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Chicago Friday Dec. 5, 2014 Oak Park-River Forest HS students cheer their team against Fenwick during their Chicago Elite Classic game at UIC Pavillion in Chicago Friday Dec. 5, 2014. | Sun-Times files.

Chicago Elite Classic preview and weekend forecast

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SHARE Chicago Elite Classic preview and weekend forecast

The Chicago Elite Classic, the annual two-day event featuring top teams in Illinois and from throughout the country, tips off this weekend with a fresh, new look.

The loaded field of teams and individual talent remains the same. But the venue has changed as the seventh annual edition moves from the UIC Pavilion to the 10,000-plus seat Wintrust Arena.

Here is a list of games and what players and storylines to look forward to this weekend.

THE MATCHUPS

Friday, Nov. 30

■ Young vs. Montverde Academy (Florida) •(girls basketball game) at 6:00 p.m.

■ St. Rita vs. St. Ignatius at 7:30 p.m.

■ Fenwick vs. Oak Park at 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 1

■ Bloomington vs. St. Louis (Chaminade) at 10:30 a.m.

■ Bloom vs. West Aurora at 12 noon

■ Uplift vs. Evanston at 1:30 p.m.

■ Huntington Prep vs. Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas) at 3 p.m.

■ Bogan vs. Dominican (Milwaukee) at 4:30 p.m.

■ Morgan Park vs. Vashon (St. Louis) at 6 p.m.

■ Young vs. Mater Dei (California) at 7:30 p.m.

■ Simeon vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) at 9 p.m.

THE RIVALRIES

Friday’s intrigue lies in the fact there will be two strong rivalries played out on a neutral floor and in a large venue.

St. Rita-St. Ignatius is a Catholic League tussle while neighboring schools Oak Park and Fenwick hook up once again in the Friday finale that has become this event’s opening night staple.

Despite its loss to Riverside-Brookfield last weekend, Oak Park is ranked, loaded with senior talent and ready for a revamped Fenwick. Oak Park beat the Friars 64-59 last year at UIC after dropping the previous five matchups between the two schools that sit just one mile apart.

BEST IN-STATE MATCHUP

Evanston, the No. 2 ranked team, already has a signature win under its belt with a win over ranked St. Viator last week. But it won’t get any easier as the Wildkits, led by the senior guard tandem of Lance Jones and Jaheim Holden and a much-talked-about sophomore group, face a talented Markese Jacobs and ranked Uplift.

HOME SWEET HOME

DePaul fans can get an up close look at Uplift star Markese Jacobs, who signed with the Blue Demons earlier this month and will be playing on his future home floor. The ultra-explosive Jacobs is a dynamic point guard with speed and athleticism.

TOP IN-STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH

■ Rashaun Agee, 6-7, Bogan (Sr.). A big man who provides a presence for the Bengals and remains uncommitted.

■ Myles Baker, 6-2, Young (Sr.). Pumped in 32 points in the season-opening win last week and is one of the top uncommitted senior prospects in Illinois.

■ Tyler Beard, 6-2, Young (Jr.). Tough, competitive, athletic guard who attacks at both ends of the floor. Rivals.com ranks Beard No. 66 nationally.

■ Kejuan Clements, 5-11, Simeon (Sr.). A tough, hard-nosed, four-year varsity player who takes on a bigger role this season as one of the best uncommitted seniors still on the board.

■ Markese Jacobs, 5-11, Uplift (Sr.). Electric with the ball and the No. 2 ranked senior prospect in Illinois.

■ Lance Jones, 6-2, Evanston (Sr.). Big, strong guard with a burst in the open floor, Jones signed with Southern Illinois.

■ Dante Maddox, 6-2, Bloom (Jr.). A guard who can play on and off the ball and possesses shooting and scoring ability.

■ Adam Miller, 6-3, Morgan Park (Jr.). The top-rated prospect from Illinois in the event –– a consensus top 35 prospect in the country –– Miller is a big-bodied guard with unlimited shooting range.

■ Martice Mitchell, 6-9, Bloom (Jr.). Long, lanky and moves better than most big men, Mitchell is a still-developing junior but one of the CIty/Suburban Hoops Report’s top five prospects.

■ Chris Payton, 6-7, Bloomington (Sr.). Among the state’s top 10 prospects in the senior class. The highly-athletic Payton is headed to Southern Illinois.

■ D.J. Steward, 6-3, Young (Jr.). A stellar two years at Fenwick is in the books. Now he’s a top 100 talent and the No. 2 prospect in Illinois in the Class of 2020.

■ Marcus Watson, 5-10, Morgan Park (Jr.). A jet-quick guard with scoring ability and a top 10 prospect in Illinois’ junior class.

