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March 3, 2008

Top 20 for the class of 2009 for Illinois

With the Class of 2008 complete, it's time for The Demons Den to rank the Class of 2009, which is much deeper, especially at the guard position. Now let's take a look at who made the Top 10 of this list...

After scouting this prospect several times throughout the season, there was no question that he would get the top spot in rankings for this 2009 class. This prospect is 7'0" Lake Forest Academy center Kyle Rowley. Timid, uncordinated, and average in skill set, Rowley looked to be a project last season at Lake Forest Academy, but due to off-season workouts, dedication, and just getting used to his 7'0", 280lbs body, Rowley has improved dramatically. Kyle's jumper goes out to about 15 feet, has a jump hook with either hand, finishes strong around the rim where he's able to body the defender, and on defense is an outstanding shot blocker with great timing, as well as an accomplished rebounder. Rowley right now is possibly the best bigman prospect since ex-Thornwood star Eddy Curry. And is he satisified with his game right now? "No", states Kyle. "I have power moves, and I need to compliment it with another move, most likely a turn around jumper. That's what I'm working on this offseason." Much improved, and will improve more, we see Rowley as the top prospect for 2009 in Illinois.

This next prospect fell from the top spot in our previous rankings, but it surely is not because of his play, but rather just the amazing progession of Rowley. The second spot goes to not only the best athlete in his class, but possibly the best athlete in the entire state regardless of class. It goes to Warren combo guard Brandon Paul, who is committed to the University of Illinois, who has two other commits in the Top 10 on this list. The Demons Den has been touting about Brandon Paul since last spring, stating that he is worthy of elite status, and his place has backed this up. Brandon's ability to get into the lane is breathe-taking, being able to finish strong above the rim, or even kissing it off the glass with a soft jumper. Paul's Basketball IQ is eye popping, moving without the ball as well as anyone, and his ability to guard the passing lanes makes people drool. Although there are barely any weaknesses to Paul's game, the only one that does somewhat stick out at times is his outside jumper, which is improving, but he still does fade away a bit.

The third prospect in our Top 20 is not talked about or discussed as much as the others on this list, but has had an amazing season with his Marshall Commando's. He's no other than 6'1" combo guard Darius Smith, who may very well be the best defender, regardless of class, in the state of Illinois. Although Smith's jumper is average for an eliete guard, his ability to defend and play in transition exceeds anyone on this list. Smith's game is almost identical to ex-Hillcrest star Jerel McNeal, who has blossomed into an outstanding college player at Marquette. That is probably why the Golden Eagles are very interested in his services.

The fourth spot goes to a guard that has amazing offensive abilities, showing the ability to hit not only the three, but the deep three, drive into the lane, as well as set up his teammates. Number four on our list is Peoria's D.J. Richardson, who, like Paul, will be attending the University of Illinois. D.J. shows a better skill-set than his cousin Jamar Smith, who is a redshirt junior at Illinois. He has a similar jumper, but has better athleticism and ballhandling abilities, and possibly fits Bruce Weber's system better than any of the three 2009 commits. The only thing D.J. has to work on before heading to Champaign is getting stronger, and improving his strength going to the rim, as he tends to fade away from contact.

Rounding out our top five is a guard from Young that spent most of his time this year coming off the bench, but possesses an amazing skill-set. This player is 6'2" combo guard Chris Colvin. Although having only an average jumper like Darius Smith, Colvin possesses the ability to get into the lane and create havoc, as he has amazing body control not only on the ground, but in the air. Having amazing athletic ability, he uses it more than just offense, as he's one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the state. What Colvin has to work on is his emotions, as Chris spent a good amount of time on Young's bench this year not due to his play, but his attitude. But if he does improve both his attitude and jumper, he has a shot of being in the Top 3 on this list.

Rounding out the Top 10 we have three combo guards that have had great seasons thus far. The first is new to Illinois, and plays at North Lawndale. 6'0" guard John Taylor is an outstanding scorer who has unlimited range on his jumper. Number eight on this list is yet another Illini commit in Sterling's Joseph Bertrand, who has the best jumper of the three, and has incredible vision for a 6'4" guard. Anchoring the Top 10 is Marcus Jordan of Young, who has played incredibly well and climbed the rankings.

Also in the Top 10 are two big men that have high major written all over them. Number seven on the list is Eureka's Jordan Prosser, who has outstanding footwork and a nice touch around the basket. At number nine on the list is Glenbrook South's Jack Cooley, who is very physical, and has seen his offensive game drastically improved his junior season.

To see the rest of the Top 20 list, see the link below.

Check Out The Complete Top 20 Rankings

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