Scott Phillips

Major changes in the latest Preps Power Rankings

Major changes in the latest Preps Power Rankings

Over the last six days, we saw eight members of the Power Rankings lose. It led to some major changes, including multiple top-ten teams shuffling up and down the order.

Conference play continues with some big games this week as we near the Public League Playoffs next week as well.

1. Curie (19-1, 8-0) (1) -- Two more solid wins for the Condors as they take down Corliss and Hazelwood Central (MO). Curie will try to close out Public League play unbeaten when they play Morgan Park at home this week.
2. Bogan (19-2, 8-1) (5) -- Bogan throttled Hyde Park during the week to finish a very impressive 8-1 in Red South/Central play. The Bengals take on Bosse (IN) in the Alton Shootout this week as a tune-up for the Public League Playoffs. 
3. Thornton (21-0, 9-0) (7) -- Still unbeaten, Thornton earned its biggest road win of the season in knocking off Kankakee. The Wildcats stay on the road this week with a showdown against No. 6 Bloom in Southland play. 
4. Young (13-7, 8-0) (4) -- The Dolphins dropped an out-of-state matchup to Vashon (MO) but remain very strong when it comes to area competition. Whitney Young closes out the conference season with a road game at Orr before two games in California against elite west-coast teams.
5. Evanston (20-1, 6-0) (2) -- Finally dropping a game, the Wildkits fell to Zion-Benton before rallying for wins over rival New Trier and No. 6 Bloom. Things stay difficult for Evanston this week as they play No. 11 Loyola, No. 19 Glenbrook South and OPRF.
6. Bloom (19-5, 8-1) (3) -- The Blazing Trojans fell to Evanston in a huge top-ten matchup. Bloom continues a crazy stretch when they host No. 3 Thornton and No. 13 Marian Catholic for games this week. 
7. Notre Dame (21-3, 5-0) (6) -- Notre Dame dropped a matchup with No. 14 Simeon to drop a spot this week. The Dons are still ahead in the ESCC as they host Nazareth this week.
8. Lincoln Park (19-3, 8-1) (8) -- The Lions won three more games after the MLK weekend as they continue to win without head coach Pat Gordon. Lincoln Park is off this week before the Public League Playoffs get started. 
9. Homewood-Flossmoor (17-2, 2-0) (9) -- Two more double-digit wins for the Vikings as they are off to a good start in Southwest Suburban Blue play. Homewood-Flossmoor battles Hillcrest in an intriguing matchup this week.
10. DePaul Prep (18-2, 9-0) (10) -- The Rams continue to stay atop the Catholic League Blue with a win over St. Laurence. DePaul Prep gets some good matchups this week when they host Brother Rice and travel to Benet. 
11. Loyola (20-2, 9-0) (11) -- Loyola ran past St. Joseph to stick with the Catholic League's top teams. The Ramblers get their biggest road test of the season this week at Evanston. They will also host De La Salle in conference play.
12. Stevenson (16-3, 7-0) (12) -- The Patriots made quick work of Waukegan as they've been rolling inferior opponents since the Mundelein win. A road game at Zion-Benton should be a stiffer test with the Zee-Bees coming off a huge win over Evanston.
13. Marian Catholic (15-6, 3-1) (13) -- Dropping an out-of-state game at Quincy, Marian Catholic stays in the same spot. The Spartans will have two ESCC games and a road game at Bloom this week.
14. Simeon (15-8, 5-2) (NR) -- The Wolverines shoot back up the Power Rankings with wins over Morgan Park and Notre Dame during the week. Senior Jeremiah Williams is starting to have some huge games and this team is dangerous heading into the Playoffs.
15. Bolingbrook (17-4, 2-0) (15) -- Bolingbrook has played one of the toughest January schedules of any area team. The Raiders beat East Aurora and Bradley-Bourbonnais during the week. A top-25 game against Joliet West will be a fun one at Lewis this weekend.
16. Morgan Park (14-8, 6-2) (14) -- The Mustangs ran past Leo and Lindblom but stumbled at home against rival Simeon. Morgan Park has a chance to make a statement when they play Curie in the final conference game of the season.
17. Fenwick (18-4, 8-1) (NR) -- Winners of six straight, Fenwick has rounded into form after a sluggish stretch to start 2020. Junior Bryce Hopkins is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate as he continues his huge scoring outbursts. 
18. Cary-Grove (20-2, 10-0) (19) -- The Trojans earned double-digit wins over Burlington Central and Prairie Ridge to stay unbeaten in the Fox Valley. A tough road game with Huntley makes for an interesting week for Cary-Grove. 
19. Glenbrook South (18-3, 6-0) (20) -- Glenbrook South earned a win over Niles West to bounce back after falling to Cary-Grove. The Titans will have a huge conference clash with Evanston this week as the winner will be the leader of the CSL South.
20. Mundelein (17-3, 5-1) (21) -- The Mustangs knocked off Lake Zurich twice during the week. Two road games for Mundelein this week when they travel to Warren and Waukegan. 
21. Oak Forest (18-1, 9-0) (22) -- Taking care of business against Bremen, it sets up for a big week for Oak Forest. The Bengals play three games, including a big matchup with Tinley Park and Lincoln-Way East.
22. Waubonsie Valley (20-2, 4-1) (23) -- A big win over Metea Valley pushes the Warriors to 20 wins. Waubonsie Valley has two home games during the week, including a conference matchup with Naperville North. 
23. Joliet West (19-3, 11-0) (24) -- Joliet West stayed unbeaten in the Southwest Prairie with two more wins. This week gets significantly tougher for the Tigers with matchups against Romeoville and Bolingbrook. 
24. Kankakee (16-2, 6-2) (17) -- The Kays fell to Thornton before rallying for two wins to close out the week. Kankakee gets two winnable home games during the week as they try to keep pace with the Wildcats and Bloom in the Southland.
25. Hinsdale South (21-2, 7-0) (25) -- The Hornets claimed two more wins to push their winning streak to nine as they remain red hot. Hinsdale South gets a solid test at home against Morton this week. 

