IlliniGuys Connor Cagley's Top 50 2022 Basketball Rankings - Part 1 (50 - 41)

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.

Huff guards Traudt courtesy IlliniGuys

50 - Isaac Traudt

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.

49 - Braden Huff

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.

48 - Justice Williams

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.

47 - JJ Starling

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.

46 - Tyrell Ward

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.

45 - Jett Howard

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.

44 - Dylan Andrews

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.

43 - Jayden Epps

Illini-commit Jayden Epps courtesy of Virginian-Pilot

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.

42 - Bryce Griggs

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.

41 - Eric Daley, Jr.

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.

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