The Public League has dominated the largest class in high school basketball for the past 11 years. The city has won nine of the last 11 (Class 4A or AA) titles. Stevenson and Jalen Brunson took the crown in 2015. Richards won in 2008, but the elite city teams were in Class 3A that year.
The city powers are at the top in the preseason rankings again this year. Curie, Simeon and Morgan Park make up the the top three. But they are significantly weaker than they’ve been in past years. This is one season when it isn’t a stretch to imagine kids from Evanston, Joliet, Harvey (or maybe even Hoffman Estates) hoisting a championship trophy in March in Peoria. The greater parity should make for an entertaining season across the area.
Here’s a look at the preseason Super 25:
1. CURIE: The guts of last season return with seniors Elijah Joiner, Terry Smith Jr. and Allante Pickens. Six-foot-seven junior brothers Treavon and Tyree Martin provide size. Condors coach Mike Oliver thinks junior Demarco Graham could be one of the area’s top shooters.
2. SIMEON: It’s never a bad thing to be loaded with guards. The Wolverines are stacked. Senior point guard Evan Gilyard leads the way. Expect major contributions from junior Kezo Brown and sophomore Kejuan Clements. Senior Madison Lowery and junior Messiah Jones are undersized bigs. Junior Talen Horton-Tucker, a 6-5 wide-body, can do it all.
3. MORGAN PARK: Junior guard Ayo Dosunmu had a breakout summer, he could mount a major Player of the Year campaign. Senior guard Cam Irvin is one of the state’s best shooters. Tons of size with 6-7 Lenell Henry, 6-6 Romelo Burrell, 6-7 Quincy Dillard and 6-7 Tamell Pearson. A major talent transferred in from out of state, 6-6 junior Aaron Cash.
4. EVANSTON: Senior Nojel Eastern has the ability to lead the Wildkits to a state title and he has a top-notch supporting cast, led by 6-5 senior Elijah Williams. Big things are expected for sophomore Lance Jones. Senior Chris Hamil is solid.
5. JOLIET WEST: All five starters return, led by senior point guard Teyvion Kirk and senior forward Trevian Bell. Junior Eddie Creal will take on a bigger role. Senior Tabyous Casterberry is a dependable center. Elijah Ward, a 6-5 senior, is the x-factor. The Tigers kick it up a notch when he’s playing well.
6. THORNTON: Alonzo Verge, who took the state by storm two years at Willowbrook, is now in Harvey after spending his junior season in Florida. His dynamic, high-scoring ability turns the Wildcats into state title contenders. Senior Christian Anderson and 6-7 junior Orlando Allen will have major roles.
7. HILLCREST: Senior Marcus Garrett is a hard-working, high-scoring star. Junior Bobby Harvey had a terrific summer and should have a breakout year. Isaac Stanback, a 6-4 sophomore, is one of the area’s electric athletes.
8. BOLINGBROOK: Loaded with talent. Nana Akenten, a 6-5 forward signed with Nebraska, is a matchup nightmare for opponents. He’s effective on the wing and in the post. Two 6-6 seniors, Brandon Lawani and Cam Harris, return. The Raiders picked up 6-5 Malik Binns, another matchup nightmare, from Morgan Park. Keep an eye on two young players, sophomore Joseph Yesufu and junior Kaleb Thornton.
9. KENWOOD: The Broncos graduated plenty of talent, but reinforcements have arrived. Octavious Parker, a senior shooting guard with potential, transferred from Niles West and 6-6 senior Cameron Bowles arrived from Homewood-Flossmoor. Dependable big man Manny Patterson is back. Senior David Hunt flashed nice potential last season and there are high hopes for sophomore guard Antonio Reeves.
10. NORTH LAWNDALE: Senior Carlos Hines turned a lot of heads over the summer. He’s an electric talent that could mount a Player of the Year charge. Senior guard Martrell Barnes returns, 6-4 senior Leonard Capels will need to step up. Three transfers, David Forrest, Steven Ross and London Stamps, will help.
11. YOUNG: Very deep and athletic. Senior Lucas Williamson plays hard and does a bit of everything. Junior point guard Xavier Castaneda is the key cog, much will depend on him. Junior Javon Freeman has arrived from Seton, he’s a sneaky, effective wing player.
12. UPLIFT: Serious contenders in Class 2A. Senior Demarius Jacobs, a Southern Illinois recruit, is one of the city’s best guards. His younger brother, sophomore Markese Jacobs, a Kansas recruit, is one of the state’s best young talents. Junior Toraze Dobbs, a 6-4 forward, is the x-factor.
13. ST. JOSEPH: Jason Towers, a 6-2 senior guard, is a majorly overlooked talent. He’s surrounded by quality talent with sophomore Marquise Walker, juniors Jordan Boyd and Joffari Brown. Big things are expected of two transfers, 6-7 sophomore Kameron Leonard and 6-1 senior Emmanuel Cross.
14. FENWICK: Topping last season will be difficult and the Friars may get off to a slow start since their best player, senior Jacob Keller, is still playing football. Expect senior Jamal Nixon to have a big year. Last season’s sophomore team was undefeated and beat Simeon and Morgan Park, so reinforcements have arrived.
15. MARIAN CATHOLIC: The Spartans had three likely starters transfer away, but talent remains. Junior guards Brandon Hurt and Chase Adams have been starting since freshman year, they will be expected to shoulder a bigger load this season. Nice size with 6-8 senior TeeAaron Powell.
16. NAPERVILLE NORTH: All the ingredients: shooting, size, experience. Mitch Lewis, a 6-6 senior, is the go-to-guy. Seniors Tyler Carlson, Cam Hardy and Winston Elston are all solid and 6-6 junior Chris Johnson could take a major step forward.
17. BOGAN: The Bengals are difficult to figure. They have a ton of talent, but most has arrived via transfer. Coach Arthur Goodwin will have to find a way to meld it together. Seniors Kamari Thornton and Jaquan Lawrence should be the leaders, there is a lot of buzz around sophomore guard Jeremiah Washington.
18. BENET: Coach Gene Heidkamp has built the Redwings into one of the area’s most consistent programs. Jack Nolan had a great summer, Liam Lyman also returns.
19. PROVISO EAST: Should be a calmer season now that coach Donnie Boyce is back. Tyler Chisom, Jamal Smith and Quinlan Bennett are the top returners.
20. CONANT: Probably the best Mid-Suburban League team in several years. Point guard Jimmy Sotos had a breakout summer and the Cougars have great size with 6-7 senior Michael Downing and 6-8 junior Ryan Davis.
21. MARIST: Juniors Maurice Commander and Morgan Taylor give the RedHawks one of the area’s best backcourts.
22. DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH: Western Michigan recruit TJ Clifford is one of the area’s hardest workers. When sharpshoooter Denis Alibegovic is making shots the Mustangs will be tough to beat.
23. HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR: The Vikings seniors aren’t flashy, but they are very good. Jeffery Boyd should open some eyes.
24. STEVENSON: Indiana-recruit Justin Smith and solid guard Willie Herenton make the Patriots one of the best teams in the Northern suburbs.
25. ORR: Raekwon Drake is a highlight film. The high-flying junior will lead the Spartans in the extremely-loaded Red-West.