In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Alex Brown recaps his experience on the ground at a sold-out Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois, scouting one of the biggest high school games in recent memory for the Prairie State:
The nationally renowned household name, Sierra Canyon (CA), home to top-five prospect (and Chicago native) Amari Bailey, LeBron James, Jr., and many more, made the journey to the midwest to face Glenbard West (IL), an undefeated public high school located in the western suburb of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Glenbard West sports multiple homegrown D1 prospects, a dominant 1-3-1 zone, excellent coaching from Jason Opoka, and a simply rabid fan base.
Packed to the brim with deafening Glenbard fans, a couple Chicago Bulls players, a famous rapper or two, and many more, the pressure was on for both sides, and neither disappointed. Going into the final possession, tied 64-64, the game ended in spectacular fashion on a buzzer-beating three-point shot from Dylan Metoyer off an Amari Bailey assist. While that may have been the cherry-on-top of an excellent game, there were many players that stood out on both sides.
Braden Huff | 6’10" | Big | 2022 | Committed: Gonzaga
As the centerpiece of this Glenbard team, Braden Huff has shown that he clearly has the potential to be next up in a great line of multi-year bigs for Gonzaga following Drew Timme and Killian Tillie. Huff brings a versatile modern skillset to the offensive end, with the ability to shoot the 3 off the catch, pick-and-pop, initiate offense, handle in the open court, pass from the high/low post, run the floor, operate as the hub, carve up defenders in the post, and even shoot off pin-downs.
He also displayed the awareness to punish a dig from Bronny James when he went into the low post, finding Paxton Warden for an open 3. Defensively, Huff gave up his body for a massive block, did serviceably against Amari Bailey in isolation, and showed intelligent timing overall. Overall, Huff brings a lot of offensive tools that the modern game covets in bigs, and he should be an excellent player for Gonzaga.
Caden Pierce | 6’5" | Guard | 2022 | Committed: Princeton
Game in and game out, Caden Pierce impresses with his passing vision, halfcourt craft, smooth jumper, finishing, and mental toughness. While he struggled with the length of Sierra Canyon and his free throw shooting, he made a big time impact when it mattered. He was the catalyst for many big time plays for his team as both a scorer and a playmaker. Pierce was able to assist in swinging the momentum of the game to help ensure a thunderous comeback.
While they ultimately came up just short, the Princeton commit showed that he brings coachability, a high IQ, toughness, positional size, and a great feel for the game. The Ivy League is getting a good one.
Paxton Warden | 6’4” | Guard | 2022 | Committed: Illinois
If there were two things a player would need to bring every day at Illinois, even as a preferred walk-on, the answer would be toughness and grit. Warden flashes that, along with some sneaky bounce, defensive toughness, great off-ball anticipation, smart cutting, solid playmaking instincts (especially for finding cutters), and a sweet shooting stroke. He made multiple excellent cuts to the rim, including one that led to a strong two-handed flush that caused Amari Bailey to make a business decision. While his shot wasn’t falling at the normal rate against Sierra Canyon, he wasn’t afraid to take big shots when his team needed them.
Overall, he will likely get reserve minutes and a scout team role similar to how Illinois uses Brandon Lieb, but should develop physically over time in their excellent strength and conditioning program.
Bobby Durkin | 6’7” | Wing | 2022 | Undecided
There is a lot to like in Bobby Durkin, as he is a 6’7” ball handler that can play off the ball, as well. He can initiate offense as a secondary/tertiary handler, shoot the 3 off the catch, and make tough shots from mid-range. He has excellent touch, as well. Furthermore, the skillset he possesses allows Glenbard to take some pressure off of the creation burden Huff and Pierce are tasked with, as it allows them to play off the ball in stretches. On the defensive end, Durkin uses his length, anticipation, and positioning to generate deflections, take a charge, get steals, and shut down passing lanes.
If there were one area that he could improve upon that showed up in this game, it would be playing with more physicality on both ends, as he doesn’t really create advantages or breakdowns with his burst. Strengthening up and improving on owning his space should be the major focus area on his development, and with his size and skillset it would significantly augment his game. Regardless, whichever program will be lucky enough to land Bobby Durkin will be getting a versatile wing handler with positional size and a modern skillset.
