High School: Proviso East
There was a time in Proviso East senior guard Sterling Brown’s childhood he would have accepted a scholarship offer from Michigan State in a heartbeat.
“It was definitely the school I liked growing up,” Brown said leading up to this week’s recruiting period. “Going to a lot of my brother’s (Shannon Brown) games, as a kid, I said I wanted to be a Spartan. I wanted to play for Tom Izzo.”
Brown, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, could still end up playing for Izzo, but the Spartans will have to recruit him like every program pursuing him as his stock continues to rise in July.
Brown’s list of suitors has grown in recent weeks, and he now names Colorado, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Memphis, Miami, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oregon State and USC as schools who are recruiting him.
“Everyone is in the picture right now,” Brown said. “Right now, I don’t have any set schools. Any school looking at me, I’m interested in also.
“Michigan State is still recruiting me, too. They’re talking to my dad and my brother. They attend all the games. We’ll see where that one goes. If they come with an offer, it’s not a done deal. There are other schools looking at me. If Michigan State comes with an offer, they’re going to be right in line with everyone else.”
Brown’s club coach Mike Irvin of the Mac Irvin Fire said he wouldn’t be surprised if they began hearing from even more high-major programs after July because the way Brown has performed.
“He’s been playing unbelievable,” Irvin said. “He’s playing like one of the top guards in the country. He’s doing it at both ends of the court. He’s definitely stepped up. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. His confidence is out of the building.”
Brown’s confidence began to build back in the high school season. In Illinois’ Class 4A state championship game, Brown matched up against Simeon’s Jabari Parker, the country’s No. 1 senior, and Brown was arguably the best player on the court that day.
Brown scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, hit two 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds and had one steal and one assist. Parker had 15 points, though his team did defeat Proviso East.
“It just gave me confidence that any way I needed to help my team I was going to do regardless of who I was playing against,” Brown said.
Brown also recently went up against Julius Randle, the nation’s No. 2 senior, at Nike’s EYBL Peach Jam, and according to Irvin, Brown held more than his own despite giving up five inches. Randle had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Brown had 16 points and five rebounds.
ESPN senior recruiting coordinator Dave Telep has been impressed by Brown this summer.
“He's a solid high-major level player who is the type that could start 2-3 years at a big program and contribute all four,” Telep said. “He's a versatile kid, solid outside shooter who can get to the rim. Different player than his brother, but a guy who will wind up in a big conference."
Brown doesn’t mind being different than Shannon, who has been in the NBA since 2006. Brown’s been working all of his life to separate himself from his older brother.
“That’s what it’s all about being a younger brother or a son of someone who previously played,” Brown said. “You want to get out of their shadows. You want to make a name for yourself. That’s what I’m striving to do. Anytime in the paper, I read I’m Shannon Brown’s little brother. I try to get out there. I do feel I’m getting there.”
Simeon held strong at the No. 6 spot for a ninth consecutive week. The Wolverines went 32-1 this season and defeated Proviso East in the Class 4A state championship. Their only loss was to Nevada’s Findlay Prep, which finished No. 2 in the rankings.
Proviso East jumped two spots to No. 15 in the final rankings. The Pirates went 32-1 on the season with their only loss being to Simeon in the state championship.
In the Midwest regional rankings, Simeon and Proviso East filled the top two spots. Also from Illinois, Rockford Auburn (32-3) finished No. 14, and Peoria Central (28-3) ended up No. 15 in the regional rankings.
Moore graduated from Taft in 1990, and his high school career was played when the state only had two classes. The IHSA expanded basketball to four classes during the 2007-08 season.
“I’m not a fan of four classes,” said Moore, who attended the state tournament on Friday and Saturday. “I just think it really takes away from the strength of the state. When you split everyone up and dissect the talent and make different classes play against one other, I just think it really dilutes what we got in our state. I think it takes away from some of the natural rivalries and matchups that you would historically see.”
