By Joe Henricksen

What's been learned and confirmed?

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By Joe Henricksen

We are past the midway point of the season and plenty has been learned -- and confirmed -- as we begin to head

down the stretch of the regular season. Here are just a few random thoughts....

Batavia in the conversation
When discussing the top teams in Class 4A, the Bulldogs of Batavia need to be in the conversation. Coach Jim

Roberts' club just wouldn't go away against talented Marshall Saturday night at the Sears Centre in Hoffman

Estates, eventually falling in a close one. This team is fearless. The much-anticipated Batavia-Simeon matchup Feb.

2 at Batavia should be a fun one as the atmosphere should be as good as it gets in high school basketball.

The freshman did what?
It was just three weeks ago when I mentioned Limestone's Donivine Stewart should be included with Curie's

Wayne Blackshear and DeLaSalle's Mike Shaw as one of the top freshmen in the state. The intangibles I mentioned,

which includes an uncanny feel and understanding of how to score for such a young player, must have been front

and center over the weekend. The 5-11 freshman guard scored 41 points in a win over Dunlap Saturday night.

While Stewart does not have the upside and ceiling of a Blackshear or Shaw, his ability alone puts him among the

top five freshmen in Illinois.

And yet another talented sophomore
It seems the list of top players in the Class of 2010 just grows and grows. Another player climbing the rankings

quickly is Mundelein's Ben Brust. Like the aforementioned Stewart, I just tend to gravitate to players that can

actually put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis. The 6-2 guard can flat-out score. He can shoot it with

range, off the dribble and is more athletic than people think. He's one of the top 15 players in the sophomore class.

Speaking of talented sophomores, one player I really anticipate making a huge jump between his sophomore and

junior year is New Trier big man Fred Heldring. His role is somewhat limited on a senior-dominated New Trier club,

but in this day where big men are impossible to find, Heldring has a chance to blossom into a high-major prospect

before it's all said and done.

Class 3A State Tournament will be brutal
This coming week's City/Suburban Hoops Report issue put together a Class 3A statewide ranking. After taking a

long, hard look at those rankings it's easy to see why the Class 3A State Tournament this March will have less

drama than any state tournament in state history. As previously mentioned, after Simeon, Marshall and Decatur

Eisenhower there is a considerable drop in team talent. From a ranking team perspective, it was actually difficult to

feel good about putting some of the teams in the top 16 3A poll. Hopefully 3A's "Big Three" will all make it to Peoria

and save the mess that is four classes.

The Super Six
Although this could possibly change before March rolls around, I believe six teams have separated themselves

from the rest of the pack. Simeon, Marshall, H-F, Farragut, Whitney Young and Decatur Eisenhower are six teams

that will likely be fighting it out for the 3A and 4A state titles. I have yet to see unbeaten Edwardsville, so it remains

to be seen how they fit into the mix.

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come on, joe! why do you have to bash 3A like that? there are many people in this state who could care less which teams make it to the state finals. all they want to see are the games that decided the champion, whoever that might be. also, if you check your memory bank, you will see that there have been some real stinkers at the state finals when there were 2 classes and even when there was one. i can guarantee you that whichever 4 teams make the state finals in 3A will deserve it. they will also be high quality teams that can play with anyone in the state in any class. just because you don't like 4 classes and think (incorrectly) that it's the end of the world, don't use your position as a "blogger" to try to sway public opinion. you have no idea how any of the class tournament will play out. nobody does. let it rest and enjoy the that KIDS play.

When speaking of the "state tournament" in this blog, I mean the entire tournament -- regional, sectional, etc. The Final Four in Class 3A could still be very good, which I have indicated in previous posts and in my City/Suburban Hoops Report publication. You are right, teams like Marshall, Simeon and Eisenhower can indeed play with anyone in the state. But when comparing regional and sectional matchups this year in Class 3A in comparison to what we have watched and been used to in the past in the two-class system, it's not even comparable. And kids or no kids, it's sports, athletics and competition. Is it that bad to have a true state champion? In regard to swaying public opinion, there is no need to. I am quite aware of what the public opinon is of four classes, including the high school basketball coaches in this state that had no say in the matter and, by majority, are also very much against four classes. I have a pretty good idea of how it will all play out. Just ask the people in Indiana and what happened to the interest in their state tournament when they added classes. And four classes certainly is not the end of the world, just the end of seeing the best basketball played in March in this state.

You are right on Joe! How could anyone not care who would make it to the state finals? Or want to see the best possible matchups in regional or sectional play? It's obviously clear the best teams won't be playing one another this March.

