Top 10 Class of 2021 prospects in Illinois!!!!!!!!!!!!
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
This is the senior year for this class, which will be the deepest class in Illinois since 1998. Big Tim's Top 10 might be different than others, this says to how deep this class really is. A lot of Power 5 prospects, and tons of Mid-Major prospects. I know some have committed to schools but this is purely on potential as well as quality of play. Here we go:
1) Max Christie, 6'6" guard(Rolling Meadows)- Consensus Top 15 recruit nationally, he has been the top prospect in this class in Illinois since December of his freshman year. He has not disappointed in his development and his play. He is a very good three point shooter, has a monster two dribble pull up from mid range, finishes at the basket very well, and has improved on the defensive end of the court. He has a nice spin move when driving to the basket which gets him loose for nice finishes at the rim. Athleticism as improved as he is finishing at the rim with dunks on the regular. He's a good passer and rebounder for his position. Excellent free throw shooter and knows how to draw fouls. He does have to improve his three point shooting off the dribble, but it's not bad. He has to gain more strength but has steadily done so every season. He has to learn not to over dribble which would cut down on his turnovers. I predict he'll be a McDonald's All-American and Nike Hoop Summit honoree. Duke and Michigan State are the presumed leaders.
2) Bryce Hopkins, 6'6" wing(Fenwick, Oak Park)- Louisville commit is a consensus Top 45 prospect nationally. He has moved up the prospect rankings on a national and local level over the last year. He's a scorer on all three levels with a decent three point shot, good pull up jumper, finishes at the basket strong with either hand, and has a nice spin move to free himself driving to the basket. He rebounds well for his position. Excellent free throw shooter and draws a lot of fouls. He has to improve his three point shooting by being more consistent and not streaky, his ball handling, and foot speed guarding similar sized players on the perimeter. He has slightly above average athleticism but has to improve his passing and vision.He's on the outside looking in for McDonald's All-American, but could make it with another monster high school season. I look for Jordan Brand All-American in his future too.
3) Ahamad Bynum, 6'3" combo guard(Simeon,Chicago)- DePaul commit is a consensus Top 75 player in America is an explosive scorer on the perimeter. A good three point shooter both off the dribble, catch and shoot. Can go on explosive scoring streaks. He can finish at the rim with either hand when he chooses to attack. He's a good passer and rebounder for his position. He has had to be a scorer since entering high school, but he can play the point guard position. He gets after it on the defensive end of the court on the ball. I feel he's very underrated on the national level. He can gamble too much on defense especially off the ball trying to get steals, needs to improve his shot selection, and will `have to get stronger. He needs to attack the basket more to open up his jump shot. He needs to use pull up jumpers more than he does, he has a good one. I think he has an outside shot of making the Jordan Brand All-American Game.
4) Anthony Sayles Jr, 6'3" point guard(Notre Dame College Prep, Niles)- Top point guard in the state, I have him higher than most. His recruitment has not been as it should be. The biggest reason is he's a big time football quarterback and is getting recruited in that sport too: https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-anthony-sayles-niles-notre-dame-football-basketball-20200303-qknjdo3xebao7oipijlz4ao5ii-story.html. His leadership qualities for a point guard are off the charts as is his athleticism. He's very fast up and down the court with the ball, finds shooters, can get to the basket and finish,by scoring a layup, or dunking on someone in traffic, has a decent three point shot off catch and shoot. He's a good defender who harasses the opposing point guard. Excellent free throw shooter. He needs to improve his three point shooting off the bounce, his left hand which is better by the way, two dribble pull up jumpers. He holds offers from Loyola Chicago, Southern Illinois, Milwaukee, and Western Illinois. He should have more but has to decide which sport he's playing in college. If it's basketball he's going to play like a Power 5 player once he concentrates on basketball. My opinion he's a Top 100 player nationally.
5) Grant Newell, 6'7" wing(Whitney Young, Chicago)- Most underrated player in the state. His upside is ridiculous but hasn't been able to show it for the Dolphins. He has had to do the dirty work by playing inside by rebounding and protecting. He has shown that he can put the ball on the floor, and shoot threes off catch and shoot. He's a good ball handler and passer. He runs the floor very well and has good athleticism. Nice two dribble pull up jumper, finishes at the rim. He rebounds well for his position. Excellent free throw shooter. Needs work on his strength and three point shots off the dribble.Good defender especially off the help side. He has offers from DePaul, Western Illinois, and Milwaukee. He's another one who will play at a Power 5 level possibly at a mid major. I feel he will explode once he gets to college.
