The 2019-20 high school basketball season has plenty of star power to keep track of this season. One of the strongest groups of Player of the Year contenders the area has seen in years, this year's group features multiple nationally-ranked players and intriguing candidates.
We'll continue to monitor Player of the Year candidates as the season goes on but here's a look at the top five contenders entering this season.
1. Adam Miller, Morgan Park -- The favorite entering the 2019-20 season has to be Miller after he was arguably the state's best player last season.
Averaging 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game, nobody in the area is capable of going for scoring runs quite like Miller. He can go on insane three-point bursts off the dribble while also creating offense for his Morgan Park teammates. The senior broke the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament scoring record while having games of 48 and 45 points there last season.
The Mustangs also could be the best team in the state this season as Miller will have plenty of help around him. That could mean some huge offensive nights for Miller since defenses shouldn't be about to key in on him with junk defenses like he saw so often last season.
2. D.J. Steward, Whitney Young -- Steward had perhaps the best summer of any in-state player as he rose up national rankings and committed to Duke. But he's still slightly behind Miller in the Player of the Year preseason race because his numbers haven't been as massive.
Still averaging a stellar 24.3 points and 3.2 assists per game for the Dolphins last season, Steward is ultra efficient as an offensive threat. On a team that will play a national schedule with tons of opportunities against nationally-ranked teams, Steward will also get a ton of chances to make his case during the season.
While this season looks like a Miller vs. Steward race for Player of the Year going into it, both players are also trying to capture state titles after falling short last season. Earning state hardware could wind up being the difference in what should be a tight race.
3. Max Christie, Rolling Meadows -- If anyone is to push Miller and Steward's two-senior battle for Player of the Year it will likely be Christie. The state's top college prospect, the 6-foot-7 junior is a top-ten national recruit in the Class of 2021 who won a gold medal with USA Basketball over the summer.
Putting up 25.2 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a sophomore, Christie has already won MSL East Player of the Year honors and scored over 1,000 points during his two-year varsity career.
Capable of putting up 50 points during a game or throwing up a triple-double, Christie is one of the most electric players the area has seen in years. Watching his junior season should be a ton of fun as he has the potential to win Player of the Year if he can stay healthy and put up huge numbers.
4. Bryce Hopkins, Fenwick -- Also coming off of a big summer is this 6-foot-7 junior forward. Hopkins was already consistently putting up 30-point games by the end of his sophomore season. Now, the junior could emerge as a a sleeper Player of the Year threat after becoming a nationally-ranked Class of 2021 prospect this summer.
Committed recently to Louisville, Hopkins averaged 23 points per game last season. After seeing his complete scoring package grow and his strength continue to develop, Hopkins could be an unstoppable scorer for the Friars this season.
Hopkins will also be counted on to be a leader of a young team as Fenwick plays a tough schedule with tons of showcase opportunities this season.
5. Ahron Ulis, Marian Catholic -- There are a number of candidates who could go in this final spot but Ulis gets a slight nod over the others. A winning player who has already made a trip to Peoria as a sophomore, Ulis has helped the Spartans to some very successful seasons while running point.
Averaging 18.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as a junior, the Iowa commit will consistently have the ball in his hands for a likely top-ten team as Marian Catholic has big expectations this season. If Ulis consistently shows an ability to knock down perimeter jumpers then he could have a huge season to close out a memorable high school career.