Connor Cagley, IlliniGuys Basketball Writer
August 12, 2021
With the close of the summer AAU season, as IlliniGuys Basketball Writer I have had the time to organized my thoughts, review my notes from watching tourney after tourney via the Internet, and put together my first annual ranking of the current year's seniors-to-be. The inaugural recruit ranking will be revealed in a five part series of articles. Each article will have ten players being ranked and will be featured on the next four Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Let's get this started.
PF 6’9 210
Traudt is a physical big-bodied post player. His offensive package still needs development, but he should be a player that can contribute early. To take the next step, his jumper needs to be refined and his effort rebounding the ball needs to be more consistent. His defense in the post is solid, and his versatility guarding wings on switches will be crucial to make it to the highest level.
PF 6’9 200
Huff is a unique big man that can truly play the point forward role, especially in transition. His jumper is solid, and he will only get better with time which will force defenders to play him tighter. That will allow him to flourish as he already has elite playmaking skills and passing instincts out of the high and low post. He'll need to put on weight and increase his strength so that he can finish in the low post through contact. On defense, it will be interesting to see if he can guard centers or will be strictly a power forward.
PG/SG 6’3 170
Williams is an LSU-commit who is a spark offensively, but has some consistency issues. When he's motivated he's a handful, especially as a perimeter defender that hounds opponent point guards. Williams has a fluid jumper from outside, but offensively he can settle too much. He would benefit from taking the next step in the weight room and proving he can be a primary option offensively as he transfers from Montverde for his senior year of high school.
PG/SG 6’3 170
Starling is one of the top shooters in the 2022 class. He has an effortless jumper that requires defenses to be aware of him at all times. He continues to improve his ability ot attack the rim, and while he isn’t a true point guard he is becoming much more confident handling the ball. He lacks elite size for his position so moving forward his ability to show he can defend at the college level will define whether or not he will ultimately have a place in the NBA.
SF 6’7 185
This Xavier-commit is a swing man who is finally realizing his potential. Up to this point, Ward has primarily been a defensive prospect, but is showing an emerging offensive game. His outside shot has improved mightily, which - in turn - has made it easier for him to carve up defenders who have to play him further out. If he continues to show out at this level offensively he will rise, and this summer has him trending in that direction.
SG/SF 6'6" 190
Son of Michigan coach Juwan Howard, Jett has NBA pedigree and an expanding game. He has the potential to play the 2, 3, or 4 position in college due to his strength down low defensively as well as his budding offensive game. He will need to continue refining his jump shot, but this is something he's made strides on in the past and I would expect this trend to continue.
PG/SG 6'3" 170
Andrews is projected as a 1 or 2, but currently seems most suited for the shooting guard position. He has a good frame, but would benefit from becoming more active off the ball. Athletically, he has potential, but will need to produce results before scouts will look at him as an elite prospect.
PG 6'1" 170
The highest ranked Illinois commit on the list, Epps is a natural scorer. He scores most naturally as an on-ball shot creator, especially using his signature pull-up jumper. He will still need to expand his game as a finisher at the rim. As he develops, he should find ways to create value off-ball and provide better spacing for his teammates. Right now, he should, at a minimum, provide value as an on-ball defender at the collegiate level.
PG 6'1" 180
While Griggs may not come across as the most athletically gifted player, he is deceptive in the way he plays basketball. His ability to change speed as well as use his body to shield against defenders allows him to produce at an elite level in high school. While some players may have a higher ceiling in the NBA, Griggs is one that makes the most of his talent. Predominantly an elite passing point guard, he has shown the ability to take the game over as a scorer when necessary.
SF/PF 6'7" 220
Daley is an explosive combo forward that right now looks as though he may be more effective at the power forward position. He looks best in transition due to his ability as a run and jump athlete. If he wants to take the next step as a player, he will benefit from refining his ball handling and outside shooting. This summer, he took a more prominent role as a scorer, allowing him to showcase previously unseen elements of his game.
I on the Illini - Maryland Upsets Kofi-less Illini (S2,Ep5)Read
Watch: Illini coach Brad Underwood talks after loss at MarylandRead
I on the Illini - Curbelo's Return and Dainja Enrollment - What does it Mean for the Illini (S2,Ep4)Read
I on the Illini - Purdue Wins a 2OT Thriller at the State Farm Center (S2,Ep3)Read
Watch: #17 Illinois vs. #4 Purdue highlightsRead
Watch: Illini players Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk & Alfonso Plummer and head coach Brad Underwood talk after Purdue gameRead
Watch: Former Illini great Meyers Leonard talks about Ubben donationRead
Watch: Highlights of Illini women at Penn StateRead
Ked's Recruiting Roundup - Illini Legend Deon ThomasRead
IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular - Jan 14 Weekend - 1st HourRead
IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular - Jan 14 Weekend - 2nd HourRead
I on the Illini - Michigan Falls to the Illini by 15 (S2,Ep2)Read
Watch: Illini defeats Michigan 68-53 to improve to 6-0 in Big TenRead
Watch: Illini coach Brad Underwood talks after the Michigan winRead
Watch: Illini's Trent Frazier & Kofi Cockburn talk after the Michigan winRead