Henricksen: R-B Shootout rewind

SHARE Henricksen: R-B Shootout rewind

While the Chicago Public League took center stage at the recent Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, with the weekend star being Bogan’s James Jones and three of the four semifinalists consisting of Bogan, Kenwood and Simeon, there were plenty of other headlines.

Here is the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s review of the the always-strong Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

Freshman opens eyes: There wasn’t an underclassman at Riverside-Brookfield who impressed more than Oak Park-River Forest’s Alan Griffin. The 6-4 Griffin, who is among the better prospects in the Class of 2018, played significant minutes at the varsity level for the Huskies this past season as a freshman.

Griffin, the son of Bulls assistant coach and former NBA player Adrian Griffin, was a role-playing shooter on the perimeter as a freshman. He’s not just a shooter anymore. The young Griffin was active and all over the floor with his length, while showing a more versatile offensive game.

Love the look of OPRF: We have our West Suburban Silver preseason favorite in coach Matt Maloney’s Huskies. And we have an intriguing, up-and-coming player in the Class of 2018 to track in the aforementioned Alan Griffin.

The first order of business is for OPRF to keep its fingers crossed that Adrian Griffin remains with the Bulls and a part of coach Fred Hoiberg’s staff, thus keeping the young Alan Griffin around. Griffin is a rising talent and blends in well with the rest of this long, rangy, versatile, perimeter-oriented team.

Griffin is one of four key players returning from last year’s 17-win team, including 6-1 senior Breshawn Wilkerson, 6-3 senior Connor Fuller and 6-4 junior Cameron Gross. Add in 6-5 junior Jared Scott and the Huskies have a group of talented, interchangeable parts that can pressure you defensively with their length and athleticism.

With talented youth in the program and an influx of experienced varsity players, Oak Park-River Forest is a team built to win now and in the foreseeable future. It won’t be a sleeper for long.

Zach Norvell’s team: Over the years he’s watched a lot of talent come and go through the Simeon program, from Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn during his freshman year to last year’s senior-dominated group of Ed Morrow, D.J. Williams and Isaiah Moss.

Now it’s clearly Zach Norvell’s team. The 6-4 guard has always known and understood the game, played the right way and was polished as a player at an early age. But now he has a presence about him as he prepares for his senior year.

This is not the most talented Simeon team. But in a season that is void of a dominant team or high-level talent in the senior class, Norvell and the Wolverines will remain a legit state title contender.

Marian Catholic is back: After winning back-to-back sectional titles in 2013 and 2014, Marian Catholic dipped back to 14-16 last season. But that previous success, with the help of one, Tyler Ulis, elevated the perception of Marian Catholic basketball program. Now look for coach Mike Taylor’s team to right back in East Suburban Catholic Conference contention.

There is a surplus of pieces for Taylor to mix and match, starting with 6-7 junior T.J. Smith. But it also includes several young ones that will keep the Spartans relevant for the next few years. While Class of 2018 mighty mite point guard Chase Adams gets the pub, fellow classmate Brandon Hurt has been especially impressive and played well at R-B this past weekend. But the key to this upcoming season could be the rise and development of 6-8 senior Myles Howard.

Learning to live, play without its star: Evanston will be fueled this coming season by the play of star Nojel Eastern, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. The injured 6-4 guard is out until at least August, so it was an opportunity for a talented Evanston team to step up without the player who makes them all better.

Evanston lost just once all weekend, a 52-50 overtime defeat to eventual champion Bogan, while winning the second-place bracket with easy wins over Riverside-Brookfield, Morgan Park and DePaul Prep.

In addition to Eastern, there were a number of underclassmen who played significant minutes a year ago and who showed this weekend glimpses of the general improvement you see, including a host of juniors in guard Malik Jenkins, 6-5 Elyjah Williams, athletic guard Jerome Bynum and 6-4 Chris Hamil. Also, senior Micquel Roseman is a returning veteran guard and freshman Lance Jones is a talent to watch.

Restocked R-B: After a program-best 28 wins and sectional championship last season, high expectations remain for a Riverside-Brookfield team that returns the starting backcourt of senior Daniko Jackson and junior Jalen Clanton. But look for junior Henry Trelenberg, who played major minutes for the Bulldogs last season, to up his production and effectiveness. The 6-0 guard, who has strength and shooting ability, poured in 30 points in a win over St. Rita over the weekend.

New and improved Downers Grove: There is nowhere to go but up for Downers Grove South and Downers Grove North. The two programs finished last in the West Suburban Gold and Silver, respectively, last year.

It appears that will surely change this coming winter. After the two combined to go 4-20 in league play this past year, the two kick-started their summer by winning their respective pools at R-B and playing in the championship bracket on Sunday.

Downers Grove South impressed over the weekend, particularly the Class of 2017 tandem of T.J. Clifford and Denis Alibegovic.

Clifford is a big, strong, put-together 4-man with very good athleticism. The 6-6 sophomore competes and has a nice combination of craftiness and skill. Alibegovic is a 6-1 scoring guard who has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. He again showed an ability to create separation and get off an effective and clean perimeter jumper, including a buzzer-beating three to beat Plainfield East.

Senior Devin Blake, a strong 6-4 wing, put together a workmanlike weekend of his own, which included games of 22 and 23 points. The highly-productive Blake, who will be a coveted small college prospect, will be joined by a very successful sophomore and junior group that together won big on the sophomore team this past season.

Best in the business: When it comes to assembling a top field of teams and organization for an offseason event, no one does it better than Riverside-Brookfield Shootout Director Mike Reingruber and the R-B basketball staff. The Riverside-Brookfield Shootout has evolved into the premier summer event for high school teams each June, with Reingruber running an event that should –– and is –– rivaled because of its organization, cohesion and big-named programs.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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