There were a number of good in-state programs that took part in the inaugural “The Invite” tournament run by All Hoop Events. We only saw a handful of games, but here are some of the standouts.
Breakaway 17U UAA
Connor May (6’7 SG/SF, Palatine)
May provides a level of interchangeability that kind of allows Breakaway to flourish in different play styles. He acted as a spot-up shooter best in the game, burying multiple threes off of the catch after spacing out well within the offense. A dangerous transition threat from the perimeter, May sprinted out in the break and got his feet set before the defense could recover.
May snapped passes around the perimeter to some of the many marksman on the team. He also showed well sliding laterally to cut off opposing wings with similar size defensively. May is a jack-of-all-trades guard who will take off in June.
Jack Stanton (6’2 PG, Downers Grove North)
Stanton felt things out early on, getting the ball up the court with the pass and doing a nice job of getting Breakaway into their sets or distributing on penetration. Even with the defense focused on staying tight to him, the 6-foot-2 point guard found different ways to lose defenders and get to his spots. He’s got that quick, low-to-the-ground handle that is very difficult to disrupt, leading to a number of pull-up threes and mid-range looks.
Being guarded as a shoot-first player, he was very effective getting to the rim and drawing fouls at a high clip. He’s an active, low-mistake defender who took a couple of charges and broke up actions with his quick hands. You can tell that Stanton’s teammates feed off of his competitiveness and are willing to run through a brick wall for him. I still think he’s the top PG in the class, and there seems to be more consensus from others on that after this spring.
Jason Jakstys (6’11 PF, Yorkville)
In a battle with another one of the top bigs in the 2024 class, Jakstys was dominant in the second half. His instincts as a paint defender always stand out, particularly when timing his jump to contest. He fought through some contact at times down low to secure rebounds and showed the skill to bust out with his dribble when needed. In the half court, Jakstys scored with his back to the basket with some quick hooks over the top of the defense while looking comfortable shooting and hitting threes in pick-and-pops.
Mechanically, his form is solid and the touch and footwork have really progressed over the last few months. He had a monster poster dunk as an exclamation point in the game as well. Jakstys is still physically putting it together and starting to gain more consistency. But he’s got some high-major tools.
Luke Kinkade (6’3 SG, Neuqua Valley)
Man, Kinkade can really shoot the laces off of the ball. It didn’t matter if he had a defender tracing their hand up near his face through his shot, he was drilling some tough ones from three. When he was running to the wings off of movement, either from quick away screens or in transition, he was confident, explosive off of the ground, and effective.
While his shooting is elite, his defense and frame for a two-guard shouldn’t be overlooked. Kinkade has a strong build and has ideal conditioning. You see some kids with the wind to run off of screens on offense, but few who do that while bringing that same effort to the defensive end. After what he’s shown this spring, don’t be surprised if some low-majors pull the trigger.
Ryan Cox (6’4 SG, Fremd)
Another catch-and-shoot marksman for Breakaway, Cox stepped up with a few players out this weekend. His feet were always ready and he didn’t let opportunities slip when he had his number called for plays to free him up to shoot it. Cox’s one-motion shot has great arc that came out of his hands very well on most of his many made threes. While he is a specialist to an extent for this team, Cox has some game attacking the basket and showing some creativity with the ball as well.
Fundamental U 17U UA Rise
Braeden Carlsen (6’4 SG, Wauconda)
Carlsen is a constant threat with the ball, typically as a deadeye shooter above all else. In the game I saw, he was living in the paint with a number of strong drives where he finished through defenders off of two feet. Carlsen is an unselfish off-ball mover, cutting hard and running the floor the whole game.
On the defensive end, he gets in a stance and moves his feet. Among the more physical two-guards in the class, Carlsen had no issue keeping up with some quick guards and steering them off of their lines. He has been a force all spring for the top team on the UA Rise circuit. Carlsen is a scholarship player hiding in plain sight.
