CHICAGO -- The Mac Irvin Back to School Jam was played on the campus of UIC (University of Illinois-Chicago). This event is loaded with teams from the Chicagoland area and the surrounding states. Each team was guaranteed two games in a pool play format followed by a single-elimination tournament. The talent level of this event was awesome, and a couple of ESPNU Super 60 players (in the Class of 2011) were terrific. Physical wing Wayne Blackshear (Chicago/Morgan Park) scored inside and out, and point guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill./Aurora East) was unstoppable at times, attacking off the dribble. Class of 2013 power forward Thomas Hamilton Jr. (Chicago/Whitney Young) displayed great skill and versatility.
Wayne Blackshear SF/SG 6-5, 215
2011, Chicago/Morgan Park
This big-bodied wing scored above the rim in transition as he ran the floor on a regular basis. Blackshear also displayed the ability to post smaller defenders and finish in the lane with quick, strong moves through contact. He must continue to work on being a consistent shooter, but he hit some deep 3s off the catch and dribble and looked comfortable doing it. Blackshear made his presence felt on the glass; he often started the break off defensive rebounds. He is a good ball handler but needs to work on scoring moves off the dribble to take his offensive game to the next level. Blackshear is a physical defender who does a good job using his body to keep the offensive player in his sights. He also competes and plays with excellent energy and urgency on both ends of the floor.
Ryan Boatright PG/SG 5-11, 160
2011, Aurora, Ill./Aurora East
Boatright was in attack mode on every catch. He got to the rim at will in transition and in the half court. He scored with acrobatic finishes on both sides of the basket that included great touch, body control, hang time and concentration. Boatright is a big-time ball handler who has the ball on a string. He handles with his head and eyes up and will throw the advance pass to an open teammate. He didn't shoot well from 3 but did hit a few midrange pull-ups. He will have to become a consistent shooter to continue to set up his deadly ability to penetrate and drive, draw and kick. Boatright has quick hands and does a good job of applying ball pressure full court. He competes and plays with great energy and pace and is at his best when he is making scoring plays when things break down, especially in end-of-clock situations. Boatright also can play shooting guard because he does seem to think "score first" most of the time.
Cameron Harvey SG/PG 6-2, 190
2012, Chicago/St. Joseph's
Harvey is a strong 2-guard who shot the ball very well. He has a smooth stroke and release with good elevation. Harvey hit midrange pull-ups after one or two rhythm dribbles on which he seems to be more comfortable going to his left. He likes to shoot the step-back jumper that creates space between himself and the defender. He runs the outside lane in transition and spots up at places where he can hit open 3s off the catch or dribble beyond the arc. He spaces to the open area on the side of dribble penetration and comes off screens ready to pull the trigger. Harvey is a good ball handler and passer -- especially in the open court. He also has point guard decision-making ability. Harvey should work to be a better rebounder; he has good strength and athletic ability. He has a good basketball IQ and can break open the game with his scoring flurries.
Faybon Harris PG 5-8, 155
2010, Chicago/Hyde Park
Harris is a smaller lead guard who is quick with or without the ball. He pushes the ball and breaks pressure with ease by weaving in and out of defenders. He also does a great job of delivering the ball on the money with his excellent court vision. Harris breaks down the defense and can get in the lane, where he can score with acrobatic finishes. He has great body control and simply beats the defense to the rim with his speed and quickness. Harris also can score -- in bunches when he gets into a groove. He can knock down the 3 and a midrange jumper off the dribble that includes a step back. He is not a great shooter but is very respectable. Harris has the ability to play fast or to slow down and run the offense. On defense, he picks up the ball full court and does not let the ball handler relax, thanks to his quick hands and feet. Harris plays with passion and competes on both ends of the floor.
Dave Dudzinski PF 6-8, 215
2010, Maple Park, Ill./Kaneland
Dudzinski is a skilled power forward who competes and plays with energy and urgency. He runs the floor in transition and can finish above the rim with a clear path. He scores in the low post with turn shots and quick spins with great touch on both sides of the rim that he makes look easy because of his good hands. At times, Dudzinski has trouble finishing in traffic, but that will change once he gets stronger because he attacks with aggression and toughness. Dudzinski is at his best when he faces up and knocks down midrange jumpers. In pick-and-pop situations, he is extremely comfortable hitting shots to about 17 feet and has the ability to mix in the occasional 3. Dudzinski is a deceptive athlete with great length and tremendous upside. He's a treat to watch compete.
Player to watch
Phillip Jackson PF 6-8, 205
2010, Chicago/Hyde Park
Jackson is a long and lean power forward who runs the floor like a deer. He finishes above the rim in transition and from drop-off passes created by dribble penetration. Jackson is active and aggressive, and you never have to look for him when he is on the floor because he seems to always be near the ball. In the low post, Jackson loves the right low block, and although he is still very raw, he has a nice jump hook over his left shoulder and turn shot. He simply elevates over defenders with his quickness and athletic ability. Jackson is a good rebounder on both ends, and he is a terrific shot-blocker with great timing on the ball or coming from the weak side. Most of the time, Jackson does a good job of keeping the ball in play once he makes a block. Jackson competes, plays with passion and has great upside.
Thomas Hamilton Jr. 6-8, 225
2013, Chicago/Whitney Young
Hamilton doesn't blow you away with great athletic ability but does do so with his skill level and versatility. He also has a great basketball IQ for his age and plays with passion and urgency. Hamilton scores inside and out. In the post, he understands how to seal his defender with his big body and score with either hand with power through contact at the rim. Hamilton has great hands, touch and feel around the basket. On the perimeter, he can spot up along the arc and hit the 3 without hesitation. He is very confident in his shot and also looks comfortable in pick-and-pop situations. On defense, he uses his strength and plays with his hands up to contest shots and not foul. He is a good rebounder who could be better because of his size. Body maintenance is key for him to continue to take his game to the next level, but this young player has off-the-chart upside.
• Six-foot ESPNU 100 point guard Jay Harris (Oswego, Ill./Oswego East) was terrific, as well. Harris displayed great feel for the game with his ballhandling, passing, the ability to finish in transition and making plays one on one as he teamed in the backcourt with Ryan Boatright.
• At 6-2 and 168 pounds, Class of 2010 point guard Eddie Williams (Chicago/Harper) is cat quick with the ball. His handle is tight, and he gets in the lane at will and can finish there with great touch and body control. He can change speed and directions on a dime and keeps constant pressure on the defense with his court vision and passing.
• Undersized power forward 6-6 Ray Lester (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) is a big-time athlete who competes at all times. He attacks defenders in the lane with his signature up-and-under move. He rebounds with authority on both ends and blocks shots on or away from the ball. Lester is a blue-collar player who makes his presence felt on every possession.
Reggie Rankin is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Scouts Inc. Rankin was a Division I assistant coach for 14 seasons, including stints at Boston University, Wyoming, Ohio, Georgia, Nebraska and Dayton.