The month of July is a time to make some headlines for yourself. And the state’s two best senior shooters in Illinois made some this month.
Buffalo Grove’s Kam Craft, the City/Suburban Hoops Report No. 4 ranked prospect in Illinois and one of the hottest names on the spring club basketball circuit, jump-started the month with a July 1 commitment to Xavier.
This past Sunday, Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt picked up a big offer — from Duke and coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer. The Duke offer adds one more appealing option for Schutt, who has a lengthy list of high-major suitors, including several Big Ten programs, Louisville, Marquette and Oklahoma to name a few.
The Duke offer is a unique situation. Scheyer, the associate head coach to legendary Mike Krzyzewski, is in the process of putting together his very first recruiting class for next year.
With so many ballyhooed young players at Duke likely to enter the NBA Draft sooner than later, the expectation is the roster will have plenty of turnover. That means the initial group of high school players for Scheyer and Duke could be pretty big in the Class of 2022. Now Schutt is one of those Blue Devil targets.
Schutt has always been underrated nationally, mostly due to not being seen by national evaluators because of the Covid shutdown. The offer list, though, defies the national rankings which have failed to realize yet he’s clearly one of the top 100 prospects in the country.
With his play this month with the Illinois Wolves, along with the added attention a Duke offer brings, you can expect Schutt to be listed in every top 100 list following July.
Schutt, the state’s No. 2 prospect who continues to push Young’s AJ Casey for the top spot, is a gifted shooter. But ironically, it wasn’t Schutt’s three-point shooting that opened eyes this past weekend in Under Armour Association play.
Schutt did knock down 20 three-pointers in seven games but shot it in a more high-volume manner, going 20 of 69 from deep; even with an up-and-down weekend shooting the basketball there is no question Schutt is an elite, space-the-floor shooter.
But it was his ability to score in multiple ways, showcasing a higher level of athleticism and impacting the game in a different fashion that solidified his status.
Danny Wolfe would be one of state’s best
After spending two years at Lake Forest Academy, Danny Wolfe left the state last year for Northfield Mount Hermon Prep in Massachusetts.
After watching Wolfe all spring and again the past two weekends on the club basketball scene with the Mac Irvin Fire, it’s clear the 6-10 Wolfe would easily be a top 10 prospect in the class. He likely would be pushing towards top five status had he stayed in Illinois.
The skill Wolfe plays with at his size his eye-popping. He handles and passes the ball like a perimeter player with the ability to push the ball in transition. His range and accuracy have both improved to the point where he’s a legitimate threat from beyond the three-point line.
Wolfe grew up playing on the perimeter before he said he grew from 6-5 to 6-10 in one year. That changed everything.
“I took that knowledge and skill I had from playing on the wing and now use it as a big at 6-10,” said Wolfe. “Now I am able to create mismatches with it.”
Wolfe, who lives in Glencoe and in the New Trier district, says his five months at Northfield Mount Hermon with coach John Carroll made all the difference in his jump as a prospect and improvement as a player.
Prior to his time at Northfield Mount Hermon, Wolfe says he was “playing timid” and “lacked aggressiveness.” But he said Carroll helped him navigate those issues and instilled in him a confidence.
“More than anything coach Carroll is making sure we are ready for college, both physically and mentally,” said Wolfe. “That mental piece has been big. I’ve seen a big change in myself, and as a player I’ve become more of a three-level scorer.
“Plus, the opportunity to go against college players, many of who will be Division I players, every day in practice has been great for my development.”
Now he plays with the Mac Irvin Fire on the club circuit, a team that he says allows him to play with freedom and with the basketball in his hands. He continues to impress with his vast skill package and his recruitment has heated up.
Penn State just recently offered Wolfe, who already had offers from Minnesota, where he took an official visit in June, DePaul and several Ivy League schools. He says Illinois, Virginia Tech and Cal are other high-major programs that have been keeping in contact and will continue to evaluate him this month.
“I will narrow it down after the Peach Jam at the end of July, get a short list of schools and take some visits,” said Wolfe.
Beyond the top two Wolves
The Illinois Wolves continue to be followed and watched closely by college coaches this July, particularly with their two big-named players, Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt and Glenbard West’s Braden Huff, still uncommitted.
