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High School Basketball: Six seniors en fuite du Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout

A three-day basketball extravaganza ended last weekend as Riverside-Brookfield and Normal West hosted more than 130 teams and dozens of potential Division I customers.

While there have certainly been similar performances to some established names, we will remain positive. Several players have opened their eyes and raised their stocks considerably.

Here are half a dozen seniors who have improved their stocks in the eyes of college coaches and the City to Suburban Hoops ratio – or both.

Darrion Baker, Hillcrest

The most successful player of the weekend. The Hillcrest big man has been ranked among the top 25 prospects in the class heading into the weekend. But he climbs quickly and progresses to the top 10.

And college coaches are taking notice. Akron, Missouri State, Northern Illinois and UIC offered Baker after his performance at the RB. Expect many more to follow.

Baker was a revelation this weekend. He averaged 11 points per game last season but proved to be one of the most improved players in the class. He plays with more confidence and assurance. As a result, production is more consistent as it displays attributes that translate to the next level.

Hillcrest’s Darrion Baker (0) gets a rebound against Lemon.

Allen Cunningham / For the Sun-Times

Mobile with solid structure and length, Baker is the prototype of the new wave big man offering a variety of skills as he can play anywhere along the frontline.

Baker developed his skills early in his career as a perimeter threat with dimensions. He is now up to 6-9 and using that skill set as he continues to feel more comfortable playing his size.

He can handle the basketball, will go out and make a three with sonic shooting mechanics, and now he’s influencing the defense with his size and reach.

Baker’s recruitment is expected to explode next month.

Drew Scharnowski, Burlington Central

While he’s been predicted as a hitmaker by the City/Suburban Hoops relationship in recent months, the up-and-coming but under-the-radar big man has had his fair share of hype this spring. But the Riverside-Brookfield shootout was his college coaching night out.

Burlington Central's Drew Scharnowski (31) attempts to shoot the ball during the game against St. Rita at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

Burlington Central’s Drew Scharnowski (31) attempts to shoot the ball during the game against St. Rita at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

Kirsten Stickney / Pour le Sun-Times

The experienced and versatile 6-8½ seniors opened his eyes and sparked huge interest. William & Mary, Bradley, St. Thomas, Furman, Illinois State, Southern Indiana, Missouri State, UIC, and Cal-Poly were all offered. Wisconsin has invited him to its elite camp later this month, while several other mid-majors — and some top programs — will be watching him closely this weekend at Ridgewood.

With his shooting and ball control prowess, Scharnowski continues to prove that he is one of the most diverse big men in the state.

Jordan Pickett, Belleville-Est

The opportunity to see Southern Illinois players is welcome, which the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout provided for many.

Pickett is a top 20 prospect on City/Suburban Hoops Report, but without an offer until last weekend. However, Radford and SIUE offered 6-2 guard which was very productive as a youngster. He averaged 19.7 points per game and knocked down 69 by three-pointers last season.

Bring a big build and body into the defense zone. Pickett proved he could reach the holeshot and land shots with a ready-made jumper from the three-point line.

Niko Abusara, Benet

Having seen Abusara’s tough 6-4 on multiple occasions throughout the season, he is arguably the most improved player in the class of 2023. As a result, Abusara’s title soars after a terrific performance at RB, he showcased his sneaky athleticism.

Benet's Nikola Abusara (30) drives into the lane against Joliet West.

Benet’s Nikola Abusara (30) drives into the lane against Joliet West.

Allen Cunningham / For the Sun-Times

Abusara has the athleticism to fly off the screens, turn the corner and attack the basket. The mid-range pull-up becomes a threat. He’s now a consistent three-point jumper, far from a true middle-large prospect. But until then, low-level Division I programs should be considered. Absura received an offer from Radford this week.

Macaleab Rich, St. Louis East

There are times when “oddly athletic” is thrown around too loosely in player ratings. Not the case here. Rich is truly an oddball athlete with pure explosiveness and power from the floor, finishing with rebounding dunks and blocking throws.

The dubious rating the strong 6-5 Rich will have to throw away is the “tweener” tag. But determining what position he can occupy should come later for medium to large programs.

Yes, he is a bit out of position and will need to improve his perimeter bridge. But when its engine is running flat out, it’s a force. As a junior, he averaged 19.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

Quentin Jones, Marian Catholic

Although his game has yet to attract any offers and much interest, the 6-4 winger continues to amaze and elevate his game in the eyes of the City/Suburban Hoops ratio.

While some other big names in the class have faltered and stabilized, the lean and active Jones should get more attention. Jones is a senior stock player who should be of interest to Division I programs. There is great defensive potential to match his athleticism and offensive style.

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