September 23, 2021

High school basketball: A look at the loaded Class of 2023

We could use a little good news in high school basketball right about now. And the Class of 2023—this year’s extremely talented sophomore group—is here to provide it.

At this early stage the class has the look of being the deepest crop of talent the state has seen in a number of years. The depth of players with Division I potential is a lengthy one, and it’s a class that will soon draw college coaches in droves.

It may seem a bit routine to heavily hype up young classes; it offers hope and excitement while relying on potential rather than substance. But in this case it’s valid as there are too many players with like talents and potential as prospects to highlight them all in a story like this. That’s a good thing.

While this is far from the complete list of all the bonafide prospects across the state, it’s never too early to identify several of the top names and talents to keep an eye on. Here is a short list of ones to watch going forward.

The Big Names

JJ Taylor, Kenwood

Taylor was the top incoming freshman in the state a year ago and remains the No. 1 prospect in the class. The 6-7 Taylor is a super talent with versatility. He transferred from Morgan Park to Kenwood and is set for a breakout year. Taylor is already among the top prospects in the country, ranked No. 20 in ESPN’s Class of 2023 player rankings.

Jeremy Fears Jr., Joliet West

The player with perhaps the most name recognition and hype in the class. Fears boasts several high-major offers following an impactful freshman season for a team that finished 29-4. He was recently listed as the 21st ranked prospect in the country, according to 247sports.

Cam Christie, Rolling Meadows

The younger brother of the state’s top prospect, senior Max Christie, Cam Christie has quickly made a name for himself and deserving of the attention he’s received. With offers from Ohio State and Michigan State, Christie, who averaged 10 points a game as a freshman, is a smooth 6-3 shooting guard with a ton of upside remaining.

Donaven Younger, Bolingbrook

There was plenty of hype surrounding Younger as he entered high school due to his size and tools. Younger, who is closing in on 6-9, got a taste of varsity action last season and opened eyes. A top 10 prospect in the class, Younger can run the floor, finish around the rim and has a fluid mid-range jumper.

Emerging stars

Dalen Davis, Young

Davis is a top five prospect in the class but without the fanfare. He had his moments last year as a freshman, playing poised and under control while showing the capability of making a big shot or two for one of the top teams in the state. The 5-11 point guard will have the ball in his hands a whole lot this season and be a focal point for years to come.

Asa Thomas, Lake Forest

The 6-6 shooter should be talked about as one of the top prospects in the class. Thomas is an elite shooter with unlimited range. He buried a whopping 75 three-pointers as a freshman while averaging 12 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.

Owen Freeman, Bradley-Bourbonnais

He’s an unknown but the 6-7 big man put together an outstanding freshman campaign. Freeman was one of the most productive players in the class, averaging 11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds a game while shooting 68 percent from the field.

Davius Lowry, Kenwood

There are few players in the class with as big of an upside as Loury. A high-profile transfer to Kenwood (from Simeon), the long, multi-faceted 6-7 Loury is oozing with talent and already holds offers from DePaul and Illinois.

Sam Lewis, Oak Park

A hidden gem in the class who no one knows a whole lot about. That will change this year as the 6-4 guard is blessed with a world of talent and has an easy, smooth game.

Richard Barron, St. Ignatius

A big guard with size and shooting ability, the 6-3 Barron split time between the varsity and sophomore teams last year as a freshman. Barron is a weapon offensively, particularly with his outside shooting

Darrin Ames, Kenwood

Ames makes the move to Kenwood after playing at Morgan Park last year. A lefty guard who is wired to score and could explode on the scene this year with a bigger opportunity.

Super sleepers

Wes and Miles Rubin, Homewood-Flossmoor

Their emergence won’t happen overnight, but these unknown 6-7 twins are ultra-intriguing with their size, developing games and untapped potential. Before long they will acquit themselves nicely at the varsity level.

Downstate stars

The amount of talent outside the city and suburbs is also lengthy. So many made major impacts at the varsity level as freshmen. There is a long list of bonafide college prospects around the state. The first order of business when it comes to this group of players is getting their names out there, particularly among the Chicago area basketball fans.

Among the very best from outside the Chicago area include: Ethan Kizer, Metamora; Ty Pence, St. Joseph-Ogden; Jordan Pickett, Belleville East; Macaleab Rich, East St. Louis; Tevonta Jackson, Springfield Lanphier; Brock Harding, Moline.

15 more top players in the Class of 2023: Jalen Griffith, Simeon; Bryce Coleman, St. Joseph; DeAndre Craig, Mount Carmel; Marcus Pigram, Young; Matas Buzelis, Hinsdale Central; Prince Adams, Evanston; Keon Alexander, Bolingbrook; Chikasi Ofoma, Joliet West; Ronald Chambers and Damarion Wyatt, North Lawndale; Khalil Ross, Lincoln-Way East; Jaloni Johnson, Proviso East; Xavier Sulaiman, Marist; Sonny Williams, Notre Dame; Kaiden Space, St. Rita

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