Preps Talk

IHSA Boys Basketball: Best teams of the decade

IHSA Boys Basketball: Best teams of the decade

With a memorable decade of IHSA high school basketball finishing up last season, we are taking a look back on some of the memorable players, teams and games that occurred over the past 10 years. 

In the third part of our All-Decade series, I'm selecting the five best teams from the Chicagoland area this decade. All of these teams claimed state titles while a couple of programs (Simeon, Orr and Morgan Park) won multiple titles in a row. 

Since this list has so many multi-title winners, I'm only including the best version of one program's title teams -- meaning only one of Simeon's four title teams is making the list, etc.

If you have a team you loved to watch play over the past decade be sure to send us your list on Twitter @NBCSPreps. We'll have more all-decade coverage this week with a look back at more of the last 10 years of local hoops.

2012 Simeon: The third state title team in a row for Simeon, this well-oiled machine finished 33-1 and beat the state's second-best team (Proviso East) to win again in Class 4A. Losing only to nationally-ranked Findlay Prep during the season, this Jabari Parker-led outfit also had the area's best senior in Steve Taylor while junior Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate started to develop into consistent threats.

Winners at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament and Public League Playoffs as well, this 2012 Wolverines team was the best of three consecutive mega teams they produced.

Although Simeon only lost three games to Illinois opponents over three seasons (2010-2011 through 2012-2013), this particular 2011-12 group had the distinction of having the best senior and junior in the area on the same team while remaining unbeaten in the state. 

Simeon's 2011 and 2013 teams are also among the top four teams of the decade's best as the 2011 team only lost to Whitney Young and a nationally-ranked Benet team while the 2013 team only fell to city rival (and nationally-ranked) Morgan Park. 

2014 Whitney Young: Playing perhaps the most difficult schedule in state history, the Dolphins claimed the Class 4A title behind the memorable senior trio of Jahlil Okafor, Paul White and Miles Reynolds.

Finishing 28-5 on the season, the Dolphins played an incredible 13 out-of-state opponents during the year as Okafor was a major national draw. Playing multiple games on national television -- including a top-five national win over Oak Hill Academy on Martin Luther King Day -- the Dolphins didn't get enough credit for being so dominant. 

Whitney Young's only local loss came in the legendary four-overtime thriller in the Public League Playoff finals as they lost to Curie and Cliff Alexander. But with Curie using ineligible players and eventually forfeiting the game, the Dolphins finished the season unbeaten against Illinois competition.

2015 Stevenson: On their third straight trip to Peoria, the Patriots and seniors Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw finally broke through and won the Class 4A state title in dominating fashion.

The state's premier player by a mile that season, Brunson had an incredible final campaign as he cemented his legacy as one of the best high school players Illinois has ever seen. But Stevenson had far more than the future NBA point guard. Cashaw was a consistent second scorer and experienced presence while sophomore Justin Smith started to blossom during his sophomore season. 

The Patriots also deserve credit for dominating local competition during the 2014-15 season. At 30-3 on the season, Stevenson only lost one game to an Illinois team all season when they lost to Simeon at the end of February. 

2013 Morgan Park: The best Class 3A state champion of the decade is an absolutely loaded Mustangs squad from 2013 that would repeat the following season. 

Led by seniors and four-year varsity players Billy Garrett Sr. and Markee Williams, the Mustangs also had additional future college players in Kyle Davis, Josh Cunningham, Lamont Walker, Kain Harris and Torry Johnson. Freshman guard Charlie Moore also started his impressive career on this team.

Although overshadowed by a Simeon team that won its fourth straight state title that season in Class 4A, the Mustangs split the season series with the rival Wolverines while Whitney Young was Morgan Park's only other in-state loss on the season. The Mustangs finished the season 33-3 and ended the year in the USA Today's national top 25 poll.

2018 Orr: Although the area had plenty of Class 2A champions this decade, including Orr's three straight to close out the decade, the 2018 Spartans were the strongest "smaller" school the area saw this decade.

Loaded with talent and senior experience, Orr returned most of the previous year's Class 2A title team as they were led by seniors Dannie Smith, Raekwon Drake, Chase Adams, Brian Hernandez and Tyronn Mosley.

