High School: Tracy Abrams

Top 10 boys basketball storylines of 2010

December, 31, 2010
Here are the top 10 storylines of the year in area high school boys basketball.

[+] EnlargeJereme Richmond
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comJereme Richmond led Waukegan downstate again while averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds.
1. The final page: Since committing to Illinois as a freshman, Jereme Richmond became one of the most touted and scrutinized players in the state’s history. His every move on and off the court was dissected. In 2010, he put the final touches on his storied high school career, and he didn’t disappoint, leading Waukegan downstate again while averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three blocks and one steal. His season earned him the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award and Mr. Basketball.

2. Unknown to well-known: A year ago, 6-foot-10 forward Anthony Davis was known as a basketball star among the few hundred students at Perspectives High School. Today, he’s a star to the whole country. Davis' stock rose dramatically from the end of his junior high school season to the start of his senior year. In between, he played his first club basketball since grammar school, dominated from coast to coast, was offered by nearly every high-major school, signed with Kentucky and was ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2011 by ESPN.

3. Simeon is still Simeon: Three years after winning its last state championship with Derrick Rose, Simeon again was on top of the Illinois high school basketball world in 2010. The Wolverines won the Class 4A state championship in March, have been dominant so far this season as the No. 1 team in the state and earlier this week won another Pontiac Holiday Tournament title. Sophomore Jabari Parker could be the program’s next pro.

4. The rise of Benet: In the past year, Benet won its first regional since 2005, its first sectional since 1983, pushed state champion Simeon to the brink in the super-sectionals, had two players sign with Big Ten programs (David Sobolewski to Northwestern and Frank Kaminsky to Wisconsin) and just recently won the historic Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Entering 2011, the Redwings are 14-0 and appear again to be Simeon’s greatest challenger.

5. Wayne’s world: Morgan Park star Wayne Blackshear had plenty of moments throughout 2010, but none was bigger than in the Public League championship. With his team down by one, he hit a game-winning runner over a Marshall defender in the final seconds to lift the Mustangs to the title. Afterward Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said, “Wayne Blackshear is a bad man.”

6. Chi-town is Weber’s town: Illinois coach Bruce Weber snatched four highly-ranked Class of 2011 Chicago commitments, which may just be his greatest recruiting feat. Weber will bring in ESPNU Top 100 players Mount Carmel point guard Tracy Abrams, Orr small forward Mycheal Henry and De La Salle power forward Mike Shaw along with St. Ignatius center Nnanna Egwu, who is the 10th-ranked center in the country.

7. Boatright is all right: East Aurora’s Ryan Boatright may not be the most highly-ranked player in the area, but he is the most entertaining. He not only scores a massive amount of points, but he does it while putting on a show with crossovers, dunks, acrobatic jumpers and more. He was sensational against Hales in November with a stat line of 55 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals, three assists and two blocks. He scored 63 points against Proviso West earlier this month. He even ended 2010 by scoring 43 points on Dec. 30. He also added some drama to year by committing to West Virginia, de-committing shortly after and then committing to Connecticut.

8. Sign here: The Class of 2011 is considered one of the state’s best ever, and it made last month’s signing period one of the most memorable. Anthony Davis signed to Kentucky, Wayne Blackshear went to Louisville, Ryan Boatright to Connecticut, Sam Thompson to Ohio State, Illinois inked four top players and DePaul and Northwestern each grabbed two area star players.

9. No. 1 to us: Not everyone agreed with ESPNChicago.com, but we placed Hillcrest atop of our final 2009-2010 season rankings ahead of Simeon. Hillcrest won the Class 3A state championship and finished the season 31-3. The Hawks didn’t face as tough of a playoff road to their state championship, but we argued they had a better season than Simeon.

10. The battle of Vincennes: One of the most entertaining and hyped games of the year occurred just eight days in. On Jan. 8, a capacity crowd packed Simeon for its Public League Red South matchup with Morgan Park, a fellow Vincennes Avenue school. The home team pulled out a 54-48 victory, but Morgan Park got its revenge in the city playoffs. Their 2011 matchup has already been moved to a larger venue.

Full field for hoops Player of the Year award

December, 11, 2010
The Chicago area is stacked with nationally-ranked players, and it should make for a very interesting race to ESPNChicago.com’s Player of the Year award.