JJ Hernandez (6’5 SF, Glenbard North)
I don’t know his official wingspan measurement, but I’d feel confident in saying that it’s above 6-foot-10. All of the deflections, tips, steals, and blocks that he had were showing it. Hernandez came out with a ton of aggressiveness on both ends, keeping the ball on one side of the floor with his wide reach and making everything tough in the paint.
There wasn’t much answer for his leaping ability or rangy slashing on the other end. Hernandez got into the paint off straight-line drives and was right there to put back any of his own misses. Already with an offer from Lewis, Hernandez is another FU player to watch in June.
Nate Kasher (6’0 PG, Glenbrook South)
It was great to see Kasher back out there bringing energy that lit up the entire team. He drained a couple of long threes and was the first to the floor on a couple of 50/50 balls. Kasher’s deep range opened things up for Fundamental U and allowed for some of the driving lanes that led to direct layups or second chances. His defensive competitiveness and positioning was a welcomed site as well.
Nick Taylor (6’7 PF, Glenbrook South)
I’d be hard pressed to find many players who play with the sheer want-to as Taylor. Every loose ball and rebound seemed to be his, overpowering a smaller front line and having his way in the lane as an interior scorer. Once he caught it in the post, there weren’t enough defenders on the court to stop him from finishing possessions through contact.
The strong, athletic lefty must’ve had an easy double-double where he did everything from 10 feet and in. Taylor has a solid set shot from three that he showed, but his shot fake got defenders off balance and he shined bulldozing to the rim when lanes opened up. There was no response to slow down Taylor.
Owen Giannoulias (6’0 PG, Glenbrook North)
Getting the kind of playmaking and steady scoring that Giannoulias had off of the bench is what coaches dream of at any level. He came right in, got a few paint finishes, knocked down a three, and was making sure everyone else got to eat as well. Giannoulias has the ball control and court vision to play at his own speed, even while defenders tried to speed him up. If I’m a high-level and/or high academic D3 program, I’m making sure that Giannoulias is on my short list for point guards.
Meanstreets 17U EYBL
Carlos Harris (6’2 PG/SG, Curie)
Harris is so crafty and deceptive when he has the ball. He’s got plus open court speed, but he really excels at changing pace to make his 80 percent look more like 100. Harris had a few well-timed deliveries in transition to get his teammates layups and dunks while showing some comfort keeping it himself and scoring in traffic. The physical combo guard is going to be a focal point for Curie and is a player who college coaches should add to their watch lists for the live events in June. The best way to describe Harris is as a hooper.
KJ Windham (6’3 SG, Ben Davis [IN])
It’s no surprise that so many mid-major programs have been offering Windham over the last few months. The smart, lefty slasher understands how to make plays on and off of the ball. He ripped through hard off of the catch and took contact well when getting to his strong hand.
With the length that he has, Windham kind of extends around help defenders to get angles that don’t initially seem there. There were also some nice flashes that Windham had as a passer and defender with his ability to anticipate plays on both ends.
Morez Johnson (6’9 PF, St. Rita)
The most impressive player I saw all weekend, Johnson is a player with legitimate NBA upside. He was overpowering opposing players from a physicality standpoint, burying kids with deep post ups, discarding them for offensive rebound opportunities, and attacking the rim with tenacity. Johnson moves with control and agility for a 6-foot-9 player. His ball-handling ability not only was notable but may have been what stood out most from a projection standpoint.
He can go coast-to-coast, make counter moves when needed, and drives the ball with force from the perimeter. Johnson had numerous highlight reel dunks that seemed almost too routine at a certain point. Add in how impactful he was swatting shots, intimidating drivers with his rim protection, and rebounding in bulk, and the ability is evident.
Nojus Indrusaitis (6’5 SG, St. Rita)
Indrusaitis got where he wanted with the ball and didn’t have to force things at any point for Meanstreets. He’d move the ball within the offense, cut hard, space the floor, and would make precise decisions when he did decide to score. The scoring package off of face-ups from the high post was on display with turnarounds, one dribble pull-ups, and direct drives where he shrugged off some bumps.