Moore watched in the front row of Carver Arena as Peoria Central defeated North Chicago in the Class 3A state championship on Saturday afternoon. Despite its state title, Peoria Central will likely still be considered to rank behind Class 4A finalists Simeon and Proviso East.
Moore was disappointed Peoria Central wouldn’t have the opportunity to prove whether it was better than the two Class 4A teams. Peoria Central had won three previous state titles in the two-class system.
“I just think if you get back down to two classes, then it’s even more competitive,” Moore said. “It’s even more exciting to see these kids go at it and compete. Why not see Peoria Central play against Proviso East in matchup? That’s a great matchup. It’s too bad they had to go to two more classes.”
Despite disagreeing with the four-class system, Moore enjoyed being at the state tournament.
“I think it’s great down to be here,” Moore said. “I think it means a lot. It’s our state’s Final Four if you want to put in that nature. It means a lot to our kids, our programs, our schools. This is a great venue.”
PEORIA, Ill. – It wasn’t as if Saturday’s Class 4A state championship between No. 1 Simeon vs. No. 2
Proviso East needed additional drama.
No. 1 vs. No. 2 is more than enough for anyone.
But Simeon (32-1) upped the ante Friday by taking a few shots at Proviso East (32-0) after both teams had advanced to the title game.
Simeon senior forward Steve Taylor first knocked undefeated Proviso East’s schedule.
“Yes, I want to play them because that’s the game everybody wants to see,” Taylor said after Simeon defeated Bloom on Friday. “They’re undefeated, and I feel they haven’t played anybody, so now they’re playing us.”
Proviso East’s schedule wasn’t a national one like Simeon’s this season, but Pirates coach Donnie Boyce took exception to Taylor’s statement.
“Everybody says we hadn’t beat anybody, but we played a lot of good teams and made them look a lot worse than they are,” Boyce said on Saturday morning. “That Rockford Auburn team we beat Friday, we gave them two of their three losses this season. New Trier was playing pretty well when we beat them around Christmas time. Downers Grove South, Warren, we beat them.
“We haven’t played a national schedule like Simeon, but to say we haven’t played anybody. Tonight, we’re playing somebody.”
Simeon coach Robert Smith also took a few jabs at Proviso East. Even though both teams looked sluggish Friday, he said he still thought Simeon was more impressive. Later when asked if Proviso East’s up-tempo style might give his team fits like Peoria Manual’s similar style did at the Pontiac holiday tournament, Smith took another shot at the Pirates.
“I think to me the difference is I think Manual is a little tougher than them,” Smith said. “Bogan, Curie, Evanston, Bloom, everyone has tried everything. None of it has worked. I don’t know if it’s going to work or not (for Proviso East.) These guys are going to find a way to win.
“I feel this group right there, these 15 young men, we can beat any team in the country. If Findlay Prep would like to come down here (Saturday) or Sunday, and we’ll play them, too, and I guarantee we’ll win that game, too.”
Boyce had read what Smith said, but he refused to get into a war of words.
“That’s fine,” Boyce said. “They can say whatever they want. I’m a little surprised, but it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, tonight come 8 o’clock, they have to back those words up and we have to back our record up. We’re just going to let them talk. They’re the two-time defending champs.
Here’s a look at Friday’s Class 4A state semifinals:
Proviso East (31-0) vs. Rockford Auburn (31-2) at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN3.com
The story: This is a rematch for these teams. They met in the Proviso West holiday tournament semifinals, and Proviso East won 75-56. Proviso East jumped on Rockford Auburn early and was able to build a lead with its quick guards and ball pressure. Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce didn’t expect a similar game and knows Auburn will be prepared this time around. One of the more interesting matchups will be Proviso East point guard Keith Carter, who is headed to Saint Louis, against Auburn point guard Fred Van Vleet, who is going to Wichita State.
Proviso East player to watch: All-area selection Sterling Brown, the younger brother of Shannon Brown, continues to develop his game. He has a number of high-major schools, including DePaul and Northwestern, after him.
Auburn player to watch: Van Vleet is considered one of the state’s top seniors. He has the type of court vision few players possess.
