Preps Talk

NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball All-Decade Team

NBC Sports Chicago Boys Basketball All-Decade Team

With a memorable decade of IHSA high school basketball finishing up last season, it is time to take a look back on some of the memorable players, teams and games that occurred over the past 10 years. 

For the first part of an ongoing series, I'm going to give my three-team All-Decade team of Chicagoland area high school basketball players. This list was incredibly difficult to decide from as I factored in personal numbers, team accomplishments, star power and stepping up in big moments. 

Only players from the Chicagoland area were included -- meaning other great players in the state like Rockford Auburn's Fred Van Vleet and Belleville West's E.J. Liddell were not considered. It should also be noted that only players from the Class of 2010 through the Class of 2019 were considered since they graduated during this decade. That means current high school players for this season in the Class of 2020 and beyond will be considered for the next decade. 

These teams will surely draw plenty of opinions as there are dozens of high school stars, high-major players and even some pros who were left off this list. If you have your own All-Decade Teams be sure to give us your take on Twitter @NBCSPreps. 

FIRST TEAM

Jabari Parker, Simeon, Class of 2013 -- Only one area player during the decade made the cover of Sports Illustrated and became the first non-senior to win Mr. Basketball. Parker helping the Wolverines win four state championships and a city title will leave that kind of legacy as Parker lived up to the hype surrounding him from the moment he entered high school. The first freshman varsity starter in Simeon history, Parker was an impact player from the opening game he took the floor at Chicago State against Thornton. From there, Parker turned into a national recruit who fought for No. 1 in his class. With advanced feel, a ridiculous scoring package and good size for the wing, Parker was nearly unstoppable one-on-one as a high school scorer. Drawing large national crowds wherever he played, Parker was also a McDonald's All-American and played in the Jordan Brand Classic as he was the state's first two-time Mr. Basketball winner. 

Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young, Class of 2014 -- The area's most gifted big man of the decade, Okafor was a known prospect before ever taking the floor for the Dolphins thanks to a scholarship offer from DePaul during middle school. Eventually growing to 7-feet tall, Okafor's footwork, touch and ability to finish in the post were nearly impossible to defend at the high school level as he led Whitney Young to national prominence along with a Class 4A state title and city title. Also a huge part of USA Basketball's success during his high school career, Okafor won three gold medals with the program from the summers of 2011 through 2013. Co-MVP of both the McDonald's All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, Okafor left a gigantic imprint on the area, making for a memorable 2013-14 season when coupled with Curie's Cliff Alexander.

Jalen Brunson, Stevenson, Class of 2015 -- One of the most decorated players in the state's history, Brunson turned in a historic four-year run at Stevenson. Becoming Lake County's all-time leading scorer, Brunson took the Patriots to Peoria three times during his career and won a state title his senior season in 2015. An accomplished and prolific scorer who was capable of exceptional scoring runs, Brunson set an IHSA state playoff single-game record with 56 points in a loss to Whitney Young in the state semifinals as a junior. With an advanced feel for the game, Brunson also made others around him better. Brunson also earned a gold medal with the USA Basketball U18 team the summer before his senior year and went on to win another gold medal with the U19 team right after high school.

Cliff Alexander, Curie, Class of 2014 -- A bulldozer of a big man for four seasons at Curie, Alexander had a memorable senior season to cap an epic career. Capturing Naismith Boys Player of the Year honors, Alexander was nationally-recognized for destroying rims and running over opposing big men at the basket. Big Cliff helped Curie to a city championship that was later forfeited while the team also had a memorable upset of Ben Simmons and No. 1 nationally-ranked Montverde Academy at the HoopHall Classic. More than anything, it was infectious to watch Alexander's play with maximum energy in every setting. Always playing with a high motor, Alexander was a man amongst boys at the high school level.

Jereme Richmond, Waukegan, Class of 2010 -- It gets forgotten now since he is no longer in the spotlight, but there was a time when Richmond generated headlines for nearly everything he did for four seasons. Committing to Illinois and Bruce Weber before even taking the floor for North Shore Country Day as a freshman, Richmond became a local sensation when he started dominating his conference's weak competition. After transferring to basketball-crazy Waukegan for his final three seasons, Richmond blew up into an area superstar as he eventually became a McDonald's All-American. Richmond buried memorable buzzer-beaters, put up huge double-double performances and was an underrated threat as a rim protector. Leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back appearances in Peoria, Richmond narrowly missed winning back-to-back Mr. Basketball awards -- capturing the honors his senior season after just missing as a junior. 

SECOND TEAM

Ryan Boatright, East Aurora, Class of 2011 -- The storied high school career of Ryan Boatright started when he committed to USC as an Eighth Grader. Although that commitment wouldn't last, Boatright's status as an Illinois icon did. The scoring guard's senior season, in which he split Mr. Basketball honors with Rock Island's Chasson Randle, was a memorable one. Boatright had scoring games of 63 and 50 and amassed seven 40-plus point games his senior season. Boatright was also a showman with a flair for the dramatic as the sectional semifinal win over previously-unbeaten No. 1 Benet was an incredible upset. 

