Top 5 prospects in State of Illinois
There's a difference between best prospect and best player. Best player is how they are playing right now at high school level. Best prospect is more long term, they could be balling out on high school level, but still have incredible future upside. These rankings are closer than most may think. Not much separation between these young men.
1) Max Christie, Rolling Meadows- 6'6" Class of 2021 combo guard this future McDonald's All-American has shown the ability to play point and run a team. Some say his best asset is his ability to shoot the ball, I think it's his versatility to play 4 positions on the high school level. He can get to the basket, has a nice spin move to score with either hand, and has developed a mid range floater. He has the best two dribble pull-up in the State. He rebounds at a high rate and can push the ball up the floor himself. He has a great case for best player overall in Illinois. The thing that makes him a great prospect is though he is very polished player already, he still has a lot of room to grow. He has to still work on finishing at the rim, though he has gotten better over the last year. A lot of his finishing at the rim is he has to get stronger which is coming by the month. He also still has to learn when to take over a game for his team offensively. His on the ball defense is good when he's allowed to play man to man. He does have to learn defensive angles to cut off opposing guards from attacking the basket off the dribble. He's hampered in this area by his high school team having to play zone. His travel team sometimes plays zone too. He also may be still growing which would really take his game to another level. The college that he picks is key. He has to pick a school who will continue to help his game go on an upward trajectory.
2) Martice Mitchell, Bloom(Chicago Heights)- 6'10" Class of 2020 combo forward has shown the ability to be an effective stretch 4. Good pick and roll partner because he can slide out and hit a three pointer. He has a good shot from 15 feet, and has an effective jump hook over his left shoulder. He rebounds well on the defensive end and is a good rim protector. He has a lot more to add to his game. He has to bang a little bit more on the interior. He needs to develop some more post moves, he tends to float too much to the perimeter. I understand the NBA is going to the stretch 4 for his size, but it would help his game even more if he posted up on the block every once in awhile. He'll have to learn to move his feet to guard the pick and roll as he moves to college. This is what makes his upside so intriguing and can take his game to another level. He's starting to get a lot of Power 5 conference offers specifically the Big Ten. If he also develops taking guys off the dribble and finishing at the rim, he could be an absolute monster at the next level and maybe beyond.
3) AJ Casey, Tinley Park- 6'8"Class of 2022 combo forward future McDonald's All-American is a transfer from Simeon(Chicago) is a versatile wing player. I think the transfer will help him show his expanded game. He can shoot the three pointer, has shown he can post up on the block and score with a jump hook. He's also a good pick and roll partner to slide out and hit threes. He also has shown a good turnaround jump shot on the block. His game will go to another level as he gets stronger and is able to take guys off the dribble and finish at the rim. He has also shown he can protect the rim by blocking shots but has to be a better rebounder. He'll have to learn to guard the pick and roll as he matures through his high school career. I see him averaging a double/double this year and showing the full repertoire of his skill level. He will get a ton of Power 5 offers over the next three years. This young man could still be growing. The key for him is to keep working on all facets of his game.
4) Adam Miller, Morgan Park(Chicago) 6'4" Class of 2020 combo guard is an excellent shooter from long range. He can hit shots from 28 feet on in. He also has a nice mid range game and has improved as a finisher. He's a good enough ball handler to play the point in a pinch. He also has a good turnaround jumper on the block when he posts up. He rebounds well for a guard. His game can go to the next level if he commits more on defense. He has the tools to do it as he moves his feet well and can stay in front of players. Sometimes though he gets lazy on defense and this is common among star high school players. Once he puts his total game together offensively and defensively at the same time the sky is the limit for his talent. He also has to improve his leadership skills by being more vocal and demanding more from his teammates. He needs to get stronger which has come gradually and naturally so not many worries there. It will be interesting to watch where his game goes.
5) DJ Steward, Whitney Young(Chicago)- 6'2"Class of 2020 combo guard has steadily improved his game over the last 4 years. He can shoot the three pointer at a high rate, can get to the basket and finish with either hand. He has become a better passer and scorer. He needs to rebound his position better and get better defensively. He has to learn to move his feet better defensively and use angles to cut off drives from opposing guards. He also can get lazy on defense which I've said is common among star high school players. His ball handling has improved but that can also get better. He has played some point guard in a pinch which has helped his game take off even more. He's a good leader he just has to be more vocal with it. This could be the product of his first year at Whitney Young last year. It's hard for a transfer to come in and be a vocal leader right away. He has to get stronger and a little more athletic which will help his upside for the future. School choice will also have an effect on how far he can take his talent.