Mike Cagley, Co-Host IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular
May 21, 2023
It was a pleasure to get a chance to meet and talk with former Illini legend Kiwane Garris at the EYBL tourney in Dallas last weekend. He’s been living in the Atlanta area with his family. It’s even harder to believe his oldest son, Kiwane Jr (known as KJ) is already a sophomore in high school.
KJ has already accomplished a lot after being named to the Georgia Coaches All State basketball team as a sophomore. He averaged an impressive 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. With a shooting percentage of 59.2% from the two-point range, 40% from the three, and 78% from the free throw line, his shooting has been outstanding, especially for a sophomore.
Harris is a combo guard that is both taller and more thickly built than his father. In fact, KJ has a body type that is remarkably similar to another former Illini legend, Bruce Douglas. With KJ's frame and strength, it would’ve been interesting to see the Stars call a few more sets to allow him to post up smaller guards - which most are as Garris is nearing 6’4” to go along with his solid build. When push comes to shove, he's significantly stronger than the vast majority of guards he'll face.
Playing on the Georgia Stars 16U team, Garris has averaged 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 18.2 minutes per game. Shooting 35% from the 3 and 80.8% from the FT line, he displays a smooth form and a soft touch. KJ’s shot form looks good and based on his high school season performance, it’s only a matter of time before he asserts himself even more on his Stars team.
On the fast break, he showed the ability to not only get to the basket, but he sees the court well and does an excellent job of finding the open man. As the EYBL season progresses, we can hope the Stars coaches look to utilize KJ more within their offense.
Another player that has had some contact with the Illini staff is JL3’s 7’1” 2024 stretch big, Daniel Jacobsen. He is a center who has a fluid looking jump shot who is working on developing his game with a focus on the weightlifting side in order to help him add muscle. We all realize that is a tough challenge for many high school and collegiate bigs.
Jacobsen has length and uses it to block shots and just as importantly, alter shots. If a player is going to shoot over Jacobsen, the shot will have to contain quite a bit of arc, as Jacobsen makes sure to get a hand up to contest just about anything he can reach towards in the lane. He also understands court spacing and part of this may be due to him having played soccer in the past. This helps him be in the right place on the court at the right time, particularly on defense.
Jacobsen spent his early years in the Chicago suburbs as his father (who at 6’7” is the shortest male in the house) was a bond trader who moved south prior to his boys being in high school. Jacobsen also has a younger brother, Eric, who is a 6’8” forward in the 2026 class.
Daniel is currently averaging 6.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game.
Eric is currently averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.0 minutes per game.
Cooper Flagg - Flagg is rated the #2 prospect in the 2025 class. He's an amazing player and is worth watching if you are at a tournament that features the Maine United 16U team. He's the best player I've seen since I proclaimed Anthony Black to be a Top 10 player when he was ranked between 97 and 122 on the national recruiting sites. Flagg is a 6'8" forward who can play 1 -4 and even small ball 5.
It feels like Flagg is destined to commit to a blueblood school like Duke, Kentucky or Kansas. I know it won't happen, but if he were to shock the world and join the Illini, with the freedom Brad Underwood gives to his proven shooters, Flagg might average 25 points a game as a freshman at Illinois. It's a dream that will never see reality, but boy is it fun to daydream about Flagg in the Orange and Blue.
Cooper is averaging 26.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists in 28.8 minutes per game.
James Brown - The one-time 2024 Illini recruit and former high school teammate of Morez Johnson looked solid in play for Mokan Elite. He has solid fundamentals, but his athleticism is limited. He hustles up and down the court (especially for a center) and displays a positive attitude regardless of what is happening on the court.
James is averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.
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