High School: Proviso East

Chicago's best to face nation's best at UIC

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
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Illinois' best high school basketball teams have often had to travel outside of the state to face the nation's best.

On Saturday, the country's elite will come to Chicago as five of the nation's top squads will face five of Illinois' top ones in the Chicago Elite Classic at UIC. The schedule, team information and more can be found at chicagoeliteclassic.com.

Here are five reasons to be in attendance on Saturday:

(Read full post)

Doc Rivers still faithful to Proviso East

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
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[+] EnlargeDoc Rivers
AP Photo/Jessica HillDoc Rivers keeps track of the continued success at Proviso East.
CHICAGO -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers may be 20-plus years removed from his playing days at Proviso East High School in Chicago’s western suburbs, but he’s still loyal to the program.

Prior to Monday’s game against the Chicago Bulls, Rivers was asked how he felt about Proviso East being back on the rise after reaching the IHSA Class 4A state championship last season. It was the first return trip to the finals since 1992.

“What do you mean on the rise?” Rivers said in a harsh tone. “They’re always on the rise.”

Rivers was only joking, but he does really still keep close tabs on Proviso East. And the Pirates, for the most part, have been one of Illinois’ most consistently successful programs. They’ve reached 14 state tournaments, won four titles and have produced past and present NBA players like Rivers, Jim Brewer, Donnie Boyce, Sherell Ford, Michael Finley, Shannon Brown, Dee Brown, Reggie Jordan and Steven Hunter.

Plus, like in Rivers’ day, Proviso East still wears jerseys with sleeves.

“Proviso East is what it is,” Rivers said. “You know what it is. It’s a heck of a school. For basketball, I don’t know if there’s any place better in the country, not only in the state, as far as the history of it."

Rivers does still keep close tabs on Proviso East, too. He often talks with his brother Grady Rivers, who still attends games, and Boyce, the current Proviso East coach, about the team.

Boyce said their conversations are important to him and his players.

“It means a lot,” Boyce said. “He’s not only a friend, but a mentor to me. I’m always taking things from him and watching him coach. He helps pass my message to the players and show what the program is all about when he talks to them.

Boyce even one day hopes to follow Rivers’ footsteps into the NBA as a coach.

“I want to coach at the highest level,” Boyce said. “I want to attack it just as when I was a player.”

Proviso East enters this season as one of the state favorites again. The Pirates’ roster includes SMU recruit Sterling Brown, Shannon’s younger brother, and Illinois State recruit Paris Lee.

Simeon sets state record with sixth title

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
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PEORIA, Ill. -- Simeon’s players took their shoes off and laid them side by side on the basketball floor at Carver Arena as their fans surrounded them on Saturday night.

It was a sight unseen at the state tournament before. But then again, Simeon just got finished doing something no program in the state had done before.

[+] EnlargeSterling Brown
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comProviso East's Sterling Brown, who scored a game-high 25 points, drives against Simeon's Jabari Parker.
With Simeon’s 50-48 victory over previously-unbeaten Proviso East in the Class 4A state championship on Saturday, Simeon became the first program in state history to win six state titles, surpassing Peoria Manual’s and Peoria Central’s five trophies.

“The kids wanted to leave their footprints on the floor,” Simeon coach Robert Smith explained of the shoes.

Simeon and Smith did set themselves apart on Saturday. The Wolverines won their third consecutive title and fifth in the last seven years. Smith also became the first Illinois coach to win five titles.

“This is not it,” Smith said. “We’re on our way to try to come back again here next year.”

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Brown propels Proviso East into finals

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
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BrownScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comProviso East's Sterling Brown throws down a dunk in Friday's 4A semifinal win.


PEORIA, Ill. –Proviso East junior Sterling Brown has a ways to go to match the accomplishments of his older brother Shannon Brown, a Phoenix Suns guard who starred at Michigan State.

But on Friday, Sterling finally found a way to one-up Shannon, first simply playing in the state tournament and then by starring in it. Brown led Proviso East to a 55-45 win over Rockford Auburn in the Class 4A state semifinals.

“It is really big,” Sterling said. “He was never able to get down here. He lost in the super-sectionals his junior year [at Proviso East]. It just feels good to do something he never did and hopefully we can win a championship like he never did.”

