These players are worth watching

These players are worth watching

The first July evaluation period saw some new names pop up on the Illinois recruiting board and some familiar ones show why they're among the top prospects in the country. Beat writer SCOTT RICHEY highlights five of the best from the 2018 class:

 

Eric Ayala: 6-5, 180, Guard

High school: Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, Conn.)

AAU: We R 1

Ayala helped We R 1 defend its title in The Under Armour Association Finale with a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) in the title game against Team Charlotte. The four-star combo guard averaged 17.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and two assists in five games.

 

Ignas Brazdeikis: 6-8, 220, Forward

High school: Orangeville Prep (Oakville, Ont.)

AAU: CIA Bounce

The four-star Canadian wing was just as dynamic at Peach Jam as he was during the spring. Brazdeikis saw his offensive production dip a bit — particularly his three-point shooting — but still averaged 17.4 points, seven rebounds and 2.1 assists.

 

Darius Days: 6-7, 218, Forward

High school: The Rock School (Gainesville, Fla.)

AAU: Florida Vipers

Playing without frontcourt partner (and fellow Illini target) Silvio De Sousa in The UAA Finale, the four-star forward took control for the Vipers. Days put up a 46/34/80 shooting slash and averaged 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds.

 

Jericole Hellems: 6-7, 195, Forward

High school: Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis)

AAU: Bradley Beal Elite

One of the breakout Peach Jam performers received an Illinois offer because of it. After playing more of a secondary role in the spring, Hellems went off in North Augusta, S.C. The three-star wing had two 30-point games and averaged 22.4 points and seven rebounds per game.

 

Talen Horton-Tucker: 6-5, 210, Forward

High school: Simeon

AAU: Team Rose

Horton-Tucker found a new home with Team Rose after leaving Mac Irvin Fire, but kept up the same kind of production. The four-star wing shot 38 percent from three-point range and averaged 18.2 points and seven rebounds in the adidas Uprising Gauntlet Finale.

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