Monday, December 7, 2009
Freshman Parker ahead of the curve
By Aggrey Sam
CHICAGO -- The City-Suburban Basketball Showcase featured many of the top prospects in the Windy City and surrounding suburbs. The event featured several nationally established players like Wayne Blackshear (Chicago/Morgan Park), Sam Thompson (Chicago/Young), Reggie Smith (Calumet City, Ill./Thorton), Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill./East) and Tracy Abrams (Chicago/Mount Carmel). It also was a coming-out party for highly regarded younger prospects such as Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) and Tommy Hamilton (Chicago/Young). The two-day, 11-game weekend event at Chicago State University had plenty of star power. However, the underrated and under-the-radar talent from the city's public schools, Catholic league and strong suburban programs are what made it a tremendous opener to the high school season.
Wayne Blackshear, SF (6-5, 210)
2011, Chicago/Morgan Park
Blackshear's potential has long made him a highly coveted prospect, but now he's turned his potential into consistent production. (He's had previous games of 37 and 44 points earlier in the season; he scored 42 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked six shots in one game at this event.) His combination of athleticism, high-energy play and skills makes him one of the elite wing players nationally in his class. He was almost unstoppable as a transition scorer, but he also got to the basket at will in the half court. He showed versatility by hitting shots from beyond the arc, off the dribble in the midrange area and in the high post. As a finisher, his exceptional body control, ability to finish through contact, touch and creativity make him special. Blackshear was also outstanding on the boards on both ends, and he was a presence in the paint and on the perimeter defensively.
Fabyon Harris, PG (5-9, 160)
2010, Chicago/Hyde Park
Harris is a lightning-quick floor general with the ability to score, distribute and defend at a high level. He's a shifty ball handler, has a fearless approach when attacking the basket and consistently draws fouls on his drives. Harris finishes creatively at the rim and is able to loft floaters over taller defenders with accuracy. In addition, he has a strong pull-up jumper, has become more dangerous from deep and utilizes his court vision to set up his teammates. Defensively, he doesn't let his size become an issue, and he's able to pressure opposing ball handlers from end to end.
Sean Montgomery, PF (6-6, 230)
2010, Thornton Fractional North/Calumet City, Ill.
An undersized inside warrior, Montgomery was a workhorse in the paint and on the boards. A solid athlete, he's a reliable finisher and has enough athleticism to be a defensive presence as a shot-blocker. His primary strength is rebounding the ball, as he pounded the glass on both ends of the floor.
Sam Thompson, SF, (6-7, 185)
2011, Chicago/Whitney Young
Thompson's tantalizing potential is evident. However, on a loaded squad, he doesn't always get the opportunities to display all of his talents. Still, his length, athleticism and effort make him a factor even when he doesn't get offensive touches. A threat to bring the house down whenever he's in transition, Thompson's body control and leaping ability allow him to be an electrifying finisher. Defensively, his quickness and wingspan permit him to guard multiple positions -- he is an intimidator as a shot-blocker and a menace in the passing lanes. While he doesn't have a lot of bulk, Thompson can either beat opponents to the spot or sky over them for rebounds on either end. His ballhandling can still use some polish and his outside jumper needs to become more consistent, but they are developing nicely, as is his ability to get to the basket in the half court.
Jermaine Winfield, PF (6-5, 220)
2010, Chicago/North Lawndale
Winfield isn't flashy, but his blue-collar mentality, rugged work on the glass and post moves make him highly effective. Although undersized for his position, he compensates by outworking opponents with his quickness and athleticism. While a full-time transition to the wing wouldn't be beneficial, he's capable of putting the ball on the floor and making short jumpers.
Jabari Parker, SF (6-6, 205)
While Parker is already viewed as one of the elite freshmen in the nation, nobody expected him to have such an impact in his high school debut, let alone on a talent-laden team against tough competition on a big stage. An extremely fluid and skilled wing, Parker's size on the wing allows him to operate on both the perimeter and inside the paint. He's a solid ball handler and advanced passer, but he is also willing to battle for rebounds and drive to the basket, where his length permits him to be a more than capable finisher. His polished footwork and understanding of the game are very impressive for a young prospect. However, it was his shooting -- from the midrange area and beyond the arc -- that stood out the most. Parker has a quick, high release and a beautiful stroke that he can get off with ease because of his height.
• Perhaps the most impressive team at the event was Simeon, Derrick Rose's alma mater. The team's discipline, commitment to defense, unselfishness and depth -- outside of Parker, Dayton signee Brandon Spearman's leadership, junior Rashawn McElrath's shot-blocking prowess and sophomore point guard Jelani Neely's floor generalship stood out -- show that the legacy of Derrick Rose, late coach Bob Hambric and fallen Chicago legend Ben Wilson live on through coach Robert Smith's guidance.
• If Simeon had the best showing, Whitney Young had the most depth; the two city powers will battle it out in an early-season matchup later in December. Besides Sam Thompson, seniors Ahmad Starks (an Oregon State commit), Anthony Johnson (bound for Purdue) and J.R. Reynolds (Rice) were steady; sophomore Derrick Randolph made plays with his unbelievable quickness; junior Luke Hager and sophomore Jermaine Morgan showed promise; and freshman Thomas Hamilton Jr. showcased his skills and immense potential.
• Homewood-Flossmoor, Julian Wright's old stomping grounds, will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. In addition to talented and versatile junior Julian Lewis, three sophomores -- big man Tim Williams, wing Delvon Rencher and point guard Tyrone Sherman -- are key contributors with a lot of upside.
• Two of the higher-profile prospects in the event, Marquette-bound guard Reggie Smith (Calumet City, Ill./Thornton) and junior Tracy Abrams (Chicago/Mount Carmel), an early Illinois commitment, both showed signs of rust, as they each made their season debuts, after coming off ankle injuries, but made their respective presences felt. A third well-regarded scoring guard, Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill./East Aurora), struggled a bit in his marquee matchup with Wayne Blackshear and Morgan Park, but got early help from underrated senior teammate Tramell Weathersby before picking it up late, although his team would fall.
• Marshall lost to Public League rival Von Steuben, but it has a pair of intriguing senior forwards. Vincent Garrett is an elite athlete with an excellent motor and an improving skill game, while Alfonso McKinnie is a versatile inside-outside talent; both could be steals as spring signees or potential junior college standouts.
Aggrey Sam is a freelance contributor to ESPN.com's basketball recruiting coverage.