There has not been a true "state champion" in Illinois since they went to 2 classes. The Indiana argument does not hold water. Indiana has 1/2 the high schools that Illinois has and they went from 1 to 4 classes. HUGE difference. Too bad there aren't two classes. I'd love to see another AA title game like the one in '06 when Simeon defeated Richwoods 31-29. In overtime. Now that's good basketball!!! :-)

Four classes are a joke. The majority of people do not like it. The IHSA wants to hand out trophies. If that's what people want, they got it. The regional and sectional games will not be nearly as entertaining or as competitive as in the past.

The point is there was nothing wrong with the state tournament with the way it was. Also, there have been only 1 or maybe 2 class A champs that could have even competed in the AA state finals. Most everyone loved the tournament set up as it was--1 small school champ, 1 big school champ. Who cares how many schools are in each state? We are talking about the interest and from everything I have read and heard about what happened in Indiana it has been negative. And by the way, who is this guy who doesn't want to see the best teams possible in a state tournament?

People like Ging just don't get it. They don't appreciate the history and tradition that goes along with the high school basketball in this state.

Wow! There is someone who likes four classes! Anyone that enjoys high school basketball knows that this a step backwards. As usual, Joe Henricksen hit it right on the head. The tournament was wonderful how it was, and we can only hope that it retains some of those qualities going forward.

To the "casual observers" that view Waukegan Highschool games..The perimeter passing style of play is conducive with Division 1 basketball. there was an article in the Waukegan News Sun that the locals are frustrated by this style of play. Here are some reasons why this style of play is effective with this team..

1.Jereme Richmond, although the top soph in the state. He needs his team more than they need him. Waukegan won a regional title last year without him. He needs to learn how to become a team player.

2.The State Tournament, state titles are not won running up and down the court fancy free. They are won with a good half court offense and excellent defense.

3.College...Waukegan has at least 3 or 4 legitimite prospects..The whole point of preps hoops is to win state titles and prepare the kids for the next level..which coach ashlaw is obviously doing. Preparing kids for the team game.

What waukegan lacks is size and Warren type defense..By jereme richmonds junior year he will probably be the impact player we all expect him to be, added by a great team. Rather than 1 impact player added by a good or not so great team.

Waukegan alumn class of '99 go bulldogs state titles to come

I am from Kentucky originally. I grew up with one State Champion and didin't mind it at all. It teaches you about life because like it or not how big or small you are doesn't matter. You still have to make a living in life. What are we teaching our kids? The smaller you are the more inferior you are. Four classes is a joke. It is enough that you had two classes. Indiana learned a lot by going to Four classes. It ruined their state tournament. If you ask all the small schools in Kentucky (which the KHSAA did) if they wanted multiple classes they said no. It wouldn't mean they are the best was what was said. So I am against the four classes. Like I said before it's a joke!!!!!!

Once again, another example of IHSA administrators having NO CLUE what they are doing. The peak of IHSA basketball ended in 1995. The State Finals were moved from Champaign. Then in 2003 they decided to end the Public League Championship, thus ruining the regional/ sectional format. Now they have gone to 4 classes. Someone please explain who is in charge and why????

4A is completely top heavy. 3A is a joke, except for like 3 teams. Tell me WHO is going to watch those 3rd place games during state weekend?? What a joke.


What's been learned and confirmed?
By Joe Henricksen

We are past the midway point of the season and plenty has been learned -- and confirmed -- as we begin to head

down the stretch of the regular season. Here are just a few random thoughts....

Whats been learned- the Mid Suburban League is pretty wide open......Conant seems to the most balanced and should repeat as MSL Champs.

If you sleep on the O'Fallon Panthers you've lost your mind. Edwardsville beat them--but O'Fallon is ridiculously talented. Eisenhower is the best team in this state--regardless of class.

Tim from Evanston needs to leave the North Shore once in a while. 3A is no joke. Three teams from the Big12 (that's a conference down here in the hinterlands) have rock solid basketball teams. Champaign Central, Centennial and Eisenhower are flush with D1 talent and can play with anyone. Bloomington's not bad and Mt. Zion from the Apollo is as tough as they come.

Speaking of the 3rd place games.....does anyone want them? I played in Ohio in HS(a long time ago), we made it to the final 4 and lost. I can't imagine playing another game after losing in the semi's. No other "final" has a 3/4 place game ie. regional/sectional, the NCAA stopped it years ago. It may be the most emotionless game of the year. Everybody is bummed.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on January 20, 2008 11:09 PM.

Big night, big test for Batavia in Hoops Showdown was the previous entry in this blog.

Ranking the best of the worst is the next entry in this blog.

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