High Academic Showcase Standouts

I was in Waukegan for the Fundamental U High Academic Showcase that featured more than 125 kids across the 2027 through 2024 class. There were dozens of college coaches in attendance to check a group that had a number of promising, high-academic seniors who are still on the board. Here are some of the players who stood out to me from the event.

Adam Anwar (6’6 PF, McHenry 2026)

Anwar’s combination of size, agility, and touch were notable when compared to the other 2026 players in attendance. He ran the floor more like a wing and showed soft hands and consistent touch on both layups and some jump shots during drills and scrimmages. Although he’s not a highly known prospect to some, Anwar’s physical gifts, budding face-up skill, and composed body language speak to a player who I think could be a top-5 post prospect in the class.

Aidan Bardic (6’3 PG, Stevenson 2025)

Constantly reliable as a finisher and playmaker, Bardic was making quality decisions with the ball and was living in the paint offensively. The strength and feel for the game as a lead guard give him such an edge when operating with the ball. Bardic created and maintained advantages as a driver, often finishing with his off-hand at the rim while flashing a lot of court vision in the open floor. It was a good showing for a player who fits the profile of a quality high-academic prospect.

AJ Demirov (6’0 PG, Crystal Lake South 2025)

Demirov’s speed and ability to shift gears with the ball is elite. I’m talking top five in the class. That quickness helped him maintain a step on whoever was guarding him, ultimately showing ideal court vision and passing sense in crowds to hit bigs and shooters on the move. He also had stretches where his pull-up game, which has become one of his biggest strengths, was on full display with long threes off of hesitation dribbles and quick stop-and-pop shots from 15-to-18 feet. Despite averaging over 20 points on the UA Rise circuit in July, I still think Demirov isn’t nearly as appreciated outside of the area as he should be. He’s got special ability.

Alex Vincent (6’10 C, OPRF 2025)

Among the bigger players at the camp, Vincent’s size stood out. But the developing center has made great strides and was making forceful plays inside. He had a couple of rim-rattling dunks and scored around the paint well as an outlet on dribble penetration and with drop steps on the block. It looks like he’s headed in the right direction and will be primed to be an anchor inside for OPRF.

Brady Sehlhorst (6’7 SG, Notre Dame College Prep 2025)

Sehlhorst was a big standout with his size, ball-handling, and fluidity on the wing. It came easy when he had one-on-one matchups where he could use his long strides and tight handle to shake guys. A crafty and athletic finisher, he converted on reverse layups, dunks, tough double-clutch shots inside. Any time he was given space on the perimeter, he confidently lifted up into shots from different spots on the floor. The three-point stroke continues to look like a tool that will translate to the next level. Sehlhorst was offered by Eastern Illinois this week but has the game to pull in plenty more Division 1 looks.

Braeden Carlsen (6’4 SG, Wauconda 2024)

To be completely honest, it’s laughable that Carlsen does not have more low and mid-major offers. His pull-up game and three-point marksmanship stood out during the event, hitting numerous tough shots off of the bounce and shedding tight defense with his upper body strength to get all the way to the rim. His burst getting downhill has improved noticeably since the spring to complement how well he sprays in shots from the wing and top of the key. Carlsen was a regular presence on the offensive glass and had good moments defensively sliding his feet and causing turnovers.

Brendan Sanders (6’3 SG, Lincoln-Way East 2025)

Sanders had a nice showing slashing to the rim. He’s got a good first step and extended up to the rim well when he had defenders trailing him. The LWE junior also sprung up on a couple of stop-and-pop shots while showing the length to cause some havoc defensively by jumping passing lanes and contesting shots. He’s got tools to work with and looked good at times making an impact in multiple areas.

Bryce Wegrzyn (6’6 PF, Libertyville 2026)

Wegrzyn can really play and he’s only a sophomore. Particularly during the scrimmages, his versatility and inside-out game were noteworthy. A legitimate forward with size, he put the ball on the ground in space and delivered bumps on his way to scoring inside at a high clip. Wegrzyn is a plus athlete for a four man who got up above the rim fairly well when he had some space. His shot came out well, seeming like a player who will be able to expand his range as he matures. The combination of skills that Wegrzyn showed left a positive impression.

