As Editor/Publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, a high school basketball publication for nearly two decades and a recruiting service, I have awarded a Player of the Year in Illinois for the past 25 years. The following is the 26th recipient of the award.)
The 2020-21 high school basketball season felt anything but complete. But when it came down to the Player of the Year race, there is nothing more that Max Christie of Rolling Meadows could do.
Already the top-ranked prospect in the state, the Michigan State-bound guard put up numbers and won every game he played in this season. Christie averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks a game while leading Rolling Meadows to a perfect 16-0 record.
So in this unprecedented season unlike any other that we’ve experienced, Christie is this year’s City/Suburban Hoops Report Player of the Year.
The season simply was unable to play itself out. There were no holiday tournaments or high-profile shootouts. In normal times Christie and his Rolling Meadows team were scheduled to face Bryce Hopkins and Fenwick in the When Sides Collide Shootout in January. There were no state tournament runs and teams were either unable or limited to even play games outside of their own conference. The small window of basketball provided few opportunities for signature moments.
But Christie shined bright for four years with numbers that would have been even more staggering if he had played a full senior season. He did it the right way, showing character and unselfishness.
While being named a McDonald’s All-American is a monster accomplishment, Christie leading his team to its first conference championship in 40 years was important to him. Along the way he became both the school’s and Mid-Suburban League’s all-time leading scorer with 2,100 points.
“It was really fun, even though we only played 16 games in a condensed season,” said Christie of the 16-game slate. “We still won every game, won our conference championship which was one of the our goals as a team. The fact we won all our games, playing with [brother] Cameron and to be around all my friends and ending my senior year with conference. It was really fun for my last year.”
Past City/Suburban Hoops Report Player of the Year winners
2021: Max Christie, Rolling Meadows
2020: DJ Steward, Whitney Young
2019: EJ Liddell, Belleville West
2018: Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon
2017: Mark Smith, Edwardsville
2016: Charlie Moore, Morgan Park
2015: Jalen Brunson, Stevenson
2014: Jahlil Okafor, Young
2013: Jahlil Okafor, Young
2012: Jabari Parker, Simeon
2011: Wayne Blackshear, Morgan Park
2010: Jereme Richmond, Waukegan
2009: Drew Crawford, Naperville Central
2008: Kevin Dillard, Homewood-Flossmoor
2007: Derrick Rose, Simeon
2006: Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North
2005: Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North
2004: Shaun Livingston, Peoria Central
2003: Shannon Brown, Proviso East
2002: Dee Brown, Proviso East
2001: Pierre Pierce, Westmont
2000: Dwyane Wade, Richards
1999: Leon Smith, King
1998: Quentin Richardson, Young
1997: Brian Wardle, Hinsdale Central
1996: Ronnie Fields, Farragut
As Editor/Publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, a longtime recruiting service for college basketball programs across the country and a high school basketball publication that began in 1996, there has been a 10-player all-state first-team and 10-player all-state second team for 25 years. Here is the 26th edition of the CitySuburban Hoops Report All-State Team.
2020-2021 City/Suburban Hoops Report All-State Team • First Team
Robbie Avila, Oak Forest, Jr.
The skilled big man has been ultra-productive throughout his career, but the numbers when to another level this season. He averaged 25.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and three assists a game. He also set school records with most points (42) and rebounds (21) in a game.
Oak Forest coach Matt Manzke: “Robbie Avila is the total package. Not only does he have great skills, but he works hard every day in practice. He is an excellent student and a leader for everyone in our program to look up to. Most importantly, he puts winning above everything else.”
Isaiah Barnes, Simeon, Sr.
The transfer from Oak Park became more consistent with his jumper and put up 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the Red-South/Central champs. The versatile 6-7 Barnes is headed to Michigan.
Simeon coach Robert Smith: “He came into Simeon with basketball knowledge and a ton of experience. He also brought some needed leadership and became a leader of our team. Then as a player he has that size, athleticism and shooting ability. He started to post up later in the season, so that all-around game will help him at the next level where his ceiling is really high.”
AJ Casey, Young, Jr.
The state’s top junior prospect made his debut at Young this season. While he looks the part with his size, agility and athleticism, the 6-8 forward also showcased versatility and production. Casey was the catalyst in leading the Dolphins to an impressive 15-1 season, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists a game.
