High school basketball: Five players are ready to break out during the first live recruiting period

The window of opportunity for high school basketball prospects to shine and raise their shares has been greatly shortened over the past two years.

In particular, each of the last two spring NCAA “live periods,” a time when college coaches and talent scouts evaluate preparatory talents, has been wiped out due to Covid-19.

But it’s all back in 2022. The calendar is packed with one club basketball event after another in the months of April and May.

Last weekend marked the tip for grassroots basketball across the country, while the two live periods this spring will be 8-10. April and 22.-24. April.

At last weekend’s NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish event just outside Milwaukee, there were plenty we already knew and have seen before.

Cameron Christie of Rolling Meadows showed the many ways he is able to score basketball while Lake Forest’s Asa Thomas did his deep-three-draining thing.

St. Rita’s Morez Johnson went on to show why he is without a doubt the best player in the state in the 2024 class, and Darrin Ames of Kenwood showed his dynamic scoring ability.

But there were others, players who have not generated many headlines – or at least not big enough yet – who gave a hint as to what was to come.

The biggest eye-opener among new prospects in Illinois was Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski.

Playing for a very good but remote Burlington Central the last three years would take some time for 6-8 Scharnowski to be noticed. College coaches and evaluators will soon notice an exciting prospect that has just begun to grow into his game and his body.

Burlington Central coach Brett Porto saw it early. But he has also been able to closely see the development and where it is headed.

“In our last match, before the start of the season, you could see him take it to our seniors,” Porto said of a successful and senior-dominated team. “It was eye-opening.”

But during the early part of the season, Scharnowski indulged in these veterans, Porto said. As his confidence and comfort level grew during his third college season, there was a clear shift that continues today.

“All the work he put in gave him more confidence,” Porto said. “Some click came out of our game with Peoria Notre Dame.”

It was the championship game of the Plano Christmas Classic in late December, a game in which he struggled. But the second half of the season was a big step in Scharnowski’s development and consistency.

The skill set he flashes at his size, thanks to a combination of shooting, ball handling and fluency in everything he does at 6-8, catches your attention. That’s also what makes him a legitimate Division I prospect, even though he did not even have a double-digit average last season.

Last season, he averaged 9.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

Scharnowski was a point guard in middle school and then grew to a 6-2 university artist as a beginner. This was where the perimeter skill set first appeared.

As he sprouted past 6-7, Scharnowski retained his skill level and is now a stretch 4-man who down the road will create inconsistencies with his shooting and size. How his game is evolving from being an influential role player this past year to a go-to player in the spring and summer will tell us all a lot about his future.

“He’s just a multifaceted player who can score inside and out while bringing the ball up to the floor,” Porto said.

Scharnowski, who plays with Breakaway Basketball on the club’s basketball court, has a world of talent that he seems to have just begun to exploit.

In addition to Scharnowski, here are a few others who will break through and raise their shares in the coming months.

There are several players in line for a significant leap when it comes to their individual recruitments and name recognition.

Brock Harding, Moline

He emerged as the Hoops Report favorite last summer and gained more steam and nationwide credibility during his junior season. He was named a City / Suburban Hoops Report first team all-state last season.

And while he already has some serious suitors and a few impressive offers, interest is set to rise for the purest pointguard in the state. Several mid- and mid-plus programs expanded offerings last year, including Drake, Illinois State, Bradley and Colorado State, while Loyola offered last week.

He is a middle-major and middle-major plus dream recruit. But he will at some point catch the attention of a high-major program because of everything he brings to the table at the point guard position.

Harding, both composed and able to play at basketball speed, brings impeccable playing skills, emotion and instincts. He creates opportunities for teammates that most players simply do not see, thanks to an innate ability to read a defense.

The three-point jumper has improved tremendously, where he is now at least a threat when left alone and coming off the ball screen.

Harding is a fun player to watch, who plays with spunk and confidence.

Ahmad Henderson, brother Rice

Locally, Henderson has a name that is very familiar to high school basketball fans. He led his team to 24 wins while averaging 15 points and four assists in a match.

But with only a few offers that have been extended, he is still a player who has a lot to prove.

Here are banks on Henderson proving it this spring and summer.

Henderson was offered by Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a staff recently fired, along with MAC offers from Northern Illinois and Kent State. They all came last year. Look for Henderson to become a player in the class that will generate a lot of interest and offers in the coming months.

The suspension is simple: size.

With only 5-9, Henderson is a small point guard in size who makes up for it with a true offensive punch. He has shooting team and competence, though it needs to be more consistent, and a pull-up game that keeps the defense on its heels.

DeAndre Craig, Mount Carmel

Like Henderson, the Mount Carmel point guard has been a fixture on the high school basketball scene over the past few years. And he has been a rock for coach Phil Segroves, averaging 21 points per game last season while leading Caravan to 28 wins.

That production and name recognition in the Chicago area has not resulted in Division I offerings. Radford and Akron are the only offers on the table, and those came last summer, which is why he is considered to be among the most under-recruited players in the class.

There will be more offers the more he is seen on the club circuit and in June with Caravan.

Craig is an energetic score-first point guard who is dangerous downhill in the transition to getting to the edge and a shooter. He offers an advanced pull-up game from 12-16 feet and offers legit range from the three-point line.

Ryan Cohen, Glenbrook North

Quietly, the 6-1 guard has put together two extremely productive seasons. As a sophomore, he averaged 19 points in a game, and last season he put up 15 points in a game.

He has moved to the Illinois Wolves this low season, where he is teaming up with bigger names in Christie and Thomas, giving him the opportunity to show his greatest strength: shooting basketball.

Cohen is potentially a game-changing shooter, especially as a spot-up threat from the three-point line in catch-and-shoot situations. He offers a pure release, which gets it off quickly. Last season, he coupled on 85 three-pointers while shooting a remarkable 46 percent from the arc.

Although he has a special ability to score, the next step for Cohen is to play at different speeds and start creating attacks for others.

Look for Cohen to jump on the radar of scholarship programs from Division II to low-major Division I level.

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