Cam Lathos (6’6 PF, Conant 2024)

For D3 coaches looking for a big who can stretch the floor, Lathos fits the bill. The 6-foot-6 junior balanced hard cuts to the rim with spacing the floor and popping for threes. He’s got a nice, high release point that will translate well to the next level along with crisp, decisive footwork on the block. Lathos showed good understanding for finding open space and giving guards room to operate. A likely coveted stretch four recruit.

Charlie Robin (6’2 SG, Deerfield 2024)

Robin brought consistent catch-and-shoot value during the scrimmages. He doesn’t waste movement with his shot and looks to have continued to add strength throughout the summer. Robin knew where he was trying to get with the ball and either got all the way to the rim in transition or gathered himself around the mid-range. He will be a solid Division 3 player who should be able to fit a role.

Chris Kirkpatrick (6’2 PG, New Trier 2026)

Once scrimmages started, it almost looked too easy for Kirkpatrick. His scoring package is advanced as both a jump shooter and penetrator. The range and ball-handling are evident, but a lot of that comes from how well he maintains his balance and controls his body through different moves. He even went down to the post and scored a few times, utilizing his pivot well to find openings. Kirkpatrick seems primed to continue to expand his game and open a lot of eyes this season with New Trier.

Colby Smith (6’3 PG, New Trier 2025)

Smith really seemed like he was trying to make the right plays, which isn’t always a guarantee for kids at showcases. In transition, he picked the defense apart with advance passes and timely dump offs. As a scorer, he does some things that are hard to teach. He sized up other guards and consistently used his quick first step to get to the elbows for jumpers or snatch it back for threes, which he shot at a high clip. Smith is a gifted shot creator at his age and has a lot more physical strength and athleticism as a finisher than many of his peers. If Smith continues to progress, he should have multiple Division 1 suitors.

Danny Houlihan (6’3 SG, New Trier 2026)

At this point, it doesn’t take long for Houlihan to stand out in any gym as a standout shooter. The rhythm and shot preparation that he showed before receiving passes was great to see for a young guard. Once scrimmages began, he was scorching the nets as a spot-up shooter while making timely decisions to get to the rim. Another New Trier player who will be a difference maker for years to come.

Dom Seaney (6’5 SF, Glenbard West 2025)

Being willing to do the little things in an event when a lot of kids are trying to make highlight plays can separate you from the group. That was the case for Seaney, who was taking on tough matchups defensively, showing a commitment to rebounding during scrimmages, and moving with purpose without the ball leading to numerous layups. The long reach and broad shoulders hint towards physical upside that should make Seaney an even more effective defender. A very high-academic junior. Seaney is a long-term prospect to track.

George Richardson (6’6 SF/PF, DePaul Prep 2025)

Richardson was a man amongst boys on the glass. He was going up in traffic and corralling missed shots at a volume that you don’t typically see in showcases. Very physical with plus athleticism, Richardson can play even bigger than his 6-foot-6 listing. That showed when he put his head down to get to the rim from the perimeter where he was strong in straight-line drive situations. He also has sound shooting ability with range out to the three-point line. Richardson just returned from an injury that kept him out this summer, but he has a chance to be a productive two-way energy guy.

Hudson Scroggins (6’6 SF/PF, Lake Forest 2025)

Scroggins stood out for his defensive impact and projectable traits on that end. Whether he was on the ball or rotating over, he altered and blocked a bunch of shots during the scrimmages. In the open court, he was a weapon running rim to rim and making left-handed drives off of his wing touches. He makes slick moves inside and has shooting potential that showed during drills. A wiry 6-foot-6, he continues to look like he is filling out physically and adding strength to his entire frame. I don’t think Scroggins even knows how good he can be, but he seems to be taking the steps to get there.

Ian Brown (6’5 SG/SF, New Trier 2024)

In a spot-up shooting competition, it’d be hard to choose against Brown. While he was doing plenty of damage with his catch-and-shoot game, Brown’s developed off the dribble game was a good sign. He sprinted his lanes in transition to get dunks and layups around the rim and made some contested one and two dribble pull-ups where he showed a lot more elevation than he does on his set shots from three. With his physical build, athleticism, shooting, and academics, the list of interested D3 programs should continue to rise.