6) Isaiah Barnes, 6'6" wing(Simeon, Chicago)- Simeon will be his third school in four years(Romeoville, and Oak Park are the others), he has a lot of upside in his game. He has picked up a lot of offers lately which I will name at end of the write up. He can score in many ways, off the dribble, shooting threes and finishing at the rim. He's more of an off the dribble three point shooter than a catch and shoot one. He's unranked right now but could make a big rankings jump. He rebounds well for his position.He's great attacking on the offensive end of the court. He has to improve on wanting to dominate the game all the time. There are times when you don't know he's on the floor. This could have been the result of Oak Park's vanilla offense. He has to use his mid range pull up jumper more often. He has to get better on the defensive end of the court in guarding other wings. He has the athleticism and footwork to do it. He has offers from Texas A &M, DePaul, Creighton, Michigan, Iowa State, Georgia, Wisconsin, Saint Louis, Iowa, Maryland, TCU, Kansas, Illinois, Loyola Chicago, Detroit, Miami Ohio, Milwaukee, Illinois Chicago, and Chicago State. All kinds of offers on the table. He could move up this list by end of the season.
7) Louis Lesmond, 6'6" guard(Notre Dame College Prep)- Harvard commit though he had some Power 5 offers on the table, this young man can plain ball. The French import can shoot the three, off the dribble or catch and shoot. He has a nice mid range floater, two dribble pull up jumper, and can finish at the rim with a Euro Step, or will dunk on you.He hits his free throws. He's a good ball handler though he can get loose with it at times. He needs to get stronger but has seemed to have adapted to American basketball. He has to work on his off the ball and on the ball defense. He can get lost at times on that end of the court. An excellent get for the Crimson and I look for All-Ivy League honors in the future.
8) Chris Hodges, 6'8" power forward(Schaumburg)- Wisconsin commit is lower on my list than others. He is a good rebounder, has developed a mid range jump shot, and holds his spot well on the interior both offensively and defensively. He runs the floor well, sets bone crunching picks, and moves well without the ball. His upside in the future will depend on if he can develop a three point shot at some point. He also has to work on his foot speed so he can guard pick and rolls in college. He's a solid free throw shooter and is very productive averaging a double/double(points, rebounds). It will be interesting to see how he does this year and on the next level.
9) John Poulakidas, 6'5" guard(Neuqua Valley, Naperville)- I still remember watching this young man's 49 point performance at Bolingbrook in a double overtime win. It was the best performance I saw all year. He has a good pull up three point shot and can hit it off catch and shoot. He has a good mid range game with a nasty fall away jumper. He moves well without the ball to score layups. He has a nice Euro step to get around the defender and score. Lefty shooter with a smooth stroke. He's arguably the best shooter/scorer in the state. He has to improve on the defensive end of the court, especially his footwork in guarding other wings. This end will tell how far his potential goes. He has to get stronger and improve his ball handling. If he improves that he can better shake defenders off him to get his smooth lefty shot off. He has offers from Yale, Minnesota, George Washington, Wake Forest, Bradley, TCU, Rutgers, Saint Louis, Loyola Chicago, Brown, Milwaukee, Miami Ohio, Butler, Illinois Chicago, and Southern Illinois.
10) Jaylin Gibson, 6'4" guard(Evanston Township)- I've seen this young man more than any prospect on this list as I live within 10 minutes of his school. He attacks the rim with abandon, can hit the catch and shoot three pointer, athletic, finisher at the rim. He's a great defender, the best two way player in the state. He's a good passer hitting shooters right in their shooting pocket. He has to guard players from the 1(point guard) position through the 5(center) for his high school team. The COVID19 has hurt this young man's recruiting more than most(with possible exception of Anthony Sayles). He missed an opportunity to show the high majors what he can do with the ball in his hands. He has to work on cutting down his turnovers though he's gotten better with each passing season. He has to have confidence to shoot mid range floaters, and mid range pull ups. I've heard he has these in his arsenal but will not use it in game situations. He has improved in making the right play instead of trying the spectacular play every time. His game has matured to the point he can play point guard at the college level. He has offers from Chicago State, Detroit, Drake, and Milwaukee.