Sterling had begun separating himself from Shannon during his junior season, and he continued to do so Friday. While Sterling’s teammates felt the butterflies of playing on the big stage and struggled early against Auburn, Sterling acted as he had been there before.

Sterling scored all four of Proviso East’s points in the first quarter, had six points and seven rebounds by halftime and kept on producing the rest of the way. He finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and one steal.

[+] EnlargeCarter
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comProviso East's Javon Carter pushes the ball up the court in Friday's semifinal.
“I think Sterling understands what it’s all about,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “I think with Shannon being his older brother, he’s played in his shadows. I think he has really stepped out of Shannon’s shadows and has made his own identity.

“I think Sterling has a better overall feeling for the game [than Shannon]. Shannon is more athletic, better outside shooter. I think Sterling, when it’s all said and done, will be the better player because of his length and the many different things he can do on the court.”

With Sterling the only player clicking early, Proviso East (32-0) had to rely on its defense to get it by Auburn. The Pirates threw two defenders at Auburn star guard Fred Van Vleet, a Wichita State recruit, and forced his teammates to beat them.

The plan worked to perfection. Proviso East held Van Vleet to two points and forced him into six turnovers in the first half while the Pirates went ahead 20-13 at halftime. The Pirates extended their advantage to double digits in the third quarter.

Van Vleet got his points by the end of the game, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, but it was too late for Auburn. Proviso East’s lead was never trimmed to less than seven points.

“I thought it obviously wasn’t the best played game,” Boyce said. “I thought in the first half and part of the third quarter we did a great job of shutting down and containing Van Vleet, but he’s such a great point guard.

Paris Burns (14 points) and Javon Carter (nine points) contributed for Proviso East.

It was the second time Proviso East defeated Auburn (31-3) this season. The Pirates first knocked off Auburn off in the Proviso West holiday tournament semifinals in December.

Class 4A super-sectionals preview

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
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Here’s a look at Tuesday’s Class 4A super-sectionals:

Simeon (30-1) vs. Evanston (21-10) at Chicago State at 7:30 p.m.

The story:
Evanston, a No. 5 seed, has made a nice story for itself with a run to the Chicago State super-sectional, but it’s going to need to do something really special to knock off top-ranked Simeon. Simeon has shown few weaknesses throughout the regular season and playoffs. It’s still the favorite to win its third consecutive Class 4A state championship. Evanston coach Mike Ellis is familiar with Simeon, having lost to Derrick Rose and company in the 2006 state championship when he was at Peoria Richwoods.

Players to watch: Simeon’s Steve Taylor is the state’s top senior and is headed to Marquette next season. Evanston’s Josh Irving had 23 points in his team’s sectional championship win.

Pick: Simeon

Bloom (27-3) vs. Edwardsville (24-5) at Illinois State at 7:30 p.m.

The story:
Bloom had some close calls in regional play, but opened up its sectional wins and won comfortably. Bloom has been one of the area’s top teams throughout much of the season. Edwardsville rallied from a 12-point deficit to defeat Pekin in the Collinsville sectional. It was Edwardsville’s first sectional title since 2006.

Players to watch: Bloom’s Donald Moore is one of the premier point guards in the area. Garrett Covington had 16 points in Friday’s win.

Pick: Bloom

[+] EnlargeSterling Brown
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comSterling Brown and Proviso East will take on West Aurora on Tuesday.
Proviso East (30-0) vs. West Aurora (25-5) at Hinsdale Central at 7:30 p.m.

The story:
Proviso East has clearly looked like the second best team in the state next to
Simeon all season. And the Pirates have rolled throughout the playoffs. Their guard play is what drives them and will likely give West Aurora trouble. West Aurora isn’t to be overlooked, though. Coach Gordie Kerkman has won 11 sectionals and knows how to get his team ready for big games.

Players to watch: Proviso East’s Keith Carter is the team’s top guard and is headed to Saint Louis. Juwan Starks is the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Pick: Proviso East

Warren (26-3) vs. Rockford Auburn (30-2) at Northern Illinois at 8 p.m.

The story:
This has a chance to be one of the better super-sectional games. Both teams have been dominant in their respective areas this season. Warren is led by its big men, and Auburn is carried by the play of point guard Fred Van Vleet. Both teams lost to Proviso East this season.