Jakob Blakley (6’0 PG, Larkin 2024)

Blakley has this unbothered, business-like approach that is going to serve him well in college. There weren’t many guards at the showcase who could slow him down, getting to the rack with ease and getting to his bread and butter in the middle game. Smooth and efficient with the ball, the 6-foot guard buried threes off of the bounce and when defenders closed out with low hands. He played with pace that encouraged his teammates to run the floor knowing he would find them. Another Division 1 caliber player from the event.

JJ Hernandez (6’6 SF, Glenbard North 2024)

If Hernandez continues to show progress with his outside shot like he did at times yesterday, his college options should multiply. Very young for his class, Hernandez has superior athleticism and length that wasn’t matched at the showcase. He blocked shots, got out on the break for dunks, and showed he can knock down some open jumpers with time and space. His activity on the glass and off of the ball as both a cutter and relocator make him most valuable right now offensively. As a defender, he has a true ability to guard multiple spots, already looking like a stopper at the two through four positions.

Kain Kretschmar (6’3 SG, Lake Zurich 2026)

Kretschmar has good size for a guard and used it effectively during scrimmages. He’s a perimeter player, but isn’t afraid to mix it up inside, regularly fighting for loose balls and rebounds in crowds. Kretschmar scored from the three-point line with good range and showed his grit on drives and putbacks inside. Look for him to be a breakout sophomore for Lake Zurich this year.

Liam Taylor (6’8 SF/PF, Lyons 2024)

It almost seems like Taylor is hiding in plain sight. The 6-foot-8, mobile forward made plays with the ball in his hands, stepped into shots from outside, and erased mistakes defensively with his length. He’s deceptively slippery as a ball-handler, getting around bigs and wings alike when attacking closeouts or making one move to get a step. Taylor is a fluid finisher who has some easy athletic pop around the rim and a projectable outside shot to work with when he is playing off of the ball. I think he’s a legitimate D2 prospect who also has the grades to attract some of the better D3 programs.

Logan Feller (6’4 PG/SG, New Trier 2024)

You really never have to question whether or not Feller is going to make positive plays on both ends of the floor. Even in a showcase setting, he brough toughness, smarts, and patience. He showed his hands defensively all day and even took a charge during the scrimmages. Highly selective offensively, he made the majority of the threes that I saw him take and was a much-needed ball-mover for his team. Winning plays highlighted his performance and kind of exemplify his value at the next level. Any high-academic Division 3 program should feel comfortable looking into the lanky guard.

Luke Wirtschoreck (6’3 SF/PF, Loyola 2027)

Wirtschoreck is still raw, but he has some serious potential with his athleticism, instincts, and motor at his age. Compared to other freshmen and sophomores at the showcase, his agility and power in a straight line was noteworthy. He has a nose for the ball, particularly as an offensive rebounder where he was one of the first off of the ground. His perimeter game will get more refined, but he was working well on catch-and-rip moves and on aggressive takes to the rim. The lateral quickness to stay in front of the ball and be early to the help was evident as well. There is something there with Wirtschoreck.

Marko Visnjevac (6’0 PG, McHenry 2024)

A scoring guard, Visnjevac got going early in the scrimmages with his offensive game. Whether it was a pull-up, spot-up three, or crafty drive, he was finding ways to put the ball in the basket. He has confidence and a knack for filling it up, even when shots are contested. Visnjevac should be in a position to garner some Division 3 attention and his academic standing likely gave him a good opportunity on Wednesday.

Nate Kasher (6’0 PG, Glenbrook South 2024)

There were some great shooters at the event, but Kasher’s range was a separator. He was shooting it better from the volleyball line than most kids were from the high school line. The stocky guard has the strength to get into defenders off of the ball, the speed to lose them on cuts, and a quick trigger that makes him a threat in a number of different situations. Kasher shined when he was attacking off of the dribble as well, showing that athleticism and hang time. There is a lot to like about how his game translates to the college level.

