The Chicago Elite Classic completed its fourth year of competition over the weekend at UIC Pavilion as some of the best teams in the area shared a day-long shootout with some of the best national high school teams in the country.
It made for a fun two days of basketball as we caught a glimpse of teams like Morgan Park, Simeon, Evanston, Whitney Young and Fenwick in a big-game setting while also seeing national recruits like Duke commit Jayson Tatum (Chaminade) and Markelle Fultz (Washington).
Morgan Park and Simeon stay at the top
One of the key things about this year's Chicago Elite Classic is that we would see No. 1 Morgan Park and No. 2 Simeon get to face legitimate teams in a showcase event.
Both Red-South teams came away with impressive wins where they looked way better than their opponents for the full game. It sets up for a tremendous early-season matchup on Thursday when the Mustangs travel to Simeon in a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2.
The Mustangs have a ton of perimeter talent as senior guard Charlie Moore is a Player of the Year candidate capable of scoring from all over the floor and teammates Jarrin Randall and Jamal Burton are consistent performers with a lot of experience.
Those three -- with the addition of sophomore Ayo Dosunmu, a transfer from Westinghouse -- makes the Mustangs backcourt very good and they thoroughly outplayed Evanston's deep and talented group.
Burton finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and thrives as a do-it-all energy guy who can defend and crash the glass.
As for Simeon, senior Zach Norvell came out with a strong start to the season with 18 points and eight rebounds and junior Evan Gilyard's change of pace moves and steadiness gave Whitney Young's defense problems. Senior guard Josh Thomas was also solid in the win as the Wolverines also have a ton of perimeter talent.
The Wolverines have a lot of depth, including underclassmen like sophomore Talen Horton-Tucker and freshman KeJuan Clements stepping up in some spots and senior transfer forward James Gordon made some plays as well.
Fenwick looks like they're for real
Another team that stepped up with a strong showing is Fenwick, who beat a talented Oak Park-River Forest team on Friday night. The Friars still have a lot of room to improve, but at this point in the season, they look like strong competitors in the state title race.
Point guard Mike Smith makes winning plays and he's a tough and battle-tested floor general. And the development of junior Jacob Keller has been fun to watch as he went for 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field.
If Rick Malnati's team can get senior Mike Ballard going, they're going to be a really dangerous team full of players who can create shots.
Depth is going to be the big question for the Friars. They didn't have much production outside of the starting five against OPRF and it's something they'll have to get more of by the end of the season in case of injuries or foul trouble.
But with five starters capable of producing in big games, Fenwick is very balanced and talented. The Friars are for real.
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Tatum and Fultz put on a show
One of the great things about the Chicago Elite Classic is the out-of-state talent that comes to play for local fans.
This year brought in perhaps the event's top out-of-state draw as Duke commit and consensus top-three 2016 prospect Jayson Tatum came with his powerhouse Chaminade team from St. Louis.
The 6-foot-8 Tatum didn't disappoint as he scored 40 points, went for 11 rebounds and had seven assists as Chaminade beat Miller Grove in overtime.
Fans at the UIC Pavilion also enjoyed the slashing and aggressive style of Miller Grove guard Alterique Gilbert. The 5-foot-11 Gilbert, a UConn commit, had a couple of dunks and had the crowd buzzing with his ability to get to the rim.
In the afternoon, Fultz, a 6-foot-5 likely McDonald's All-American, dropped 23 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals in a win over St. Vincent-St. Mary.
With DeMatha in a tight game, Fultz continually made plays in the fourth quarter as the Washington commit showed why he's an elite prospect.
Nationally-ranked Gonzaga (D.C.) also outlasted Riverside-Brookfield in a fun game that showed the Bulldogs can hang with good competition and Oregon commit M.J. Cage and Mater Dei ran past and young and talented Marian Catholic team.