Players to watch: Warren’s Darius Paul can do it all at the power forward spot. Van Fleet is one of the top point guards in the state and is headed to Wichita State next season.

Pick: Warren

Simeon, Proviso East in Top 20

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
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The Chicago area now has two top-20 ranked teams in ESPNHS’s POWERADE FAB 50 boys basketball poll.

Simeon remains at No. 6 in the national rankings for the second consecutive week, and Proviso East jumps three spots to No. 18 this week.

Simeon and Proviso East are also ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Midwest regional rankings. Both teams won their regional semifinal games on Tuesday. They would meet in the Class 4A state championship if both continue to advance.

Curie is ranked No. 13 in the Midwest rankings and is the only other Illinois team to be included.

Simeon, Proviso E. lead pre-playoff rankings

February, 27, 2012
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As the IHSA playoffs kick off, Simeon and Proviso East remained the top teams in ESPNChicago.com's boys basketball rankings.

Read the full story.

Proviso East on move in FAB 50 rankings

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
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Simeon stood still and Proviso East continued to rise in the latest ESPNHS POWERADE FAB 50 boys basketball rankings.

Simeon stayed at No. 6 in the national rankings after improving to 26-1 last week with notable wins over Curie in the Public League championship and De La Salle in the City-Suburban Showdown. The Wolverines will be the Class 4A state favorite when the playoffs begin next week.

Proviso East jumped five spots to No. 21 in the FAB 50. The Pirates moved to 24-0 with wins over locally-ranked opponents Downers Grove South and Warren on Friday and Saturday. Proviso East could meet Simeon in the Class 4A state championship game.

Simeon and Proviso East were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Midwest regional rankings. Curie (24-2) was also ranked No. 13 in the Midwest.

Proviso East up to task against Warren

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
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Proviso East's Paris LeeScott Powers for ESPNChicago.comParis Lee helped Proviso East to a City-Suburban Showdown win over Warren on Saturday.
HILLSIDE, Ill. -- Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce would have taken blowouts over Downers Grove South and Warren this week, but he was hopeful for two close games.

Having been on Proviso East’s 1991 championship team, a team which suffered one loss in 33 games, Boyce understands what it takes to win it all, and that includes the occasional test.

After pulling out a three-point win over Downers Grove South on Friday, the No. 2 Pirates persevered again in a tight contest Saturday, defeating No. 4 Warren 73-66 in the City-Suburban Showdown at Proviso West High School.

“These are the games I live for,” said Boyce, whose team improved to 24-0 on the season. “These are the type of games you find out what kind of character you have, what kind of team you have. You’re going to have to face some adversity throughout the state tournament.”

Proviso East did look like it was going to run away with Saturday’s game early on. The Pirates’ pesky and speedy guards brought havoc onto Warren as it tried to get the ball up court. Proviso East forced the Blue Devils into six turnovers and raced out to a 23-12 advantage after one quarter.

Proviso East guards Keith Carter, Paris Lee and Paris Burns led the initial charge. They combined for 14 points and four steals in the first quarter.

“This is a big weekend,” Carter said. “This is the weekend coach Donnie Boyce was looking forward to. This is a big statement for us. We just wanted to show him we were ready.”

[+] EnlargeWarren's JoVaughn Gaines
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comWarren's JoVaughn Gaines scored 13 points in a loss to Proviso East.
Warren wasn’t going down without a fight, though. After trailing 43-29 at halftime, the Blue Devils began making a push midway through the quarter and continued it the rest of the game.

Warren pulled within 54-51 with 6:10 left in the game on a Darius Paul putback, but it was as close as the Blue Devils would get.

“We had a bunch of early turnovers,” said Warren coach Chuck Ramsey, whose team fell to 21-3. “They turned them into points. We got behind. We made several runs, but it wasn’t good enough.”

Carter led the way for Proviso East with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Burns also had 17 points, and subs Michael Nicholas (10 points) and Branden Jenkins (eight points) contributed for the Pirates.

Paul (19 points, 13 rebounds), Mitch Munda (10 points), JoVaughn Gaines (13 points) and Jon Geske (13 points, eight rebounds) contributed for Warren.

No. 18 New Trier 59, No. 11 St. Rita 41: New Trier outscored St. Rita 26-10 in the second and third quarters combined and won the early game of the City-Suburban Showdown.

