Best guard in Illinois outside of Chicago Area: Cole Certa!!!!
Cole Certa, 6'5" combo guard, Class of 2024, Central Catholic (Bloomington), Travel Team: Illinois Wolves 16U.
I became aware of this young man in the Spring at NY2LA Spring Warm-up in Mequoin, WI. I was told he had grow 4 inches over the last year. He was unknown in the Chicago Area at the time. I try to get out and see the young men outside of Chicago Area whenever I can. He was one of the best players at the event in the 16U division. I then saw him at the Spiece Run N Slam in Fort Wayne, IN. He was impressive and consistent again at that event. I finally saw him at end of the summer at the Under Armour Association Finals at Wintrust Complex in Bedford Park, IL. He continued his excellent play against national level players and put his name in the conversation for possible Top 100 ranking in Class of 2024.Here's my breakdown of his game.
OFFENSE: Can play either guard position. I saw him running mostly point guard for the Illinois Wolves. He has a lot in his tool box. He showed a flame thrower from three point range, off the dribble as well as catch and shoot with range out to 25 feet. Has just enough ball handling and strength to get into the mid range with two dribble pull-ups from 15 to 18 feet. He also has a nice floater from mid range. He's great at using angle and shooting off the glass from each side of the floor. He can go left or right to get to his pull-up jump shot. Scores with either hand getting to the rim. He can get into the lane and pass out to three point shooters right in their shooting pocket. Nice cross over dribble to get into his shot, especially left to right. Handles the ball well enough to get his team into their offense. Does have to get his ball handling tighter, and needs to get stronger to accomplish this. This will come as he gets older and his body grows naturally. Excellent free throw shooter.
DEFENSE: Has to improve in this area, but not from lack of effort. Has to move his feet better to stay in front of his man. He uses his intelligence to cut off dribblers by taking good angles to keep them from getting to the basket. Has the size and length at 6'5" to guard all perimeter positions on the court. He uses his long arms and length to get steals playing passing lanes off the ball. Is excellent at ball, you, man principles off the ball especially for a high school player. Rebounds well from his guard spot on the defensive end. Does not crash the offensive glass, but this is because he has to keep floor balance as the point guard. Smart defender.
CONCLUSION: This young man has a chance to be a high major player as he has two more seasons of high school left. He has multiple offers from mid major colleges already. He will fill out his body as he matures and could grow a few more inches. This will also help him with finishing at the rim and being stronger keeping defenders at bay at the point guard position. He has to play lower when he is dribbling the ball, so defenders can't get under him and steal the ball. His shooting range is ridiculous as he shoots from 25 feet and in with ease. No stress on his jumper from far out as he has a smooth and easy release on his jump shot. Gets high off the floor to get his jumper off, and knows how to get angles to get off mid range jumpers using the glass. He would be more known if he was playing high school basketball in the Chicago Area, but it helps playing on the Under Armour Circuit. He'll get plenty of chances to impress some more. A little bit of work on some fixable things in his game, and he could be the best guard in the state by the end of the high school season.