What we won’t see Friday night when the state’s top two prospects –– Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt and Glenbard West’s Braden Huff –– meet is anything that resembles what transpired when the top two prospects squared off 14 years ago. That’s a guarantee.
Back in 2007, Simeon’s Derrick Rose and St. Joseph’s Evan Turner played in front of 7,400 fans at Northwestern. The game was highlighted by one of the most memorable individual showdowns, both on and off the court, in state history. The two stars put on a show and provided news-worthy comments typically provided by NBA rivals.
Behind Rose’s 29 points, seven assists and four steals, Simeon beat St. Joseph 74-66. Turner, who at one point scored 20 straight points for the Chargers, finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds. The two went at each other in what was a true heavyweight high school basketball brawl.
During the heated game, Turner demonstratively let everyone on press row know exactly what he thought of Rose, the top-ranked player in the state.
“Derrick Rose ain’t sh#$@,” Turner barked.
Turner didn’t let up after the game, either, stating in the post-game press conference, “I was better than him. With me guarding him, he didn’t do much. He knows that, and I know that.”
When Rose was told of Turner’s comments, the state’s top-ranked prospect didn’t hold back.
“We both know who is better,” said Rose. “He’s just doing this to get a little bit of publicity. We’ll see who does more at the next level.”
The Schutt-Huff rivalry? Yeah, not so much. There will be no bad-mouthing. The two are friends who stay in contact since playing the past two years on the same Illinois Wolves club basketball team. There is no tension or animosity and it can’t even be called a rivalry.
“It’s definitely a little different playing any AAU teammate –– I played against [Glenbrook South’s] Cooper [Noard] this past week, my Wolves teammate –– but it’s also a lot of fun,” said Huff. “We are both competitive and expect a battle. It doesn’t matter who I’m playing. I want to play well and do the best I can in every game I play.”
Schutt says the main thing is focusing on and preparing for a Class 1A state championship. And a game like Friday night, facing Huff, the state’s No. 1 team and a Class 4A favorite will certainly help prepare Yorkville Christian. But he does admit “it probably is the biggest game” in the short history of the program.
“I go against him in practice with the Wolves and we’ve faced each other in the summer, so I don’t think it will be that odd playing him,” said Schutt of his matchup with Huff and Caden Pierce, another Glenbard West player and Illinois Wolves teammate. “It’s a game we have really looked forward to.”
But when top prospects in the same class meet it’s always interesting. And when you consider one is going to Duke (Schutt) and one is headed to Gonzaga (Huff), it becomes even more intriguing.
Huff, however, couldn’t offer up a single nugget of bulletin board material. The 6-10 senior was locked in on the team’s approach and ongoing success.
“That’s why I like our high school team so much, because we are all so unselfish and we just aren’t into the individual stuff,” said Huff. “The main focus is getting the next win.”
Here is a look back at a few other individual showdowns featuring the top two prospects in the class over the past 25 years:
Quentin Richardson vs. Corey Maggette, Feb. 14, 1998
A matchup the City/Suburban Hoops Report at the time billed as the “Game of the Decade” lived up to the hype on Valentine’s Day. A pair of future NBA stars went toe-to-toe, back-and-forth, with one clutch basket and big moment after another.
A sold out crowd at Northwestsern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena was treated to an all-timer as Young and Richardson, the No. 1 ranked prospect, beat Fenwick and Maggette, the No. 2 ranked prospect. Both were top 20 national prospects. Richardson put up 28 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in the win. Maggette was magnificent as well with 28 points and 13 rebounds.
Dee Brown vs. Sean Dockery, Feb. 16, 2002
Dee vs. Doc. The two best guards and highest ranked players in the Class of 2006 collided in the City-Suburban Showdown at Northwestern.
Julian’s Sean Dockery put up a whopping 37 points in a losing effort as Dee Brown (27 points, eight assists and two steals) and Proviso East prevailed.
Jahlil Okafor vs. Cliff Alexander, Feb. 24, 2014
This one had everything, including two big men who were both ranked among the top five players in the country in the Class of 2014.
With Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel courtside, a dramatic four overtime city championship game went Curie’s way when Kamar Marshall drained a three in the final seconds for 69-66 win. Alexander finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds; Okafor, who fouled out with two minutes remaining in regulation, finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Adding to the drama: Curie was ultimately stripped of its city title due to an academic eligibility scandal.
Ayo Dosunmu vs. Talen Horton-Tucker, Dec. 7, 2017
There was some heat in this one.
First, it’s the Battle of Vincennes. That’s enough right there. But when it came to the two star players, the rivalry was ramped up. The drama centered around club basketball and a recruiting saga from a month earlier where Dosunmu signed with Illinois and Horton-Tucker’s offer was pulled at the last minute.
Simeon and Horton-Tucker beat Morgan Park and Dosunmu 70-57, but it was Messiah Jones who stole the show. While Horton-Tucker scored 17 and Dosunmu 18, Simeon’s Jones went for 23 points, 11 rebounds and put down six dunks.
DJ Steward vs. Adam Miller, Nov. 25, 2019
This was innovative scheduling as the state’s top two prospects met on the opening night of the high school basketball season at Chicago State. The heavy hype fizzled as Miller greatly struggled, shooting 4 of 18 from the field and finished with just nine points. Morgan Park was able to pull off the win, however, beating Young 61-59 as Steward scored 22 points.
DJ Steward vs. Adam Miller, Feb. 11, 2020
The second matchup came in the city quarterfinals. Morgan Park beat Young in another tight one, 78-75, as Miller had a much better game with 22 points. Steward finished with 21 in the loss.