Preps Talk

Chicago Elite Classic Preview

Chicago Elite Classic Preview

The fifth annual Chicago Elite Classic is one of the best events for local high school basketball fans to attend because it gives a tremendous mix of nearby powers and national stars. 

This year's event at UIC Pavilion appears to be no different. The two-day, star-studded event will feature a huge amount of games to watch and Division I prospects as 11 games will happen on Friday and Saturday.

Friday night's games will all have highlights featured on this week's edition of High School Lites as you can read a preview of those games here.

But for fans interested in going to Saturday's festivities, there are a lot of games and players to keep track of. Here's a primer of things to keep track of at the UIC Pavilion for the Chicago Elite Classic.

Three (exclusively) local games to track

Of the eight games that are being played on Saturday, three will come between local teams that will all have a significant impact on the CSN Preps Power Rankings.

  • A neighborhood rivalry of U-High (3-2) and Hyde Park (2-0) goes down at 1:30 p.m. as big men could be the players to keep track of in this one. U-High is led up front by senior Jameel Alausa, a Yale commit, while 6-foot-6 senior Oliver Maciak is another player to keep an eye out for. They'll try to contain Hyde Park senior big man Anthony Cameron. The x-factor in this one could be U-High sophomore guard Mohammed Alausa, as he's had some bright moments early this season.
  • Things get more interesting from a local rankings perspective when No. 6 Joliet West takes on No. 9 North Lawndale at 4:30 p.m. Both of these teams went 4-0 during the opening week as this should be a fun matchup. Joliet West returns most of last season's Class 4A sectional-title winning team as Drake commit Teyvion Kirk and Wisconsin-Green Bay commit Trevian Bell will be the guys to watch. The Phoenix will counter with senior guard Carlos Hines and guard Martell Barnes. Hines is one of the best unsigned players in the area and should have a fun matchup with Kirk while Barnes has been a double-double machine so far this season.
  • The final game between area teams on Saturday features No. 4 Whitney Young making its season debut as they face No. 10 Kenwood. The Dolphins will try to get junior guards Xavier Castanada and Javon Freeman going early while senior Lucas Williamson should be the team's steady and productive force. Kenwood went 3-1 downstate in the Tournament of Champions the first week as they played some national competition. The Broncos will be tested as senior big man Manny Patterson is one of the area's top post players. Seniors like David Hunt and Octavius Parker add shotmakers for Kenwood and they also have a lot of young talent that can come in off the bench. 

National superpowers facing local heavyweights

Plenty of local teams will also get national tests on Saturday as four of the area's best face out-of-state competition.

  • Since No. 5 Simeon is opening its season against Gonzaga College High School out of Washington D.C., we'll start with this 7:30 p.m. tip. This one could be about the matchup at point guard as Wolverine senior Evan Gilyard, a UTEP commit, goes head-to-head with Gonzaga senior floor general Chris Lykes. The 5-foot-6 Lykes is tiny, but he's also talented enough to be a consensus top-100 national player as he's committed to Miami. Simeon's younger players are going to have to step up in this one as juniors Talen Horton-Tucker and Kezo Brown are expected to be more productive this season. Head coach Robert Smith will need those guys in this game as Gonzaga also has four-star junior guard Prentiss Hubb and junior wing Myles Dread, who is committed to Penn State. 
  • After a great first week, No. 5 Evanston gets its toughest test of the season when they play perennial powerhouse Montverde Academy from Florida at 6 p.m. The Wildkits started 5-0 with an impressive win over Conant, but Montverde features a roster full of high-major players that should be a huge challenge. Evanston senior guard Nojel Eastern is a Purdue commit with plenty of talent around him as seniors like Chris Hamil and Elyjah Williams have plenty of game experience. Montverde counters with elite sophomores R.J. Barrett and Andrew Nembhard as both are regarded as five-star players. Both Canadians could end up as huge stars and Barrett is fighting for the No. 1 overall spot in the sophomore class. Montverde also has Pitt commit and senior guard Marcus Carr, VCU commit and big man Sean Mobley and junior guard Rechon Black, who is committed to North Carolina. 
  • Coming off of a great opening week, No. 7 Uplift gets to face more out-of-state competition when they battle Chaminade (Mo.) at 12 p.m. The Titans went 4-0 at the Tournament of Champions as brothers Demarius and Markese Jacobs put on a show. Demarius, a senior committed to Southern Illinois, put down some big dunks, while his younger brother, Markese -- who is committed to Kansas -- also proved that he's in for a big season. Chaminade doesn't have Jayson Tatum (Duke) or Tyler Cook (Iowa) this season but junior guard Karrington Davis has scholarship offers from Kansas State and Saint Louis as he's drawing some attention. If Uplift can win against another quality opponent, it should build their confidence heading into the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
  • Opening the proceedings on Saturday will be the season debut of No. 20 Orr as the take on one of Georgia's best programs in Miller Grove. If you forget your coffee for this 10:30 a.m. contest, Orr junior Raekwon Drake should wake people up quickly with one of his electrifying above-the-rim plays while the Spartans also have other talented guards like Tyron Mosley and Brian Hernandez. Miller Grove is led by senior guard Tae Hardy as he's one of Georgia's top unsigned players. 