Pick: Proviso East
Simeon (31-1) vs. Bloom (28-3) at 8:15 p.m.
The story: Simeon won’t be satisfied unless it wins its third consecutive state title. The Wolverines have proven they’re not perfect. There have been a couple of in-state teams which have taken them to the wire, but no one has defeated them. Evanston coach Mike Ellis said he thought Simeon had to beat itself for it to lose. Bloom went through a rough stretch in early January where it lost three out of five games, but has been perfect every since. The Blazing Trojans will need to keep this a low-scoring game to likely pull off the upset. They’ve scored an average of 44.2 points in the playoffs and allowed an average of 34.2 points.
Simeon player to watch: Jabari Parker is the top junior in the country and is the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year. He normally doesn’t disappoint.
Bloom player to watch: Bloom point guard Donald Moore is an all-area selection. He does a little bit of everything for Bloom.
Here are a few prep hoop thoughts as the super-sectionals approach.
1. Not much drama in Class 4A: No. 1 seeds Bloom, Edwardsville, Proviso East, Rockford Auburn, Simeon and Warren all got through their sectionals with little trouble. The biggest surprises, if they can be called that, was No. 4 seed West Aurora and No. 5 seed Evanston advancing to the super-sectional round.
2. DuSable’s rise: DuSable’s run is the story of the playoffs. DuSable was 12-9 heading into the playoffs and now has won four consecutive Class 3A games, including an upset over St. Ignatius, and is about to play Hillcrest at Joliet Central for a spot at state. Chris Galbreath had 12 points to lead the way in DuSable’s 57-55 win over Dunbar in the St. Ignatius sectional championship on Friday. Malik Williams and Galbreath combined for 21 points in Tuesday’s 51-44 upset of St. Ignatius.
3. Mike Ellis is no stranger to postseason success: Evanston’s run is surprise, but then again it isn’t. Evanston coach Mike Ellis has experienced plenty of postseason success in his career. He was previously at Peoria Richwoods and coached the Knights to two state championship runner-up finishes. One of them came when Derrick Rose hit a game-winning shot to beat him in 2006. Ellis is in his second year at Evanston. The Wildkits are now 21-10 this season and will play Simeon in the Chicago State super-sectional on Tuesday.
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 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.
2. Waukegan is a team putting it together at the right time. Since losing to Lyons 66-39 on Jan. 7, the Bulldogs have won their last eight in a row. They’re a No. 4 seed in the Barrington sectional and could be dangerous.
3. The East Suburban Catholic Conference has certainly seen better years. St. Viator jumped in the rankings this week, but even the Lions have had some questionable losses. Marist has shown some potential at times. Notre Dame has been up and down. Marian Catholic has a bright future with Tyler Ulis, but appears a year away. Benet has been better than expected with Sean O’Mara’s emergence, but the Redwings have been inconsistent. It’s also been a down year for St. Patrick.
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 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.
Here’s a look back at this season’s holiday tournaments:
The honor goes to Pontiac this season. Having Simeon helped, but Pontiac was about much more than Simeon this season. On the final day alone, fans were treated to three overtimes games, two of which went to double overtime, and nearly witnessed Simeon upset by Peoria Manual. It would be hard to find two better holiday tournament semifinal games than Curie-Warren and Simeon-Manual anywhere in the country.
St. Ignatius is the reason for York finishing second here. While the tournament favorites won at Proviso West, the McDipper, Pontiac and plenty of others tournaments, St. Ignatius added an element of surprise at York. The Wolfpack first fought back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Downers Grove South in the semifinals and then defeated De La Salle in the championship.
Curie 77, Warren 68, 2 OT at Pontiac: In the first Pontiac semifinal, Warren forced a first overtime when JoVaughn Gaines drained a 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds of regulation and then sent the game into a second overtime when Jon Geske dropped in a late layup. Curie won in the end. Devin Foster had 27 points in the win.