Nate Nazos (6’0 PG, Batavia 2024)

Nazos is a scrappy, team-first point guard who plays with a bit of an edge. He didn’t force anything throughout the camp and made the right basketball play time and time again. When he was given room to shoot, he had his hands and feet ready to knock down shots. For stretches when he brought the ball up during scrimmages, he never let the ball stick and was a pinpoint passer on skips, dump offs, and crosscourt passes in transition. Nazos is going to be a quality lead guard at the next level.

Nick Taylor (6’7 PF, Glenbrook South 2024)

Taylor was the best interior player at the entire showcase, and it wasn’t very close. The hyper-active forward had a couple of big dunks, but made an impression with his willingness to take and make threes. There was no hesitation at all, connecting on a good number of outside shots during the drills and scrimmages. That part of his game is just an added bonus to the demolition of the paint that he put on. Taylor skied for rebounds, converted on some bully ball drives to his left hand, and was finishing everything within 10 feet, even against big, athletic defenders. Taylor is a kid who has the same focus, motor, and productivity every time I see him. He’s a no-question scholarship-level player.

Owen Giannoulias (6’0 PG, Glenbrook North 2024)

Another player who seemingly shows up with the same intensity no matter the setting, Giannoulias likely gained a lot of new fans among college coaches with his performance. The GBN point guard got into the teeth of the defense with regularity, facilitated with flash and accuracy, and was a knockdown shooter while locking down on the defensive end. His confidence shooting the three was apparent all day, but he looked even better probing inside and finding ways to make floaters, contact layups, and short pull-ups. I think his defense is actually his best college-level trait with that relentless quickness and toughness that you look for in a point guard. He had a great day.

Randy Clay Jr. (6’2 PG/SG, Stevenson 2024)

Clay was a standout during the station work with how quickly he changed speeds and operated in tight spaces. He zoomed by other guards during the scrimmages and was quick getting the ball up to the backboard for layups. Clay possesses nice passing instincts when he is playing in space, which led to his teammates getting quality looks when they were pushing the pace. He will be an impact player for Stevenson this year.

Sam Hanus (6’2 PG/SG, Deerfield 2025)

Throughout the run, Hanus made an impact shooting the ball. Hanus has extended three-point range and drilled a couple of long jumpers. His movement off of the ball was ideal to get open looks when other players were either posting up or driving into the paint. When he got his feet set off of drifts or when stepping into threes in transition, his form was repeatable and efficient. At his height with the scoring chops to create a bit off of the dribble, Hanus is only going to get better.

Sam Lappin (5’10 PG, Glenbrook North 2024)

Lappin didn’t lack much other than some height at the showcase. He was getting exactly what he wanted with foul line jumpers, runners, and threes sprayed in throughout the day. Lappin has the quick pickup that is needed to score against good defenders from the mid-range and was putting that to good use. There is no questioning his hustle or heart on the defensive end, picking the ball up early and turning other guards. Lappin will have ample D3 interest.

Spencer Cullum (6’6 SF, Woodstock 2024)

Cullum was in attack mode early and often. The 6-foot-6 wing got into the lane off of aggressive direct drives and was fighting for offensive rebounds on misses. He threw down a dunk in transition and got up well during drills when he had a running start. Cullum has a big frame for a wing but is an adept passer and ball-handler at his size. If he puts all of the pieces together, he will have a chance to be an impact player in college.

Theo Rocca (6’3 SG, Evanston 2025)

When Rocca got touches, he made good things happen from the perimeter. One of the more complete shooters at the event, he was able to make open shots from distance and find space to get those looks with his activity. Occasionally he was chased off of the line and made the defense pay with some layups after a few dribbles. The shooting prowess helped Rocca break out in July and should be a key asset for a new-look Evanston team that will rely on his shot-making.

Vito Rocca (6’3 SG/SF, Evanston 2027)

Probably the most impressive 2027 in attendance, Rocca has great size and toughness for a freshman wing. He really competed on the defensive end by getting back into plays, being physical when guarding penetration, and working to keep the ball in front. His shooting form is compact and looks like it will continue to be an asset as he matures. Rocca already has the body of an older player and didn’t shy away from bumps on his drives. He’s going to be good and will be a player to watch sooner rather than later.

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