Preps Talk

Bloom is new No. 1 in latest boys basketball Preps Power Rankings

Bloom is new No. 1 in latest boys basketball Preps Power Rankings

The latest Preps Power Rankings see some shakeups thanks to the previous No. 1 team losing and some top-25 matchups.

The new No. 1 is Bloom as they continue to look like the best team in the state early this season. The rest of the Power Rankings saw minimal shakeup, with only three new teams -- two of which were in the preseason rankings.

1. Bloom (7-0, 2-0) (2) -- The Blazing Trojans continue a strong start with a blowout win at the Chicago Elite Classic over Pace and two Southland wins over Kankakee and Thornridge. Balanced efforts and multiple guys taking over is a huge early storyline with Bloom.

2. Bogan (7-0, 2-0) (6) -- Placing themselves firmly in the No. 1 discussion with a home win over Morgan Park, this is another tough Bogan team that can win in multiple ways. The Bengals get tested with league games against Corliss and No. 8 Simeon. 

3. Morgan Park (3-1, 1-1) (1) -- The Mustangs fell to No. 2 Bogan in league play before bouncing back with an overtime win over Christian Brothers in the Chicago Elite Classic. Junior Brandon Weston continues a strong start while senior Adam Miller remains the area's biggest game changer offensively.

4. Whitney Young (2-2, 2-0) (3) -- The Dolphins fell to Duncanville with a late-game collapse in the Chicago Elite Classic but they knocked off Farragut and Marshall in the Public League. Whitney Young traveling to No. 11 Lincoln Park will be one of the marquee games to watch this week. 

5. Curie (4-0, 2-0) (4) -- Going 2-0 in Public League play and winning at the prestigious Marshall County Hoop Fest, the Condors continue a strong start. Curie gets two major local tests this week with No. 3 Morgan Park and No. 22 Hillcrest. 

6. Stevenson (5-0) (5) -- Solid win on the road for the Patriots over Westinghouse. Stevenson will get tested three times this week as they face Libertyville, Zion-Benton and OPRF. 

7. Evanston (6-0, 1-0) (13) -- Firmly placing themselves in the top ten with a win over Notre Dame, Wildkits were very impressive. Juniors Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson are the headliners but Evanston has plenty of other dangerous options.

8. Simeon (1-1, 1-0) (7) -- The Wolverines started the season with a balanced effort to knock off Lindblom before falling to St. Frances in the Chicago Elite Classic. Simeon will battle No. 2 Bogan in a huge Public League clash this week.

9. Marian Catholic (5-1, 1-0) (9) -- The Spartans won by double digits in both games, taking down Marist and Normal West. The ESCC's top spot is on the line when Marian Catholic plays Notre Dame on Tuesday. 

10. Loyola (6-0, 2-0) (10) -- Loyola went unscathed in the Catholic League with wins over Leo and Montini. The Ramblers get a major battle with No. 13 Notre Dame this week in non-conference play. 

11. Lincoln Park (6-1, 2-0) (11) -- The Lions battled to three wins as they held off Westinghouse and Kenwood on back-to-back days. Lincoln Park gets major tests during the week with league games against No. 17 Orr and No. 4 Whitney Young.

12. Lake Park (6-0, 1-0) (12) -- Nice week for the Lancers with a conference win over Batavia and an additional victory over Rockford Lutheran. Lake Park faces Larkin and Wheaton North this week.

13. Notre Dame (6-1) (8) -- A setback for Notre Dame with a loss to Evanston in the Chicago Elite Classic. A very talented team that is still figuring out how to play together, the Dons have a very high ceiling.

14. Thornton (5-0, 2-0) (14) -- Nice week for the Wildcats with wins over Rich South and Crete-Monee. Junior Brandon Hall continues to look like a potential standout player. Huge matchup with No. 1 Bloom with the Southland's top spot on the line this week.

15. DePaul Prep (5-1, 2-0) (16) -- Defense was the major story for the Rams this week in two blowout wins in Catholic League play. DePaul Prep plays Mount Carmel and Providence in league play this week.

16.  Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1) (17) -- Two double-digit wins for Homewood-Flossmoor this week as the Vikings are playing well. They play Lincoln-Way Central this week before a big clash with Simeon looms.  

17. Orr (2-1) (18) -- Opening the season this week, the Spartans claimed a solid road win at Danville, a win over Farragut and a loss to Texas powerhouse Duncanville. The Spartans are getting solid early production from senior Demarius Splunge.

18. Bolingbrook (3-1) (19) -- Kai Evans continues a strong start as the Raiders ran past Lincoln-Way West. Bolingbrook has a busy week with four games on the schedule -- including a trip to Iowa for two games.  

