High-SchoolIllinois: Thomas Hamilton

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Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The five best NBA players ever to come out of Illinois.

Jabari Parker, Billy Garrett and Thomas Hamilton are all standout basketball recruits who are likely headed to D-I colleges — and possibly beyond. Illinois has sent its share of school players to the NBA. But who’s been the best? Here’s our list of the five best players from Illinois to play in the NBA.

5. Derrick Rose
Rose won a state title at Simeon, then led Memphis to the NCAA title game as a freshman in 2007-08. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Rose has quickly distinguished himself as a superstar, earning MVP honors last season after averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists per game.
4. Isiah Thomas*
A true Chicago kid, Thomas graduated from St. Joseph and played two seasons at Indiana, winning a national title in 1980-81 before declaring for the NBA draft. The Pistons made him the No. 2 pick, and Thomas spent his entire 13-year career with Detroit. The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 assists for his career, made 12 All-Star teams, won two NBA championships and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.
* Let's all agree not to talk about his post-playing career as a front office executive. [Shudder]

3. Kevin Garnett
Garnett would have been No. 1 on this list, but he's not a true Illinois native. Born in South Carolina, he only spent his senior year of high school in the state, playing at Farragut. It was a productive season, as he posted 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks and earning McDonald's All-American status before deciding to skip college. Garnett declared for the 1995 NBA draft and went fifth overall to Minnesota. A surefire lock for the Hall of Fame, Garnett has made 14 All-Star teams, won MVP honors in 2003-04 and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2007-08. Also in 2007-08, he led the Boston Celtics to the NBA championship.

2. George Mikan
A true legend of the game, Mikan was born in Joliet and graduated from Archbishop Quigley. After a great college career at DePaul, Mikan played just seven NBA seasons — but he made an historic impact. The first true "center," the 6-foot-10 Mikan was unstoppable in the post, averaging 28.3 points as a rookie in 1948-49. He went on to average 23.1 points per game for his pro career. Mikan won five NBA championships, was inducted into the Hall of Fame and was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players. And perhaps even more impressive, the league had to alter some of its core rules in order to prevent Mikan from dominating the game too thoroughly. The NBA widened the lane from six to 12 feet in an attempt to keep the first true "big man" away from the basket.

1. Dwyane Wade
Wade may be a villain right now, but let's not lose sight of the fact that he's also one of the best players in NBA history. A Richards grad, Wade went on to star at Marquette before being taken fifth overall by Miami in the 2003 NBA draft. He's now working on a streak of seven consecutive seasons of at least 24 points per game, including a league-best 30.2 in 2008-09. In 2005-06, Wade led the Heat to the NBA championship, averaging 34.7 points per game in the last round to win Finals MVP honors. Now that he's teamed up with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, there's a good chance Wade could add more championship hardware before his career is over.

Tomorrow: Wild Card! Check back tomorrow to find out what our list is.

All-State Hoops: Illinois

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
11:47
AM ET
See all 51 All-State teams.

With the 2011-12 hoops season set to tip off, ESPNHS has all the info you need on the top players in Illinois.

We’ve broken down the state’s top 20 players into four teams based on their talent, and included a whole lot of other players who just missed the cut. Keep in mind, these selections are based on past accomplishments and projected on-court performance in addition to recruit rankings.

For a list of the top senior basketball recruits in Illinois, click here.

Illinois All-State Basketball

First Team

G: Billy Garrett, Morgan Park, 6-3/165, Junior
Committed to DePaul in the spring.

F: Thomas Hamilton, Whitney Young, 6-8/230, Junior
Big man is on the cusp of dominant breakthrough season.

F: Jabari Parker, Simeon, 6-8/230, Junior
No. 1 recruit in Class of 2013 is arguably the nation's best overall player.

F: Steve Taylor, Simeon, 6-7/175, Senior
Marquette recruit is ranked No. 1 senior in state by ESPNU.

C: Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young, 6-8/260, Sophomore
Teams with Hamilton to give Whitney Young twin shot blockers.

Second Team

G: Malcolm Hill, Belleville East, 6-5/200, Junior
Posted 16.7 points, 4.1 rebounds per game as a soph.

G: Kendrick Nunn, Simeon, 6-1/175, Junior
De-committed from Texas A&M earlier this fall.

G: Michael Orris, Crete-Monee, 6-3/185, Senior
Smooth guard dished out more than six assists per game last year.

F: Alex Foster, De La Salle, 6-8/205, Junior
Long, rangy southpaw is a premier shot blocker.

F: Paul White, Whitney Young, 6-8/185, Sophomore
Expected to play major role after promising freshman season.

Third Team

G: Kendall Stephens, St. Charles East, 6-5/165, Junior
Shooting guard has a deadly 3-point shot.

G: Jaylon Tate, Simeon, 6-1/170, Junior
Electric guard transferred from De La Salle over the summer.

G: Fred Van Vleet, Auburn, 5-11/175, Senior
Wichita State commit scored more than 17 points per game last year.

F: Jermaine Morgan, Whitney Young, 6-8/220, Senior
Colorado State recruit is versatile offensive player.

F: Willie Wiley, Springfield, 6-7/200, Senior
Posted 11.4 points, 8.2 rebounds per game a year ago.

Fourth Team

G: Kory Brown, Elgin, 6-4/180, Senior
Expect a huge season — he put up 16.1 points and 6.1 boards last year.

G: Keith Carter, Proviso East, 6-1/170, Senior
Combo guard has committed to Loyola.

G: Aaron Simpson, North Chicago, 6-0/175, Senior
Averaged more than 22 points per game last year.

F: Connor Boehm, New Trier, 6-7/190, Senior
Tough big man should average around 20 points per game this year.

F: Darius Paul, Warren, 6-8/210, Senior
Leads the No. 2 team in the state.

Other Top Players
Cliff Alexander, Curie, C, So.
Austin Angel, New Trier, F, Sr.
Larry Austin, Lamphier, G, So.
A.J. Avery, St. Rita, F, Sr.
Ka’Darryl Bell, Oak Park-River Forest, G, Sr.
T.J. Bell, Charleston, G, Sr.
Nathan Boothe, Warren, C, Sr.
Sterling Brown, Proviso East, G, Jr.
Paris Burns, Proviso East, G, Sr.
Mike Fleming, Stevenson, G, sr.
JoVaughn Gaines, Warren, G, Sr.
Cameron Harvey, St. Joseph, G, Sr.
Tony Hicks, St. Rita, G, Sr.
Jalen James, Hope Academy, G, Jr.
C.J. Jones, Orr, G, Sr.
Robert Knar, Mundelein, G, Jr.
Eric Locke, Oak Park-River Forest, G, So.
Alex Majewski, Brother Rice, F, Jr.
Andrew McAuliffe, Glenbrook North F, Jr.
Jamall Millison, Downers Grove South, G, Sr.
Donald Moore, Bloom, G, Sr.
Jelani Neely, Simeon, G, Sr.
Kyle Nelson, St. Charles North, F, Sr.
Derrick Randolph, Whitney Young, G, Sr.
Jameris Smith, Warren, G, Sr.
Gabriel Snider, Whitney Young, G, Sr.
Akeem Springs, Waukegan, F, Sr.
Xavier Taylor, Morgan Park, C, Jr.
Jerron Wilbut, Donwers Grove South, G, Sr.
Tim Williams, Homewood-Flossmoor, C, Sr.

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