Simeon 48, Peoria Manual 47 at Pontiac: Not to be outdone by the first semifinal, Simeon and Peoria Manual went down to the buzzer to determine their game. Manual had two shots at overtaking Simeon on its final possession, but missed a shot around the basket and had the ball stolen in the game’s final seconds. The game had 10 lead changes.
St. Ignatius 47, De La Salle 44, OT at York: In the championship game, St. Ignatius senior Brian Howard sent the game into overtime with an off-balance 3-pointer with four seconds left, and the Wolfpack prevailed in overtime again the tournament favorites.
St. Ignatius 52, Downers Grove South 50 at York: In the semifinals, St. Ignatius overcame a 12-point deficit to upset Downers Grove South. Abdoulie Contch scored the game-winner in the lane with 1.5 seconds left.
Elgin 57, Glenbard North 51 at Elgin: Before Elgin could win close semifinal and championship games, it had to win a tight quarterfinal matchup with Glenbard North. Former AAU teammates, Elgin’s Kory Brown and Glenbard North’s Josh Fleming, went head to head in the final minutes. Fleming had a game-high 21 points, but Brown, who had 19 points, came out with the victory.
Crete-Monee 67, Seton 66, OT at Rich South: In the semifinals, Crete-Monee’s Marvie Keith sank two free throws with 35 seconds left to lift his team to the upset victory. Mark Conner scored 19 points off the bench for Crete-Monee. Crete-Monee squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter to allow overtime.
Metea Valley 69, Rolling Meadows, OT at Hinsdale South: Metea Valley nearly saw its unbeaten season ruined by Rolling Meadows, which led 39-30 heading into the fourth quarter. Spearheaded by Kenny Obendorf and his 20 points, Metea Valley rallied in regulation and won in overtime.
New Trier 61, Homewood-Flossmoor 58 at Proviso West: The second-round matchup was expected to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. The game went back and forth until New Trier got hot in the second half and connected on seven 3-pointers in the final quarters. Connor Boehm had 25 points in the win. Tyrone Sherman had 24 points for Homewood-Flossmoor.
All-tournament first team
New Trier senior forward Connor Boehm, Proviso West tournament: Boehm has been one of the most consistent players in the state this season. At Proviso West had 25 points and nine rebounds vs. Homewood-Flossmoor, 14 points and 14 rebounds vs. Morgan Park, 16 points and six rebounds vs. Proviso East and 17 points and seven rebounds vs. Von Steuben.
Elgin senior guard Kory Brown, Elgin: Brown stepped up game after game in the Maroons’ run to their own holiday tournament championship. He had a 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in Elgin’s upset win over La Lumiere in the tournament championship.
Proviso East senior guard Keith Carter, Proviso West: Carter keyed the Pirates’ run to their first Proviso West title since 1991 and was awarded the tournament MVP. He had 18 points and five steals in a win over Benet in the quarterfinals.
Bloom senior guard Donald Moore, Rich South: Carter’s point guard play led the Blazing Trojans to their first McDipper title since 1995. He had 14 points and four assists in the title game. He was named the tournament MVP.
Simeon senior forward Steve Taylor, Pontiac: Jabari Parker may have won the MVP trophy at Pontiac, but many, including Parker, thought it should have gone to Taylor. Taylor had 11 points and seven rebounds to lead the top-ranked Wolverines over Curie in the championship game.
All-tournament second team
St. Ignatius senior guard Brian Howard, York: Howard and St. Ignatius surprised Downers Grove South and De La Salle on their way to the York title. Howard sent the championship game into overtime with a 3-pointer and finished with 20 points. He was named tournament MVP.
Metea Valley senior guard Kenny Obendorf, Hinsdale South: Obendorf continued to put up big numbers while helping Metea Valley to the Hinsdale South tournament championship. He had 24 points in the championship game and was named the tournament MVP.
Benet sophomore center Sean O’Mara, Proviso West: O’Mara isn’t as hyped as some of the state’s sophomores, but he’s been more productive than most of them. He was impressive throughout Proviso West. He had 20 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks against Proviso East in the semifinals.