The Iowa State commit is an effortless offensive option who has the gifts to be a solid perimeter defender as well. I like his instincts when jumping passing lanes and creating issues with his positional size.
Tyler Ode (6’5 SG/SF, Heritage [MI])
It was my first time seeing the Heritage standout and Ode’s all-around game was impressive. He’s listed at 6-foot-5, but has a good build with long arms to play bigger than that. His court vision and passing feel was a welcome sight, regularly throwing backdoors and other lead passes to hit teammates in stride.
Ode elevates well on his outside shot and has college-ready athleticism around the rim. The way that he guarded and communicated on defense was worth noting as well. I’d expect mid-major programs to love Ode’s versatility and value to winning.
Meanstreets 17U Blue Smoke EYCL
George Bellevue (6’6 SF/PF, Lincoln-Way East )
The unsigned senior really committed to defending at a high level all over the floor. He’s more of a wing than a true four, but Bellevue was battling with bigs and even took on the challenge of guarding opposing point guards at times. Bellevue is a valuable switcher and a high-volume rebounder as well.
On offense, Bellevue stayed on the offensive glass and made an impact as hard cutter who finished well above the rim. Young for his class, Bellevue would be a welcome late addition to a program.
Jayden Tyler (5’10 PG, Homewood Flossmoor )
Tyler operated like a veteran off of ball screens. His angles and pace when attacking in pick-and-roll actions allowed him to create multiple quality looks. He probes and assesses well, while also possessing the scoring ability to shoot it off of the bounce when openings come. Only a 2025 prospect, Tyler is going to be a player who needs to be tracked closely as he continues to grow and put his feel for the game to good use.
MidPro Academy 17U
Jaheem Webber (6’10 C, Normal)
Once Webber gets the ball within 10 feet, good things tend to happen. The big-bodied center was battling inside for positioning and got some quality looks around the paint. He has patience and a couple of counters inside that he used to score, using his physicality first to feel out and bump defenders before deciding the best method of attack.
Webber knocked down a foul line jumper as well and should be a player who extends out well in college as his range catches up with his touch. Webber will have the attention of more D1 programs this summer.
Keauntrey Barnes (6’6 SF, Farmington)
Barnes is a player who doesn’t have a ton of fanfare outside of his local Farmington area. But there is a lot to like from an athleticism perspective. Very wiry at 6-foot-6, he came in and immediately made an impact with his ranginess and fast reactions defensively.
He turned one steal into a big dunk and was providing resistance on a few talented offensive players. The high-flying wing also connected on an open three, which is an area that could really change his trajectory as a recruit. Barnes fits well with this MidPro team.
Niko Newsome (6’5 SG/SF, Bloomington)
There’s no doubt that Newsome passes the eye test. A big, strong wing with a propensity for seeking contact, Newsome was looking to get to the rack early and often. He’s improved as a jump shooter and made two threes early, which opened up a few more lanes when defenders got a little closer on the closeouts.
His athleticism is more about power than just the traditional run-and-jump traits, really going up with force against quality rim protectors. Newsome is another kid who will get LM looks.
Tyler Mason (6’2 PG/SG, Metamora)
Mason is the definition of a gamer. He played both sides of the court and did so at a high level. Picking up in the backcourt defensively, he moved his feet, fought over screens, and gave multiple great second efforts to get back into plays to contest shots. He’s a good athlete but also has a sense for when to slow things down.
Mason made multiple threes when given space beyond the arc and had some aggressive drives in traffic where he drew defenders before making the extra pass. There’s a lot to like about how much better Mason will get, noting that he’s a kid who hasn’t really been on the AAU scene before this spring.
