Midwest Mania Team Review: Illinois Wolves

Each summer I’m usually able to get a few looks at the Illinois Wolves’ HS groups and this travel season my initial viewing of them came earlier than usual as they took on the Georgia Stars and Bay State Jaguars at Midwest Mania in Indianapolis. Given what I’ve seem from them in the past and having gone to Wofford with a Wolves product, it wasn’t surprising that they brought a fundamental, tough, cohesive group to Indy that has multiple guys whose games are made for success at the college level. They ended the day with a statement win over the Georgia Stars, winning by a score of 67-53 with a dominant 2nd half performance. Here I’ll go over the Wolves players who impressed last Sunday. It looks like I’ll have another chance to watch them in Fort Wayne at Run N’ Slam this weekend.

6’10” PF Braden Huff

If you were to point to any single reason why the Wolves were able to separate themselves from the Stars in the 2nd half, it would have to be Huff’s play. Huff still has the guard skills he developed before hitting a big growth spurt and uses those to punish opposing forwards. He has nimble feet, great vision, and can handle in transition, which are all rare at 6’10”. In the 2nd half, the Wolves made a point to exploit his matchup, taking a slower big out to the perimeter and allowing Huff to attack & create almost every possession. The Stars had no answer for it and waited really long to adjust. Huff scored all 19 of his points after halftime, hitting 2 3’s and showing good touch with his left hand numerous times. He needs to add a lot of weight but isn’t soft and will embrace contact more than you might expect. It was a lot of fun watching him go to work. He’ll keep climbing up the national ranks with games like that one.

6’5″ SG Jaden Schutt

The leading scorer in the Stars matchup with 20 points, Schutt can put up points in bunches and looked like he was out to make a statement in this particular game. He was locked in & aggressive from the start, displaying his high-level shot-making ability throughout. Already having good size at 6’5”, Schutt pairs that with good, quick elevation on his jumper that allows him to get off and hit shots even with little space. He plays with a bit of an edge to him and came through with some big jumpers that helped to energize the team. His 3-point shooting will be most coveted, but Schutt is also a good 1-foot leaper in space, is effective attacking closeouts and getting to mid-range spots, and doesn’t shy away from contact at the basket. It is easy to see why he is heavily recruited; things took off for him last summer and after they went quiet for a while, Penn State, Providence, & Minnesota have all extended offers this spring. Given the guys I’ve seen in the Southeast and other regions, Schutt looked like a prospect who clearly deserves to be within the Top 100 nationally.

6’3″ PG Jalen Quinn

At the helm of the Wolves offense is Quinn, his performance in the victory over the Georgia Stars can not be forgotten either. He contributed 17 points, using his size and smooth lefty game to navigate and maneuver his way through the paint. Quinn is poised, has a good package of moves off the dribble, and changes speeds pretty well. His scoring was most needed in this game and he was successful with a variety of finishes inside, but he also does a good job of drawing help defenders and then spraying out to shooters or dropping off to guys around the basket. The calming presence he provides and way he can get everyone involved is important to a team like the Wolves.

Wings Caden Pierce & Alonas Peciulis

I loved the role and impact that these 2 had for the Wolves on Sunday.  Both are around 6’5-6”, can play physically, and don’t need the ball much to be impactful, giving the Wolves perfect utility wings. Pierce was efficient from 3 in the Wolves’ 1st game on Sunday before helping them on the inside with offensive rebounds and contact finishes against the Georgia Stars. Peciulis gave them some similar production on the day, giving a good rebounding boost and proving to be a reliable shooting target in the corners. Both Pierce and Peciulis make hustle plays and fall into opportunities by staying active & constantly moving. They won’t over-dribble or make many wrong plays with the ball either. The stuff they do might not be flashy but it is extremely valuable and contributes to winning.

Cooper Noard and Dylan Arnett are 2 other guys on this Wolves squad that I want to see more of this upcoming weekend.

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