- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Because of recruiting rules changes, college coaches are not able to watch club basketball in the spring any longer, but it doesn’t mean players go unnoticed.
A number of Illinois high school player boosted their stock this spring. Here’s a look at the top ones:
Cliff Alexander, Curie HS, Derrick Rose All-Stars, Class of 2014, 6-8, forward: Alexander began creating a buzz for himself during the high school season when he started on varsity for Curie. He’s continued that this spring for the Derrick Rose All-Stars. He’s currently being recruited by Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky and a number of mid-major programs.
“He showed promise and potential this past winter, especially in the second half of the season, but when you combine his physical attributes and play this spring, Alexander's stock has shot through the roof as far as being one of the truly elite college prospects in the state of Illinois,” said recruiting analyst Joe Henricksen, who publishes the City/Suburban Hoops Report. “Big men are absolutely coveted and Alexander is now right there among the state's best.”
Milton Doyle, Marshall, Illinois Hawks, Class of 2012, 6-4, forward: Doyle sat out last season at Marshall. He caught a lot of people’s eyes at last weekend’s Reebok Headliner tryout camp in Chicago. His recruiting interest should skyrocket in July while playing with the Illinois Hawks.
“After sitting out last high school season after transferring from Tilden to Marshall, Doyle showed himself to be a very capable wing athlete with a high motor and tremendous ability to score off the dribble,” said local recruiting analyst Scott Phillips, who runs Scott Phillips Hoops. “Milton has a smoothness about his game and is capable of finishing with both hands with an array of creative moves. His jumper needs some work, but an added bonus with Doyle is his willingness to defend.”
Malcolm Hill, Belleville East, Southwestern Illinois Jets, Class of 2013, 6-4, guard: Hill has proven he can score on the biggest of stages during the spring for Southwestern Illinois Jets, and now more and more colleges are looking at him. Illinois recently offered him.
“After putting together a standout sophomore season, Hill was still a bit under the radar,” Henricksen said. “However, he opened the eyes of national recruiting services this spring and, along the way, grabbed the attention of college coaches with his play and the high ceiling he has as a prospect.
Jalen James, Hope, Illinois Wolves, Class of 2013, 6-3, guard: James has become one of the most sought after point guards in the Class of 2013 after a strong spring with the Illinois Wolves. DePaul, Illinois, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, VCU Xavier, among others are recruiting him.
“He was on my radar this winter after taking in a couple of his games and seeing the smooth game he possessed, the size he brought to the point guard position and how he is barely scratching the surface,” Henricksen said. “But he took it to another level as a prospect this spring playing against better, tougher competition. With his play this spring, James has solidified himself as a top 10 player in the loaded Class of 2013.”
Marlon Johnson, Joliet West, Illinois T-Wolves, Class of 2012, 6-9, forward: Playing with the Illinois T-Wolves this spring, Johnson especially put his name on the map at the Chicago Classic during the Memorial Day weekend. DePaul, Illinois, Kansas, Loyola, Northern Illinois, Tennessee and a number of others have since expressed interest in him.
“He's burst on the scene rapidly as a run-and-jump athlete that can make plays on both ends of the floor,” Phillips said. “Marlon grew six inches in a year, and he's just starting to figure out how to use his tremendous leaping ability to make an impact. His current strength is in an up-tempo game where he has room to outrun other forwards.”
Marcus Posley, Winnebago, Class of 2012, 6-1, guard: Posley and point guard Fred VanVleet have become a backcourt tandem to watch on the club circuit for Pryme Tyme. Posley has a number of mid-majors looking at him.
“I've been a huge fan of Posley for awhile and now there are others that are appreciating all that he brings to the table after a stellar, consistent spring,” Henricksen said. “He’s tough, competes, plays with a big-time motor and physically is so strong. He's elevated his game by showing an ability to knock down shots from the perimeter.
Nathan Taphorn, Pekin, Class of 2013, 6-6, forward: Taphorn has what every college desires – someone with size and who can shoot. Taphorn is now drawing high-major interest after a productive spring with the Illinois Wolves. DePaul, Illinois, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, VCU Xavier, among others are recruiting him.
“There may not have been a player who did more for his stock than this sharpshooter with length and a high basketball IQ,” Henricksen said. “He went from a relative unknown to a Division I prospect in a matter of weeks while playing with the Illinois Wolves this spring.”
Xzavier Taylor, Morgan Park, Illinois Fire, Class of 2013, 6-9, center: Taylor has added a number of dimensions to his game and has been one of the state’s best big men this spring for the Illinois Fire. He is receiving recruiting interest from DePaul, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Louisville, Northern Illinois, among others.
“The big thing with Xzavier is confidence,” Phillips said. “His defense has always been ahead of his offense, but with some added reps he’s become more of a scoring threat, especially in transition.”
Others who improved their stock this spring:
Jubril Adekoya, Andrew HS, MeanStreets, Class of 2013, 6-6, forward
Austin Angel, New Trier, Rising Stars, Class of 2012, 6-4, guard
Brad Foster, Lincoln-Way Central, Illinois Warriors, Class of 2012, 6-8, forward
Mike LaTulip, Prospect, Full Package, Class of 2012, 5-11, guard
Erick Locke, Brooks, Illinois Fire, Class of 2014, 6-0, guard
Luke Norman, Freeport, Illinois Warriors, Class of 2012, 6-1, guard
Fred VanVleet, Auburn, Pryme Tyme, Class of 2012, 5-11, guard
Paul White, Whitney Young, Ferrari, Class of 2014, 6-7, guard
Russell Woods, Leo, Illinois Fire, Class of 2012, 6-8, forward
Malik Yarbrough, Zion-Benton, Ferrari, Class of 2014, 6-4, forward
Here's a look at the players who distinguished themselves this spring.