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The Illinois stars who never made it to the state finals

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The Illinois stars who never made it to the state finals

The state high school basketball tournament has begun, Illinois' signature event, the original March Madness. For decades, it has been the dream of every kid who began shooting hoops in a playground or at a rim nailed to a garage or a tree to play in the state finals in Huff Gym or Assembly Hall or Carver Arena.

It has been a showcase for some of the best players in state history...Lou Boudreau, Johnny Orr, Ron Bontemps, Max Hooper, Walt Moore, Deacon Davis, Ted Caiazza, Nolden Gentry, Mannie Jackson, George Wilson, Bogie Redmon, Cazzie Russell, LaMarr Thomas, Bob Lackey, Jim Brewer, Owen Brown, Quinn Buckner, Rickey Green, Russell Cross, Marcus Liberty, LaPhonso Ellis, Jamie Brandon, Rashard Griffith, Sergio McClain, Darius Miles, Eddy Curry, Jon Scheyer, Derrick Rose.

But the list of elite players who didn't play in the state finals is just as long and distinguished, Hall of Famers who went on to stardom in college and the NBA but never realized the dream of every high school player in Illinois--to play in the finals of the state tournament.

How about this five? Proviso East's Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Batavia's Dan Issel, McLeansboro's Jerry Sloan, Du Sable's Maurice Cheeks, Carver's Terry Cummings.

Or this five? Centralia's Bobby Joe Mason, East Leyden's Glen Grunwald, Richards' Dwyane Wade, Mount Carmel's Antoine Walker, Springfield Lanphier's Andre Iguodala.

These players from the pre-1970s era? Mount Carmel's Archie Dees, Collinsville's Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Marshall's Rich Bradshaw, Madison's Don Freeman, Dunbar's Billy Harris, Lockport's Jeff Hickman, Canton's Dave Downey, Peoria Manual's Al Smith, Tamms' Chico Vaughn.

These Public Leaguers? Parker's Tom Hawkins, Crane's Eugene Ford, Dunbar's Ronnie Lester, Simeon's Bobby Simmons, King's Efrem Winters, Westinghouse's Eddie Johnson and Hersey Hawkins.

These suburban stars? Thornton's Lloyd Batts, Maine South's Pete Boesen, St. Joseph's Evan Turner, Homewood-Flossmoor's Julian Wright, Glenbrook North's Chris Collins, Proviso East's Shannon Brown, Downers Grove North's Rick Howat, Proviso West's Michael Ingram.

Talk about frustration.

Rivers, now coach of the Boston Celtics, was an All-Stater in 1978, 1979 and 1980. His teams were 23-5, 26-2 and 26-2 and won regional titles. But they never won a sectional.

Grunwald, now interim vice-president of the New York Knicks, was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the nation in 1976, ahead of future Louisville star Darrell Griffith. In four years at East Leyden, his teams were 20-3, 21-4, 28-1 and 25-1. They won 108 games in a row in the regular season but never qualified for the Elite Eight. They lost three times in the regional. In 1975, they lost to Proviso East in the supersectional.

Mason, whose No. 14 jersey hangs next to Dike Eddleman's No. 40 in Centralia's Hall of Fame, was a two-time All-Stater in 1954 and 1955. His teams finished 25-7 and 29-3 and were ranked No. 3 in the state but lost twice to Pinckneyville in the sectional final.

Issel was a 1966 All-Stater at Batavia in Chicago's far western suburbs. He and future NFL quarterback Ken Anderson were boyhood friends and teammates. Issel was recruited by Adolph Rupp and became an all-time standout at Kentucky and an ABANBA Hall of Famer.

Batts was the leading scorer in Thornton history. He averaged 29 points as a junior and 35 as a senior for teams that won 47 of 56 games. As a junior, he starred on a team that was ranked No. 4 in the state after the regular season. He had 20 points and 13 rebounds in a 63-61 loss to Waukegan in the supersectional. As a senior, his team lost to Joliet Central and Roger Powell in the sectional final.

Smith wasn't rated among the top five players in Peoria history according to a 2000 survey in the Peoria Journal-Star. But legendary coach Dick Van Scyoc and former Bradley coach Joe Stowell insist that Smith was best of all, even better than 2004 NBA lottery pick Shaun Livingston. A three-sport star, he pitched Peoria Manual to the 1965 state baseball championship. He played basketball and baseball at Bradley.

Boesen was Player of the Year in the Chicago area in 1975. His team was 23-4 but lost in the supersectional.

