Henricksen: My weekly three-pointer

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Young coach Tyrone Slaughter walks off the court with Javon Freeman (0) after their loss to Simeon. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times

No. 1

With the way Young played in winning the Proviso West Holiday Tournament last week, there isn’t a team among the Chicago area’s very best that’s come as far as the Dolphins have since the season opener.

When you factor in it impressively won four games at Proviso without one of its top players, junior guard Justin Boyd, and key a reserve, 6-5 Jake Kosakowski, coach Tyrone Slaughter’s team should only continue to get better.

What Young has right now is arguably the most consistently productive senior in the Chicago area in Proviso West Tournament MVP Lucas Williamson, who scored 25 points in the semifinal win and 27 in the championship, along with a dynamic playmaking point guard in junior Xavier Castaneda.

Castaneda has battled his way back to full health after nursing some injuries throughout his career. But he looked the part of a top five prospect in the junior class and true floor general with his play at Proviso, including a combined 20 points and 16 assists in wins over Fenwick and Morgan Park.

When Boyd, a sweet shooting 6-3 offensive weapon, returns later this month, the Dolphins will have four potent offensive threats that complement one another very well in Williamson, Castaneda and emerging 6-3 junior Javon Freeman.

Plus, a pair of seniors have settled nicely into their roles as Craig Beaudion has been a defensive presence on the perimeter and 6-7 Justin Stovall adds size and has provided some valuable minutes.

No. 2

The Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic finished up its second year and has the potential to become a player in the state’s holiday tournament schedule.

Already tremendously organized after just two years in existence, there is a strong future for this tournament, which featured an improved field of teams and increased crowds from a year ago.

Bolingbrook, which is one of the top handful of teams in the state heading into January, was the highlight at Hinsdale Central this year. The Raiders beat Homewood-Flossmoor in the final and showcased their speed, size, athleticism, depth and enormous potential as a bonafide state title contender.

There is presently a strong base of programs with the likes of Bolingbrook, H-F, Marian Catholic, Stevenson, Rockford Auburn, Maine South and St. Charles East, along with an up-and-coming program in DePaul College Prep.

But what Hinsdale Central could really use is a city power and a couple more higher profile programs to raise this event to another level. And there are three prime targets Hinsdale Central could reach out to for next season: Kenwood, Thornton and Evanston.

All three make a lot of sense if Hinsdale Central can find a way to bring in some new blood. They each bring different and intriguing geographical representation, and there is little to no conflict with existing teams in regards conference affiliations or scheduling.

Both Evanston, a tradition-rich program, and Kenwood, a rising program in the Public League, played in out-of-state tournaments this year and could very well be looking for a new holiday home. And while Thornton has been a staple at the Big Dipper at Rich South, the mass exodus there over the past couple of years could continue.

No. 3

There was no player in the junior class from the Chicago area who made a bigger impression as a much-improved prospect than Larkin’s Jalen Shaw.

While Larkin has been without its top player all season, 6-6 senior and Loyola recruit Christian Negron, Shaw keeps getting better and came into holiday tournament play averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks a game.

He was terrific in a Proviso West Holiday Tournament quarterfinal loss to Uplift, scoring in a variety of ways en route to 26 points. In four games at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament the 6-9 post player averaged 15 points and 8.8 rebounds a game while blocking 15 shots.

With legitimate size, a solid frame and improving skills and polish on the offensive end, Shaw has skyrocketed up the City/Suburban Hoops Report prospect rankings in the Class of 2018.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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