Sure, these guys are good. But they want to get better. They have to get better. That's usually how this whole thing works.
Take Mt. Carmel's
. Since his sophomore year, the 6-foot-8-inch Caravan star has been one of the country's top high school basketball players. But he had to change his mentality from a scorer to more of a team player.
Now comes the next step for the Kentucky-bound Walker.
"Antoine's got to go into Kentucky with an open mind," said Mt. Carmel coach Mike Curta. "Not as some hotshot from a winning program thinking he's going to go in and play right away. It's a lot different playing against some of the best players in the country as opposed to some of the best players in the state."
Walker, who averaged 28 points and 10 rebounds his senior season, does happen to be one of the best players in the state and the country. Walker joins St. Martin de Porres' Jerry Gee, Peoria Manual's Brandon Hughes, Rockford Boylan's Lee Lampley and Springfield's Tyron Lee in forming the first five of the Tribune's 1994 Boys All-State Basketball Team.
Westinghouse's Mark Miller, King's Michael Hermon, Libertyville's Matt Heldman, Simeon's Bryant Notree and Carbondale's
make up the guard-laden second team. Joliet's Gary Bell, East St. Louis Senior's Tyrone Caswell, Mundelein's Kyle Kessel, Cairo's
and Brother Rice's Jimmy Sexton round out the third team.
They already have made names for themselves. Now the question is: Where do they go from here?
"In high school," said Peoria Manual coach Dick Van Scyoc, "kids don't play defense like they'd like you to play in college. I don't believe there's a high school player who wouldn't have to improve on his defense."
That includes Hughes, who led Manual to the Class AA state title. Hughes isn't a bad defensive player right now. That's just part of the package. Hughes, who hasn't picked a college yet, averaged 20 points, four rebounds and three assists for the
his senior season.
"But he came on strong the last half of the season, by leaps and bounds," Van Scyoc said. "He just improved with every game."
Lampley already was one of the best outside shooters in state history.
"But Lee's gotten physically stronger," said Boylan coach Steve Goers. "He never even had a dunk his senior year and he finished with 12. Plus, his all-around play outside of the scoring has improved."
Still, everything starts with Lampley's scoring. He led the state with a 29.9 scoring average and ended his high school career as the Northern Illinois Conference-9's all-time leading scorer with 2,419 points.
What's next for Lampley, who like Hughes is undecided about college?
"He still needs to get stronger," Goers said. "He has to pick up his intensity one more level; get a little meaner. He's too nice of a kid."
Maybe Lampley just needs to have a chat with Gee, one of the state's most physical players. Gee averaged 26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Silver Eagles, who finished third in the Class A tournament.
St. Martin coach Mike Manderino said Gee, who is likely to choose either Duke, Wisconsin or Minnesota, also needs to improve on the defensive end.
"Especially his perimeter defense," Manderino said. "He'll be guarding a lot of quick 6-5 or 6-6 kids who can put the ball on the floor. He hasn't had to do that so far. He needs to improve on his footspeed."
The Illinois-bound Lee was more of an inside player as a junior, but Springfield coach Clark Barnes had to move the talented 6-5 Lee to the backcourt as a senior.
It was an easy transition. Lee ended up averaging 23.1 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and 81.9 percent from the line.
Sounds like a total package. But there's room for improvement.
"At the next level," Barnes said, "Tyron's got to work on the weights and get stronger. He's a finesse player who has the ability to avoid a lot of physical contact because of his quickness. He's not going to be able to do that in college."
It's also a sure bet that Mt. Carmel's Walker won't be able to dominate in college like he did while with the Caravan. Unless he works at it.
"The biggest thing about Antoine's senior year was his work ethic," Curta said. "He concentrated on what the team had to accomplish and not so much on what he accomplished. He worked hard in practice, and when it came to gametime, he set a good example for our young players.
"He's going to be real successful at the next level if he keeps that up."
, 6-7, senior, center, St. Martin de Porres
The Catholic League's Most Valuable Player, Gee led the Silver Eagles to a third-place finish in the Class A state tournament. One of the state's more physical players, he averaged 26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots while shooting 62 percent from the field. Gee is interested in Wisconsin, Duke and Minnesota.
