By Joe Henricksen
This most recent issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, which will be in the mailbox of subscribers this week, takes a look at the Best of Everything in Illinois high school basketball. Oh, there’s going to be debate. No doubt. But that’s what the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s intention is — for prep basketball followers to debate and discuss the past and present.
The Hoops Report set out to do a “Best of” list, using unofficial polls, surveys, questionnaires from coaches, members of the media, athletic directors, longtime fans, and the Hoops Report’s own past experience in putting together the following list. In the end it was the Hoops Report’s final call on each and every one, some more easy and obvious than others. Are they all right on? Certainly not, but it’s a starter for discussion for all the avid Illinois prep basketball fans, coaches and enthusiasts out there. Here is just a small portion of the 35 different topics covered in the most recent issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report.
BEST ALL-TIME PROGRAM: Quincy
There is no debating the best all-time program. Quincy is the fourth winningest basketball program in the country with over 1,830 wins. That also includes a ridiculous 57 regional titles, 30 sectional championships, 23 Sweet 16 berths and 13 state trophies, including a pair of state championships.
BEST CURRENT PROGRAM: Simeon
Pretty hard to argue this one. Simeon already had a little history on its side, but they have won back-to-back state titles and are currently perched up at No. 1 once again after graduating all five starters from last year. The premier program in Illinois is budding with young talent in the pipeline and boasts a quality coach in Robert Smith.
BEST RIVALRY: East Aurora vs. West Aurora
There are tremendous rivalries all over the state, but it’s special when the rivalry involves one community, split by a river, with friends and family fighting over bragging rights. It’s the second oldest rivalry in the state, dating back to 1912, and it involves two storied basketball programs.
BEST OFFICAL: Fred Allman
After plenty of research and surveys, the choice ended up being easier than expected with Allman a runaway winner among dozens of coaches surveyed and interviewed. He’s been a fixture in big games in recent years, including the Elite Eight, supersectional games and the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Allman is recognized as having all the best traits an official can have — he communicates, is fair, consistent and comes to the floor without an ego.
BEST DYNASTY: Peoria Manual
There are only a few to pick from, but in the end there is only one program in state history that has won four consecutive state championships — Peoria Manual. In a four-year period Manual went 121-11 with four state titles. And they did against one of the state’s premier teams of its era in Thornton.
BEST COACHING JOB: EvanstonThe programs that received multiple votes included Evanston, Homewood-Flossmoor, New Trier, Whitney Young, Oak Park and West Aurora. But Evanston has as much to offer as any school. It hasn’t mattered what coach has been there, they’ve all won — from Jack Burmaster to Herb Williams to Mike Hart to Conte Stamas to Paul Pryma to Bobby Locke. Every one of those coaches since 1950 has had a career winning percentage of 65% or better while at Evanston. There is a ton of tradition (26 regional titles, eight trips to the Elite Eight, three state trophies, including a state championship since 1950) and the overall facilities are terrific, including a great home gym. The school is large (enrollment over 3,000) with a diverse student population and the school district pays well. There is community involvment, although with that comes some pressure with the job, high academic standards and a basketball feeder system in place.
The ones mentioned here are just a few of the categories the City/Suburban Hoops Report touches on in the “Best of ….” issue. Other categories among the 35 total include Best Coach of All-Time, Best Current Coach, Best Young Coach, Best Holiday Tournament, Best Conference, Best Transfer, Best Gym, Best Student Section, Best Uniform, Best Warm-ups, Best Best State Tournament, Best State Tournament Game, Best Fans, Best Story and many more.
For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 13th year of publication, call (630)-408-6709 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org