The sixth annual Chicago Elite Classic tips off Friday night at the UIC Pavilion. Here are a few things to watch over two days of basketball action this weekend.
■ Ayo Dosunmu
The 6-4 point guard is the top-ranked prospect in Illinois and among the top 30 players nationally. He’sthe catalyst for the Class 3A favorite, frontrunner for player of the year and has signed with Illinois. There is a whole bunch of interest and intrigue centering around Dosunmu’s senior campaign, and here’s an opportunity to showcase it all.
■ Oak Park-Fenwick energy and rivalry
Of all the games being played at this weekend’s Chicago Elite Classic, the Friday night finale between these two rivals will be the one that provides the most energy and intensity. The crowd will be into it when these two top 10 teams go at it.
■ Young’s senior tandem
There isn’t a team featuring two players ranked as high in the state as the Young duo of Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda. The two seniors are the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 5 and No. 6 ranked prospects, respectively.
Freeman, who will prove to be a recruiting steal for coach Matt Lottich and Valpo, is playing at an extremely high level during the Dolphins’ 6-0 start. South Florida recruit Castaneda is the engine. Both have been through the grind of a state championship run. Now they are poised and polished seniors.
■ Simeon’s debut
Every Top 25 team will have played a game this season by the time the Chicago Elite Classic tips off Friday night –– except Simeon. Coach Robert Smith’s team, led by senior Talen Horton-Tucker, will debut Saturday night. Is this the best team in Illinois?
■ State’s elite in 2020
We don’t mean to always mention one with the other, but we can all get used to the comparisons and talk when it comes to Fenwick’s D.J. Steward and Morgan Park’s Adam Miller. These two are the state’s best, most talented prospects in the Class of 2020, and they’re going to be around for three seasons. Rivals.com has Miller as the No. 14 ranked player in the country and Steward at No. 18.
■ St. Rita-Bloomington
The first game of the event is possibly the underrated matchup in this year’s Chicago Elite Classic.
Although Fenwick is favored in the Chicago Catholic League, there are big expectations for coach Gary DeCesare’s Mustangs.
St. Rita has a nice blend of experience and young talent, along with depth and a budding confidence after reaching a Class 3A sectional championship game a year ago. We’ll find out how good this team is against a talented Bloomington team.
The Purple Raiders reached Peoria last season in Class 3A, finishing third in the state, and are off to a 4-0 start after winning the always tough Intercity Tournament in Bloomington-Normal for the second straight year. Chris Payton, one of the top half dozen junior prospects in the state and an Illinois State commitment, is one to watch.
■ National prep school powerhouses meet
A couple of national powerhouses filled with top 100 talent in multiple classes meet Saturday afternoon when Sunrise Christian squares off with La Lumiere.
Keep an eye on Malik Hall, who started his prep career at Metea Valley in the western suburbs. The 6-6 wing reclassified early in his career and is now among the top 75 prospects in the country in the Class of 2019. He sports several high-major offers, including Kansas, Illinois and Northwestern.
■ N’Faly Dante
The out-of-state big man from Sunrise Christian Academy is one of the most intriguing young players in the country. He’s just a sophomore, but the 6-11, 225-pound true big man just might be one of the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2020. Right now he’s mostly a dominating defensive presence with unique shot-blocking ability, but the overall upside is enormous with his obvious physical tools.
■ St. Louis powers
A couple of high school powers in St. Louis, Vashon and Chaminade, will make the trek up I-55 and go head-to-head with a pair of Chicago powers. St. Louis Vashon is the defending Missouri state champs while St. Louis Chaminade features high-major talent Jericole Hellems.
Friday, Dec. 1
St. Rita vs. Bloomington • 6:00 p.m.
Riverside-Brookfield vs. Lyons Twp. • 7:30 p.m.
Oak Park vs. Fenwick • 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2
Kenwood vs. Gray Collegiate Academy (South Carolina) • 3:00 p.m.
Morgan Park vs. Champaign Central • 4:30 p.m.
Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas) vs. La Lumiere School (Indiana) • 6:00 p.m.
Young vs. Vashon (St. Louis) • 7:30 p.m.
Simeon vs. Chaminade (St. Louis) • 9:00 p.m.