Whitney Young's D.J. Steward ends the Illinois McDonald's All-American drought

dj_steward.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Whitney Young's D.J. Steward ends the Illinois McDonald's All-American drought

Whitney Young senior guard D.J. Steward became the latest Burger Boy from the Land of Lincoln with his selection into the game on Thursday afternoon. The Duke commit is the first Illinois boys basketball player to be selected for high school basketball's most prestigious game since Stevenson's Jalen Brunson in 2015.

Maine West girls basketball star and Oregon commit Angela Dugalic was selected for the girls McDonald's game. Illinois native and former Morgan Park standout Nimari Burnett was also selected for the boys game. Burnett helped the Mustangs to a Class 3A state title as a freshman before moving to California for his last three seasons of high school basketball at Prolific Prep. 

While Illinois will have multiple local storylines in both McDonald's game, the 6-foot-2 Steward being included on the boys team is a big deal for a number of reasons.

For starters, Illinois has been without a boys McDonald's All-American since 2015. From the game's debut in 1978 until 2009, Illinois had at least one McDonald's All-American every year. In the past 11 years, Illinois has been held out of the McDonald's six times -- including the past four classes. The talent drought has been noticeable over the past several years. 

More importantly, the McDonald's distinction caps off an already stellar high school basketball career for Steward. His accomplishments already include a state finals appearance and two All-Area selections (with a third almost assuredly coming later this season). 

Starting his career at Fenwick the first two seasons, Steward earned Catholic League Player of the Year honors as only a sophomore. Now dominating in the Public League this season, Steward could also own the unique distinction of being perhaps the best player in both the Chicago Catholic League AND Public League during his four-year high school career.

By making the McDonald's game, Steward also follows in the footsteps of other Whitney Young legends like Jahlil Okafor (2014) and Quentin Richardson (1998). Steward will now forever be linked to those two first-round NBA Draft picks for the rest of his career. The only thing missing from Steward's profile at this point is an elusive IHSA state title -- something the other two captured their senior season.

While Steward's selection into the McDonald's game is an important personal accomplishment, it's also huge for the rest of the local high school season. It's no secret that Illinois high school basketball has been starving for big-name talent. The buzz for the state tournament has continued to die down in recent seasons. 

Star power like Steward, and Illinois commit Adam Miller, should draw more casual interest in the local high school basketball season down the stretch. Steward making the McDonald's game makes him an even bigger draw locally for casual fans. It's likely Whitney Young will play in front of a lot of fans as they travel in the state tournament in-part because of Steward's high-profile career. 

There is still plenty of basketball to be played the rest of the 2019-20 season. Steward has time to add to his legacy as Whitney Young prepares to play for a city and state championship. Even if Steward falls short of some personal goals, he'll always be remembered among the state's greats now that he's playing in the McDonald's game.

High School Lites Preview: Rivalry matches all over the area

High School Lites Preview: Rivalry matches all over the area

High School Lites has quality games from all over the Chicagoland area this week as we feature numerous rivalry games.

