WAUKEGAN, IL — The July live evaluation period tipped off at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and with it, came the Elite Academic Showcase in the far northern Chicago suburb of Waukegan.
Although the event wasn’t loaded with high-major names and top-ranked kids like the LeBron James Skills Academy, Reebok Breakout Classic and the adidas Unrivaled Camp — all of which will be covered by College Basketball Talk extensively this week — it did give college coaches a nice option to see some talented players on the opening night of the period before the adidas camp in Chicago tipped off on Thursday.
Although Class of 2016 forward Nick Rakocevic was clearly the best prospect and most talented player in the building, a lot of other players took advantage of the setting to play in front of the coaches and perform well. Among the coaches in the building included DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell and assistants from Indiana, Ohio State and Xavier. Davidson head coach Bob McKillop was also present and led a strong contingent of mid-major head coaches that included Loyola’s Porter Moser, UIC’s Howard Moore, and Northern Illinois’ Mark Montgomery.
Rakocevic proves worthy of top 100 ranking in 2016: The headliner of the one-day showcase was 6-foot-10 forward Nick Rakocevic. Coming in at No. 64 in Rivals.com’s Class of 2016 rankings, the forward from the suburbs of Chicago is the best prospect from Illinois in the 2016 class and he showcased his inside-outside game on Wednesday night. Rakocevic has the shooting touch and skill to play on the perimeter while also showing a willingness to mix it up a bit on the interior.
Rakocevic told NBCSports.com that he has scholarship offers from Creighton, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Miami, Purdue, Wisconsin and Xavier while Duke, Florida, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon have been in touch.
After a busy July, that includes a stop at Peach Jam, Rakocevic is trying to take visits to Florida, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon.
DePaul shows Devin Gage is a priority recruit: Much has been made about Oliver Purnell recruiting the city of Chicago during his tenure at DePaul, but the head coach showed that recent Class of 2016 guard Devin Gage is a priority recruit on Wednesday by being the only high-major head coach in attendance at the Elite Academic Showcase.
The 6-foot-2 Gage was the point guard at Curie High School and played alongside future Kansas forward Cliff Alexander this past season, but the athletic floor general recently picked up his first high-major offer at the DePaul Team Camp in June.
Playing in front of Purnell and the other coaches in attendance, Gage attacked the basket and displayed his strong athleticism while also knocking in some jumpers from the perimeter. Although his decision making needs some work, Gage has a lot of traits to work with going forward and he’ll be monitored by Midwest programs in July.
Gage told NBCSports.com that Bradley, DePaul, Hampton and UIC have offered him scholarships.
Davon Dillard starts July in a big way: As the No. 123 prospect in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings, 6-foot-5 wing Davon Dillard has a chance to play his way into more scholarship offers with a strong July.
At the Elite Academic Showcase on Wednesday, Dillard came out strong and displayed his high-level athleticism to go along with a developing skill set on the wing. Dillard can run a bit wild with the ball in his hands, but he has the athleticism and upside to play at the highest level if he can limit turnovers and make smart decisions.
Dillard told NBCSports.com that Creighton, Marquette, Oregon, Purdue, USC and Xavier have shown the most recent interest and he claims scholarship offers from Creighton, Marquette and Purdue.