Schutt and Huff currently rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top-ranked prospects in the senior class.
But a pair of other players should see their individual recruitments pick up over the next couple of weeks as the July evaluation period plays out.
Despite so many eyes on the Illinois Wolves, the recruitment of Glenbard West’s Cade Pierce and Tuscola’s Jalen Quinn remains at a slower pace than it should at this point, although Quinn added a high-major offer from Virginia Tech on Monday.
Quinn, who DePaul has been on hard since offering the 6-3 point guard in June, and has offers from Loyola, Belmont, Saint Louis, Southern Illinois, UIC and others, is starting to hear more from high-major programs.
The small-town kid gets better, more polished, comfortable and confident by the week.
Pierce is under-appreciated for all that he does in helping a team win, which by the way, includes a lot of winning — Glenbard West went 16-1 this past season and dominated June. He helped the Illinois Wolves cap off a perfect 7-0 mark this past weekend.
The long, lanky 6-5 Pierce can handle the ball, sees the floor, defend multiple positions and is a jack-of-all-trades wing. Also underrated is the fact he always seems to take everything thrown at him in stride, whether it’s the role he must play for his team in a particular game or what an opposing team is doing.
Yes, Pierce has eight offers already from Brown, Boston, Penn, St. Thomas, IUPUI, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UIC and Navy. But he should have more.
Pierce took unofficial visits to Drake, Loyola, Northeastern and Holy Cross last month.
The expectation is more will be involved with Pierce as he’s seen over the next two weeks. The more you watch, the more you recognize his somewhat subtle but high impact.
Offers finally flowing in for Ben VanderWal
Timothy Christian’s Ben VanderWal just keeps competing and producing at a high level.
This past weekend while playing with his Breakaway club basketball team, the 6-6 forward averaged 25.5 points a game and shot it at a ridiculous rate. He converted 83 percent of his two-point attempts and shot 44 percent from beyond the arc (20 of 45 from three).
And the player who took an amazing 17 charges during a shortened 16-game high school season, took 15 more in seven games this past weekend. That’s a unique skill that’s rare and unaccounted for in 98 percent of scouting reports on players.
Despite all that production and previous pleas from the City/Suburban Hoops Report to “just offer the kid,” VanderWal’s Division I offers have come in at a painstakingly slow pace — until this week. He did manage to muster up six Division I offers recently and then added four this week from Furman, Lipscomb, Kent State, and Wright State.
William & Mary, Radford, Eastern Illinois, Dartmouth and IUPUI have also all offered, while Yale, Miami-Ohio, Brown, Southern Illinois, Drake and Loyola have all showed various levels of interest.
Where is the Jackson Munro love?
With VanderWal finally starting to get the attention and the offers he deserves, it’s time for another senior prospect in Illinois to start receiving his due: New Trier’s Jackson Munro. ‘
Following another solid weekend with Fundamental U on the club basketball circuit this past weekend, look for the recruitment of Munro to increase. Well, at least it should.
College coaches — at all levels — are in search and, at times, in dire need of two things: bonafide, knockdown shooters and non-project big men. Munro is certainly the latter, especially when projecting him at the right level.
The under-recruited Munro, who boasts a 35 ACT, had just one offer coming out of the weekend — from Loyola-Maryland — but is seeing the interest pick up among other schools. He did add an offer from Navy earlier this week.
This past weekend he did his work around the basket and also stepped out and showed an ability to knock down the three. This is a legit 6-8 big man who can move, competes and continues to show more offensively.
Another reminder here: 6-8 size with an emerging game and tremendous academics. Hello, Ivy League? Hello? Patriot League are you listening?
This is a player who is being slept on as we turn towards the second half of July.
And Yogi Oliff, too …
While Munro is the best college prospect on the Fundamental U club team, there is another up-and-coming player starting to open eyes in Niles North’s Yogi Oliff.
Oliff, a 6-1 point guard, is a fun one to watch because he plays with a smoothness and can make just about any pass on the court. A true lead guard with a change-of-pace who plays with moxie and poise.
Another top-notch student, Oliff will warrant offers of some kind, whether it’s at the Division II level or low-Division I, if he can show the ability to knock down shots.