Highlights and standouts from the club basketball Spring Showcase

The Spring Showcase this past weekend was a unique travel basketball venture.

It was an opportunity for three prominent club basketball programs to compete and play in a smaller, unique event that helped them prepare for the upcoming “live” period, where college coaches can evaluate high school talent.

There were several games played in four eight-minute quarters, with a shot clock, with the score re-setting after each quarter to create more end-of-game scenarios and situations.

There were several other programs on display, including a talented 16U Midwest Renegades team, but Mid-Pro Academy, Fundamental U, and Young & Reckless were the three programs with the most college prospects on display and who all played two games against each other in a tune-up for this weekend’s live events.

Supreme Courts in Aurora played host to three club basketball programs that do a terrific job –– they win games, get their players noticed and send them to college — without the shoe-sponsored support from Nike, Under Armour and Adidas.

Here are a whole bunch of thoughts from the event from those three teams:

Mid-Pro Academy doesn’t disappoint

The event was also an opportunity to get another up-close look at the always strong, highly-respected Mid-Pro Academy program run by Gavin Sullivan. Mid-Pro Academy, based in the Peoria area and one that boasts top players from central Illinois and beyond, has established itself over the years as one of the state’s best.

This is the program where many former college stars played their basketball in the offseason over the past two decades. Most recently, the former Moline duo of Brock Harding and Owen Freeman, former state champs now both playing at Iowa, starred for Mid-Pro Academy.

From a prospect perspective, this year’s 17U team is arguably as talent-filled as any in Illinois with three prospects ranked among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top dozen prospects in the Class of 2025 — and seven among the top 35.

That impressive list starts with Dietrich Richardson of Peoria Manual.

While others have had anyone but Richardson as the top-ranked prospect in the class, the Hoops Report tabbed Richardson as the top prospect in the class as soon as Jeremiah Fears left Joliet West and the state last year. The 6-6 Richardson is just too talented and shows too much upside not to be No. 1. Soon enough he will be the consensus top prospect in the class.

Though he needs to get significantly stronger, Richardson’s size, wingspan and versatility on the perimeter are elite. The smooth guard can play the role of distributor, slasher and defensive stalwart with his endless length. The mid-range pull-up game is becoming a weapon.

Watch for Metamora’s Matthew Zobrist to emerge as one of the true breakout stars in the state next season.

Zobrist has been a part of a program that has won a remarkable 94 wins in three years, including a state title and state runner-up finish. The 6-5 Zobrist has played second or third fiddle the past few seasons for a loaded Metamora program that has churned out the likes of college prospects and all-staters in Ethan Kizer, Cooper Koch and Tyler Mason, all either Division I players or all-staters.

This is the player who as a junior lit up Thornton for 25 points in a 63-62 defeat, so it’s certainly Zobrist’s time to be the catalyst and go-to player as a senior. A hot priority among mid-major programs, he’s one of the state’s best shooters after shooting 40 percent from three as a junior. But he’s only getting better due to having the capability of hitting contested jumpers and with outstanding range, especially on the move and off the catch.

Perhaps the biggest eye-opener of the event was Peoria’s Leshawn Stowers. He was absolutely terrific in two games.

Stowers put up 19 points and six rebounds a game as a junior and now enters his senior year as a bonafide mid-major prospect. Big, strong and a force when he’s downhill and getting to the rim, the 6-3 guard has significantly improved as a playmaker. He’s a big enough threat off the bounce to create open space for himself as a shooter which is another area of his game that continues to improve. He’s a tough shot-maker.

Moline’s big-bodied Trey Taylor, who sports strong academics and powerful athleticism, remains one of the more underappreciated players in the state. Fresh off a monster, stat-sheet-stuffing season where he averaged 18.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists, the 6-5 Taylor is on pace to surpass Harding as Moline’s all-time leading scorer.