With huge rivalry games in the Public League, CSL North and South and the South Suburban Red, it should be an entertaining week of games. The show will also showcase a huge matchup in the DuPage Valley Conference along with the crowded Catholic League Blue field.

High School Lites premieres on Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. The show will have plenty of highlights and a feature on Lincoln-Way West's Taylor Gugliuzza as she just scored her 2,000th career point.

THURSDAY

Simeon at Morgan Park, 5:00 p.m. -- The area's best rivalry closes out the Public League Red South/Central season. Simeon (13-8, 6-2) picked up a big win over Brooks on Tuesday to bounce back from a Monday loss at Fenwick. The Wolverines would love to beat their rival right before the Public League Playoffs begin. Morgan Park (13-7, 6-1) picked off Lindblom behind another strong effort from Adam Miller. The Mustangs have been up and down themselves lately as they try to build momentum towards the postseason.

FRIDAY

No. 24 Joliet West at West Aurora, 6:30 p.m. -- We check out a Southwest Prairie matchup in this one. Joliet West (18-3, 10-0) picked up a win over Lockport after a tight loss to No. 8 Lincoln Park on Monday. Jamere Hill has been a breakout senior this season as he recently committed to Toledo. West Aurora (6-14, 4-6) has been rebuilding this season as they've struggled recently. The Blackhawks will try to turn things around by facing another top-25 team.

DeKalb at Naperville Central, 7:00 p.m. -- The DuPage Valley Conference has a major showdown on Friday night. This one is a rematch of the Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament title game that saw the Barbs win at home in a close game in late December. DeKalb (17-4, 4-0) just had its 15-game winning streak snapped with a loss to Lyons. But the Barbs remain a major threat as they've already earned some tough DVC wins. Naperville Central (14-4, 3-1) fell to St. Viator. But they have a talented frontcourt in Chris Conway and Cameron Dougherty. These two teams will play for a third time, back in DeKalb, on Feb. 26.

No. 2 Evanston at New Trier, 7:00 p.m. -- One of the state's great rivalries gets played in this one. The No. 2 Wildkits (18-1, 5-0) dropped their first game of the season in a home loss to Zion-Benton. Evanston has been one of the area's best teams this season behind a core group of juniors that includes Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson. New Trier (11-9, 2-3) would love to continue the Evanston losing streak while making a move in the CSL South. A recent win over Oak Lawn is a strong one for the Trevians. These two teams already played in Evanston on Dec. 13 with the Wildkits claiming a 50-40 win.

No. 10 DePaul Prep at St. Laurence, 7:00 p.m. -- A matchup in the very tough Catholic League Blue to keep an eye on. DePaul Prep (17-2, 8-0) has reeled off five straight wins since 2020 started. Junior guard TY Johnson has been strong throughout the season as he's surrounded by tough and talented players. St. Laurence (11-10, 6-2) has already played three top-15 teams this season. They won't be bothered by DePaul's lofty ranking. The Vikings have talent on the perimeter with Finn Walsh, Darius Wilson and Trey Davis. 

Richards at Oak Lawn, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the top teams in the South Suburban Red do battle in this battle of Oak Lawn. Richards (13-5, 7-1) is the current league leader as they've won seven of their last eight games. Oak Lawn (15-5, 5-2) has dropped three out of four games during a tough stretch. But with seniors Sami Osmani and Trey Ward the Spartans always remain tough. 

Libertyville at Lake Forest, 7:00 p.m. -- Can either of these North Suburban Conference teams create separation from the middle of the pack? Lake Forest (11-8, 2-3) knocked off Vernon Hills in non-conference play on Tuesday as they've won four of their last five games. Libertyville (12-6, 2-3) played three consecutive top-25 caliber teams in the past few weeks, earning a notable win over St. Charles North. The Wildcats will host the return matchup on Feb. 21. 

Highland Park at Deerfield, 7:30 p.m. -- Another great rivalry matchup, this time in the CSL North. The Giants (10-6, 4-1) were an overtime winner at home in the first matchup on Dec. 13. Now, Highland Park is trying to keep pace with Niles North while also sweeping their rival. Deerfield (11-7, 2-3) counters with a great frontcourt in center Brandon Lieb and forward Walt Mattingly. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Austin at Prosser, 6:30 p.m. -- Austin (16-4, 9-0) went unbeaten in the Blue-West as they've put up over 100 points multiple times this season. After a 1-2 start, the Tigers are 15-2. Prosser (7-14, 4-5) was in the middle of the pack in the White-North this season. The Falcons beat Sullivan earlier in the week.