Ryan Renfro | 6’8” | Big | 2022 | Committed: Army
Often the fourth or fifth option on this loaded Glenbard team, Ryan Renfro gets his own in the gaps of the offense: securing offensive rebounds, spot-up opportunities, or play-finishing chances. Throughout the matchup with Sierra Canyon, Renfro contributed to winning by hitting two big three-point shots for Glenbard from the corner, making some good passing reads when set, and doing some quality dirty work on the offensive glass.
Renfro really plays well in his current role, and if he can continue to develop as a rim protector and spot-up threat, he could really become a difference-maker at the collegiate level. A strong find by Army.
Andrew Dauksas | 5’8” | Guard | 2022
Perhaps in the most niche role to ever exist, Andrew Dauksas is (maybe) 5’8”, and still found a way to shine on a major stage. Coach Opoka sticks him in the back of the 1-3-1, where he fronts players over a foot taller than him, gives the most aggressive closeouts known to man, and brings constant energy flying from side to side to mitigate the potential for corner threes off the weak side corner skip pass. On top of that, the crowd erupted when he drove the lane and pumped-faked his way to an and-one over a player that was likely over a foot taller than him, changing the energy of the game. He exemplifies the mental toughness, sacrifice, and accountability that coach Opoka is emphasizing with this team, and his hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Hats off to you, Mr. Dauksas.
LeBron James, Jr. | 6’3” | Guard | 2023 | Undecided
Bronny James was very impactful throughout the game on both ends. He went 6-for-9 from three-point range and was distributing the ball with poise, maturity, and confidence against the Glenbard zone. His mechanics looked impeccable from deep, and his feel for the game on both ends is at such a high level right now. Defensively, he does a great job using his length and anticipation to make an impact on and off the ball, generating deflections and turnovers. He didn’t drive the lane much in this game, acting more as a game manager and facilitator rather than a creator, but still impacted the game in a very positive way.
His mental presence was impressive as well, and all that time under the limelight seems to make him unfazed by the pressure of playing in front of rappers, Bulls’ stars, and a deafening opposing fan base.
Amari Bailey | 6’4” | Guard | 2022 | Committed: UCLA
Two aspects immediately stand out when watching Amari Bailey: confidence and athleticism. On top of being an alpha dog on his team, Bailey’s Chicago homecoming revealed the intensity and grit he can play with, as well. On the court, Bailey showed his herky-jerky body control, range shooting, burst, bounce, and some playmaking flashes.
The area of improvement that was most prevalent against Glenbard was the feel aspect of just slowing it down, processing the defense, and reacting accordingly. There were far too many occasions where Bailey dribbled himself into bad situations or forced the issue when it wasn’t needed, leading to some poor turnovers and less-than-efficient shots. He also forced a tough look with less than a minute to go rather than playing conservative. Still, his athleticism and motor are undeniable, and he could be a monster of a player in the Pac-12 as he continues to play at different speeds and improve his feel for the game.
Isaiah Elohim | 6’5” | Guard | 2024 | Undecided
Elohim stood out against Glenbard for his ability to get to his mid-range spots and own his space well, despite being a high school sophomore playing against a skilled defense comprised of seniors. His mid-range touch, athleticism, and point-of-attack defense were all notable winning factors for Sierra Canyon.
However, he also dribbled himself into tough situations seemingly without a plan and fell asleep off the ball a couple times (including get back-cut by Dauksas for an and-one). He made a major mistake turning the ball over with under 90 seconds to go in a close game as well, but luckily it didn’t cost them. As his feel for picking his spots improves, he could be a star for Sierra Canyon in the coming years, as he just appears to be scratching the surface of his potential.
Dylan Metoyer | 6’0” | Guard | 2023 | Undecided
The hero of the day for Sierra Canyon with the game-winning buzzer beater was not a one-shot wonder by any means, as he had a consistently strong impact throughout. Dylan knocked down three-point shots off the catch with confidence, found the open man on the perimeter, and was a steady presence as a facilitator, often finding Bronny James for open jumpers across the 1-3-1.
Defensively, he made life really tough on Caden Pierce with high pressure point-of-attack defense and constant engagement. Over the course of the season, Metoyer has become an important catalyst in Sierra Canyon’s success.