May 20, 2011

Illinois target shines

The 16U Eric Gordon All-Stars took home the gold championship at the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington, Ind., this past weekend. One of several top 2013 prospects leading the charge for the EG squad was 6-foot-5 swingman Zak Irvin of Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern High School.

Irvin, a long and athletic wing, is the most versatile player on a team that includes 6-6 Colin Hartman, 6-5 Devin Davis, and 6-7 V.J. Beachem, all future high Division I players. The EG All-Stars defeated the Louisville Magic to take home the championship in Bloomington. Irvin hit a shot at the buzzer to defeat the BA Hoyas 59-57 in the tournament semifinals

A year ago, scouts liked Irvin as a high-ceiling prospect with a chance to be very good with added strength and some skill refinement. He definitely had made the strides they were looking for. Irvin can score in a variety of ways, is an excellent on-the-ball defender and has the handles to initiate the offense in the half court.

"My game is coming along really well," said Irvin. "I'm getting stronger and my jump shot is starting to fall. I've been in the gym every day working on my shot and my ball handling. I just want to continue to get stronger and rebounder a little better."

Irvin also is a leader on the floor and the glue that holds together a team loaded with talented wings. His development hasn't gone unnoticed. Irvin currently holds six offers and is getting plenty of interest from some of the top programs in college basketball.

"I'm hearing from Indiana, Illinois, Xavier, Purdue, Michigan, Butler, Miami (Fla.), Baylor, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Vanderbilt," said Irvin. "I won't narrow it down it any time soon. I'm wide open right now."

It will be some time during or after his junior year of high school before Irvin shortens his list and gets serious about the business of picking a college. In the meantime, he is thinking ahead to the 2011-12 season with the goal of taking home a state championship.

Hamilton Southeastern will have the horses to do just that. Irvin's teammates include the 2012 Rivals.com No. 26 prospect in guard Gary Harris and point guard Jacobby Bledsoe, a Division I prospect in his own right.

The Fighting Illini staff has been keeping close tabs on Irvin over the last couple of years. Illinois was in on Irvin early and was one of the first programs to offer him a scholarship. Irvin was on campus in Champaign for a visit last fall.

"I had a good time on my visit to Illinois," said Irvin. "I got to play with the team and talk to all of the coaches. I have a pretty good relationship with them. They are really easy to talk to. Illinois is a school that I'm going to consider."

So far it has been rough going for the Illinois staff when it comes to locking up recruits from the Hoosier state. But with so much talent in the state, particularly in the Indianapolis area, Illinois will continue to try to break through. Irvin is one of the top Indiana players who the Illini are hoping to land.

Irvin has official offers from Indiana, Illinois, Baylor, Xavier, Miami (Fla.) and Purdue.

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