There are annual circle-the-date events each high school basketball season. Thanks to the Chicago Elite Classic, the first weekend in December is one of them.
The same great basketball and wide range of highly-ranked teams will highlight the eighth annual Chicago Elite Classic, which will be Dec. 6-7 at Wintrust Arena.
Highly-regarded Bloom is one of the team returning to the event, but the Blazing Trojans will enter the season with a bullseye on their back with so much offseason hype. Coach Dante Maddox welcomes the opportunity to play in the Chicago Elite Classic.
“It means a lot to be able to play in an event like this,” says Maddox. “Our program has steadily grown each year and we’ve put ourselves in this position. It’s a great event and a chance to be tested, to be challenged and to learn from.”
Lane, fresh off an outstanding season, will make its debut in the event. Coach Nick LoGalbo knows and appreciates what the invitation means.
“If you’re familiar with the high school basketball landscape in Chicago, you know what type of event this is and how big of a deal it is,” says LoGalbo, whose team will also play in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament this year after winning 18 games last season. “We’re honored to be in an event like this.”
When LoGalbo told his players in a preseason meeting they would be playing in the Chicago Elite Classic, he said he saw their eyes light up.
“They were fired up that they were going to be a part of it,” says LoGalbo.
New Trier vs. Lane
New Trier lost a bunch from a team that won 23 games, but look for senior John Carragher and 6-5 junior Ian Burns to rise up and lead the Trevians. Lane returns just one starter, but he’s a good one — 6-4 Louis Perona — along with sixth man Eric Stemper.
Evanston vs. Notre Dame
A couple of teams that will be highly ranked, fueled by an array of players who are among the very best in Illinois in the Class of 2021, meet up in an early season showdown.
Notre Dame’s impressive junior group includes highly-regarded Anthony Sayles, Troy D’Amico and Louis Lesmond, while Evanston is led by the 1-2 punch of juniors Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson. All five are among the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2021.
Fenwick vs. Oak Park
Over the years this rivalry, with competitive games and energized student sections, has become one of the highlights of the Chicago Elite Classic.
Fenwick’s Bryce Hopkins and Oak Park’s Isaiah Barnes are two of the top 10 junior prospects in the state. Hopkins boasts high-major offers from Kansas, Indiana, Ohio State, Louisville, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Northwestern, Texas and more.
Following a pair of girls basketball games to start the day off on Saturday –– Simeon vs. Homewood-Flossmoor and Thornwood-Phillips, a busy Saturday wraps up with five boys games.
Kenwood vs. Lincoln Park
Coach Justin Bowen takes over at Kenwood where he will lean on explosive senior guard Roland McCoy. Lincoln Park returns senior big man Romelle Howard and the junior backcourt of Ismail Habib and Julio Montes from a team that won 23 games last year.
Bloom vs. Atlanta Pace
There will be some big expectations in Chicago Heights when the season tips off, thanks to a loaded and experienced roster stacked with Division I talent.
Are Bloom’s Martice Mitchell, Keshawn Williams, Donovan Newby, Dante Maddox, Justin Moore and Christian Shumate ready for the big stage? This game provides an opportunity for this senior group to impress early.
Coach Dante Maddox’s team will be tested with this out-of-state opponent as Pace Academy is led by highly-regarded 6-6 guard Matthew Cleveland, who is ranked among the top 35 players in the country in the Class of 2021.
Simeon vs. Baltimore St. Frances
The 1-2 punch of junior Ahamad Bynum and newcomer Jeremiah Williams, a talented transfer from St. Laurence, are the headliners from Simeon.
St. Frances is a powerhouse, winning 37 games a year ago and capturing the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament and regular season championships, and remain loaded.
Guard Ace Baldwin (14.1 ppg, 5.6 apg), a VCU commit, 6-6 Jamal West (12.9 ppg), an Alabama State commit, and athletic Jordan Toles, who is headed to LSU to play football, all return.
Plus, a pair of big-time talents –– 6-3 senior Jahmal Banks and 6-1 junior Byron Ireland –– have transferred in.
Young vs. Duncanville, Texas
DJ Steward & Company won’t be ducking anyone in the early part of the season. The Dolphins face a Duncanville team with four returning starters that’s expected to be among the top 25 high school teams in the country. Last year Duncanville, which is riding a 25-game win streak, won a Texas state championship.
The headliner is Micah Peavy, a 6-7 wing who is ranked among the top 40 players in the country and has double-digit high-major offers. The trio of 5-8 senior Ja’Bryant Hill, 6-3 senior Derek Luna and 6-4 junior Damon Nicholas all return.
Morgan Park vs. St. Louis Vashon
Arguably the state’s best backcourt, seniors Adam Miller and Marcus Watson, will have its hands full with the Missouri powerhouse out of St. Louis.
Vashon makes a return trip to the Chicago Elite Classic. The defending Missouri state champions — and state champs in three of the past four years — went 26-4 last season and return 6-6 Cam’Ron Fletcher, a top 50 talent who has committed to Kentucky. Point guard Phillip Russell, a Southeast Missouri State commit, and 6-7 three-star prospect Kobe Clark are two more seniors to watch.