Illinois' annualhotbed of basketball talent is no exception this year, as at least threeplayers from the the state are expected to be drafted in the first round ofThursday's NBA Draft. Here's background on the high school days in Chicago ofsome of the nation's best NBA prospects.
AnthonyDavis, Kentucky: (ProspectivesCharter H.S.; Chicago)
It's rare that aconsensus No. 1 overall pick comes out of nowhere, but three years ago hardlyanyone knew who Anthony Davis was. As a wiry, 6-foot-4 guard who played for anaverage team, Prospectives Charter H.S., in Chicago, Davis did nothave any high major offers from Division I colleges.
But a four-inch growthspurt between his sophomore and junior year got the attention of many, as thenow 6-foot-8 Davis used his point guard skills to take over games. Animpressive spring and summer on the AAU circuit with Meanstreets after hisjunior season, including an invitation to the NBPA Top 100 Camp, really putDavis on the scene.
He was named the No. 1player in the country for his class by Scout.com and ESPN.com, and Rivals.comlisted him as the No. 2 player in the class behind Austin Rivers. His seniorseason, as now a 6-foot-10 power forward, he averaged 32 points, 22 reboundsand 7 blocks per game. Last year's National Player of the Year chose Kentuckyover Syracuse, Ohio State and DePaul, and will almost certainly be the top pickcalled by David Stern on Thursday night after leading the Wildcats to anational championship.
Meyers Leonard,Illinois (Robinson H.S.;Robinson)
Like Davis, Leonardentered high school as a guard, but grew six inches between his freshman andsophomore years. That agility from his days as a guard made him one of the moreathletic big men in the country, as he grew to 7-feet by his senior year.
Again like Davis,Leonard burst onto the scene after his junior season and a successful springand summer with the Mac Irvin Fire AAU team.
The only player onthis list to lead his high school team to a State Championship, Leonardaveraged 19 points, 11 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game as a senior. Leonardwas a consensus first team All-State selection by the Associated Press, andchose Illinois over Florida and Purdue.
Quincy Miller, Baylor (Westchester County Day in N.C.;Chicago)
Miller was born andraised in Chicago, but at 13 years old he moved in with his uncle in NorthCarolina in hopes of a safer life. But we'll still give him the benefit ofbeing a Chicago kid, as he was prepared to attend North Chicago High Schoolbefore leaving.
Miller played hisfreshman season for Fairmont High School, but transferred a year later toQuality Education Academy. It was there that he grew eight inches and burstonto the scene after a successful AAU season with D-One Sports. After thesummer evaluation period, Miller was ranked as a consensus top-5 recruit forthe 2011 class.
His junior season heaveraged 25.5 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for Quality Education,before transferring once more to Westchester. Early in his senior year, he torehis ACL and was forced to miss the rest of the season. By then, however, Millerhad already received an offer from and committed to Baylor. He chose the Bearsover Duke, Louisville, Ohio State, and a list of other high major programs.
John Shurna,Northwestern (GleNBArd WestH.S.; Glen Ellyn)
Of the four potentialNBA Draft selections from the state of Illinois, Shurna was easily the mostoverlooked as a high school prospect. Just a three-start prospect out ofGleNBArd West, Shurna was named to the All-State second team as a senior. The6-foot-9 shooter averaged 22.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per gamehis senior year, all of which were school records.
He's also down in theHilltoppers' record book as leading the school to its first Class AA sectionalchampionship title since 1938 his junior year. In that win over East Aurora,Shurna poured in 31 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked six shots.
He chose Northwesternover Washington State, Loyola, Green Bay, Davidson and Penn, and he ended hiscareer as the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer (2,038 points), shot blocker(136) and in games played (136).