■ Keshawn Williams, 6-2, Bloom (Jr.). A budding prospect with exciting athleticism and a burst off the dribble ––and another Hoops Report top 10 prospect in the Class of 2020.

NATIONAL TALENT PLAYING IN CHICAGO

There is a lengthy list of top-notch teams from around the country loaded with star-studded talent. Here is a short list of the biggest names to watch this weekend:

■ Malik Hall, 6-8, Sunrise Christian (Sr.). The multi-skilled wing began his career in the western suburbs at Metea Valley. Now he’s among the top 50 players in the country and headed to Michigan State.

■ N’Faly Dante, 6-10, Sunrise Christian (So.). The big man is among the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2020.

■ Tray Jackson, 6-8, Sunrise Christian (Sr.). The top 100 prospect is headed to Missouri.

■ Mario McKinney, 6-1 St. Louis Vashon (Sr.). Another four-star prospect headed to Missouri, the explosive scoring guard put on a show in last year’s Chicago Elite Classic.

■ Cam’ron Fletcher, 6-5, St. Louis Vashon (Jr.). Ranked among the top 75 players in the country, this versatile forward is already being courted by Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas State and Saint Louis.

■ Jaemyn Brakefield, 6-8, Huntington Prep (So.). A physically gifted young star who is among the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2021 and boasts over 20-plus high-major offers.

■ Devin Askew, 6-2, Mater Dei (So.). This special point guard is already among the top 20 talents nationally in the Class of 2021 and has offers from Oregon, USC, Texas, San Diego State and Louisville.

■ Wilhelm Breidenbach, 6-9, Mater Dei (So.). Ranked among the top 30 players in the country in the sophomore class and a high-major target.

NEW FACES TO WATCH

There will be plenty of young talent on display, including the sophomore tandem at Evanston — Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson –– who were influential a year ago, and Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins, the 6-5 sophomore who is among the top 10 prospects in the class. In three games this season, Hopkins is averaging 19.3 points and eight rebounds a game.

Here are the top young in-state players who are relatively new to the varsity scene to keep an eye on during the two days of action.

■ Ahamad Bynum, Simeon (So.)

■ A.J. Casey, 6-8, Simeon (Fr.)

■ Jaylen Drane, Simeon (Fr.)

■ Bryce Hopkins, 6-5, Fenwick (So.)

■ Grant Newell, 6-6, Young (So.)

■ Isaiah Barnes, 6-6, Oak Park (So.)

■ Blake Peters, 6-0, Evanston (So.)

■ Jaylin Gibson, 6-4, Evanston (So.)

WEEKEND FORECAST

A look at the weekend’s top games.

Leo at Loyola Academy • Friday

There is a lot to watch for and dissect in this one, starting with the controversy brewing around the Leo program and the coaching situation. There is also a contrast in styles and two under-appreciated seniors to lock in on –– Loyola’s Connor Barrett and Leo’s Fred Cleveland.

Hoops Report pick: Loyola 52, Leo 48

Providence St. Mel at DePaul Prep • Friday

A huge test for Class 1A power St. Mel. The Knights go on the road to play an unbeaten team ranked No. 16. St. Mel has experience, athleticism and balance. DePaul Prep has Perry Cowan and a terrific supporting cast.

Hoops Report pick: DePaul 55, St. Mel 50

Kankakee at Bloom • Friday

The Southland Conference starts off with a bang. The unbeaten darkhorse goes on the road to take on the unbeaten favorite. Kankakee’s Jacquan Binion is a 5-7 mighty mite who will be tested by the outstanding perimeter attack of Bloom, featuring Dante Maddox, Jr., Keshawn Williams and Donovan Newby.

Hoops Report pick: Bloom 69, Kankakee 60

Fremd at Barrington • Friday

While Fremd, led by the versatile Bryce Hopkins, is the preseason favorite in the MSL West, Barrington is off to a quick 4-0 start. Barrington lost a ton from last year’s team but does have an anchor in returning guard Jason Boock. A key early-season battle in a race that could be up for grabs.

Hoops Report pick: Fremd 45, Barrington 38

Rolling Meadows at Hersey • Friday

This should be a much better Hersey team than the one that finished 9-18 a year ago. There is a new coach in Austin Scott, and with the tandem of Rocco Ronzio and Matt Hanushewsky, Hersey is the team to beat in the MSL East. But as long as superstar sophomore Max Christie is on the floor, Rolling Meadows is going to be a threat in this league race.

Hoops Report pick: Hersey 61, Rolling Meadows 53

Geneva at Wheaton South • Friday

The new DuKane Conference tips off with the league favorite, Geneva and its talented senior tandem of point guard Jack McDonald and shooter Mitch Mascari, facing an always pesky Wheaton South team on the road. The Tigers graduated all five starters but still went 4-0 over Thanksgiving.

Hoops Report pick: Geneva 55, Wheaton South 46

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