- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Few states can compare to the amount of talent that has come through Illinois during the past 10 years. The nation's top-ranked college teams and the NBA are filled with players whose games originated in the Land of Lincoln.
Here are the top 15 Illinois high school players during the past decade. There are guys who are playing in the NBA who didn't even make this cut.
Eddy Curry, Thornwood, Class of 2001: Curry was a man among boys in high school. He knew how to use his large frame, and opponents couldn't stop him from doing so. He led Thornwood to a second-place finish at state in 2001. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. He's had a bumpy NBA career on and off the court.
Quote: Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler, Curry's AAU coach -- "He was a guy who had a world of potential. He had soft, feathery hands. He caught the ball well. He finished well. I never thought Eddy Curry loved the game, though."
Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central, Class of 2004: Until Livingston, there had been very few 6-foot-7 point guards. Livingston was the full package of size, ability and knowledge. He led Peoria Central to back-to-back state championships. The Los Angeles Clippers took him out of high school with the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft. Injuries have plagued him throughout his pro career.
Quote: ESPN Scouts Inc. recruiting coordinator for high school and college basketball Reggie Rankin -- "You kind of didn't believe he played the point until you saw him. He had great instincts, he could pass, he just made plays. He was just very, very impressive with his ball handling and size."
Darius Miles, East St. Louis, Class of 2000: Miles, a 6-9 forward, was a freak in high school. He dominated in every way. East St. Louis finished third in state his senior season. He would be drafted straight out of East St. Louis as the No. 3 pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Los Angles Clippers. Recent injuries have slowed him down.
Quote: Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler, Miles' AAU coach -- "Darius Miles is still one of the top players I've ever seen come through Illinois high school basketball. I've been watching Illinois high school basketball since '72. I haven't seen too many players who could dominate on both ends."
Derrick Rose, Simeon, Class of 2007: Rose was being compared to Chicago's best players from the moment he stepped onto the court. There were high expectations for Rose, and he lived up to every one of them. He led Simeon to back-to-back Public League and state championships. He went on to take Memphis to the national championship game and is now starring for the Chicago Bulls after being the top pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Quote: ESPN Scouts Inc. recruiting coordinator for high school and college basketball Reggie Rankin -- "He's probably the elite guard of the present. Wow, what can you say about him? He was the second coming of Isiah Thomas in Chicago."
Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North, Class of 2006: Scheyer's college career at Duke has been full of inconsistencies, but he'll go down as one of the greatest Illinois high school players of all-time. From his numerous performances at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament to Glenbrook North's 2005 state championship, Scheyer always came up big in the biggest games. He ranks fourth in all-time scoring in Illinois.
Quote: Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler, Scheyer's AAU coach -- "Jon Scheyer is one of the most prolific scorers I've seen in Illinois high school basketball. He was just the ultimate team player. Jon Scheyer would take the shirt off his back to win a game."
Cedrick Banks, Westinghouse, Class of 2000: Banks was a do-it-all player for Westinghouse. He averaged 19.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists his senior season. Westinghouse won the Public League championship and finished second in the state during his final season. He went on to a successful career at UIC.
Quote: Former Westinghouse coach Chris Head -- "Cedric was a phenom in sixth grade. Cedrick was tough in grade school. He was a gym rat or alley rat. Anytime you turned around, he was in the alley or in the gym playing basketball. His career showed how good he was good at basketball. He had a hell of a high school basketball and a hell of a college basketball career. It's been a tragedy he hasn't been able to play in the NBA."
Shannon Brown, Proviso East, Class of 2003: Brown was bigger and faster than everyone in high school. He flew past defenders and jumped over them to score. He was a crowd-pleaser. He was the 2003 Mr. Basketball and a McDonald's All-American. He went on to a successful career at Michigan State and is beginning to play a larger role in the NBA.
Quote: Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler, Brown's AAU coach -- "Shannon Brown was a guy who was instant offense. He was a prolific scorer. He was a very offensive-minded scorer. He could get you 30 points in a half if you let him."
Will Bynum, Crane, Class of 2001: Bynum put on a show every time he took the floor in high school. He could score in a variety of ways and could handle the ball like no other. He averaged 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds as a senior. He bounced around professionally for a bit, but he's finally found a home with the Detroit Pistons and is one of their top contributors.
Quote: Former Crane coach Anthony Longstreet -- "Will was showtime. Will was a flashy ball handler, had explosive hopes and just could take over a game offensively anytime you wanted. It was hard to stay in front of him. Will had a rare combination of exceptional ball handling and exceptional leaping skills."