Meanstreets 16U EYCL
Brent Taylor (6’2 SG, Lincoln-Way East)
Taylor’s athleticism, energy, and shot-making were crucial for a Meanstreets group who went undefeated on the weekend. He was fearless getting to the rim and wasn’t shy about pulling from three. Still developing his body, Taylor has length and some springs around the lane that allowed him to make some of those tough finishes. Heading into a summer on a team who is losing a lot to graduation, Taylor looks like a player who could make some noise for LWE this year.
Breakaway 16U UA Rise
Alex Gossett (6’6 SF/PF, OPRF)
A high-motor, top-level athlete, Gossett was a mismatch on both ends. He acted as an effective roll man showing good hands to catch in traffic and go up strong to finish. Gossett had a couple of dunks and was floating around the rim on a couple of other shots inside.
When he got short rolls or face-up opportunities, he used a quick and forceful power dribble to get to the basket. Blessed with a great long-term build, Gossett was an impactful defender across multiple positions and used that vertical to alter shots inside. His constant production this spring has been notable.
Daniel Sveiteris (6’6 SF/PF, Downers Grove South)
Sveiteris is more than capable as a shooter, but the way he drove the ball at times looked natural. The 6-foot-6 forward covered a lot of ground and took it to the teeth of the defense against some athleticism inside. It didn’t impact him, using a variety of spins and push shots to score.
There is a good level of intent that he has when he decides to put the ball on the ground that should translate well. Sveiteris also showed some timing and effort getting on the offensive glass and showed his hands on defense.
Luca Carbonaro (6’1 PG, Wheaton Warrenville South)
Despite being face-guarded at times, Carbonaro got touches and changed the game when he was making plays. Very smooth with the ball, Carbonaro had the ball on a string. Defenders couldn’t figure out his rhythm and that allowed him to go wherever he needed to.
Carbonaro has a clean outside stroke that he can shoot off the catch or off the dribble well. Also a gifted passer, Carbonaro made sound decisions in ball screens and in open space to open things up for his teammates.
MidPro Academy 16U
Braden Freeman (6’6 SG/SF, Moline)
For a two-guard/wing, Freeman has a comfort level in open space that you like to see at his size. As a slasher, he was a handful at times out of the triple threat picking angles and going to the rack. Freeman had athletic moves to the basket and finished or drew contact well.
He seems like a player who is capable and willing to do what is needed to win. When they needed some life, he crashed the glass hard and looked like a perimeter defender who can cover at least three spots very well. Freeman’s shooting form is efficient and he was on time and on-target moving the ball to open teammates. There’s a lot to like now and in the future for him.
Dietrich Richardson (6’6 PG, Peoria Manual)
You don’t see many 6-foot-6 point guards anywhere, let alone as a sophomore in high school. He was terrific throughout the game showing off a ton of creativity and skill with the ball and defensive prowess that you can’t teach at his size and position. Richardson buried a corner three and lifted up into a couple of pull-ups well over the outstretched hands of defenders. He’s got a spring to his step and a burst that was eye-opening.
That athleticism shined above the rim as well, catching a lob and easily getting up there to finish. Richardson is a true point guard with vision and nice ball-handling ability to create passing angles. I thought his ability to close space defensively spoke to his defensive upside. He seemed to always be around the ball and has supreme length for a PG. Richardson has Division 1 traits on both ends.
Jonah Funk (6’9 PF, El Paso Gridley)
What stood out for Funk in the game was the potential stalwart that he could develop into defensively at the next level. Thin and lanky at 6-foot-9, he is a fluid and versatile athlete who blocked shots near the rim and also got out to hedge and stay in front of the ball in space. Funk is a consistent weakside defender at this stage throwing away shots in his vicinity regularly.
As an offensive threat, he sprinted out in transition well and looked comfortable with the ball on the wing and taking catch-and-shoot looks. If he continues to progress, Funk could be a hot commodity with so many promising tools to work with.
Kobe Walker (6’9 C, Normal)
Walker has a huge frame and has played up on 17U at times this spring for good reason. He was not easily moved, both as a rebounder and on his post touches. After starting off slow, he got going with a number of layups after setting solid screens, rolling to the rim, and receiving looks inside of five feet.
