Good Morning, Illini Nation: EYBL season underway

Apr. 30—Top prospects gathered in Memphis this past weekend for the first session of the Nike EYBL season. High school recruiting has taken a back seat to the transfer portal of late, but Class of 2025 prospects should still have it better than their predecessors from the last few years. Those soon-to-be high school seniors at least won't have to contend with offseason roster building including an extra pool of available players looking to use their COVID bonus year.

But teams are still going to hit the portal. Getting old is the preference. Playing true freshman — save for the absolute tip-top prospects — is not.

But AAU hoops continues, and several players with Illinois offers were in Memphis. Some shined bright. Here's a roundup of some performances at the EYBL, E16 and E15 levels:

Jeremiah Fears

Fears, of course, is Illinois' lone commit in the Class of 2025. The four/five-star guard is play is playing for Indy Heat this spring and averaged 19.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and two assists in three games in Memphis. He had two 20-point games and put up 23 in a 66-59 win against Drive Nation on Sunday.

AJ Dybantsa

Dybantsa is the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2025 — a status he held even after reclassifying up from the 2026 class. He thrived on the EYBL circuit last year and did so again in Memphis putting up 26.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Dybantsa capped his stay in Bluff City with 34 points, eight rebounds and two steals in an 80-74 Sunday victory against NW Rotary Rebels.

Deron Rippey Jr.

Rippey scored in double figures in three of four games in Memphis for New Heights Lightning's E16 team. The four-star guard in the Class of 2026 out of Blair Academy (N.J.), averaged 12 points, 2.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds and scored 13 points three times and had an assist-to-turnover rate of 1.4-to-1.

Jashawn "JJ" Andrews

Andrews is one of the top prospects in the Class of 2026 and ranked as high as No. 13 and as a five-star recruit by ESPN. His first weekend with MOKAN Elite's E16 team showed why, with the 6-6 guard putting up 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Andrews is teaming up this spring with two other Illinois targets in Class of 2027 wing Jaylan Mitchell and Class of 2026 Finnish forward Miikka Muurinen.

Davion Thompson

Thompson's 27-point effort in Meansteets' E15 win against Alabama Fusion was only a precursor of a big performance to come later in the weekend in Memphis. The Bolingbrook freshman went off for 47 points, courtesy of eight three-pointers, in a Sunday win against Florida Rebels.