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Thursday, November 29, 2012
Chicago's best to face nation's best at UIC

By Scott Powers

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:

1. Outside of the McDonald's All-Star Game, you won't find more high school talent anywhere in Chicago this year. Simeon is stacked with Division I players, including Jabari Parker and Illinois recruits Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate. Whitney Young is the same with Jahlil Okafor, L.J. Peak and Paul White. Normal U-High junior forward Keita Bates-Diop recently committed to Ohio State. DeMatha senior center BeeJay Anya is considered one of the best big men in the country and is headed to North Carolina State. Mater Dei junior forward Stanley Johnson is ranked No. 21 in the nation. Lone Peak guard Nick Emery is nationally ranked and headed to BYU. St. Vincent-St. Mary freshman Vincent King has a chance to be an elite player. De La Salle's Alvin Ellis is signed with Minnesota, and Proviso East's Sterling Brown is headed to SMU.

2. One of the more interesting matchups of the day will be Whitney Young's 7-foot, 270-pound center Jahlil Okafor and DeMatha center BeeJay Anya, who is 6-9 and 275 pounds. Okafor is ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2014, and Anya is ranked No. 32 in the Class of 2013.

3. Simeon makes its debut. The Wolverines, who have won three consecutive state championships, are considered one of the top teams in the nation again and will open their season against Milton from Georgia. Milton won a Georgia state title last season and was ranked in among the top 10 teams in the country.

4. Two of the nation's most winningest coaches will face each other in the St. Joseph-Mater Dei (Calif.) game. St. Joe's coach Gene Pingatore has 892 wins and owns the Illinois wins record. Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight owns the California record and surpassed 900 wins last season.

5. It is a chance to catch a first glimpse of whether anyone can give Simeon a challenge this season. De La Salle, Proviso East and Whitney Young are all top 20 teams in the area rankings and will have a chance to impress prior to Simeon's headlining game.