The kickoff of boys high school basketball in Illinois is a bit overlooked because it falls on the week of Thanksgiving and is overshadowed in-part by the IHSA football championships, but make no mistake about it, there were some good tournaments and some solid games and performances.
Ranked teams take care of tournament business
Although the top three teams in the CSN preseason rankings did not play the opening week of the season, plenty of others did and won their tournaments as well.
Nine teams in the preseason rankings won Thanksgiving tournaments led by the No. 5 Stevenson Patriots going 4-0 at Buffalo Grove, the No. 7 Marian Catholic Spartans winning the Chicago Heights Classic for the first time ever and the No. 9 St. Joseph Chargers taking home the title at St. Charles East.
Others that won their tournaments include No. 10 Benet, No. 11 Proviso East, No. 12 Loyola, No. 13 Larkin, No. 16 Oak Park-River Forest and No. 19 York.
Curie and St. Rita do battle
The matchup between No. 4 Curie and No. 8 St. Rita on Sunday packed the Curie gym as part of the Team Rose Basketball Classic, and although the Mustangs were missing three starters in Charles Matthews, Myles Carter and Armani Chaney, they hung tough with the Condors and fell 79-76.
Kansas commit Cliff Alexander had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Curie, but received two technical fouls on separate incidents that removed him from the game. Per IHSA rules, Alexander will likely be suspended for Curie's game on Friday at the Marshall County Shootout in Kentucky, but he should be available for the Chicago Elite Classic on Saturday for the Condors matchup against Bishop Gorman and their elite front line of Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter, two highly-ranked juniors in the national class.
Northwestern commit Vic Law had 15 points before fouling out and Dominique Matthews played extremely well for Curie, going for 39 points and hitting some big shots.
This game showed that although Curie is talented, they need to play more under control and St. Rita may have been missing three starters, but they showed how talented they are in the loss to a top-five team on the road.
"We had a different starting lineup yesterday, a couple of guys that couldn't play," St. Rita head coach Gary DeCesare said.
Big Ten head coaches catch some games
Both Illinois coach John Groce and Northwestern coach Chris Collins attended St. Charles East this week to check out some coveted 2015 prospects in the field.
Groce checked out Plainfield East shooting guard Aaron Jordan and Collins has offered St. Joseph guard Jordan Ash. Ash was the tournament MVP while backcourt running mate Glynn Watson was all-tournament.
At Hinsdale Central this week, Indiana head coach Tom Crean took in sophomore center Barret Benson and Hinsdale South's matchup with De La Salle and junior forward Brandon Hutton and junior guard Karl Harris.
Harris was offered a scholarship by Toledo on Monday, who also had staff at the game, according to his AAU coach.
Chicago Elite Classic debuts top two teams
The top two teams in the CSN Preps Basketball Power Rankings, No. 1 Whitney Young and No. 2 Simeon will make their debut at the event.
The No. 2 Wolverines matchup with Hamilton (Tn.) has a lot of high-level matchups on the wing and at forward as Simeon's length with junior D.J. Williams, an Illinois commit, and junior Edward Morrow face the Lawson brothers, junior K.J., a Memphis commit and Dedric, a sophomore. Both Lawson brothers are nationally ranked and Simeon is looking forward to opening the season against a talented opponent.
"(We're a) brand new ball club, very young, but very talented," Simeon coach Robert Smith said. "Just looking forward to going out there and seeing the guys compete."
Whitney Young also opens the season with high expectations as seniors Jahlil Okafor (Duke), Paul White (Georgetown) and Miles Reynolds (Saint Louis) begin their senior season against St. John Bosco (Ca.) and UConn commit Daniel Hamilton and national top-10 junior guard Tyler Dorsey.
"I think me and my team, we're very eager to go out there this weekend to show the city and the nation what we're capable of," White said. "We have a very serious schedule this year and we're looking forward to starting this whole year off with a win against a very good St. John Bosco team and we're just looking forward to it."