Keep an eye on junior Sean Lee, who appears to be the headliner for the Mid-Pro 16U team. The strong 6-3 guard from Decatur MacArthur impressed and looked the part of a potential Division I prospect in the rising sophomore class.

Overlooked prospects and emerging talent for Young & Reckless

Whether it’s with accomplished high school stars leading the 17U team or emerging ones highlighting the 16U team, Young & Reckless has a program with solid top-to-bottom talent.

The 1-2 punch of Romeoville’s EJ Mosley in the backcourt and Bolingbrook’s JT Pettigrew in the frontcourt will be noticed this spring and summer. They are certainly on the radar of college coaches but should cement offers and interest in the coming months. Pettigrew remains one of the more improved players in the class over the past year.

When you add DePaul Prep’s Makai Kvamme, a winning pure point guard, and the athleticism of West Aurora’s Terrence Smith to the group, it’s a team that can impress.

Then there is the 16U team that features a City/Suburban Hoops Report favorite: Oswego East’s Mason Lockett.

The multi-faceted 6-4 guard is set to shine as a junior after putting in solid work and contributions all season long as an unheralded sophomore. Lockett is so smooth and is showing more aggressiveness as a player. He simply looks the part.

De La Salle lost a core group of seniors from last year’s team. But there is young talent in place, including 6-5 Charles Barnes, who is starting to get the most out of his physical attributes.

While still raw and developing, Barnes has shown a real capacity for growth as a player this spring with Y&R. His basketball niche will be determined based on his physical growth and jumper, but there is some real upside.

A sleeper to keep an eye on this season is Nico Wright, a 6-5 sophomore at Lane, who plays a key role for the 16U Young & Reckless team. Wright has a basketball body and can play up at the rim.

Fundamental U

Fundamental U’s top prospect, New Trier junior guard Christopher Kirkpatrick, sat out the event as he’s still nursing an injury that is likely to keep him out of action this coming week. Kirkpatrick was in the midst of a monster spring thus far.

However, there are a few unsung players without name recognition who will garner some attention in the coming months and into next season.

Hudson Scroggins of Lake Forest and Theo Rocca of Evanston are a pair to watch on Fundamental U’s top 17U team. Quietly, both had very solid junior seasons for their respective teams and will be featured players as seniors. But before that, they will continue to impress as key players for Fundamental U.

Rocca will never wow you, but he has a knack for finding a way to score and impact games.

After really coming on throughout his junior season for Lake Forest, Scroggins is a consistent face-up jumper away from taking a big step forward as a prospect. The ball finds him off the glass and he has some effective and a nifty scoring acumen inside 15 feet.

Bolingbrook will sport star power this coming season with Pettigrew and the sensational guard Davion Thompson. But rising sophomore Trey Brost, who played an instrumental role for a sectional finalist this past season, is set to make a big jump. He’s tough and poised, but he also blends some shot-making with table-setting capabilities in the backcourt.

The Hoops Report continues to be drawn to the potential of McHenry’s Adam Anwar. The 6-7 sophomore big man made another impression with his face-up shooting ability and overall skill for his position and size.

Added firepower for Mac Irvin Fire

While Mac Irvin Fire wasn’t a part of the Spring Showcase over the weekend, the travel program did make some news with a couple of key additions.

When it comes to the travel team basketball circuit, rosters are typically fluid and change is the norm. As the first “live” period approaches this weekend — and the only live period of the spring where college coaches can evaluate high school talent — a pair of top prospects in the rising junior class have made a move to bolster a Mac Irvin Fire team that has struggled in EYBL play.

Phoenix Gill of St. Ignatius and Al Brooks of Hansberry, two of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 prospects in the Class of 2025, will run with the Fire in this weekend’s Nike EYBL event in Indianapolis. Gill and Brooks played this past weekend with the Fire and joined a team that is anchored by a pair of top-five prospects in the class: Homewood-Flossmoor’s Bryce Heard and Kenwood’s Aleks Alston.

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