feet with a shot fake and made another one off of an inbounds pass. Morel has a good-looking stroke and is able to get it off coming off of movement. The floor spacing was crucial in keeping M14 in the game, hitting at least five threes in the game. Morel made another one running off of a curl and connected on some corner threes as well.
CJ Valente (6’5 SF, Batavia)
Valente is a big wing for M14 who uses his athleticism well. He was best on the defensive end guarding post players and guards at times and moving his feet really well to stay in front of the ball. Thanks to a strong upper body, he can take bumps and maintain his position and stance. Valente got to the basket well a few times as well and finished near the rim. I imagine he’d get some Division 3 looks.
Elijah Whitaker (6’2 PG, Waubonsie Valley)
Whitaker started to get going in the second half with his quickness and slashing. On the taller side for a point guard, Whitaker puts it on the deck with a purpose and got to the rim often to either score himself or get a putback. He’s got a nice handle to work with as well when plays need to be made in the open court.
Evan Stumm (6’0 SG, Marmion)
The lefty shooter was most impactful getting into the paint and acting as a playmaker. He brought the ball up at times and made a good effort to facilitate to get his teammates involved. Stumm converted a tough and-one going down the middle of the lane and applied good ball pressure defensively as well for M14.
Mike Glennon Elite 2026
Joe Niego (6’4 SG, Brother Rice)
After a good showing last weekend, Niego picked right back up where he left off with a game where he hit over five threes. He ran off of staggers and used his jab steps out of the triple threat to get space to knock down most of his long-range shots. When driving closeouts, he showed good body control and finished around a help side defender with a double-clutch layup. Niego looks like he’s got a good amount of untapped athleticism and the potential to fill out and grow physically as well.
Lucas Scarnavack (6’4 PF, Brother Rice)
Another 6-foot-4 Brother Rice freshman, Scarnavack worked inside well and showed some mobility out in the open court. He tried to throw one down in transition and was one of the better rebounders on the defensive end. With long arms already and good height, Scarnavack is probably going to get a lot taller and be able to remain as a post player where he seems comfortable contesting shots, crashing the glass, and making some plays around the rim offensively.