Preps Talk

Preps Hoops: Chicago Elite Classic preview


Preps Hoops: Chicago Elite Classic preview

The Chicago Elite Classic has become an important event in the city's high school basketball scene. It brings in national teams, highly-ranked players and national media and scouts to see a lot of Illinois talent early in the high school season. 

The fourth iteration of the event at the UIC Pavilion this Friday and Saturday is as solid as ever. 

There are highly-ranked potential McDonald's All-Americans like Duke commit Jayson Tatum (Chaminade), Washington commit Markelle Fultz (DeMatha) and his teammate junior five-star D.J. Harvey. 

But the local matchups will drive the attention of fans, specifically two intriguing games on Saturday night.

No. 8 Evanston gets a chance to grasp the local spotlight when they face No. 1 Morgan Park in a game that features the area's best senior and junior guards playing against each other. 

Mustangs senior guard Charlie Moore is the favorite for Player of the Year are a 55-point performance to start the season against Bowen. Evanston junior guard Nojel Eastern is a consensus Top 100 prospect and is returning from a spring and summer missed due to injury.

In the other highly-talked about matchup, No. 10 Whitney Young and No. 2 Simeon play each other in their season opener. 

[RELATED - High School Lites hoops preview: Week 1]

Both teams face question marks with a lot of uncertainty in big-game settings. Simeon can count on senior guard and Gonzaga commit Zach Norvell, junior Evan Gilyard and senior Josh Thomas but outside of that, the most of the team hasn't been counted on in this type of atmosphere.

The same can be said for a young and talented Dolphins team. Sophomore point guard Xavier Castenada is drawing a lot of praise, but he along with junior teammates Lucas Williamson and Craig Beudoin haven't been in a lot of games like this one. 

It'll be interesting to see if the Dolphins can handle the pressure of playing a more experienced Simeon team that might be the deepest in the area.

Friday's schedule 

Oak Park-River Forest vs. No. 4 Fenwick, 6:00 p.m. - The Friars are 4-0 and are looking like a potential state title contender. They'll face nearby rival Oak Park-River Forest (2-2).

Mater Dei (CA) vs. No. 15 Marian Catholic, 7:30 p.m. - Marian Catholic's young and talented team gets a test from a California power here. Mater Dei is led by 6-foot-9 Oregon commit M.J. Cage, the son of former NBA center Michael Cage.

Maine South vs. Loyola Academy, 9:00 p.m. - Two of the most well-coached teams in the area do battle to end the opening night.

Saturday's schedule

Larkin vs. East St. Louis, 12:00 p.m. - Larkin and junior forward Christian Negron provide a bolt of energy against East St. Louis.

Gonzaga Prep (Washington D.C.) vs. No. 6 Riverside-Brookside, 2:30 p.m. - Riverside-Brookfield gets a nice out-of-state challenge against one of Washington D.C.'s best programs.

 St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH) vs. DeMatha Catholic (MD), 4:00 p.m. - DeMatha features potential McDonald's All-American guard Markelle Fultz and talented five-star junior wing D.J. Harvey.

[MORE: AP basketball rankings Week 1

No. 1 Morgan Park vs. No. 8 Evanston, 5:30 p.m. - The Moore vs. Eastern battle will grab the spotlight, but there are plenty of other talented guards to watch in this one.

Chaminade (MO) vs. Miller Grove (GA), 7:00 p.m. - Duke commit Jayson Tatum and Iowa commit Tyler Cook lead Chaminade against UConn commit Alterique Gilbert, an electric guard who can get in the paint whenever he wants. Tatum will likely only be at Duke for one year before moving on to the NBA.

No. 10 Whitney Young vs. No. 2 Simeon, 8:00 p.m. - Two storied programs do battle to end the Chicago Elite Classic and the season debut for both programs will be fascinating. Simeon is probably more balanced, but the Dolphins have enough talent to compete with anyone in the area.

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Jacobs

Head coach: Bill Mitz

Assistant coaches: Bubba Smith, Mike Warren, Brian Zimmerman, JM Foote, Ryan Arndt and Bob Mackey

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-3 Fox Valley Conference). Jacobs made the Class 7A playoff field. The Golden Eagles lost to Lincoln-Way West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 Hampshire 

Aug. 31 @ Huntley 

Sept. 7 Dundee-Crown 

Sept. 14 @ McHenry 

Sept. 21 Neuqua Valley 

Sept. 28 Prairie Ridge 

Oct. 5 @ Cary-Grove 

Oct. 12 Crystal Lake South 

Oct. 19 @ Crystal Lake Central

Biggest storyline: Can the Golden Eagles move up in the Fox Valley Conference pecking order in 2018?

Names to watch this season: OT Joacheim Price and OL Nick Zonta

Biggest holes to fill: The Golden Eagles will need to replace its entire starting linebacker group from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Year in and year out, Jacobs is always a factor in the rugged Fox Valley Conference (seven playoff appearances in the last eight years). The Golden Eagles return some starters in several key spots. If the underclassmen group can step up this summer, look for Jacobs to challenge for the FVC conference title and a higher seed in 7A come IHSA playoff time. 

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Back of the Yards

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant Coaches: Will Johnson, Marty McNamara, Tim McNamara and Nick Teich

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (6-0 CPL Great Lakes Conference). Back of the Yards made the Class 5A state playoff field. They lost to Solorio in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: @ Kelly

Week 2: vs. Goode

Week 3: @ Brooks

Week 4: vs. Schurz

Week 5: vs. Kenwood

Week 6: vs. North Lawndale

Week 7: @ Steinmetz

Week 8: vs. Payton Prep

Week 9: @ Clark

Biggest storyline: The Bobcats were a true feel-good story last season. Can the Bobcats build on its momentum and success going into the 2018 campaign?

Names to watch this season: OL/Dl Kevin Pacheco, WR/DB Carl McNickles, OL Armando Resendiz

Biggest holes to fill: The Bobcats bring back several returning starters from last season; however, can they find a new signal caller to replace the graduation loss of 2017 standout QB Jeremiah Harris (McKendree College)? 

EDGY's Early Take: One of the top stories from the 2017 season was the rise of this young program. The Bobcats made the IHSA state playoff field in just their third season of varsity football. As for 2018? The expectations have risen for this South Side school. A move to the CPL Illini Prairie State conference ramps up the overall competition level. If the Bobcats can find a steady signal caller, they have solid chance at competing for a potential IHSA state playoff spot come October.