The high school boys basketball season kicked off in Illinois this week as Thanksgiving tournaments are going on all over the state. While the football state championship matchups still take the focus of a lot of the high school sports world, boys basketball will have plenty of big showcase events to watch this season.
While the holiday tournaments and Martin Luther King weekend are busy times for tournaments and showcases, here's a look at five other events outside of those busy times that you should circle on your calendar this year if you want to see home great high school hoops.
Chicago Elite Classic
This event continues to be a great way to start off the local high school basketball season as this two-day event features great teams from Illinois and the rest of the country. The fifth annual event is happening on Dec. 2 and 3 at the UIC Pavilion as it features some great in-state matchups (East St. Louis vs. Curie; Oak Park-River Forest vs. Fenwick; Jolier West vs. Kenwood) as well as some games that feature great out-of-state competition (Evanston vs. Montverde Academy; Simeon vs. Gonzaga College High School; Orr vs. Miller Grove).
With nearly every top player in Illinois and a lot of national prospects coming into town like North Carolina commit Jalek Felton and Miami commit Chris Lykes, this event is a must-see attraction for high school basketball fans.
Team Rose Classic
For the last several years this has been one of the best events of the early season as Moraine Valley plays host on Dec. 11.
The main event for this one is a fun matchup between Class 4A defending champion Curie and a preseason top-25 team in St. Joseph as the Condors will try to slow down talented sophomore guard Marquise Walker and the Chargers. Orr also battles Marian Catholic in a matchup of top-25 teams and Hillcrest facing Riverside-Brookfield should be a fun one to watch since both teams can really score.
Other games in this one include St. Rita facing Uplift, Farragut taking on Homewood-Flossmoor and Oak Park-River Forest facing Crete-Monee.
When Sides Collide
If you're reading this then you almost certainly know the work of Joe Henricksen. The publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report has done a great job of building this event the last few years. On Jan. 21, this event will feature four great matchups at Glenbard East as some of the area's unsung teams will get a chance at playing great competition in a showcase event.
Hillcrest will face Jacobs in a battle of preseason top-25 teams as the Hawks will rely on senior guard Marcus Garrett while Jacobs counters with Loyola commit and senior center Conrad Krutwig. The Whitney Young and Joliet West game will feature two preseason top-10 teams as both of these programs have multiple Division I prospects fueling state title aspirations.
Evanston will also play a Naperville North team that is trying to return to prominance after going 23-5 and winning the DuPage Valley Conference title last season. Host Glenbard East also faces local rival Willowbrook to round out the four-game schedule.
Bank of O'Fallon Shootout
If you plan on leaving the Chicagoland area to watch some ball during the season, make sure it's this event on Feb. 4. With another loaded field of teams from all over Illinois and Missouri, this shootout is a great final test for a lot of teams before the state playoffs begin in March.
The headling game of this year's shootout features a great game as Evanston faces defending Class 3A champion Belleville Althoff in a game that pits the Wildkits' Nojel Eastern (Purdue) against the Crusaders' Jordan Goodwin (Saint Louis). Both players are battling for Mr. Basketball honors and they have plenty of help around them. Other intriguing games include Morgan Park battling Webster Groves (Mo.), a battle of Illinois commits facing when Javon Pickett and Belleville East plays DaMonte Williams and Peoria Manual and Bolingbrook playing Whitfield.
The all-day shootout tips at 10:30 a.m. with games running all day.
McDonald's City-Suburban Showdown
The best showcase event of the season is almost always the McDonald's City-Suburban Showdown as this season's event features Stevenson facing Morgan Park and Simeon battling Evanston.
What makes this event so much fun is that it comes on Saturday, Feb. 18, meaning that the four teams participating are playing their best basketball of the season right before the state playoffs. With four of the area's most storied programs playing each other the Robert Morris Athletic & Convocation Center will be the place to be late in the season.
Stevenson's Justin Smith gets to prove himself against the length and the athleticism of Morgan Park while Evanston's Nojel Eastern and his deep and balanced Wildkits will try to fare better against the Wolverines after falling to them last season. All four of these programs have state title aspirations and the atmosphere is usually charged up at this event.