Connor Boehm (16 points, 11 rebounds), Steven Cook (10 points, eight rebounds) and David Bragiel (10 points) contributed for New Trier (20-5).

St. Rita’s Dominique Matthews scored a team-high 12 points. New Trier held St. Rita’s Tony Hicks to six points on 2-of-12 shooting. The Mustangs dropped to 14-10 overall.

Proviso East, Simeon move spot in FAB 50

February, 8, 2012
2/08/12
1:41
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Proviso East and Simeon each moved a spot in this week’s ESPNHS’s POWERADE FAB 50 boys basketball rankings.

Simeon jumped one spot to No. 6 in the poll despite being last week off. The Wolverines (20-1) begin the Public League playoffs this week and could play three games in five days with the first round on Wednesday, the second round on Friday and the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Proviso East won twice last week, but still fell one spot to No. 27. The Pirates (19-0) were bumped because Paul IV Catholic from Virginia jumped from No. 28 to No. 9 after beating another nationally-ranked team. Proviso East plays Morton on Friday and Willowbrook on Saturday this week.

In the Midwest Region rankings, Simeon was ranked No.1, Proviso East was No. 4, Curie was No. 11 and Warren was No. 19.

Simeon, Proviso East remain in FAB 50

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
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Simeon and Proviso East continued to represent Illinois in ESPNHS’s POWERADE FAB 50 boys basketball rankings on Tuesday.

Simeon remained at No. 9 for the second consecutive week after slipping from the No. 1 spot following its loss to Findlay Prep. The Wolverines (18-1) face Bogan (19-1) in a key Red-South game on Wednesday.

Proviso East (16-0) jumped two spots to No. 28 in the rankings after handling Downers Grove South last week. The Pirates’ schedule eases up until they face Downers Grove South and Warren on consecutive days in mid-February.

Oak Hill Academy (Va.), Findlay Prep (Nev.), Grace Preparatory Academy (Tex.), St. Anthony (N.J.) and Gonzaga College (Washington D.C.) comprised the FAB 50’s top 5.

City-Suburban Showdown moves venues

January, 17, 2012
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The City-Suburban Showdown on Feb. 18 has been moved from the UIC Pavilion to Proviso West High School due to an NCAA bylaw, event promoter Bob Rylko said on Tuesday.

UIC recently informed Rylko that the event could not be held at UIC because of NCAA bylaw 13.11.1.8, which went into effect on April 28, 2011. The bylaw prohibits nonscholastic events from being conducted at facilities regularly used by Division I athletic programs. Despite the participants, the NCAA considers the event non-scholastic because it's hosted by a private organization.

Rylko and David Kaplan are co-owners of The Integrity Group, which hosts the City-Suburban Showdown. Rylko said the three games in this year's showdown (the 17th annual) will remain on Feb. 18 and at the same times. The three games are St. Rita versus New Trier at 4:30 p.m., Warren versus Proviso East at 6:30 p.m. and Simeon versus De La Salle at 8:30 p.m.

Rylko said customers who have already purchased tickets should return them for a refund to the locations where they were bought. Proviso West ticket information is expected to be released soon.

“We feel badly about it, but under the circumstances, there’s not much we can do about it,” Rylko said. “We’re moving forward and going to put this behind us.”

Last year’s City-Suburban Showdown drew 8,184 fans at the UIC Pavilion. Proviso West holds about 2,400 fans, according to Rylko.

Prep boys rankings: Simeon still on top

January, 9, 2012
1/09/12
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Simeon and Proviso East held on to the top two spots in ESPNChicago's boys basketball rankings. How did the rest of the field shake out?

Top 20 rankings.

Top 20 boys basketball preview

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
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Simeon basketball teamScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comAfter 2 straight Class 4 titles, it should be no surprise to see Simeon ranked No. 1.
1. Simeon: Expectations have never been higher at Simeon. The Wolverines are the two-time defending Class 4A state champions. They are ranked No. 1 in country by ESPN. Jabari Parker is considered the No. 1 junior in the country. They have a roster of full of other Division I prospects, including Marquette recruit and senior forward Steve Taylor, shooting guard Kendrick Nunn, point guard Jaylon Tate, point guard Jelani Neely and forward Kendall Pollard. They also have a couple star-studded freshmen.

