Joe Henricksen’s 3-pointer: Max Christie vs. Bryce Hopkins, sectional talk and Darius Burford’s hot streak

All eyes will be on the top two junior prospects this Saturday.

SHARE Joe Henricksen’s 3-pointer: Max Christie vs. Bryce Hopkins, sectional talk and Darius Burford’s hot streak
Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie (12) looks to drive past Prospect’s Chase Larsen.

Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie (12) looks to drive past Prospect’s Chase Larsen.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Max Christie vs. Bryce Hopkins

Yes, it’s Rolling Meadows facing Fenwick at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East, but all eyes will be on the top two junior prospects in Illinois.

Christie is a consensus top 20 prospect in the country, ranked as high as No. 13 nationally in the Class of 2021.

Hopkins is among the top 70 players in the country — and even that may be too low for a player with the game and credentials he has and the offer list he had before committing to Louisville this past fall.

Several high-major programs are courting Christie, including virtually the entire Big Ten, Duke, Virginia and the current No. 2 team in the country, Gonzaga. He has put recruiting on the back-burner during the high school season. More visits and trimming lists will come later this year as his focus remains on his junior campaign.

But Christie, a 6-6 guard who has already scored 1,467 points in his career, is doing it all. He’s averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks a game for a young 12-win Rolling Meadows team.

Hopkins is putting up whopping numbers. The multi-faceted 6-6 forward, who can bully you with his strength or finesse opponents with his skill, is averaging 24.5 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals a game.

Now the talented juniors will play in a marquee showcase, an event that includes a trio of other games, including Simeon-Notre Dame and Bloom-Evanston.

Sectional talk

The Lake Park loss to Geneva this past weekend may not have resonated much outside the DuKane Conference. However, the significance of that 46-41 Geneva win is this: The most advantageous road to Peoria in March is through the DeKalb Super-Sectional.

In addition, the Addison Trail Sectional that feeds into DeKalb is as winnable as the western suburban sectional has ever been. There isn’t a single ranked team in the sectional and Benet, which has won three of the past six sectionals, has dropped down to Class 3A this year.

The favorite at Addison Trail remains Lake Park with the likes of Naperville Central, Glenbard West, Glenbard East, Wheaton North and Wheaton South all lingering in what is the weakest Class 4A sectional in the Chicago area.

The Addison Trail Sectional winner will meet the Dundee-Crown Sectional winner in the DeKalb Super. Cary-Grove, St. Charles North, DeKalb, Huntley and Rockford Jefferson will all be duking it out in an up-for-grabs Dundee-Crown Sectional.

Darius Burford’s hot streak

Bolingbrook’s Darius Burford is on one heck of a hot streak.

The 6-0 senior guard has been dazzling all season, averaging 24.7 points a game, but he has turned it up another notch since the calendar turned to 2020.

Last week alone the Elon recruit scored 102 points in three games, including 38 points in a win over Marian Catholic, and is averaging 29.2 points a game in the five games he’s played in 2020.

Burford, one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top 15 prospects in the Class of 2020, looks to be a steal for Elon in the Colonial Athletic Association. He has dynamic end-to-end speed with the ball in his hands and such a difficult cover in transition. Plus, Buford’s added value is that his on-off button is always turned on which helps him turn a game around in an instant.

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