The winningest high school basketball programs of the decade: No. 8 Young

The Sun-Times is counting down the 50 high school basketball programs with the most wins during the decade.

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Young’s Miles Reynolds reacts after hitting a three-pointer to send the 2014 city title game into its first overtime.

Young’s Miles Reynolds reacts after hitting a three-pointer to send the 2014 city title game into its first overtime.

Sun-Times file photo

When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.

The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.

The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.

Earlier this year we broke down the decade’s best teams and best players. Now, with every season of the past decade complete, it’s time to look at the Chicago area programs who won the most.

This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.

We present No. 8 Young today and will add one program a day going forward.

8. YOUNG: 229-78

Decade’s biggest storyline: The 2013-14 Young team will long be remembered –– locally, statewide and nationally. 

With the nation’s top-ranked player as the face of the team, the Dolphins played what was arguably the toughest schedule any team from Illinois has put together. Jahlil Okafor and Company traveled the country, played in nationally-televised events and faced 13 out-of-state powers.

Young played games in Oregon, Florida, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Tennessee and West Virginia over the course of the season. 

In the end, Young won both city and state championships behind a loaded roster featuring the massive and heralded 6-10 Okafor and top 100, high-major recruit Paul White.

Prior to beating Benet in the state championship, the Dolphins won a memorable state semifinal matchup against Stevenson and Jalen Brunson. While Brunson scored a record-breaking 56 points in defeat, Okafor, the No. 1 ranked prospect in the country in the Class of 2014, scored 33 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in the 75-68 instant classic. 

Underrated highlight: While the 2013-14 team is the easy-to-remember state title team, the lesser-known 2016-17 team also won it all by beating city rival Simeon in the state championship. 

Young’s 27-5 season included a Proviso West Holiday Tournament title and a breakout year from senior Lucas Williamson. The Dolphins beat Fremd 53-47 in the state semifinals and knocked off Simeon 60-50 in the title game. 

Player of the Decade:Jahlil Okafor (2014)

All-Decade Team:Jahlil Okafor (2014), Paul White (2014), Lucas Williamson (2017), Javon Freeman (2018) and DJ Steward (2020)

Jahlil Okafor of Young powers over Stevenson’s Cameron Green for a dunk.

Jahlil Okafor of Young powers over Stevenson’s Cameron Green for a dunk.

Sun-Times file photo

Other decade highlights:

-Young won back-to-back city championships, beating Morgan Park in overtime in 2013 and being awarded a forfeit win over Curie in 2014.

-It’s not very often a program can feature a McDonald’s All-American who is not the Player of the Decade. But there were two players from Young named to this prestigious team this past decade: Steward and Okafor. 

-The 2013-14 team won a high-profile game at the Hoophall Classic in Massachusetts. The Dolphins beat a loaded Oak Hill Academy team, which boasted multiple high-major prospects and a surplus of Division I players, 53-50.

-In an ESPN televised game in the 2013-14 season, Okafor went for 22 points and 15 rebounds in a win over future Duke teammate Tyus Jones, one of the top five prospects in the country, and Apple Valley in Minnesota. 

-Young won the 2018 Proviso West Holiday Tournament. 

-Okafor went on to win a national championship at Duke as a freshman in 2014-15 and became the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

-Young’s 2019-20 team, led by All-American Steward, was playing for the program’s fourth sectional championship before the state series was officially canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

-In one of the biggest regular-season wins of the past decade, Young traveled to California power Mater Dei last February and handed the Monarchs their first-ever loss in the Nike Extravaganza. 

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