Even at his size, Walker can move fairly well and understands the value of doing the dirty work on the inside regardless of touches. Quickly blossoming as an athlete, Walker is a solid big to track.
Matthew Zobrist (6’5 SG, Metamora)
Zobrist has translatable size and strength, playmaking instincts, and a sweet outside stroke. En route to hitting a handful of threes, Zobrist spaced out and shot right over defenders. The physical lefty displayed really good shot preparation and lift on his jumper, also making a difficult turnaround from the elbow.
Zobrist also contributed as a ball-handler against pressure, understanding the value in using his body and making some nice drop off passes on the move. He has a level of composure and maturity that you love to see out of a young player. Another scholarship-level prospect for MidPro.
Breakaway 15U UA Rise
Mike Nee (6’0 PG/SG, Glenbard East)
Nee wrapped up what has been a consistent and impressive spring. The curl and flare threes were raining in as he led the way for Breakaway. The speed that he has getting to his release point is pretty advanced and made it difficult for even the trailing defenders to disrupt him.
It seemed like Nee was getting a quality look every few possessions, doing a little bit of work with the ball lulling guys to sleep before he got enough time and space to let it go. Nee has shot it as well as any kid in the class the last few months.
Trey Williams (6’2 SG, Loyola)
A shutdown defender who was all over the court during the game, Williams proved the value in versatility. He fed Nee on multiple occasions and was a catalyst as an interior passer, even as a guard. Sometimes just making the simple play, Williams got advantages, drew help, and found the open man in rhythm.
While he doesn’t need to score to alter games, Williams used his athleticism to knife to the lane for himself a few times. I can’t say enough about how much of an agitator and competitor he is defensively, forcing opposing guards to turn it over, pick the ball up, or play out of character.
Fundamental U 15U UA Rise
Adam Anwar (6’5 PF, McHenry)
Anwar feasted off of rolls and dump offs. It wasn’t all a result of the guards though, as Anwar separated to the punch spot nicely off of dribble penetration, showed his hands on rolls, and displayed soft touch. He moves very well at his size for a freshman and has a plus wingspan that was put to use on the glass. Anwar corralled misses on both backboards and was giving the other bigs problems inside with his length defensively.
Christopher Kirkpatrick (6’1 PG, New Trier)
Quite the pick-and-roll weapon for a freshman, Kirkpatrick created scoring opportunities regularly when put into side ball screen actions. He’s quick and skilled off of the bounce, which led to some well-timed downhill drives where he wasn’t shying away from physicality.
When the hedge defenders committed to him, he dropped off touch passes to screeners and made crisp passes to weakside shooters. Kirkpatrick has some length at 6-foot-1 to create problems defensively with his hand activity. But he looked great staying disciplined and showing his hands all while turning opposing guards.
Panayiotis Sotos (6’1 PG, Maine South)
Sotos came out of the gate scorching hot with a trio of threes in the first part of the game. Whenever the ball was reversed around to him, Sotos let if fly with confidence and wasn’t missing much. His comfort playing on and off the ball is beyond valuable for a team with a number of solid playmakers.
When he needs to score, he can do that, but later in the game he showed some of the ball control and patience that helped him start as a freshman for Maine South. Sotos is going to continue to be a guard worth keeping an eye on in the 2026 class.
MidPro Academy 15U
Wood Kerry (6’1 PG, Moline)
Potentially the next promising guard prospect for Moline, Kerry did so many good things with the ball. Providing length, athletic punch, and aggressiveness, Kerry pushed tempo in transition and exploded on the break to get easy buckets.
In the half court, Kerry is a crafty and dynamic ball-handler who can single-handedly collapse defenses after beating his primary defenders. There were flashes of his shot-making from the perimeter and some passing sense when help comes. Look for Kerry to be an impact player for Moline.