Ingram was Player of the Year in the Chicago area in 1985. His Proviso West team was 25-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state at the end of the regular season. But the Panthers lost to East Leyden in the sectional final.

Downey was a two-time All-Stater at Canton and went on to become one of the greatest players in University of Illinois history. As a junior, his team started 13-1 and was ranked among the top five in the state. But he suffered a broken ankle and missed eight games. Despite his 33-point performance, his team lost a one-pointer to Kewanee in the sectional. As a senior, his team again lost in the sectional and finished 18-8.

Freeman, who also became an all-time performer at Illinois, led Madison to a 29-1 record as a senior in 1962. The team was 24-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state at the end of the regular season but lost to Collinsville in the regional final.

Vaughn, a 5-foot-11 guard, is the state's all-time leading scorer. From 1954 to 1958, he scored 3,358 points, averaging 32.3 points in 104 games. He attempted more shots (2,583) and made more (1,282) than anyone else before or since. His 1958 team at tiny Tamms was 26-4 but lost to defending state champion Herrin in overtime in the sectional. He played for eight years in the NBA and ABA before retiring in 1970.

Watch: NBA All-Star Game kicks off with amazing video featuring Chicago icons

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USA TODAY

Watch: NBA All-Star Game kicks off with amazing video featuring Chicago icons

As host of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, Chicago is on the world's center stage this weekend.

Ahead of Sunday's exhibition at the United Center, TNT broadcasted a goosebump-inducing video to kick-off the action. The tribute featured numerous Chicago icons, who discussed growing up/living in the city and what it means to them personally.

Those appearing in the video:

-Barack Obama
-Michael Jordan
-Common
-Chance the Rapper
-Dwyane Wade
-Candace Parker
-Isiah Thomas
-Buddy Guy
-Keke Palmer
-Jesse Williams
-Hebru Brantley

Jordan spoke for all Chicagoans when describing the impact the city has on its citizens:

"It's like a tattoo â€” it's not removable," the Bulls legend said

Best All-Star game intro ever? No doubt.

New No. 1 in NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

New No. 1 in NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

The NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings have some massive changes this week. The Public League Playoffs and plenty of conference drama saw a lot of shakeups thanks to clashes between top-25 teams.

In the end, Bloom is back in the No. 1 spot while Public League Playoff champion Simeon climbs to the No. 3 spot after winning another city title under Rob Smith.

With the Class 3A and 4A IHSA State Playoffs closing in, we should start to get a feel for the postseason soon. 

