The caliber of competition in the Chicago Public League is so good that Morgan Park and Orr finished 1-2 in the Class 3A playoff and Simeon won its f0ourth Class 4A championship in a row. How's that for domination?
The quality is so good, in fact, that Simeon was eliminated in the semifinals of the city playoff.
While Simeon loses Jabari Parker and its entire starting lineup and perhaps coach Robert Smith, who is bucking for a college job, the Public League doesn't figure to skip a beat in 2013-14.
Whitney Young will be the prohibitive favorite. With Jahlil Okafor, Paul White, L.J. Peak and Miles Reynolds returning and highly touted 6-foot-9 sophomore Joseph Toye eager to fill the fifth spot, coach Tyrone Slaughter's Dolphins will be seeking their first state title since 2009 and hoping to end Simeon's four-year domination of the postseason tournament.
Young finished 27-4 this season, losing to Simeon 69-51 in the final of the Argo sectional. There is some speculation that the Dolphins burned out
or simply ran out of gas at the end of the season, victims of a cross-country non-conference schedule that pitted them against some of the
best teams in the nation.
Slaughter said he deliberately arranged the schedule to prepare his team for the postseason. It was good for national exposure but did the travel to
Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Massachusetts take something out of the Dolphins in the long run? Will their 2013-14 schedule be the same?
He might have to do it without Peak, who reportedly is homesick and plans to return to his roots in Gaffney, South Carolina, for his senior year. He was a standout at Gaffney as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Whitney Young for his junior year.
Orr also returns the core of this year's squad--6-foot-7 Tyquone Greer, 6-foot-8 Marlon Jones and 6-foot-3 guard Louis Adams Jr. Each figures to be motivated to avenge this year's disappointing performance in the state finals.
Greer is regarded as one of the top five juniors in the state and coach Louis Adams Sr. believes Jones, who was outstanding in the state playoff, will emerge as one of the leading prospects in the nation as a senior. Sophomore Donnell Williams, who impressed in the state finals coming off the bench, also will be a factor.
Curie boasts 6-foot-9 Cliff Alexander, who rates with Okafor among the top five prospects in the class of 2014 in the nation. With only Alexander returning from last year's 26-3 squad, the Condors got off to a slow start this season and finished 19-8.
But coach Mike Oliver's club will be more experienced next season with 6-foot-3 junior Sheriff Matlock and the Stamps brothers, 6-foot-3 junior Joseph and 6-foot-4 sophomore Joshua.
Don't discount Simeon, with or without Robert Smith. The Wolverines will reload with 6-foot-7 sophomore D.J. Williams, touted to be the next great player in Simeon's pantheon of stars that includes Ben Wilson, Nick Anderson, Deon Thomas, Bobby Simmons and Derrick Rose.
Williams will be surrounded by 6-foot-6 freshman Ben Coupet, 6-foot-7 sophomore Ed Morrow, 6-foot-5 junior Donte Ingram, 6-foot-5 junior Jaycee Hillsman, junior guard Bobby Harris and freshman guard Zach Norvell.
In Simeon's Class 4A semifinal victory over Proviso East, Morrow came off the bench to provide the spark on offense and defense that enabled the Wolverines to hold off the Pirates' late rally.
Bogan hopes to duplicate what Orr accomplished this season. Coach Arthur Goodwin's team has been to the sectional semifinals on three occasions but still is seeking to punch a ticket to Peoria for the first time.
Luwane Pipkins, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, is one of the top players in the state. Goodwin also is looking for 6-foot-7 junior Dontrell Whitaker, 6-foot-7 sophomore Antonio Thomas and 5-foot-8 freshman Bryce Barnes to step up.
Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin loses guards Billy Garrett Jr., Kyle Davis and Markee Williams but will return two starters--6-foot-7 junior Josh Cunningham and 6-foot-5 junior Lamont Walker.
Irvin insists Cunningham is the best player in the class of 2014 with the exception of Okafor. He will get help from 6-foot-3 junior Torry Johnson, 5-foot-9 guard Charlie Moore, whom Irvin describes as the best freshman in the state, and 6-foot-7 freshman Alonzo Chatman.
In Rivals' updated rankings of the class of 2014, six Public League players are listed among the top 100--Okafor (1), Alexander (5), White (43), Peak (71), Greer (79) and Cunningham (100).
Other Illinois products rated among the top 150 nationally are Ohio State commitment Keita Bates-Diop (20) of Normal University High, point guard Larry Austin (63) of Springfield Lanphier, Victor Law (67) of St. Rita, point guard Tyler Ulis (69) of Marian Catholic, 6-foot-8 Sean O'Mara (119) of Benet, 6-foot-7 Malek Harris (120) of Sandburg, 6-foot-7 Ethan Happ (132), a Wisconsin commitment from Rockridge, and 6-foot-9 Michael Finke of Champaign Centennial, who is committed to Illinois.