By Joe Henricksen

The Best of Everything in Prep Hoops

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By Joe Henricksen

This most recent issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, which will be in the mailbox of subscribers this week, takes a look at the Best of Everything in Illinois high school basketball. Oh, there's going to be debate. No doubt. But that's what the City/Suburban Hoops Report's intention is -- for prep basketball followers to debate and discuss the past and present.

The Hoops Report set out to do a "Best of" list, using unofficial polls, surveys, questionnaires from coaches, members of the media, athletic directors, longtime fans, and the Hoops Report's own past experience in putting together the following list. In the end it was the Hoops Report's final call on each and every one, some more easy and obvious than others. Are they all right on? Certainly not, but it's a starter for discussion for all the avid Illinois prep basketball fans, coaches and enthusiasts out there. Here is just a small portion of the 35 different topics covered in the most recent issue of the City/Suburban Hoops Report.

There is no debating the best all-time program. Quincy is the fourth winningest basketball program in the country with over 1,830 wins. That also includes a ridiculous 57 regional titles, 30 sectional championships, 23 Sweet 16 berths and 13 state trophies, including a pair of state championships.

Pretty hard to argue this one. Simeon already had a little history on its side, but they have won back-to-back state titles and are currently perched up at No. 1 once again after graduating all five starters from last year. The premier program in Illinois is budding with young talent in the pipeline and boasts a quality coach in Robert Smith.

BEST RIVALRY: East Aurora vs. West Aurora
There are tremendous rivalries all over the state, but it's special when the rivalry involves one community, split by a river, with friends and family fighting over bragging rights. It's the second oldest rivalry in the state, dating back to 1912, and it involves two storied basketball programs.

After plenty of research and surveys, the choice ended up being easier than expected with Allman a runaway winner among dozens of coaches surveyed and interviewed. He's been a fixture in big games in recent years, including the Elite Eight, supersectional games and the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Allman is recognized as having all the best traits an official can have -- he communicates, is fair, consistent and comes to the floor without an ego.

BEST DYNASTY: Peoria Manual
There are only a few to pick from, but in the end there is only one program in state history that has won four consecutive state championships -- Peoria Manual. In a four-year period Manual went 121-11 with four state titles. And they did against one of the state's premier teams of its era in Thornton.

BEST COACHING JOB: EvanstonThe programs that received multiple votes included Evanston, Homewood-Flossmoor, New Trier, Whitney Young, Oak Park and West Aurora. But Evanston has as much to offer as any school. It hasn't mattered what coach has been there, they've all won -- from Jack Burmaster to Herb Williams to Mike Hart to Conte Stamas to Paul Pryma to Bobby Locke. Every one of those coaches since 1950 has had a career winning percentage of 65% or better while at Evanston. There is a ton of tradition (26 regional titles, eight trips to the Elite Eight, three state trophies, including a state championship since 1950) and the overall facilities are terrific, including a great home gym. The school is large (enrollment over 3,000) with a diverse student population and the school district pays well. There is community involvment, although with that comes some pressure with the job, high academic standards and a basketball feeder system in place.

The ones mentioned here are just a few of the categories the City/Suburban Hoops Report touches on in the "Best of ...." issue. Other categories among the 35 total include Best Coach of All-Time, Best Current Coach, Best Young Coach, Best Holiday Tournament, Best Conference, Best Transfer, Best Gym, Best Student Section, Best Uniform, Best Warm-ups, Best Best State Tournament, Best State Tournament Game, Best Fans, Best Story and many more.

For more information or to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 13th year of publication, call (630)-408-6709 or e-mail

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East Auroravs West Aurora are you crazy!!!! Try Evanston-New Trier that draws 8000 people to Northwesterns Welsh-Ryan Arena twice a year every year. Rivalry goes back to early 1900's. Try getting a ticket to the game!!! Check out the students rushing the floor from the winning team every time they play. Just like they won a state championship or something. It is the biggest rivalry in Illinois history.

No question Evanston-New Trier is one of the great rivalries in high school sports and arguably the best. It's a unique experience and I have loved being in that atmosphere for that game. When putting the "Best of..." together, those were the two rivalries (Evanston-New Trier/East Aurora-West Aurora) I went back and forth between. In the end, a couple of things separated it for me. First, it's one community, one town in Aurora with families involved on both sides every single year. Second, the New Trier-Evanston rivalry is tremendous in other sports as well over the years, including the other high-profile sport of football. In Aurora it's about that basketball game. Thanks for the post Tim! It is a special game.

Great issue! This issue makes me want to move to Quincy. You got it all right, especially the Best Publication being the City/Suburban Hoops Report. Keep up the good work Joe.

I received my issue in the mail on the Best of. Absolutely sensational stuff! That is why I have been a subscriber for 9 years. You raised some great debates. Just one more thing--how do you really feel about the four class system? You are right on that on too.

This is the reason why the Hoops Report is the best high school reading material around. You cannot find this kind of stuff anywhere. I absolutely loved this issue! This is exactly why I renew every year. Each year is something new and different. Keep up the great work.

Just received my Hoops Report issue and what a great issue it was. I have been a longtime subscriber and a high school basketball fan even longer, so it was great to have watched and seen so many of topics you had. Yes, there are some I would argue and debate, but that's what is so great about it. I watched the 1976 State Tournament, I have seen the best rivalry, was at the Best regular-season game between Fenwick-Whitney Young, have watched Rick Malnati coach, have seen Batavia's warm-ups, have been to Pontiac and hope to see much more that you addressed in coming years.

How can any league top the old,original,Suburban League hoops of the mid 1960s?
New Trier, Evanston, Proviso East, Waukegan, Highland Park banging each other 2 times a year with Oak Park and Niles East putting up decent clubs as well.

Great issue as always! When debating the best conference, I was hoping you would take in to account the gyms, the student bodies, the rivalry, the old timers that attend and the history involved (coaches, etc.) Regardless, well done and thanks for being a voice for high school basketball. Tomcats, Wooden Shoes, Wildkits which is best nick mame?

Dustin, you are probably right on with your suggestion in what determines the Best Conference. It probably should be more than just having the best overall teams. Gyms, crowds, traditions, rivalries should also be taken into account. Thanks for the informative post!

Talk about best conference try the Public League Red West from 1990-1999. I know it is only a section of the Public League. Try these teams Farragut,Whitney Young,Marshall,Westinghouse,Crane and whoever moved up from the Blue Division every year. Every game was a battle. It was tough just getting out of that section of the Public League when they only had one bid to the State Tournament.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on February 6, 2008 7:07 AM.

Batavia-Simeon what prep hoops all about was the previous entry in this blog.

Freshman phenom should be thankful is the next entry in this blog.

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