Here’s a look at the early front-runners:

1. Morgan Park senior guard Wayne Blackshear
Blackshear may no longer be the highest ranked prospect in the state, with the arrival of Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis to the scene, but he still is the front-runner for the player of the year award. Unlike Davis’ Perspectives team, Morgan Park is a state contender, and that makes Blackshear more relevant. Blackshear can score, and there may not be a more clutch player in Illinois. He’s signed with Louisville.

2. Orr senior forward Mycheal Henry
Of all the candidates, Henry is the most gifted shooter. He’s drawn comparisons to former Public League star Bobby Simmons with his ability. Henry is going to put up numbers, and that will keep him among the race leaders. He had 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and two blocks in his season opener last week. Even with foul trouble on Sunday, he dropped 21 points on T.F. North. He’s signed with Illinois.

3. East Aurora senior guard Ryan Boatright
Boatright is the most exciting player to watch. He not only scores, but he scores in dramatic fashion. He not only passes, but he makes those passes look pretty. He not only drives to the lane, but he gets there after crossing over his opponent, spinning past another and acrobatically laying the ball into the net. He’s already dropped 55 points in a game this season, which some other basketball minds have raved about. He’s signed with Connecticut.

4. Perspectives senior forward Anthony Davis
While Davis is considered the No. 2 prospect in the country by ESPN, he is No. 4 on this list simply because of the school he plays for. Perspectives is a tiny school and has an even smaller basketball program. Davis is like a whale in fish bowl there. His team can’t compete with the rest of the area’s powers, and it’ll likely affect Davis’ player of the year stock. Of course, if he averages 30-plus points and 20-plus rebounds, which he is almost doing now, he’ll be hard to ignore. He’s signed with Kentucky.

5. Benet senior guard David Sobolewski
Sobolewski isn’t as highly regarded nationally as some of the players on this list, but locally there’s few better at doing whatever his team needs to win. He can score in bunches when asked to, but he can also dish it. Benet is the No. 3 team in the area because of him. He’s signed with Northwestern.

6. Simeon sophomore forward Jabari Parker
Parker is considered one of the top sophomores in the country. The son of former NBA player Sonny Parker, he’s the perfect mixture of size, skill and intelligence. Simeon is the area’s top team, and Parker is its star player. What may hold him back are his numbers. The Wolverines are more balanced than any team around, and Parker’s numbers aren’t flashy due to that. He’s uncommitted and is being recruited by nearly every top program.

7. Whitney Young senior guard Sam Thompson
Thompson is the jack of all trades. He isn’t going to put up gaudy scoring numbers, like Boatright, or rebounding ones, like Davis, but he’s going to fill up the whole stat sheet with points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. He’s long and one of the area’s best defenders. Like Jabari Parker, Thompson plays for a very balanced team. He is signed with Ohio State.

[+] EnlargeTracy Abrams
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comMount Carmel senior guard Tracy Abrams is an Illinois recruit.
8. Mount Carmel senior guard Tracy Abrams
Abrams was once considered the top player in Illinois’ loaded Class of 2011, but an early commitment and injuries knocked him off the map for a bit. Now with one last season, he’ll be looking to place himself back up there. He has the skill set to do so. He’s an all-around point guard and is considered to be the successor to Demetri McCamey at Illinois. He is signed with the Illini.

9. Glenbard East senior guard Jon Hill
Hill is the one mid-major player on this list. Hill is a versatile guard for one of the top teams in the state. He can fill it up, especially from deep. In an early win over Glenbard North, he scored 28 points on 9-of-10 shooting and added five assists and four steals. He had a game-high 25 points in a recent win over Wheaton Warrenville South. He’s signed with Illinois State.

10. De La Salle senior forward Mike Shaw
Shaw has been one of the area’s top big men throughout his career. He can score, rebound and alter shots, and he’s done it pretty consistently. What people expect out of him this year, though, is for him to begin dominating. He’ll be looked to take over games with his versatile ability. If he can do that, he’ll move up these rankings. He is signed with Illinois.

Others to watch: Hales senior guard Aaron Armstead (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Hillcrest senior guard Julius Brown (Toledo), Rich South senior guard Macari Brooks (DePaul), Proviso East junior guard Keith Carter (uncommitted), Notre Dame senior forward Quinton Chievious (uncommitted), St. Ignatius senior center Nnana Egwu (Illinois), Brooks senior guard George Marshall (Wisconsin), Niles North senior forward Abdel Nader (New Mexico), Homewood-Flossmoor junior forward Delvon Rencher (uncommitted), York senior guard Will Sullivan (uncommitted).