Although the seniors drew the headlines, enough depth was in place to compete with any team in the state as the Spartans finished the season 30-4. Orr also dominated the Proviso West Holiday Tournament and made the Public League Playoff finals before falling to nationally-ranked Simeon.

Five Chicagoland High School Basketball Shootouts to Watch

Five Chicagoland High School Basketball Shootouts to Watch

Shootouts are a huge part of the high school basketball season, and the Chicagoland area has a number of events to keep an eye on this year. While the Thanksgiving and holiday tournaments remain the major events to track during the season, there are tons of one and two-day shootouts to monitor.

Here's a list of five Chicagoland events to circle on the calendar over the next several months. The state of Illinois features all sorts of great events like this during the season -- including Highland and the Bank O'Fallon Shootouts outside of Chicagoland -- but we focused on five that provide great fan experiences and quality games.

Chicago Elite Classic (12/6 and 12/7 at Wintrust Arena) -- This two-day, star-studded event has become a signature presence for the start of the regular season for Chicago basketball.

Annually featuring many of the area's top teams playing against national opponents from all over the country, the Chicago Elite Classic has high-level talent once again.

Friday's matchups are more locally-focused with New Trier vs. Lane, Evanston vs. Notre Dame and Fenwick vs. OPRF. Those three games all have the potential to be very good as rivalries and emerging programs are involved.

Saturday has five games on the docket, led by Morgan Park vs. St. Louis Vashon, Simeon vs. Baltimore St. Frances and Whitney Young battling Duncanville (TX). Kenwood will also take on Lincoln Park while Bloom plays Atlanta Pace in the earlier games.

Not many events in the country feature a Duke and a Kentucky commit (Whitney Young's D.J. Steward and Vashon's Cam'ron Fletcher, respectively) but the Chicago Elite Classic has tons of future college prospects.

Team Rose Shootout (12/14 and 12/15) -- Before conference play truly kicks into gear and holiday tournaments take form, the Team Rose Shootout is one of the best events every year.

Five games each on Saturday and Sunday, this year's lineup features some outstanding top-25 games as Morgan Park faces Evanston, Curie battles Hillcrest and Orr plays Notre Dame.

With numerous Division I recruits, many of the Chicagoland area's top teams and a handful of top-25 matchups, this year's Team Rose Shootout has a lot to offer.

Steve Pappas Shootout (1/11/20 at DePaul Prep) -- DePaul Prep has quickly built this one-day shootout with five games into a quality event.

The main game to check out in this one will be a matchup of top-ten preseason teams as Morgan Park faces Marian Catholic in a game that features incredible backcourt talent. 

The hosts will also play Deerfield in a matchup of some good young big men in the area while Loyola vs. St. Viator, Homewood-Flossmoor vs. St. Laurence and Fenwick vs. St. Pat's rounds out a good field of games.

  

When Sides Collide (1/25 at Glenbard East) -- Joe Henricksen's City/Suburban Hoops Report has put together one of January's premier events with four great matchups at Glenbard East.

The host Rams will face Class 1A power Aurora Christian in an intriguing matchup to kick things off. From there, a top-five team in Bloom will battle last season's Class 4A runner-up in Evanston. 

Things get interesting in the matchup between Rolling Meadows and Fenwick as that game features the two best juniors in the state in Max Christie and Louisville commit Bryce Hopkins going head to head. 

In the main event, Simeon will face Notre Dame in a fun Public League/ESCC clash that should feature two top-ten area teams. At that late point in the season, both Simeon and Notre Dame will be looking to score a key win right before playoff seeding 

Orr Breast Cancer Shootout (1/25 and 1/26 at Orr) -- With two days, 16 games and teams from all over the Midwest, the Orr Breast Cancer Shootout has become a must-see event for local fans.

The Public League presence at the event is strong because of the host and three-time defending Class 2A champions. This year's event will feature teams from Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin as plenty of local top-25 teams will take the floor.