Simeon junior forward Jabari Parker, Pontiac: Parker didn’t disappoint the sellout crowds at Pontiac. He hit difficult jumpers, swatted shots and threw down a few jaw-dropping dunks. In Simeon’s one-point win over Peoria Manual, he scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Warren senior forward Darius Paul, Pontiac: Paul averaged 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in four games at Pontiac. With fellow post player Nathan Boothe in foul trouble against Curie, Paul scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Andrew junior forward Jubril Adekoya, Kankakee
Plainfield East senior forward Brian Bennett, Pekin; Crane senior guard Willie Conner, Romeoville; De La Salle junior forward Alvin Ellis, York; Stevenson senior guard Michael Fleming; Curie senior guard Devin Foster, Pontiac; Morgan Park junior guard Billy Garret Jr., Proviso West; North Chicago senior guard Aaron Simpson, Bloomington; Crete-Monee junior forward LaQuon Treadwell, Rich South; Downers Grove South senior guard Jerron Wilbut, York
Andrew (9-0): Won the Kankakee’s holiday tournament, biggest upcoming test could be at Thornwood on Jan. 20.
Bloom (13-0): Won the McDipper, have plenty of tough games in the future, including at Homewood-Flossmoor on Jan. 24.
Immaculate Conception (12-0): Won its own holiday tournament, could still be undefeated heading into matchup at Elgin on Feb. 15.
Glenbard West (10-0): Won its own holiday tournament, could be challenged this week when playing at Bolingbrook and York.
Metea Valley (13-0): Won Hinsdale South’s holiday tournament, will host Lake Park, which is also undefeated in the Upstate Eight Valley, on Saturday.
Plainfield East (11-0): Won the Pekin holiday tournament, hosts Wheeling tournament winner Naperville Central on Jan. 17.
Simeon (12-0): Won the Pontiac holiday tournament, face nationally-ranked No. 36 Miller Grove in West Virginia on Saturday.
Read the full rankings.
HILLSIDE, Ill. -- When Donnie Boyce was hired prior to the season, his promise was to return Proviso East’s program to the heights it reached during his playing days.
On Friday, his words met the Pirates’ actions when No. 2 Proviso East defeated No. 11 New Trier 68-55 in the Proviso West holiday tournament championship before 2,780 fans. It was the Pirates’ first title since they won it in consecutive years in 1990 and 1991. Boyce was a senior on the 1990 team.
“It’s amazing,” said Boyce, whose team improved to 11-0. “To be able to win it as a player and then come back my first year coaching, it’s unbelievable. I’m just really pleased with the effort my team gave this whole tournament.”
Proviso East set the tone for Friday’s win in the opening minutes of the game. The Pirates jumped on New Trier with their intense full-court pressure and disrupted the Trevians’ offense while creating their own scoring opportunities.
Proviso East built a 23-10 after one quarter. Senior Keith Carter, who earned tournament MVP honors, had six of his 15 points in the first quarter.
“That was a key,” Carter said. “We had started slow the first three [tournament] games. That made us fight hard.”
New Trier answered back. The Trevians (11-2) never took the lead, but they did pull within two points by halftime and kept Proviso East within striking distance throughout the second half.
Proviso East’s Paris Burns gave his team some breathing room in the third quarter. He had six points, four rebounds and one steal in the quarter, and the Pirates took a 48-41 advantage into the final eight minutes.
The Pirates were balanced across the board. Carter, Burns (12 points), Paris Lee (17 points) and Sterling Brown (15 points, 12 rebounds) all finished in double figures. Brown was also named to the all-tournament first team.
“I feel coach Donnie is bringing the old swagger back from the state championship team and bringing it to now,” Lee said. “I feel good for the program. This means a lot. It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to hit me.”
New Trier’s Connor Boehm also earned first-team tournament honors after his 16-point, six-rebound performance against Proviso East. Austin Angel (12 points), Steven Cook (12 points) and Jordan Thomas (15 points) contributed for the Trevians.