2. Warren: The Blue Devils lost to Simeon by eight points in the Pontiac holiday tournament championship and by nine points in the state championship game. They could very well meet Simeon in both places again this season. Warren returns three starters -- Western Michigan recruit Darius Paul, Toledo recruit Nathan Boothe and senior guard JoVaughn Gaines -- from that team. They’ll also look to Jameris Smith, Jon Geske and Mitch Munda. This will be coach Chuck Ramsey’s final season.

3. Whitney Young: There aren’t even many college teams in the country that have as much size and skill in the front court as the Dolphins do. Six-foot-11 center Jahlil Okafor is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2014. Paul White, who is a 6-8 swingman, is ranked No. 17 in the Class of 2014. Tommy Hamilton Jr., who is 6-9, is ranked No. 23 in the Class of 2013. There’s also 6-8 Jermaine Morgan, who is a Colorado State recruit. The big question for Whitney Young is who will bring the ball up the court. If the Dolphins can figure out their backcourt, they should be among the state’s and nation’s best teams.

4. Proviso East: First-year coach Donnie Boyce has plenty to work with this season. The Pirates return senior point guard Keith Carter, who recently committed to Saint Louis, junior guard Sterling Brown, who is becoming a national recruit, senior forward Trashaun Carroll and juniors Paris Lee, Paris Burns and Mike Nicholas.

5. Downers Grove South: The Mustangs will possess one of the state’s top backcourts with 6-2 senior Jamall Millison and 6-3 senior Jerron Wilbut. Wilbut is considered one of the top players in the state’s Class of 2012. Downers Grove South also returns 6-5 forward Kevin Honn, a two-year starter. The question for the Mustangs will be rebounding and interior defense.

6. Curie: The Condors have the pieces to compete for the Public League and state championship. They’re as deep as anyone and will be led by 6-8 sophomore Cliff Alexander, who is ranked No. 13 in the country. Transfer Malcolm Hill-Bey should be an asset in the backcourt with the loss of Greg Travis to graduation.

7. De La Salle: The Meteors could be a state contender if everything clicks for them. They have some of the state’s most highly-ranked players, but the question is whether those players can adjust to bigger roles this season with the graduation of Dre Henley and Mike Shaw. De La Salle will be depending on 6-8 Gavin Schilling, 6-7 Alex Foster and 6-4 Alvin Ellis.

8. Homewood-Flossmoor: The Vikings may be the most experienced team in the state -- it seems Tim Williams, a 6-8 forward, and 6-5 Delvon Rencher have been around forever. Homewood-Flossmoor also returns Antonio Bishop, Marius Hill, Tyrone Sherman and Lamar Wofford-Humphrey. Will this be the season they finally take that next step?

9. St. Rita: This looks to be the year coach Gary DeCesare turns St. Rita’s program completely around. After going 12-14 last season, the Mustangs return 6-7 senior forward AJ Avery, a Western Michigan recruit, 6-2 guard Tony Hicks, a Penn recruit, senior point guard Cullen Foulks, sophomore forward Victor Law and sophomore guard Dominique Matthews. There also will be a couple freshmen who will contribute immediately. St. Rita will be the team to beat in the Catholic League.

10. Farragut: The Admirals should be among the best teams in Chicago again. Six-foot-7 forward Rashaun Stimage is a jack of all trades and is among the state’s best seniors. Senior twins Deonte and Alante Terrell are eligible this season after trasferring and sitting out last year. Both should be among the team’s major contributors this season. Returning guard Lavell Boyd and senior John Carter, a transfer from Oak Park, should bring stability to the backcourt.

11. Andrew: The Thunderbolts are ready to emerge as one of the area’s best this season. They’ll be led by 6-5 forward Jubril Adekoya, who does a bit of everything for them. Jawad Adekoya and Glorinda Lisha are also key returnees.

12. Hyde Park: The Thunderbirds could be among the elite group of teams if all their transfers are eligible. They have eight transfers, including former Bogan forward Moshawn Thomas. Regardless of whether everyone is eligible, Hyde Park should still be pretty good. Point guard Kyle Davis is among the state’s best juniors.

13. New Trier: The Trevians have plenty of talent and experience back this season. Connor Boehm, a 6-7 Dartmouth recruit, and 6-4 guard Austin Angel will be the team’s go-to players. They also return David Bragiel, Reid Bermnan and Jordan Thomas.

