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  • Writer's pictureBig Tim

Top teams and performers over holiday season!!!!! Freshman checkin!!!!!!

Updated: Jan 4

Sophomore Melvin Bell of St Rita came back at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. He had been out since April with a gruesome injury to leg, knee not sure was never officially put out there. Glad to see the young man back on the court.


SIMEON CAREER ACADEMY (CHICAGO): Won Pontiac in Coach Robert Smith's last tournament. Did it without Stony Brook commit Kaiden Space (6'0"). Looking like one of the favorites in Class 3A, which will not be easy to win as most think. National schedule continues and a battle with Kenwood Academy( Chicago) is coming up soon.

SACRED HEART GRIFFIN (SPRINGFIELD): Defending Class 3A State Champs have rolled to an undefeated season so far winning the State Farm Large School Championship. Seniors Zack Hawkinson a double/double machine, Quincy commit guard Jake Hamilton, Will Hamilton, and Air Force football commit KeShon Singleton (who hit the last second three in overtime to win the title), have been consistently good performers. A lot of these players won a Class 4A Football title in November are trying to pick up another basketball title. They are a real threat to repeat as champs but may have to get past a tough MacArthur (Decatur) team in conference and in the state playoffs. MacArthur is undefeated and won the Prairie Farms Collinsville Holiday Tournament.

MOUNT CARMEL (CHICAGO): Won the Pekin Holiday Tournament again beating highly regarded Moline in the title game by double digits. Senior point guard Denver commit DeAndre Craig has been giving teams fits with is speed and playmaking. The Ciaravino brothers (Anthony (senior) and Angelo (junior) ), have been backing up Craig with top performances. Yes they are in Class 3A too.

ROLLING MEADOWS: Won the tough Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York (Elmhurst). Winning five games in five days is tough and they did it winning every game by double digits. Tournament MVP senior point guard Minnesota commit Cameron Christie did nothing to change his status as the best prospect in the state. Senior wing Tsvet Sotirov's play has taken this team to another level. Senior forward Mark Nikolitch-Wilson's inside/outside play gives the Mustangs another dimension. Lineup averages 6'6".

WHITNEY YOUNG (CHICAGO): Won the Proviso West (Hillside) Holiday Tournament without Coach Tyrone Slaughter. Senior wing Daniel Johnson is showing the promise a lot of us saw early in his junior year before he was injured. He was tournament MVP. Senior point guard Princeton commit Dalen Davis has played the point guard position at a high level. They are getting good play on the glass from sophomore wing Antonio Munoz. This size challenged team has not let that bother them most of the season so far.

HILLCREST (COUNTRY CLUB HILLS): Won the Big Dipper Tournament of stars. Senior point guard Bryce Tillery and senior wing Akron commit Darrion Baker have been consistent with high level play. Guys who have stepped up are tournament MVP senior wing Quentin Heady, and senior forward Reuben Samuels. Another Class 3A contender.

HINSDALE CENTRAL: Won their own holiday tournament with impressive victories in semifinals over Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights) and East (Oswego) in title game. Tournament MVP senior wing Ben Oosterbaan is an underrated player in Chicago Area and the state. Senior guard Emerson Eck and senior forward Chase Colignon made all tournament team. A third team in the West Suburban Silver as a title threat along with North (Downers Grove) and Lyons Township (LaGange).

LIBERTYVILLE: Won the Wheeling Hardwood Classic with upset in finals over ranked Glenbrook North (Northbrook). They are now in my rankings as senior forward Aidyn Boone is an inside/outside force. Senior point guard Will Buchert was tournament MVP. This team will be a threat in Sectional play in the Class 4A playoffs.


Class 3A title will be tougher than most think: Simeon Career Academy (Chicago), Sacred Heart Griffin (Springfield), Metamora, East St Louis, MacArthur (Decatur), Hillcrest (Country Club Hills), Mount Carmel (Chicago), Hyde Park Academy (Chicago). It will not be a cake walk for any team and might be the deepest classification in the state.