19. Glenbrook South (6-0, 1-0) (20) -- After two more challenges, the Titans remain unbeaten. Nice wins during the week against Hersey and in overtime against New Trier has Glenbrook South flying high. 

20. Mundelein (6-0) (21) -- The Mustangs weren't challenged much this week with two double-digit wins. Mundelein gets two North Suburban home games this week against Lake Forest and Waukegan.

21. Fenwick (5-1, 2-0) (23) -- The evolution of sophomore guard Trey Pettigrew continues for the Friars. Opposing teams now have to worry about slowing down Bryce Hopkins first and stopping Pettigrew as well. Nice win over OPRF in the Chicago Elite Classic.

22. Hillcrest (3-2, 1-0) (24) -- Quality win for the Hawks taking down a talented Oak Lawn team on the road. The return of junior guard Mar'Kiese Irving is a big addition that gives the Hawks additional perimeter scoring. 

23. Niles North (6-1, 1-0) (NR) -- An impressive week for the Vikings with wins over Deerfield and Joliet West. They're back in the Power Rankings after dropping out only a week as senior Aquan Smart continues to be an All-Area candidate.

24. St. Charles North (6-1, 1-0) (NR) -- Three wins during the week has the North Stars back in the top 25. St. Charles North had solid wins over DeKalb and Wheaton North.

25. Hinsdale South (6-0, 1-0) (NR) -- The Hornets haven't been tested much to this point but Aaron Tims and Billy Durkin are off to solid starts. Big matchup against Willowbrook during the week. 

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Sparty Nation got another reason to flex. And it may have Coach K seeing green.

Max Christie, a five-star shooting guard (Rivals) and the top Illinois player in the Class of 2021, is headed to play for Michigan State and legendary head coach Tom Izzo. The Rolling Meadows High School product made his decision Tuesday in an interview with Fox’s Andy Katz.

“It just felt like it was a place that I was needed and a place I wanted to go to,” Christie said. “I think Coach Izzo and his staff and all my teammates there can push me to be the person I want to be, not just on, but off the court.”

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Christie selected Michigan State —his only official visit— over, namely, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Also on his list of potential choices were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois and several others. While Christie is excited for Izzo to help improve his game, he also prides himself on his versatility and making an immediate impact.

“I think I can be a great facilitator and a great scorer,” Christie said. “I feel like I can do anything that Coach Izzo or the players need be to do if that means rebounding, pushing the ball, setting up an offense or coming off screens, I feel like I am versatile enough of anything that is asked of me.”

The 6-foot-6 Christie may get another boost on the court a few years down the line, as Class of 2022 phenom Emoni Bates, the top player in the current junior class, committed to play for MSU on June 30. All of this assumes Bates keeps his commitment to East Lansing and doesn’t hop the NBA. Christie remains steadfast in his committed to Michigan State and is not exploring any G-League options at the moment.

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Christie has grabbed headlines in Chicagoland since his freshman year. He has tallied a 50-point game and a triple double and had several clutch moments during his junior season. He is coming off the first 20-win campaign at ‘Meadows in nearly 30 years.

And there’s more Christie magic in the pipeline. Cameron, his younger brother, is one of the quickly-rising sophomores in the area.

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

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USA Today

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

It’s time to party like it’s 1995 —especially if you’re a high school basketball fan who likes watching the game in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors voted Monday to move the host venue for the boys state basketball finals from Peoria to Champaign’s renovated State Farm Center for the next three seasons.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion from high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021."

The boys tournament will run on March 11-13, 2021, March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.

The boys tournament, which had been located in Champaign for 77 years, moved to Peoria’s Civic Center (Carver Arena) starting in 1996. The girls tournament was also in Champaign until 1992 before moving to Redbird Arena. The girls tournament will remain in Normal.

The Champaign area was steeped in prep basketball glory for generations. The first televised championship came in 1952 when Hebron, a school of 98 students defeated a Quincy school boasting an enrollment over 1,000. Six years later, the first Chicago school —Marshall— won state. In 1972, the tournament was split into Class A (small schools) and AA (large schools). The late Ben Wilson helped Simeon win in a title in Champaign in 1984 while future NBA stars (Kevin Garnett, Melvin Ely) and NFL receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Tai Streets) graced the floor at Assembly Hall during the 1995 tournament.

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The next year was a perfect one for the city of Peoria to grab the reins for the boys tournament. Hometown Manual High School won their third and fourth consecutive state titles in 1996 and 1997. Later, Derrick Rose guided Simeon to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. A four-class system was instituted for the 2007-08 season. Simeon dominated again from 2010-13 with Jabari Parker in the spotlight.

This year’s basketball tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.