The first of two July recruiting basketball periods begin on Tuesday. Here are 10 things to keep in mind throughout the coming weeks.
1. DePaul taking next recruiting step: While the Blue Demons improved their team with this year’s recruiting class, there’s still plenty of work to do. The next step is for Oliver Purnell to grab a marquee recruit from the Chicago area. Simeon senior forward Steve Taylor, the area’s lone ESPN’s top-100 player, could be that guy for the Blue Demons. Taylor may not have the impact Quentin Richardson did years ago for DePaul’s recruiting, but he could do some wonders locally for the program. Class of 2013 guard Billy Garrett Jr., who is No. 45 in ESPN’s Super 60, is a major commitment for DePaul, but he was expected to go there because his father is a Blue Demons assistant.
2. Just one: Illinois welcomed six freshmen and one transfer to its latest recruiting class. Headed into July, Illini coach Bruce Weber had just one scholarship to play with. Simeon forward Steve Taylor is the likely target for the Illini. Weber and his staff also will be sure to be seen plenty when the state’s younger recruits are playing.
3. Big class for Northwestern: The Wildcats are hoping to secure four or five commitments for their Class of 2012. While losing point guard Michael Thompson won’t be easy, next year’s departures will be even harder. Northwestern will graduate starters John Shurna and Luka Mirkovic and key reserve Davide Curletti after next season, and will need to find a few players, especially post players, who can make an immediate impact for the 2012-2013 season. There’s a good chance Northwestern will not seek a single in-state player in this class. Wauwatosa East (Wis.) forward Darrell Bowie is one of the Wildcats’ targets.
4. New to the road: This will be the first opportunity for a number of new in-state coaches to hit the road recruiting for their programs. Bradley’s Geno Ford, Loyola’s Porter Moser and Northern Illinois’ Mark Montgomery are all entering their first season at their new homes. It will be the second year for Chicago State’s Tracy Dildy, DePaul’s Oliver Purnell and UIC’s Howard Moore.
5. Jabari watch: Simeon junior Jabari Parker continues to get better, and his recruitment is bound to only get more intense. Parker is coming off MVP honors while helping Team USA win the 16-U FIBA Americas championship. He isn’t likely to make a decision until at least next summer, and that means the nation’s top coaches will be recruiting him hard until then. DePaul, Duke, Georgetown, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State and Washington are among the schools he’s interested in.
6. Not the state’s best: Illinois was stacked in 2011. The state placed nine players in ESPNU’s top 100. This year will be a different story. As of now, one player -- Simeon’s Taylor -- is in the top 100 for the Class of 2012. A few others could end up on the list. Downers Grove South’s Jerron Wilbut has proven himself as a scoring machine. Jay Simpson, who just transferred from Champaign Central to Indiana’s La Lumiere, is also a candidate.
7: Back to the usual: The Class of 2012 may be a down year for the state, but the talent quickly picks up again in the years following. The Class of 2013 has six players in ESPN’s Super 60. The Class of 2014 has three players in the Terrific 25. There’s a chance Simeon’s Parker could end up the No. 1-ranked players in the Class of 2013, and Whitney Young’s Jahlil Okafor could be the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014. Anthony Davis, who played at Perspectives in Chicago, was the No. 1 player in 2011.
8. Local tournaments: The Tip-Off Classic will be at Riverside-Brookfield High School from Wednesday through Friday. The field includes the Illinois Warriors, Ferrari and PrymeTyme. More information can be found at www.773hoops.com. ... The D-I Elite tournament will be held at York High School from Friday through Monday. The tournament field is loaded with local talent. The Illinois Wolves, Mac Irvin Fire, MeanStreets, Illinois Warriors, Full Package and Illinois Heat are all expected to compete in it. More information can be found at www.bayloryouth.org. ... The King James Summer Showcase will be held in the northern suburbs from Saturday through Tuesday. King James has a lot of the nation’s top out-of-state teams. Locally, Ferrari, Rising Stars and PrymeTyme are among the teams to see. The tournament’s locations will include the Waukegan Field House, Ridgewood High School, Libertyville Sports Complex, Lake Zurich High school, Lake Barrington Field House and Joy of the Game. More information can be found at www.neobasketball.com.
9. The high school season is different: East Aurora point guard Ryan Boatright, a Connecticut recruit, ended up No. 72 in ESPN’s final Class of 2011 rankings and was behind four other Chicago-area players in the rankings. Despite that, Boatright earned the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award and Mr. Basketball with his play during the high school season. So no matter where players end up after being ranked this July, it likely won’t have an impact on next year’s high school season. It’s important to remember the game is different during the high school and club seasons.
10. The search for another Anthony Davis: They story of Davis is unlike any of the past. Davis went from being an unknown player in Chicago as a junior to now being considered the likely No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Davis was discovered last summer on the club circuit. There probably won’t be another player with as much talent who goes unnoticed like Davis, but there’s sure to be a couple diamond in the roughs always discovered. Joliet West senior forward Marlon Johnson, who played for the Illinois T-Wolves, could be one to watch. He began to emerge in the spring and could have a big July period.