Perspectives Leadership (Chicago) is looking more and more like a Class 2A Favorite:. Now that the eligibility issues of some of it's players has been solved they are starting to put things together. Finishes runners-up at Big Dipper Tournament of Stars (a win over Hyde Park Academy in semifinals) has given them a lot of confidence heading into second half of the season. Deep backcourt of Cobb brothers (KJ (senior), Gianni (junior)), senior JaKeem Cole, junior Tim Handy gives them a lot of flexibility. Size may be the only issue, but not as pronounced in Class 2A.

St Rita (Chicago) still trying to find their way: With Bell coming back into the fold it's another adjustment for Rita. They're playing well in Chicago Catholic League play but can't seem to finish playing in showcase games so far. Let's hope this changes for the junior laden team. Morez Johnson Jr is still putting up double/doubles on a consistent basis. There is still time for them to put it together.

Bolingbrook is getting all their pieces back: First tournament they have been close to full strength with senior forwards Aries Hull (6'9") and Donoven Younger (6'10") back into the fold. Impressive that they finished third at the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament. I see them as a real threat to get back to the Class 4A State Finals. This is a team lying in the weeds.

RACE FOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: It's still looking like a three player race at this point consisting of:

Cameron Christie, Rolling Meadows

Darrin Ames, Kenwood Academy (Chicago)

Jeremy Fears Jr, West (Joliet)

Christie just scores so easily at this level and has become a better defender as he did a good job on two division one players in the Jack Tosh against Mekhi Cooper, Bolingbrook (Miami,OH), and Niklas Polonowski (Lyons Township (LaGrange)). Ames scored 65 points and broke the Proviso West Holiday Tournament single game record. He'll have some explosive scoring games and some big time assist games. Fears Jr may not have big scoring games as he has others to help out, but he's always a triple double threat. These players candidacy will depend on how far their teams go in the Class 4A State Playoffs.

I do think two other players have entered the race and they are:

Daniel Johnson, Whitney Young (Chicago)

David Douglas Jr, Christian (Yorkville)

Johnson has been putting up double/double's on the regular and is starting to hit his jump shots. Douglas Jr has put up big numbers averaging close to 40 points a game. His candidacy is hurt by his teams record of 4-12. They might still be a contender in Class 1A to make a run even with that record.


Jeremiah Fears, West (Joliet)

Dietrich Richardson, Manual (Peoria)

Ian Militec, Rolling Meadows

Phoenix Gill, St Ignatius College Prep (Chicago)

Aleks Alston, Kenwood Academy (Chicago)

Fears played very well at the Pontiac Holiday tournament. Not sure if he made all tournament couldn't find a list anywhere but has continued his high level of play. Richardson is a colt who showed flashes of his potential at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Averaged around 10 points 5 rebounds 4 assists on solid shooting from three point and mid range. Gets downhill and can create for himself or others at 6'6". Militec is likely the best fourth scorer on Rolling Meadows team as he averaged double figures at the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament. Gill showed some downhill scoring and setting up others in a couple of games at the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament. Alston shot well and showed some downhill attacking at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.

The freshman, the freshman, the freshman:

There were a couple of big time performances in the holiday tournaments from these young men in their first year of high school:

Rajan Roberts, Proviso West (Hillside)

Simereon Carter, Waukegan

Jaali Love, Manley (Chicago)

Josh Abushanab, Glenbard North (Lombard)

Gavin Mueller, St Francis (Wheaton)

Roberts made all tournament at Proviso West Holiday Tournament with averages of 21 points 5 rebounds 5 assists per game. Carter averaged 20 points 6 rebounds and made all tournament at Elgin Holiday Tournament. Love averaged about 15 points and 8 rebounds at Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament. Abushanab and Mueller didn't make all tournament at Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament, but both showed flashes of their potential. Abushanab as an inside/outside force and Mueller as a potential monster on the interior.

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