14. Crane: Chris Head takes over a talented group this season at Crane. The Cougars are headed by Willie Connor, who can fill up the basket, and Kalen Shane. They’ve also added Markee Williams, who was formerly at Morgan Park.

15. Crete-Monee: Former legendary Hillcrest coach Tom Cappel is now at Crete-Monee. He’ll be led by Illinois recruit and senior point guard Michael Orris. Marvie Keith, a 3-pointer shooter, and LaQuan Treadwell, a big-time football recruit, should also contribute.

16. Morgan Park: The Mustangs are handing the reins off to junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. after the graduation of Wayne Blackshear. While Garrett Jr. will be a point guard at the next level, he’s proven he can be a big-time scorer and passer at the high school level. He’ll be assisted by 6-9 center Xzavier Taylor, 6-5 forward Adrian Jefferies, 6-2 guard Terrance Quinn and 6-3 Dominique Lee and a number of freshman and sophomore newcomers.

17. St. Joseph: The Chargers endured a rare losing season under coach Gene Pingatore last season. That shouldn’t be the case again this year. They’ll be led by 6-1 Reggie Johnson, 6-8 junior A.J. Patty, 6-5 sophomore Karriem Simmons and 6-4 sophomore Paul Turner.

18. Bloom: The Blazing Trojans should be able to build on last year’s 16 wins with the talent they have returning. They’ll be led by three-year starter Donald Moore, who led them in scoring and assists last season. He’ll have help from LeJavius Johnson, Henry Hicks, Johnny Griffin, Dejahown Freeman and Nhyree Mitchell.

19. Oak Park: The Huskies had a rough season a year ago, but should be one of the area’s best teams this year. They have seven returnees, a group led by Bradley recruit and senior guard Ka’Darryl Bell, who averaged 15 points last year. Senior forward Gave Levin, who averaged 11 points and nine rebounds, senior forward Alex Nesnidal and junior guard Jakari Cammon also return.

20. Waukegan: The Bulldogs will rely heavily on their guards this season. Akeem Springs, a 6-4 combo guard, averaged 19 points and nine rebounds last season. Waukegan also returns Devonte Taylor, Jordan Johnson and Dijon Ross. Sophomore power forward Jerome Davis could make an impact this season.

Top-ranked Simeon is just getting started

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
3:41
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Simeon coach Robert Smith didn’t feel like he was coaching the No. 1 team in the country when the Wolverines took the floor Monday for the first practice of the 2011-2012 season -- but in a good way.

Given all the hype surrounding the Wolverines, it wouldn’t have been surprising if some of it had gone to their heads. Smith discovered that wasn’t the case.

“They came out there like they weren’t even ranked,” Smith said following practice. “They were diving for balls. They’re hungry and still feel like they have something to prove.”

[+] EnlargeJabari Parker
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comJabari Parker and Simeon are ready to begin their title defense.
While all the individual skill is undeniable, Smith’s concern right now is developing team chemistry. It wasn’t often this summer that Simeon played as a full team with Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn out of town with Team USA responsibilities.

“We’re very talented, but as far as experience we’re a young team,” Smith said. “The chemistry is not good right now.”

Smith began his eighth season as Simeon’s head coach on Monday. He’s gone 197-36 and has won four state championships. First day of practices are old hat to him.

For Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce, the first day of practice Monday was something special. It was his inaugural one as the Pirates’ coach.

“All day yesterday and all day today, I couldn’t wait until 3:40 p.m.,” said Boyce, who starred at Proviso East and went on to play in the NBA. “It was very exciting to say the least.”

Like Simeon, Proviso East is expected to be among the top teams in the state. The Pirates return point guard Keith Carter, who recently committed to Saint Louis, rising junior star Sterling Brown and a number of other experienced players.

Boyce spent his first day dealing with an open tryout, which is school policy. He had about 50 players come out. But aside from evaluating talent, Boyce also began the framework of teaching the type of defense he expected from his team this season.

“The one thing I always felt our teams were known for was our pressure,” Boyce said. “We gave them 32 minutes of hell. I’d like to bring that back here.”

Teams will hold practices for the next two weeks, and games will begin on Nov. 21.

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