Longtime Beemsville ally and one-time power forward, Rick, checks in with this report from the annual Shootout at the Hall in Champaign. He took in a number of high school games, watching future Illini and recruiting targets during the day. His analysis, colored as it is by his power-forward mentality (do all the hard work rebounding and on D, but never get the ball from the guards when you want it), is nonetheless a welcome addition…
Larry Austin Jr. was the real deal but most of his 14 + points came from being in the right place at the right time. He had 2 outstanding 5’8” point guards that broke the press down well and distributed. Granted he had to be hustling to get in the right spots. He also got popped in the mouth at one point, and the coach immediately put him back in. Played about the most minutes on the team.
Max Bieldfelt is a big strong boy that knows how to get position and finish. It seemed like everything he threw up went in. There was a lot of time when he and Nanna Egwu were not on the floor together and when they were another 6’7” kid from PND was guarding Nana and vice versa. Don’t know if he is a BIG TEN power forward as he isn’t quick enough to be a 3 but he understands the game and physically knows how to play it.
Nanna Egwu is big, not real skinny and look like he could put on some pounds. He has a shot from about 15 foot in and it is smooth with no hitches, etc. He didn’t play really well Saturday. Got in foul trouble in the first half and his guards were awful. Couldn’t get him the ball and didn’t seem like the team really understood they have a HUGE guy inside, pass it to them….. He ran the floor at a full sprint every time and seemed to be the spokesman on the floor directing traffic etc. He reminds me of Dikembe Mutumbo. Big, long, hard worker and athletic but seems a bit awkward. However, the sky’s the limit with him depending on how hard he works and from comments I hear that he and Abrams were competing for the highest ACT I doubt we have any issue with him not working hard like some of our former bigs.
DeJuan Marrero was impressive too. High motor guy. On the floor for every loose ball active in the paint and wanted all the rebounds. 20 points, 14 rebounds… The biggest concern with him is what position does he play? Not big enough to play the 4 but almost too big for the 3. Everything on him points to a Lucas Johnson with an offensive presence, or maybe Sergio McClain type or maybe even Roger Powell Jr. If we would get him and he played like any of those guys he would be an asset.
Tracey Abrams is going to be a good floor general but I am not sure he will be ready to fill that role next year which means someone better step up or he better have a hell of a summer and spring. He can play defense when he wants to, shot FTs well and finished around the basket well. Didn’t hit too many jump shots but near the end of the game when the game was in question knocked a few down (which is a nice quality). He, like EGWU, didn’t have a great supporting cast. Mt. Carmel’s coach spent most of his time yelling “GO” and throwing his head back in disgust when one of the guys not named Abrams turned it over. I read on Illinihq that Abrams had a bunch of TOs but most of them were due to the lack of support from his team. They were pressed to start the game and if they didn’t immediately get the ball in Tracy’s hands it was OVER. Overall good tough kid with a little bit of a nasty streak, he’ll be a good one too.
Devin Langford from Alabama has not committed but has? Lots of reports that he was committing over the weekend but still nothing official so as far as I am concerned he isn’t a “slam dunk” yet. In regards to his play. WOW he is tall and long. It was reported he was sick and if that is so his effort was really impressive. Had several blocks, lots of rebounds and hit a few shots but the thing that I loved the most about this kid was he rested on the offensive side of the ball. He might not have hardly made it past half court when they were on offense but he flew back to defend the basket. That is what I consider taking pride in defense (everyone knows that is something I covet). They are recruiting him as a point guard. Didn’t see the handles to do it at the college level Saturday but again he was sick. He looked comfortable with the ball in his hands but got his pocket picked a time or too. Summary on Devin – Just commit and sign already….. good upside little downside.
Mycheal Henry by far the most college ready of the bunch. Aggressive, decent touch but didn’t really light it up from outside the lane like I thought he would. Had 8 or 9 dunks and 32 points. Most of the dunks were due to Orr’s point guard #2. He was unstoppable and broke down a full court press by himself and then found Henry for the dunk on the other end. Game was over well before it was over and the score was close but never close so Henry was a little lazy at times (Bruce will beat that out of him). One of the Orange Krush kids was giving him props for a dunk with an AND 1 and yelled “That’s how we do it in the BIG TEN” that got a smile out of him and he missed the FT. Summary – He is ready to play and the real deal – too just don’t know how NO ONE else was on his radar.
My awards for the day…
MVP – the 5’8” guys from Springfield lanphier eventhough they lost they played a big man’s game well at 5’8”
Best performance – #2 for Chicago Orr. Without him Henry would not have gotten ½ his total points.
Figures the damn guards get all the glory and I can’t believe I am giving it to them.