by Bryan Crawford / @from_the_chi
Last weekend I got a chance to go over to Attack Athletics–the famous gym owned and operated by the legendary Tim Grover–to check out the Hall of Fame Chicago Championship featuring some of the top travelling AAU programs in this area. While heavyhitter clubs like Mean Streets and the Mac Irvin Fire weren’t in attendance due to being scheduled to compete in Virginia at the Boo Williams Nike Invitational, there was still pretty good competition and talent on display here at home.
The Illinois Wolves were clearly the most dominant club of the weekend. Both the 17u and 16u teams won the championship in their respective divisions. Nnana Egwu (St. Ignatius HS – Chicago) who is set to play at the University of Illinois next season, took home the 17u MVP award while Antonio “Bobo” Drummond (Peoria Central – Peoria, IL) walked away with the 16u MVP crown.
Also playing for the Wolves 17u squad were Class of 2011 stars 6-1 PG Tracy Abrams (Mt. Carmel HS – Chicago) who will be joining Egwu at the University of Illinois next season, and 6-2 SG Chasson Randle (Rock Island HS – Rock Island, IL) who is still undecided.
The Illinois Old School 17u squad had without question the most athletic team in the tournament while the 15u Terry Porter Elite squad led by freshman phenom 6-5 SF Deonte Burton (Vincent HS – Milwaukee, WI) impressed over the weekend, as well R.E.A.C.H., a club from Michigan who had solid 17u and 16u squads.
The individual talent on display was impressive. A lot of the people that I talked to felt like the talent level was more mid-major as opposed to high major, but I’m inclined to disagree. While I do agree that the talent level wasn’t as high as it could’ve been, I think that a lot of the kids in the class of 2011, who may be projected as mid-major now, could play themselves into high major prospects with a strong summer and senior season.
Nnana Egwu (St. Ignatius HS – Chicago) Dominant and intimidating wouldn’t be the proper way to describe Egwu. Even though he stands 6-10, his style of play is more frenetic than your typical back to the basket big man at his size. His motor never stops running and he’s always active. Whether it’s running the floor on the break, grabbing rebounds on the offensive and defensive glass, or contesting and blocking shots, Egwu is everywhere and his presence is definitely felt out on the floor. He also has a decent jumper from 10 feet in and from what I hear, is a non-stop and tireless worker. He should make an immediate impact as a freshman at the University of Illinois.
Kyle Anderson (Newark HS – Newark, IL) He may play in a conference called the Little Ten, but Anderson has a big game. The 6-4, class of 2011 guard can shoot lights out and plays very well off the ball, especially coming off screens and pulling up. He can also put the ball on the floor with either hand and attack the basket and finish. He averaged 20.8ppg, 5.4rpg, and 3.6asts last season. He’s projected as a solid mid-major prospect right now, but I see him playing his way into high-major status after this summer and during his senior season next year.
Antonio “Bobo” Drummond (Peoria Central HS – Peoria, IL) At 5-10 and roughly 180 pounds, Bobo looks more like a running back than a point guard. But he’s set to add his name to the long list of great Peoria area PGs. A playmaker in every sense of the word, he’s a terrific passer that can make the most difficult dimes seem effortless. He’s also an excellent ball handler who can get to the basket at will and finish, or set up teammates in perfect position to score. While some knock his outside shooting, it’s not like he can’t shoot it, he just doesn’t. But when he lets one go, his form is perfect and the shot routinely goes in. He’s definitely a player to watch in the 2012 class.
Deonte Burton (Vincent HS – Milwaukee, WI) Standing 6-5 with exceptionally large hands, and incredible basketball skills, Burton is right now at a phenom status. He can do it all. He can play with his back to basket or facing up. He can handle the ball out on the perimeter and make plays for others. He can break his man down off the dribble and then explode to the basket and finish above the rim with ease, and with power. His talent and ability had everyone in complete awe and watching him made it very easy to forget that he’s only just 14-years-old. He was named first team all-conference as a freshman playing varsity basketball this season and his name will certainly be amongst the top of what is already shaping up to be a monster 2013 class.
Darius Stevens (La Lumiere Prep – LaPorte, IN) Stevens has good length at 6-6 and is an exceptional athlete with a very high motor. He runs the floor well out on the wing and is a super athletic high-flyer and exciting finisher above the rim. While his jumper still needs polishing, the elevation that he gets is very good and will prove to be an asset for him once he finds some consistency with his shooting. Basketball is in his blood. His father is the late Barry Stevens who was a star at Iowa State and who also coached the Gary Steelheads of the CBA.
Tracy Abrams (Mt. Carmel HS – Chicago)
Aaron Armstead (Hales Franciscan HS – Chicago)
Aaric Armstead (Hales Franciscan HS – Chicago)
Alex Austin (Mt. Carmel HS – Chicago)
Zack Branch (De La Salle HS – Chicago)
David Cohn (York HS – Elmhurst, IL)
Joe Crisman (Munster HS – Munster, IN)
Landis Farmer (Peoria Manual HS – Peoria, IL)
Brandon Gossett (West Aurora HS – Aurora, IL)
Brian Greene Jr. (Thornton Township HS – Harvey, IL)
Avery Harmon (St. Joseph HS – Westchester, IL)
Deji Ibitayo (Rich Central HS – Olympia Fields, IL)
Jalen James (Hope Academy – Chicago)
Treyshawn Jones (Hyde Park HS – Chicago)
Frank Kaminsky (Benet Academy – Elmhurst, IL)
Tyler Oden (Marist HS – Chicago)
Chasson Randle (Rock Island HS – Rock Island, IL)
Lyndell Simmons (Arthur Hill HS – Saginaw, MI)
Jay Simpson (Champaign Central HS – Champaign, IL)
David Sobolewski (Benet Academy – Elmhurst, IL)
Jason Viane (Sandburg HS – Orland Park, IL)
Rashad Wahab (Lincoln Park HS – Chicago)
Jerron Willbut (Downers Grove South HS – Downers Grove, IL)
Shout out SLAM’s own Aggrey Sam for hooking this up for me, as well as Chris Sparks and Colin Tabb of BasketBull who organized the tournament. You can check out their upcoming events at Basketbull.org