Here are five early observations to the 2011-2012 high school boys basketball season.
1: It’s going to be a crazy year: The preseason assumption was it was top-ranked Simeon and everyone else, and that couldn’t be truer through a few weeks of action. Try to follow these early results. Second-ranked Warren, which was thought to be Simeon’s biggest competitor, lost to Stevenson on Tuesday. Stevenson previously lost to Elgin, which lost to Geneva, which lost to Oswego, Naperville Central and Oswego East. Other teams which have at least one loss already include Crane, De La Salle, Downers Grove South, Farragut, Homewood-Flossmoor and Morgan Park.
2 So, who’s good: Well, of course, Simeon. The Wolverines are a work in progress as they figure out a few new roles, but they still rolled in their first two games against decent competition. Outside of Simeon, Proviso East, Andrew, Bloom, Plainfield East, Marist and Seton have proven to be the most consistent teams so far. Proviso East won its invitational at the Tournament of Champions in downstate Washington. Andrew won Crete-Monee’s tournament. Marist has a quality win over St. Rita. Seton knocked off Crane on Tuesday. Bloom has a win over Homewood-Flossmoor. Plainfield East defeated Downers Grove South.
3 Just good high school players: The Chicago area has its share of nationally-ranked players, but it also has a lot of simply good high school players. Some of the guys who been impressive so far are Crane’s Willie Conner, St. Rita’s Tony Hicks, Bloom’s Donald Moore and Seton’s J.R. Tolliver. Conner’s stock could especially rise as the season unfolds. He’s become a lot more than a shooter.
4 Catch Young while you can: Whitney Young only plays 11 games in Illinois and only four times at home this season. The Dolphins have a true national schedule, which takes them to California, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. They travel to North Carolina twice. Their biggest in-state game will be against Simeon at UIC on Dec. 22.
5 Eligible transfers: Crane received good news Monday when it discovered Markee Williams was eligible after transferring from Morgan Park. Hyde Park also had all four of its transfers, including Moshawn Thomas, approved. Crane and Hyde Park should be among the state contenders with those players on the floor.