Young on Tyrone Slaughter: “AJ is the complete package. He did everything that you could ask of him to do as a player. He’s an unselfish star, filling a stat sheet and does so many things to help your team win.”
Max Christie, Rolling Meadows, Sr.
A three-time Hoops Report all-state selection and this year’s Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American. The Michigan State recruit is the top prospect in the state and put up numbers that backed it up: 24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks a game. The memorable career included scoring over 2,000 career points.
Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich: “Max emphatically put his stamp on not only Rolling Meadows High School, but on Mid-Suburban League basketball as well. If he isn’t the best player to have ever played in the MSL, he is certainly in the team picture. As good as he was on the court, he is an even better person off the court.”
Kam Craft, Buffalo Grove, Jr.
Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson: “Kam has had an unbelievable impact on our program in his three years. He already has his name all over the BG record book and will continue to impact records in our area.”
Bryce Hopkins, Fenwick, Jr.
Big, strong and skilled as a 6-6 hybrid forward, Hopkins did it all for the Friars and was the Catholic League’s Lawless Award winner. The Louisville commit put up 24.1 points a game while pulling down 10 rebounds and adding 3.5 assists a game. Hopkins, one of the top 40 prospects in the country in the Class of 2021, broke Corey Maggette’s single-season scoring record with 795 points.
Fenwick coach Staunton Peck: “Bryce is not just a great basketball player, he is a fierce competitor and high-quality young man that was raised by a great family. Bryce has accomplished what he has on the basketball court in large part because of his tireless work ethic and ability to respond positively to adversity. His attitude and work ethic will help him succeed after high school no matter the obstacles he faces.”
TY Johnson, DePaul Prep, Sr.
An electric scorer with the ball in his hands, the 6-2 guard averaged 20.2 points a game while filling the stat sheet with 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and nearly two steals a game. Led DePaul Prep to the Chipotle Clash of Champions tournament title. Johnson is headed to Loyola next season.
DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt: “TY was always improving, adding something to his game throughout his career. He was a sponge and a gym rat who is gifted offensively but bought into being a two-way player. Overall, he’s a great kid with a huge upside.”
Louis Lesmond, Notre Dame, Sr.
The Harvard recruit took a major step forward as a senior, leading the Dons to a 15-3 record while being named the East Suburban Catholic Conference Player of the Year. A two-way player who excelled at both ends, Lesmond finished the year averaging 17.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and two assists a game. He made the shot of the year when his 65-foot buzzer-beater stunned Fenwick and made ESPN’s Top 10 Plays.
Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy: “The best two-way player in the state, a winner and a competitor. Louis was one of the most exciting players in Notre Dame history. He was coachable, wanted to be better every day and reach his full potential.”
Blake Peters, Evanston, Sr.
All Evanston has done since the 6-1 guard entered high school is win. The Wildkits went a combined 100-18 in the four years with Peters in the starting lineup. As a senior he averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game and became the all-time leading scorer in Evanston history with 1,585 career points. The Princeton-bound Peters is also one of the all-time leading three-point shooters in state history.
Evanston coach Mike Ellis: “Blake embodies what a championship student-athlete looks like, both on and off the court. There is no moment too big for Blake. His skillset, combined with his work ethic and character, allowed him to start every game at the varsity level in his high school career and become the school’s all-time leading scorer.”
Jaden Schutt, Yorkville Christian, Jr.
Arguably the state’s best shooter, Schutt put up 24 points a game and added 8.5 rebounds, four assists and shot 40 percent from the three-point line. The 6-4 guard is among the top prospects in the state and boasts a bevy of high-major offers and interest.
Yorkville Christian coach Aaron Sovern: “Jaden has been a plus shooter for some time, but he was able to show tremendous growth in both his playmaking and attacking skills this season.”
City/Suburban Hoops Report All-State • Second Team
Zach Cleveland, Jr., Normal
Conor Enright, Sr., Mundelein
Brandon Hall, Sr., Thornton
Braden Huff, Jr., Glenbard West
Nick Martinelli, Jr., Glenbrook South
Jalen Quinn, Jr., Tuscola
Ethan Roberts, Sr., Hersey
Julius Rollins, Sr., Hillcrest
Ben Schwieger, Sr., Waubonsie Valley
JJ Taylor, So., Kenwood