Wayne Blackshear, Curie/Morgan Park, Class of 2011 -- It was during his junior season that Wayne Blackshear transformed from high-major prospect into area superstar. Following a controversial transfer from Curie to Morgan Park, Wayne blossomed into one of the city's first must-see attractions since Derrick Rose. People in the city flocked to see Blackshear play. The high-scoring wing delivered on most nights as the Mustangs won a city title behind Blackshear's game-winning bucket when he was a junior. Blackshear became a McDonald's All-American and consensus five-star prospect thanks to monster double-doubles and a penchant for stepping up in big games.  

Anthony Davis, Perspectives, Class of 2011 -- Although Davis didn't have quite the longevity or success of his peers on this list, his meteoric rise from unknown and unranked junior to No. 1 senior in the country remains one of the most shocking underdog stories of the decade. A growth spurt propelled Davis into a must-have high-major recruit as Davis had every college in the country after him the July before his senior season. Although Perspectives toiled away in obscurity in the Blue Division of the Public League, Davis made a huge imprint on the national high school scene. He capped off a stellar year of basketball by dominating the best players in the class at McDonald's All-American practices. 

Tyler Ulis, Marian Catholic, Class of 2014 -- Moving to the area from Ohio before high school, Ulis was tiny but had a big reputation. The point guard delivered in every way. The 5-foot-9 Ulis took Marian Catholic to two supersectionals and helped establish the program as an area power thanks to his stellar ability to run an offense. Equal parts scorer and unselfish floor general, Ulis controlled the tempo of every game he played in high school. Ulis finished his career as Marian Catholic's all-time leader in points, assists and steals as he elevated himself into a consensus five-star prospect and McDonald's All-American. An underdog story compared to some on this list, Ulis didn't establish himself as a national recruit until very late in the process. 

Ayo Dosunmu, Morgan Park, Class of 2018 -- A two-time Class 3A state champion in which he was the team's go-to player, Dosunmu had an outstanding career in which he won a lot of games. Putting up a huge senior season, Dosunmu finished with games of 60 and 52 points during his final campaign as he was unstoppable if his jumper was falling. Also a tenacious defender with an ability to play on the ball, Dosunmu was one of the most versatile perimeter threats of the players on this list. Dosunmu closed out high school with a gold medal with Team USA in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships. 

THIRD TEAM

Charlie Moore, Morgan Park, Class of 2016 -- A two-time Class 3A state champion as a freshman and sophomore, Moore became Mr. Basketball in Illinois by the time he was a senior. Despite being only 5-foot-11, Moore was one of the deadliest offensive forces the area saw over the decade. Capable of hitting three-pointers from crazy distances or attacking the basket using his quickness and tight handle, Moore put up 28 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game as a senior as he was a decorated four-year player. 

Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon, Class of 2018 -- Horton-Tucker helped guide Simeon to three straight city championships and was NBC Sports Chicago Player of the Year in 2018 with a magnificent senior season. Averaging 21 points per game against nationally-ranked opponents as a senior, THT helped Simeon become a top-ranked powerhouse that could play with anyone in the country. Horton-Tucker's unique offensive game and three-level scoring package made him a memorable player capable of numerous big moments. 

Frank Kaminsky, Benet, Class of 2011 -- Although the 7-footer didn't put up the jaw-dropping numbers of some of the others on this list, Kaminsky was one of the best overall big men -- and consistent winners -- of the last decade. Kaminsky was the ESCC Player of the Year as a senior as Benet started 29-0 and was ranked in the top ten nationally by USA Today before a stunning loss to Ryan Boatright at East Aurora in the Class 4A sectional semifinals. Benet also won a sectional during Kaminsky's junior season as he put up a double-double that season as well.  

Alonzo Verge, Willowbrook/Thornton, Class of 2017 -- Putting together two huge seasons at two different schools was Verge. As a sophomore at Willowbrook, Verge put the program back on the map with electrifying scoring performances as he averaged over 23 points per game and became an All-Area Player. After a year away in Florida, Verge returned to Thornton and became NBC Sports Chicago Player of the Year in 2017. Leading the Wildcats to a Class 4A sectional title, Verge had a memorable postseason run his senior season that included a 40-point near triple-double in a win over Bloom. 

Billy Garrett Jr., Morgan Park, Class of 2013 -- A four-year starter at Morgan Park, Garrett helped the Mustangs claim a city title as a freshman and a state title as a senior. A big guard who could knock down threes and set up others, Garrett contributed in every facet of the game as he helped the Mustangs to a national ranking by the end of senior season. When he left Morgan Park as the school's all-time leader in points and assists, Garrett helped set a trend for great guards at the school in the years to come. 

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 15: DePaul Prep

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 15: DePaul Prep

School: DePaul Prep

2018-19 record: 25-10 (12-3 Catholic League)

Postseason results: Placed third in Class 3A.

Players to watch: Lance Mosley is a double-figure scorer who returns on the perimeter for his senior season. Mosley is a capable perimeter shooter who is very experienced. The junior class, led by point guard TY Johnson and big man Brian Mathews has a chance to have a big season. Johnson was already a steady varsity presence as a sophomore last season.
 