1. Bloom (23-5, 12-1) (4) -- The Blazing Trojans ran past Crete-Monee for a big Southland win. Two games for Bloom this week in conference play when they play Rich East and Rich Central. With a deep starting rotation, Bloom has the most balance and consistent firepower of any team in the state.
2. Thornton (26-1, 13-1) (5) -- A light week for the Wildcats with a win over Rich East to keep pace with Bloom. Thornton faces Thornridge during the week in Southland play. Thornton has still only lost to No. 1 Bloom this season. 
3. Simeon (22-8, 7-2) (9) -- Impressive climb for the Wolverines who claim a city championship with wins over Kenwood, Curie and Morgan Park. Jeremiah Williams is staking a serious All-Area claim while junior Ahamad Bynum is a lethal scorer capable of taking over a game. Suddenly, Simeon is peaking at the right time entering the Class 4A playoffs.
4. Curie (24-2, 8-0) (1) -- The Condors lost to Simeon in the semifinals in their quest to repeat as city champions. It was Curie's first loss to an Illinois opponent this season. The Condors have an intriguing matchup against a ranked Oak Forest team on the schedule for next week. 
5. Morgan Park (19-9, 6-2) (12) -- Falling to rival Simeon in the Public League Playoff finals, the Mustangs ended a strong run that included a road win at Whitney Young and a win over Bogan this week. Adam Miller, Marcus Watson and Brandon Weston are a dangerous trio to contend with as they're starting to gel over the past few weeks.
6. Bogan (23-3, 8-1) (2) -- The Bengals lost to old Red-South rival Morgan Park in the Public League Playoff semifinals as they don't have a game on the schedule for this week. Bogan will still be a very tough out in Class 3A in a few weeks.
7. Evanston (24-3, 8-1) (7) -- Keeping pace with Glenbrook South with a win over Niles West, the Wildkits get their rematch hosting the Titans this week. Evanston's rematch with Glenbrook South will have major CSL South implications. The Wildkits will also play Kenwood during the week. 
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (22-3, 6-0) (8) -- Two Southwest Suburban Blue wins for the Vikings as they held off Lockport and Lincoln-Way East. It's a light week for Homewood-Flossmoor when they play at Sandburg in conference play.
9. Whitney Young (18-9, 8-1) (3) -- Losing to Morgan Park for the second time this season, Whitney Young fell in the Public League Playoff quarterfinals. But the Dolphins have won state titles in the past after losing in the city playoffs as the focus turns to Class 4A. Whitney Young has this week off from games.
10. Notre Dame (25-4, 7-1) (6) -- The Dons fell to Benet in ESCC play with a surprising road loss. Notre Dame will attempt to close out conference play with a win when they host Carmel next week. 
11. Marian Catholic (21-7, 7-1) (11) -- Marian Catholic stayed in the ESCC race with a quality win over St. Viator. The Spartans have a final conference game against Joliet Catholic this week. 
12. Stevenson (21-4, 10-1) (14) -- Stevenson claimed a season sweep with another tight win over Mundelein as they have control of the North Suburban. The Patriots also defeated Prospect and Lake Zurich during the week. Stevenson stays active this week with matchups against Waukegan, Warren and Benet. 
13. Glenbrook South (25-3, 9-0) (13) -- The Titans claimed two more wins thanks to a CSL South win over Maine South and a win over Highland Park. The conference is up for grabs when Glenbrook South travels to Evanston next week in a huge rematch. 
14. DePaul Prep (21-4, 11-2) (10) -- The Rams dropped a Catholic League Blue home game to Fenwick as they fall a few spots. DePaul Prep has another big week of conference play with Loyola and St. Ignatius on the schedule. 
15. Bolingbrook (23-5, 4-1) (17) -- Picking up two wins over Lincoln-Way East and Leo, the Raiders kept pace with H-F in conference play. Bolingbrook faces Lockport and Sandburg this week.
16.  Oak Forest (24-1, 12-0) (18) -- The Bengals had a close call on the road during the week with an overtime win at Lemont. Oak Forest has home games against Manteno and a major test against Curie next weekend. The game against the Condors will be Oak Forest's first game against a ranked team all season.  
17. Joliet West (23-4, 14-0) (20) -- Earning a double-digit win over rival Joliet Central, the Tigers are still undefeated in Southwest Prairie league play. Joliet West takes the road to face Plainfield South during the week.
18. Mundelein (23-4, 9-2) (15) -- Losing a close North Suburban game to Stevenson, the Mustangs got swept by the Patriots in the season series. Mundelein bounced back with a blowout win over Elgin and also beat Zion-Benton during the week. Mundelein will host Libertyville and Lake Zurich this week.
19. Fenwick (22-6, 11-2) (19) -- The Friars dropped a Catholic League Blue game to St. Ignatius but bounced back with a strong road win at DePaul Prep and win over Yorkville Christian. Fenwick is more balanced than given credit for and is much-improved defensively since the start of the season. The Friars battle St. Joseph and Loyola during a busy week.
20. Loyola (24-4, 12-1) (16) -- Dropping a Catholic League game for the first time this season against Brother Rice, the Ramblers fall a few spots. Loyola shut down Providence the next game to stay atop the league standings. Huge week ahead for the Ramblers with games against DePaul Prep and Fenwick.
21. Orr (17-7, 7-2) (NR) -- The Spartans lost by a point to Curie in the Public League Playoff quarterfinals. Orr has this week off from games as they remain a Class 2A favorite when the IHSA Playoffs tip.
22. York (25-3, 9-1) (23) -- Solid week for the Dukes with West Suburban Silver wins over Downers North and OPRF. York plays two more conference games this week when they face Proviso West and Hinsdale Central. 
23. Niles North (24-4, 9-0) (24) -- Three double-digit wins for the Vikings as they stayed undefeated in the CSL North with a good win over Highland Park. Niles North heads to Maine East for a game this week.
24. Cary-Grove (25-3, 15-1) (25) -- The Trojans won two in the Fox Valley with a blowout win over McHenry and solid win over Hampshire. This will prove to be an interesting week for Cary-Grove when they face Schaumburg. 
25. Benet (20-8, 6-2) (NR) -- Back in the Power Rankings for the first time since December, Benet is back in following a win over Notre Dame and strong loss to nationally-ranked La Lumiere. Senior Colin Crothers is one of the area's most productive centers and the high-IQ perimeter of the Redwings gives them a chance against anybody.