Among the top-25 teams scheduled to participate include Curie battling Hazelwood Central, Morgan Park facing Class 1A power Leo and Lincoln Park taking on Romeoville.

  

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA quarterfinal round edition of High School Lites, this Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can Marist beat Loyola twice on the road in the span of a few weeks? Can Minooka stun Brother Rice on Chicago's South Side? Can Batavia get some revenge against Nazareth Academy? Who do you have winning the unofficial Prep Bowl between Phillips and Mount Carmel? Who wins the Fox Valley Super Bowl between Cary Grove and Prairie Ridge?

Class 8A

(23) Marist at (18) Loyola Academy, 12:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from Week 9 as Marist (7-4) defeated Loyola (8-3) 14-6 to earn the Redhawks a playoff bid. Marist head coach Ron Dawczak has relied on senior QB Hayden Mikesell, a steady running game and a big offensive line led by junior Pat Coogan. The Redhawks defense has been strong in the postseason as well. They're led by senior LB Colin Bohanek (EIU). Loyola is coming off a come from behind 28-27 win over Glenbard West. In that game, the Ramblers' running game got on track behind RB Vaughn Pemberton. The passing game remains solid with junior QB J.T. Thomas and his main target WR Matty Mangan. Can Marist beat Loyola twice within a month in Wilmette? 

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 27 Marist 17

(1) Minooka at (24) Brother Rice, 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Minooka (11-0), with Hall of Fame head coach John Belskis, will rely on a strong running game to keep the Crusaders offense off the field. Minooka senior QB Seth Lehr is a steady signal caller and leader for the Indians. Senior OL/DL Jacob Shipla and RB Noah Ellens are solid as well. Defensively, keep an eye on junior FB/LB Zach Wingerder, senior DB Ernesto Ramirez and senior DB/WR Steven Gonzales. Brother Rice (7-4) has been able to overcome various injuries while still winning games. Coach Brian Badke and his staff have settled on sophomore QB John Lausch to run the offense while junior RB Willie Shaw has been a major impact player out of the backfield. The 'Rice 'D is also a strength. Watch for senior DL/LB Justin Jefferson, senior DT Denver Warren, senior S Giacomo Iraci and sophomore LB Myles Jones. The best match up is in the trenches: Minooka's O-line against Rice's D-line. 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 27 Brother Rice 21

Class 7A

(8) Phillips at (1) Mount Carmel, 1:00 p.m. #SENDEDGY

EDGY's Take: The unofficial Prep Bowl takes place on Saturday at Mount Carmel in a game that's been highly anticipated for the past handful of years. Phillips (10-1) will feature QB Antonio Brown to run the Wildcats offense and senior WR/S Ronald Pledger has been a key playmaker for coach Troy McAllister and company. Mount Carmel (11-0) head coach Jordan Lynch features a ball control offense led by junior QB Justin Lynch. Junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga has been strong all season long. Senior OL/DL Jalen Grant leads the Caravan offensive and defensive line. Can Phillips get the football back from the Caravan offense on Saturday? Can the Mount Carmel defense avoid giving up the big play against Phillips?
 
EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 21 Phillips 14

(7) Batavia at (2) Nazareth, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from last year's 7A semifinal, where Nazareth defeated Batavia 47-28; the Roadrunners wound up winning the state title. Batavia (9-2) is back once again, making a deep November run behind a strong running game led by senior RB Art Taylor and senior RB/LB Quinn Urwiler (North Dakota). The Bulldogs' defense is always fast and physical. Junior LB Matt "Mojo" Weerts is a name to watch along with senior S Sam Barus. Nazareth's offense is centered on Michigan commit J.J. McCarthy. This quarterback's main target has been junior WR Tyler Morris. The Roadrunners 'D also has talent. Keep an eye on junior DE/OL Ryan Keeler, senior LB Marcus Griffin (GVSU), senior ILB Riley Theobald and senior DB Jailon Welch (SIU). Can the Batavia defense slow down and contain the Nazareth spread offense?
  