Andre Iguodala, Lanphier, Class of 2002: Much like Iguodala does now in the NBA, he was doing the same in high school. He was bigger and stronger than everyone and averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists a senior. Lanphier finished second in the state his final year.
Quote: Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler, Iguodala's AAU coach -- "He's one of the most gifted athletes I've ever seen. He was one of those guys who was totally unselfish in high school. He could defend. He was a really good all-around player. He always had one or two highlight-reel plays during a game. I remember one game where he shot a three-pointer and tried to rebound the basketball and dunk it. I'll never forget that."
Dwyane Wade, Richards, Class of 2000: It's hard to think that Wade wasn't always a superstar after seeing what he's done in the NBA. He was a very good high school player, but no one thought he was going to one day be among the elite players in the NBA. He averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds as a senior in high school.
Quote: Illinois Warriors coach Larry Butler, Wade's AAU coach -- "Dwyane Wade by his senior at Richards High School totally dominated the game, defensively, offensively. He could do anything he wanted to."
Sean Dockery, Julian, Class of 2002: Dockery never turned into a great college player at Duke, but it doesn't take away from what he did in high school. He was a gifted guard who could put up a whole lot of points. He was a McDonald's All-American and averaged 28 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals as a senior.
Quote: Former Crane coach Anthony Longstreet -- "When you said Sean Dockery, he was more like a do-everything player. He would rebound, play defense, assist, dive on the floor. He did everything for Julian. He was what you called a stat-sheet stuffer. He just found a way to win."
Sherron Collins, Crane, Class of 2006: Collins learned a lot of his game from Will Bynum. Like his mentor, Collins could score, was quick and had great handles. Collins has gone to have a stellar college career and this season is leading the No. 1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
Quote: Former Crane coach Anthony Longstreet -- "Sherron was very similar as well to Will. The difference between the two was Sherron was more of a point guard first and a scoring guard second. Sherron had the ability to get more players involved. His flashiness was involved more with his feet."
Jamarcus Ellis, Westinghouse, Class of 2004: Ellis did a lot of everything for Westinghouse. He was a monster on the glass, he could fill it up the net, he could make you pay defensively. Ellis went on to a few different colleges, including Indiana, and was recently drafted into the NBA Development League.
Quote: Former Westinghouse coach Chris Head -- "One of the things really as a sophomore, he was fearless. There wasn't too much of anything he was afraid of . At that point, I wasn't too keen on playing sophomores on varsity. He was probably the most fearless player we had on our team. There wasn't a challenge he backed down to. He loved challenges. I can remember a time when he first started playing varsity basketball, like maybe the second practice, and he challenged Cedric [Banks] one-on-one. That was his freshman year. There wasn't too much if he put his mind to that he couldn't do. He was just a super talent."
Nate Minnoy, Hales Franciscan, Class of 2005: Minnoy is one the best small-school players the state has ever seen. He was an undersized big man at 6-4, but he had a big body and knew how to score and rebound. Hales won state his sophomore and senior seasons. He played at a few different colleges, including Purdue.
Quote: Hales Franciscan coach Gary London, said just following Minnoy's high school career, "Any coach would tell you through a course of your coaching career a special kid only comes through once in a while. Nate was one of the special kids. He won two state championships. How many kids can say they did that? Truthfully, Nate was a big reason for why were able do that. You come to appreciate those special kids like Nate. They don't come along every year."
Jereme Richmond, Waukegan, Class of 2010: When this decade is looked back on, Richmond could be bumped up to the first or second team. He was the state's best player last season and looks to be again this season. He's headed to play at Illinois next season.
Quote: University of Illinois assistant coach Jerrance Howard – "When I say it, and you may think I'm going off deep end, but we haven't had a player like him at the University of Illinois. He's 6-8 and he can shoot, dribble, rebound, block shots."
James Augustine, Lincoln-Way Central, Class of 2002
Patrick Beverley, Marshall, Class of 2005
Andre Brown, Leo, Class of 2000
Calvin Brock, Simeon, Class of 2004
Dee Brown, Proviso East, Class of 2002
Bobby Frasor, Brother Rice, Class of 2005
Luther Head, Manley, Class of 2001
JaVale McGee, Hales Franciscan, Class of 2006
Jerel McNeal, Hillcrest, Class of 2005
Brandon Paul, Warren, Class of 2009
Pierre Pierce, Westmont, Class of 2001
Roger Powell, Joliet, Class of 2001
Shaun Pruitt, West Aurora, Class of 2004
Imari Sawyer, King, Class of 2000
Alando Tucker, Lockport, Class of 2002
Evan Turner, St. Joseph, Class of 2007
Julian Wright, Homewood-Flossmoor, Class of 2005
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
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