Henricksen: Chicago Elite Classic field revealed

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The third annual Chicago Elite Classic, which has been one of the must-see prep basketball events in Illinois the past two years, has announced its field of teams.

Chicago Public League powers Young and Simeon have once again teamed up together off the court to host the event. This year it will be a two-day event, beginning with three games on Friday, Dec. 5 and finishing up with four games Saturday, Dec. 6. All games will again be played at the UIC Pavilion.

Young, the defending state champions, welcome back Vanderbilt recruit Joseph Toye from a year of prep school and return starting guard Rodney Herenton, a 6-2 junior. Coach Tyrone Slaughter also has a host of talented young players in the program.

Simeon, the state’s most talented team on paper, begin its quest for an unprecedented eighth state championship. Illinois-bound D.J. Williams, a versatile 6-7 senior, high-major prospect Ed Morrow, up-and-coming Isaiah Moss and junior Zach Norvell head a star-studded cast for coach Robert Smith.

In addition to Young and Simeon, Chicago area powers Bogan, St. Joseph and St. Rita will play in the event. All three of these teams expect to be ranked among the top 15 in the Chicago area.

Bogan won 27 games a year ago and has senior star Luwane Pipkins back for one more year, along with rising junior James Jones.

Legendary St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore has a trio of high-major prospects in 6-9 junior Nick Rakocevic, the top prospect in the Class of 2016, and two future Big Ten guards in Glynn Watson (Nebraska) and Jordan Ash (Northwestern).

St. Rita, fresh off a 21-win season and regional championship, will feature Kentucky recruit Charles Matthews, one of the top 50 players in the country.

Plainfield East, led by Aaron Jordan, a 6-5 senior headed to Illinois, Hillcrest, Fenwick and Oak Park-River Forest are four other in-state participants.

Among the top out-of-state teams to watch will be the one led by Elijah Thomas, a top 15 prospect nationally in the senior class. Thomas, a 6-9, 250-pound post presence from Lancaster, Tex., has Illinois among his list of five official visits this fall, which also includes LSU, Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas A&M.

Lone Peak out of Utah, which opened eyes with a sterling performance in the inaugural Chicago Elite Classic two years ago, has loaded up again. Lone Peak features Frank Jackson, a 6-1 junior guard who is among the top 50 prospects in the Class of 2016.

Christ the King, a perennial power out of New York, will make its first trip to the Chicago Elite Classic and has Rawle Akins, a 6-4 guard who is among the top 30 players in the Class of 2016 with double-digit high-major offers.

Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) round out the out-of-state teams in the 14-team field.

Matchups for the 2014 Chicago Elite Classic will be announced at a later date.

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