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 31 Batavia 28

(5) Willowbrook at (20) Lake Zurich, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Willowbrook (10-1) and head coach Nick Hildreth is in the 7A quarterfinal round for the fourth straight season. A huge part of the Warriors success has been senior QB/DB Sam Tumilty. On offense, he has a nice stable of backs and receivers. Senior Deandre Holliday and RB Ta'Vion Geanes will make plays. Lake Zurich has been playing great defense in the postseason; their offense has been able to generate enough points to keep advancing. Quarterback Jack Moses, senior TE Hunter Welcing (Northwestern), senior WR James Piggott and junior LB Bryan Sanborn are the leaders for the Bears. Can the Lake Zurich defense contain Sam Tumilty on Saturday? Can the Lake Zurich offense get into the end zone a bit more? Should be a good one.

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 14 Willowbrook 13

Class 6A

(6) Cary-Grove at (1) Prairie Ridge, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The annual "Fox Valley Super Bowl" takes things to an even-higher level come Saturday. Cary-Grove lost to rival Prairie Ridge 42-7 back in Week 5 as the Trojans just couldn't get their power run game on track. Cary-Grove will rely on senior FB/LB Blake Skol and senior QB Luke Eleftheriou to move the football and control the clock. Prairie Ridge (10-1) and head coach Chris Schremp will also want to run the football. Can the Wolves' power run game make a statement? The leaders on offense are QB Connor Lydon, FB Kyle Koelblinger and senior RB Blake Brown. Can the Trojans' defense slow down the Prairie Ridge run game? Can the Cary-Grove offensive line have a better showing in this rematch?
 
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 31 Cary Grove 20

Class 5A

(8) St. Rita at (4) Hillcrest, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Rita (7-4) has been rolling this season. Coach Todd Kuska's crew posted an impressive 32-0 road win last Saturday over Sterling to advance. The Mustangs are getting an All-State caliber season from sophomore RB Kaleb Brown. He's been running behind an offensive line that is always a strength. The Mustangs' defense has been terrific since mid-season. Hillcrest (10-1) head coach Morgan Weaver also has an All-State caliber running back in junior Mar'Kiese Irving, but how healthy will Irving be after leaving in the second quarter in last week's 28-7 win over Fenwick? The Hawks also have playmakers in junior QB Robert Myles and senior RB/DB Darius Dawson. Can Rita's defense slow down the Hillcrest running game and big play potential? Will Mar'Kiese Irving be ready to go on Saturday? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 31 Hillcrest 24

Class 4A

(3) IC Catholic at (2) Richmond-Burton, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: IC Catholic (10-1) is in the midst of another deep postseason run in attempting to defend its 4A state title. Head coach Bill Krefft and the Knights will rely on senior QB Danny Cronin and the big play ability of junior RB Kyle Franklin. This team has strong play on both the offensive and defensive lines. Richmond-Burton (11-0) features veteran head coach Mike Noll. The Rockets are rolling this season behind a big and physical offensive line. FB Dalton Wood is a name to watch along with RB Nick Legnaioli. Don't overlook the air attach. The Rockets are very capable of throwing the football with QB Josh Huber. Can R-B slow down the Knights' balanced offensive attack? Will home field advantage come into play for Richmond-Burton?

EDGY's Pick: IC Catholic 28 Richmond Burton 27

Class 3A

(3) Wilmington at (2) Byron, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Wilmington and Byron are very familiar with each other, having faced off several times the years in the state playoffs. The visiting Wildcats (10-1), with veteran head coach Jeff Reents, will look to run the football. They will rely on RBs Jake Rodewald and Trey Shaw. The latter has been having a very strong postseason. While Wilmington doesn't throw the football a ton, QB Keaton Hopwood was able to show off his passing ability in beating Eureka last Saturday. Byron (10-1) and head coach Jeff Boyer have been on a mission after losing in the 3A state title game last season. The Tigers also want to run the football. RB Isaac Stickler will have his name called often. Same goes for Drake Snodgrass. Senior OL/DL Tyler Elsbury (Iowa) is a force on both sides of the football for the Tigers. Can Wilmington slow down the Byron power run game? Can the Byron defense find the football against the Wilmington offense?

EDGY's Pick: Byron 28 Wilmington 21