, 6-0, sr., Peoria Manual
One of the state's best athletes, Manual helped lead the Rams to the Class AA state title with a 20-point scoring average. An excellent defender, he also averaged four rebounds and three assists and shot 35 percent from the three-point arc. He's interested in Illinois, Marquette, Kansas State, Washington and Mississippi.
, 6-0, sr., Rockford Boylan
The state's best pure outside shooter, he led the state in scoring with a 29.9-point average and shot 53 percent from the field. Ended his high school career as the NIC-9's all-time leading scorer (2,419 points), and his 123 steals this season left him as the school's all-time leader in steals. Improved on his all-around game to block 35 shots and average 4.2 rebounds. Interested in Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
, 6-5, sr., Springfield
Primarily an inside player as a junior, he was moved to the shooting-guard position and didn't miss a beat, hitting 48 percent from the field while averaging 23.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. The Illinois-bound Lee also shot 81.9 percent from the free-throw line.
, 6-8, sr., Mt. Carmel
The Kentucky-bound Walker was one of the state's top all-around threats, averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds. A solid ball-handler for his size, he also averaged four assists, two steals and 2.2 blocks while shooting 56 percent from the field. Completed high school career as Mt. Carmel's all-time leading scorer with more than 2,000 points.
, 6-0, sr., Libertyville
The Illinois-bound guard capped an outstanding high school career by averaging 27 points, five assists and four rebounds for a Class AA Elite Eight team. He is a talented combination guard, equally adept at scoring inside and outside or dishing the ball off to the open man. He shot 57 percent from the field-41 percent from three-point range-as a senior.
, 6-3, sr., King
One of the Public League's most exciting players, Hermon carried the
the last half of the season, averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as King spent a majority of the season as the nation's top-ranked team. The most valuable player of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament is leaning toward Southern Cal.
, 6-0, sr., Carbondale
Averaged 22 points, four rebounds and four assists for the state's Class AA runner-up. Hudson is a slashing guard who can take the ball to the hole or pop it in from the outside. Undecided on his college choice.
, 6-1, sr., Westinghouse The quiet leader for the Warriors, Miller averaged 23 points, five assists, five rebounds and five steals. An excellent three-point shooter, Miller was the biggest reason the Warriors snapped King's 61-game winning streak to win the Public League title and move on to the Elite Eight. UIC, Minnesota, Northern Illinois and Providence are among the schools interested in Miller.
, 6-3, sr., Simeon
Headed for Illinois, Notree scored more than 1,000 career points, capping his career by averaging 24 points and eight rebounds for the Wolverines, who finished 21-5 and reached the Public League quarterfinals. He shot 48 percent from the field and was named MVP of the Lincoln-Way Holiday Tournament.
, 6-5, jr., Joliet
A three-year varsity starter, Bell shot 63 percent while averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Steelmen, who made it to the Elite Eight and finished 30-1. He can score in the paint and has a smooth touch from the outside. Many believe he is the state's top junior prospect. Most valuable player at the St. Francis Holiday Tournament.
, 6-7, sr., East St. Louis Senior
Caswell began the season at East St. Louis Lincoln, where he averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds and was named the most valuable player of the Collinsville Holiday Tournament. Ended the season at East St. Louis, where he averaged 24 points ad 15 rebounds. A complete player, he can dominate on the inside and shoot from the perimeter. Undecided on college.
, 6-0, sr., Mundelein
One of the state's most underrated players, Kessel set school records in scoring, three-point shooting and assists. He averaged 24.7 points and 10 assists for a squad that made it to the sectional finals. Kessel, also Lake County's career scoring leader, is interested in UIC, Georgetown, Wichita State, Texas A&M and Miami.
, 6-7, sr., Cairo
The Louisville-bound Nesby averaged 24 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots his senior season. One of the country's most exciting talents, he also was named the IHSA's slam-dunk champion as a junior and senior.
, 6-4, sr., Brother Rice
A three-year varsity starter, the Creighton-bound Sexton averaged more than 20 points during his high school career to become Brother Rice's all-time leading scorer. Sexton averaged 22 points and eight rebounds this season for the Crusaders, who reached the supersectionals. He scored at least 20 points in 21 of his team's games.
Gary Bell, 6-5, jr., Joliet; Michael Bowens, 6-7, sr., Homewood-Flossmoor;