The out-of-state matchup

This year the Chicago Elite Classic also has a matchup between two out-of-area teams that should be interesting. Gray Collegiate Prep from South Carolina will take on Sunrise Christian Academy from Wichita, Kansas at 3 p.m. as this game features a lot of Division I prospects. North Carolina fans already get to see Class of 2018 commitment Rechon Black play with Montverde Academy and Tar Heel fans will also get to see 6-foot-3 guard Jalek Felton from Gray Collegiate. Felton is the nephew of NBA veteran point guard Ray Felton as he is a potential McDonald's All-American. 

Gray also has an elite sophomore in 6-foot-5 win Juwan Gary, as he's coming off of a strong showing at the USA Basketball junior national mini-camp this fall. Sunrise Christian counters with senior big man and Texas A&M commit Isiah Jasey. Junior Marek Nelson was also named to the all-tournament team at the Tournament of Champions as he's off to a strong start this season. 

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

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USA TODAY

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

Lincoln-Way East junior kicker Dominic Dzioban (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) added a recent scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio and has since given the Redhawks and head coach Chuck Martin his verbal commitment. 

"I just had a great visit on Saturday to Miami of Ohio and I was able to get every question I had about the school and the program answered on Saturday," Dzioban said. "When I was first offered by Miami (Ohio) I had no idea what they had to offer or what they are all about. Miami (Ohio) has a historic campus and they also offer an amazing education. It seems like every facility at Miami (Ohio) is brand new and Oxford is just a great small college town. Miami (Ohio) really offers everything I was looking for in a school and having a chance to go to Miami on a full scholarship is a huge opportunity I couldn't pass by at all."

Lake Forest sophomore linebacker Cal Uihlein (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) was able to add his first offer recently from the Wisconsin Badgers, and Uihlein also made a visit to the University of Wisconsin this past Saturday. 

"I had a great visit to Wisconsin on Saturday," Uihlein said. "It wasn't a usual recruiting type of visit, it was much more low key and I was able to just see everything behind the scenes including seeing the team scrimmage. I was able to get a good feel for the team and the coaches after the scrimmage. I was also able to talk with some of the coaches at Wisconsin including head coach Paul Chryst and linebacker coaches. Everyone at Wisconsin seems very excited about me and it was just good to get to know them a bit better. I was able to just basically see the stadium and I didn't get to see too much of the facilities or the campus. I'll definitely head back again to Wisconsin soon and see more of the school and the facilities and overall it was a great visit."

Warren Township junior three star ranked defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer from the University of Illinois last Saturday while on a visit to watch the Fighting Illini's spring game. 

"I was hoping that an offer (from Illinois) was coming but I still had no idea," Singleton Jr. said. "I know that Illinois is on the rise and have added some really strong players from my recruiting class. My Dad also went to Illinois and just telling him over the phone that Illinois had offered me was an amazing felling and experience."

Singleton Jr. also said that "Illinois is definitely on the top of the spectrum. My recruitment is open, but there are definitely one of the top schools because of how they went about things with me on the visit."

Bolingbrook sophomore safety Justin Walters (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) has also seen more and more schools take notice of him this spring. Walters is currently holding six FBS level offers and growing by the day. 

"I have six scholarship offers now," Walters said. "I have offers from Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Army, Iowa, Iowa State and now Minnesota. Minnesota is my latest offer and they offered me a few weeks ago."

Walters has also been hitting the road and visiting a few schools this spring and plans to see even more soon.

"I've made visits already to Iowa and Iowa St and Wisconsin. I also visited Northwestern awhile ago. I'm also planning to visit Michigan State sometime this spring."

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

It didn't take Wheaton North junior outside linebacker Xander Mueller (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) long to give the Northwestern coaching staff his verbal commitment today. Mueller — whose older brother (junior linebacker Erik Mueller) is already on the Wildcats roster — attended the Wildcats final spring practice today. He picked up a scholarship offer and then gave head coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment on the spot. 

"I didn't expect it (adding a Northwestern offer) and I was very surprised," Mueller said. "Northwestern is the place for me because of the incredible academics, the location, having my brother already on the team and the amazing coaching staff and football program. I'm super happy."

Mueller is the second in-state name for the Wildcats and the seventh known verbal commitment for the Northwestern Class of 2020. Mueller joins Lake Zurich tight end Hunter Welcing (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) as the Wildcats in state commitments so far in the 2020 class. 

Mueller was also the Wildcats second overall verbal commitment today as Groveport (Ohio) Madison three star ranked offensive guard TeRah Edwards (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) also committed to the Wildcats after today's final spring practice.