MILWAUKEE -- One of the more underrated basketball cities around is Milwaukee. A bit over an hour north of Chicago along the western edge of Lake Michigan, the city has been pumping out plenty of talent over the past few years. Thursday, Rivals.com had the opportunity to check in on the three highest-rated players in the city. Four-star seniors Deonte Burton and Duane Wilson will stay home to play for Marquette, while five-star sophomore Diamond Stone is being chased by programs across the country.
Wide-open Stone will take his time
We haven't ranked the class of 2015 in numerical order, but when we do 6-foot-10 center Stone, from Whitefish Bay (Wis.) Dominican, is going to be among the most highly rated.
In a time when it has gotten increasingly tough to find legitimate low-post players with a back-to-the-basket game, the five-star sophomore is a bit of a throwback. He plays a skill-based game, he doesn't talk trash and it's easy to tell that he puts work into his craft.
A grounded and focused kid, Stone is appreciative of the position he's in and knows there is still work to do as other players come after him.
"I feel like there is a target on my back, but I know the responsibilities of being one of the best players in the nation," Stone told Rivals.com. " It takes hard work, dedication to the game, and I realize that everybody is coming after me in my grade and up to prove that they are one of the best players or better than me."
Along with terrific size and good length for a post player, Stone has exceptional hands. He is strong in snatching rebounds and has deft touch off the glass and with passes. The ball comes off his fingertips nicely on a jumper that he can fire out to 3-point range. In some regards, he reminds of a young Kevin Love. His father, Bob Stone, has helped him mold his game and makes sure that his son watches a lot of one of the best post players in history.
"My dad used to teach me left and right hook," Stone told Rivals.com. "When I was little I didn't really like Tim Duncan, but he told me that Tim Duncan has some amazing game and to watch film on him. He had me every night doing hook, hook, hook, post moves, up and under and all the different variety of post moves."
Not surprisingly, Stone is getting hit up by schools from across the country. But he's in no rush to make a choice and has no favorites. He's really not worrying about school, although he mentioned Maryland, Indiana, Marquette, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Louisville as some of the programs that have stopped by.
For now, he's just focused on winning a state title and getting better.
"I try to stay humble about the whole situation," Stone said. "It's a blessing where I am, but I stay humble and modest and try to ignore it. Just can't stop learning and working."
Burton and Wilson are fits for Marquette
Since taking over as the head coach at Marquette, Buzz Williams has brought a distinct style of play to Milwaukee. His teams are athletic and feature interchangeable parts, and he encourages his players to attack on both ends of the floor. Sometimes it can be a little ugly, but it can also be plenty up-tempo and exciting. Most of all, it seems to be a style that fits the city's two best seniors, Deonte Burton and Duane Wilson, perfectly.
A teammate of Stone's at Dominican, the 6-foot-3 Wilson ranks No. 56 nationally in the 2013 Rivals150. He's an athletic guard who has a tremendous first step and great scoring instincts, and he's worked hard to evolve in other aspects of his game.
Watching him go through the paces of a practice with his teammates, we saw a much more vocal Wilson. His jump shot has developed, and he is getting it off quicker and more fluidly. Wilson has gotten stronger and, while he's a little leaner, he is built like N.C. State freshman combo guard Rodney Purvis. Wilson never lacks for aggression on the offensive end, can put up points in a hurry, can run a team and has the tools to be a defensive stopper.
After checking in on Wilson and Stone, we made it to the north side of Milwaukee to watch Burton and his Vincent teammates pound Milwaukee North to move to 11-1.
The No. 57 player in the class of 2013, Burton has a game that isn't exactly easy to explain. At 6-foot-4, he's a perimeter player who is equal parts linebacker, athlete, finisher, passer and rebounder in a powerful frame. Basically, he's capable of physically overwhelming pretty much anybody he comes across, and there's little doubt he'll be one of the most physical players in college basketball after he hits the weight room.
While he's a brute, Burton isn't without skill. The southpaw shows flashes of Ron Artest and Paul Harris in his game. He is a very good passer and is fully capable of rocketing 60-foot chest passes to open teammates in transition. At the same time, he's also got a tendency to put the same force on passes from three feet away. He finishes extremely well at the rim, his shot isn't at all bad and he can really handle the ball.
At Marquette, Burton could play two or three positions depending on what type of lineup Williams and his assistants want to go with. Small and fast or big and physical, Burton can find a place on the floor.
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