Monday, November 22, 2010
Top 20 Rankings: Simeon won't surprise
By Scott Powers
1. Simeon: The Wolverines surprised some people by winning last year's Class 4A state championship. They won't surprise people again this year. Simeon is as loaded as ever -- even when Derrick Rose was there. Sophomore forward Jabari Parker is one of the best Class of 2013 players in the country and has a strong supporting cast that includes Rashawn McElrath, Ahman Fells, Jelani Neely, Kendrick Nunn, Tywon Pinckney, Steve Taylor and Darien Walker. The Wolverines are ranked No. 15 in the country by ESPN's RISE.
Simeon celebrated a state championship after last season, and the Wolverines are in position to repeat.
2. Morgan Park: The Mustangs proved they were the best in the city last year by winning the Public League title, but they couldn't get it done in the state tournament. This team is motivated to change that this year. Louisville recruit Wayne Blackshear often carried the Mustangs last season with his scoring ability, and he should receive more help this year with a more experienced bunch. Guards Markee Williams and Billy Garrett Jr. saw major minutes as freshmen. Jerome Brown, who is committed to UIC, could be the state's best shooter. Morgan Park is ranked No. 35 by RISE.
3. Benet: The Redwings took many by surprise last year when they went 26-4 overall, 13-0 in the East Suburban Catholic and lost in double overtime to Simeon in the super-sectionals. This year's team is expected to do the same and maybe even more. David Sobolewski, a Northwestern recruit, is as good as any combo guard around. Frank Kaminsky, a 6-11 Wisconsin recruit, and Matt Parisi, an all-conference guard, also return from last season.
4. Whitney Young: The Dolphins reload faster than anybody in the state right now. Two years ago, they were led by Chris Colvin and Marcus Jordan. Last year, it was Anthony Johnson and Ahmad Starks. This year, Ohio State recruit Sam Thompson will be the team's leader, but he'll have plenty of help in point guard Derrick Randolph, nationally ranked sophomore center Tommy Hamilton, Luke Hager, Jermaine Morgan and a few very talented freshmen. Young is ranked No. 38 by RISE.
5. De La Salle: The return of swingman Dre Henley to De La Salle from Brehm Prep adds another dimension to the Meteors. Henley has size, can handle the ball, pass it and score. He should alleviate pressure off Illinois recruit Mike Shaw. Sophomores Alex Foster and Jaylon Tate should also take another step this season.
6. Glenbard East: The Rams return Illinois State recruit Johnny Hill, who averaged 18 points and five rebounds, and Northern Illinois recruit Zack Miller, who averaged 15 points and eight assists, from last year's 27-2 squad.
7. Homewood-Flossmoor: The Vikings will be looking to take that next step this season after back-to-back regional titles with a young team. Homewood-Flossmoor returns juniors 6-7 Tim Williams, 6-5 Delvon Rencher, 6-6 Antonio Bishop and point guard Tyrone Sherman and senior Julian Lewis.
8. Orr: The Spartans are led by Illinois recruit senior forward Mycheal Henry and junior guard C.J. Jones. Both are among the Public League's top players. Orr should be among the city's best again.
9. Hales Franciscan: Aaron Armstead and Aaric Armstead headline what should be another tough Spartans' team. Hales Franciscan should compete for another Catholic League title.
10. Evanston: The Wildkits hired Mike Ellis, one of the top coaches in the state, during the offseason. Ellis was previously at Peoria Richwoods, where he had a 156-55 record and finished second twice in the state. He takes over an experience group that includes Division I prospects combo guard Garrett Jones and big man James Farr.
11. Proviso East: Keith Carter, a 6-1 junior guard, is one of the state's best combo guards. He can do a lot of everything. Trashaun Carroll, a 6-6 forward, and Tino Vasquez, a 6-4 forward, also return for the Pirates. Six-foot-six sophomore Sterling Brown, Shannon Brown's brother, could become an impact player this year.
12. Mount Carmel: The Caravan lost four starters last season, but they return the key piece in point guard Tracy Abrams, an Illinois recruit. Abrams averaged 15 points and four assists last season. Junior Malcolm Hill-Bey has seen major minutes the last two years and will have a larger role this year. The team's newcomers will need to progress as the season unfolds.
13. East Aurora: Ryan Boatright is one of the country's moist dynamic guards. He's best known for his scoring, but he's developed into more of a point guard. Snoop Viser also returns for the Tomcats.
14. Hillcrest: The Hawks finished No. 1in last year's ESPNChicago.com poll, but did lose a major player in Eric Gaines. Hillcrest does return Toledo recruit Julius Brown, one of the top point guards in the state, and Kadeem Thornton. LeBarron Hull, a 6-5 swingman, and 5-8 guard Terez Haskins should play major roles this season as newcomers.
15. Crete-Monee: The Warriors haven't met expectations the past few seasons. New coach Matt Ryndak hopes to fix that. Crete-Monee returns DePaul recruit Jamie Crockett, Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit Greg May and guards Kentrell King and Marvie Keith. Michael Orris will give the team more stability at point guard.
16. Brooks: Former Evanston coach Bobby Locke takes over an experienced group at Brooks. The Eagles return Wisconsin recruit point guard George Marshall, 6-7 twins Keith and Kevin Gray, who are both D-I prospects, and Mike Powell from last year's team.
17. Downers Grove South: The Mustangs were clicking toward the end of the season and gave Benet a close game in regionals. Downers Grove South returns the backcourt of Jerron Wilbut, an emerging junior, and Jamall Millison. Dan Jurgutis is a transfer from St. Joe's and should contribute.
18. St. Charles North: The North Stars may be the surprise team of the season. They return Josh Mikes, who averaged 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, 6-7 Kyle Nelson (6.8 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Chris Conrad (9.2 points, 3.0 assists) and welcome 6-4 sophomore guard Quinten Payne, who is the brother of Iowa guard Cully Payne. Payne played in Florida last season.
19. Warren: The Blue Devils took their lumps last season while relying heavily on five sophomores. A year later and coming off a strong second half of last season, Warren should be much improved. Juniors Nathan Boothe, JoVaughn Gaines, Jon Geskie and Darius Paul should all play key roles this season.
20. Lyons: The Lions lost a few their top players from last year's 26-2 team, but they do have talent coming back. Illinois State recruit Nick Zeisloft is among the state's top shooters. Nick Burt, Eric Powers and Spencer Mahoney also return.