Why they're in the power rankings: Head coach Tom Kleinschmidt has built a talented and winning program that can offset the loss of Perry Cowan, Raheem Anthony and Pavel Pantovic. The sophomore class won the Catholic League last season and the junior class is very talented as well. The Rams have a high ceiling this season -- even with a young roster.  

Did you know? Last season was the fourth time in program history DePaul Prep/Gordon Tech made it to state -- including the first time since 2000. The Rams also made it downstate in 1990 when Kleinschmidt was a star player. 

Five Chicagoland IHSA storylines to follow during the 2019-20 season

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NBC Sports Chicago

Five Chicagoland IHSA storylines to follow during the 2019-20 season

High school basketball season officially kicks off this week as practices begin all over the state of Illinois. 

While we still have two weeks until games tip, and a long time until the season finishes in March, there are plenty of intriguing local storylines to keep tabs on as the season begins. 

With that in mind, here are five major themes to think about as the season gets going. 

Can a Chicagoland Class 4A team capture the state title? 

For the past two years, the IHSA Class 4A state title has gone back to the St. Louis metro area with Belleville West. 

Now that E.J. Liddell has left the Land of Lincoln for Ohio State, the Class 4A title should return back to the Chicagoland area this season. 

While teams like Whitney Young, Bloom, Curie, Simeon and Stevenson remain preseason favorites among area 4A teams, there is a glaring lack of out-of-area powerhouses in 4A this season.  

Belleville West remains tough and Collinsville is a threat. But many of the top schools from outside Chicago reside in a much tougher 3A group this season. 

It’ll be interesting to see which programs emerge in the 4A race and if the Chicagoland area gets more competition from out of the area this season. Right now it looks like the 4A title will be returning to our area this season unless something dramatically changes. 

Class 3A gets way more interesting this season

It took about a decade of four-class basketball for Class 3A to become a consistent force. There have been some years where the Class 3A field wasn’t particularly competitive or compelling. 

This season should be different. There’s a a fascinating crop of Class 3A teams all over the state. Morgan Park and Bogan remain the consistent 3A favorites from the Public League. 

They get plenty of local competition from a revamped Chicagoland presence in 3A. DePaul Prep, Hillcrest, Fenwick, Notre Dame, St. Viator and Oak Forest are just a handful of 3A teams who should make the area Power Rankings at some point this season. 

And the group of 3A teams outside of Chicago is tough as well. Defending champion East St. Louis is strong again. Rockford Boylan, the Peoria area (Manual and Notre Dame), Rock Island and Lincoln also have teams firmly in the 3A mix. 

Between the overall depth of teams and a better representation of good teams from around the state, 3A should turn into a very entertaining field this season. 

Will Orr win a fourth straight title in Class 2A?

The past three seasons have seen Orr completely dominate the Class 2A field. The Spartans cruised to three state titles without much competition. 

Although the Spartans have to replace multiple double-figure scorers from last season’s team they still look like the preseason favorite to claim another Class 2A title this season. 

Senior Demarius Splunge and transfer guard Reggie Strong should form a tough duo to stop at the 2A level. Orr has become one of the city’s best programs — regardless of class. 

If head coach Lou Adams can capture the 4th state title in a row then Orr will be included among the discussion of one of Illinois’ greatest programs. 

Can Class 1A maintain a presence in Chicagoland after Providence-St. Mel

The Class 1A playoff proceedings are generally an afterthought among this area because we generally lack a state title contender. 

Providence-St. Mel changed that last season by taking Class 1A by storm. The Knights proved they were not only the state’s best 1A team but they were one of the city’s best teams last season regardless of class. 

This season doesn’t feature a Class 1A juggernaut from the area but two intriguing teams stand out in Leo and Aurora Christian. 

The Lions have been a strong 2A presence the past few seasons as forward Kendale Anderson returns for his senior season. And Aurora Christian has one of the state’s premier sophomores in Jaden Schutt. 

So while Class 1A doesn’t have a local team the caliber of Providence-St. Mel last season, there are still some smaller schools to track during the season. 

Does Illinois produce a McDonald’s All-American?

An unprecedented drought has been happening in Illinois the past few seasons. The state hasn’t produced a McDonald’s All-American since Stevenson‘s Jalen Brunson in 2015.

What used to be an annual occurrence hasn’t happened in four classes. Illinois hasn’t produced elite-level high school players for the longest span in 45 years. 

The drought has a serious chance to end this season with not only one, but potentially two local Burger Boys. 

Whitney Young senior D.J. Steward is coming off of a monster summer that saw him commit to Duke and elevate in the national rankings. Following a stellar junior season, Morgan Park’s Adam Miller will look to follow that up with another massive year. 

Both Public League stars are right near the five-star national rankings cut off in the Class of 2020. Perhaps most importantly, both seniors should get opportunities to impress during the season as the Dolphins and Mustangs play in some big national showcase games. 

As long as Miller and Steward play at a high level, they should be firmly in the McDonald’s mix when they announce the final rosters in late January.