By Joe Henricksen
The Chicago Public League Shootout this Saturday and Sunday will once again offer a bevy of intriguing matchups and provides a showcase for a variety of teams and players--from the high-profile level to ones aching for some notoriety. The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at some of the storylines and sidebars to follow over the two-day event, which will include five games at Attack Athletics on Saturday and five games at Chicago State on Sunday.
TOP 10 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tracy Abrams, 6-1, So., Mt. Carmel
Wayne Blackshear, 6-4, So., Curie
Chris Colvin, 6-2, Sr. Whitney Young
D.J. Cooper, 5-10, Sr. Seton Academy
Alex Dragicevich, 6-5, Jr., Glenbrook North
Crandall Head, 6-3, Jr., Crane
Terry Johnson, 6-0, Sr., North Lawndale
Jonathan Mills, 6-4, Sr., North Lawndale
Alex Rossi, 6-5, Jr., New Trier
Darius Smith, 6-2, Sr., Marshal.
There are a trio of matchups that will open eyes--even if it's early December.
Curie vs. Seton, 6 p.m., Saturday (televised). Seton was impressive over Thanksgiving and features the combination of point guard D.J. Cooper and 6-5 sharpshooter Tony Nixon, who have signed with Ohio and Northern Illinois, respectively. Curie and sophomore star Wayne Blackshear will be Seton's biggest test prior to playing in the Big Dipper later this month.
North Lawndale vs. Mount Carmel, 7:30 p.m. Saturday (televised). Keep your eyes on the battle in the backcourt--North Lawndale's Terry Johnson, an Illinois State recruit, against Mount Carmel's sensational sophomore Tracy Abrams. And how far as Caravan big man Delino Dear come? This will be a big test for the rising senior. The difference, however, will be North Lawndale's powerful rebounding machine Jonathan Mills inside, a matchup nightmare for coach Mike Flaherty's Caravan.
Simeon vs. Thornton, 6 p.m., Sunday. A couple of traditional heavyweights battle in what could be a preview of a big-time state tournament matchup in March if Simeon is sent south by the IHSA now that it's a Class 4A school. While there are plenty of big names to watch in this one, keep an eye on underrated Trevell Rivers of Thornton. Rivers was huge for the Wildcats over Thanksgiving and gives the bite-sized Wildcats what they need--an athletic force around the basket.
MOST TO PROVE AND WHY
Brooks. While talented this team remains young. And it goes up against an experienced group in Glenbrook North, featuring junior star Alex Dragicevich, that is well coached and plays a style Brooks is not accustomed to playing. Here is an opportunity for Chris Head's program to make a statement.
Peoria Richwoods. While the Hoops Report would have loved to have seen Richwoods paired up with one of the upper echelon teams from the Chicago area--Richwoods plays Von Steuben on Saturday--this is still an opportunity for this 3A title contender from Peoria to generate some style points among Chicago area basketball fans and media.
Hillcrest. The Hawks came in with some preseason buzz only to stumble a bit over Thanksgiving. However, coach Don Houston was without point guard Julius Brown for one game due to an injury and also dealt with some disciplinary issues with two other players. Here is a chance for Hillcrest to get back on track and show why it was the No. 16 ranked team in the Hoops Report's preseason poll.
Payton. Walter Payton College Prep has been around for just eight years and is already being mentioned as a rising basketball program. Here is a golden opportunity for the program, which moved quickly from the Blue to the Red Division in the Public League, as it squares off with Crane and junior star Crandall Head.
Jeremy Jones and Brandon Orange, Simeon. Here are a couple of uncommitted seniors--Jones, an improving guard who continues to show he's more than just a spot-up shooter, and Orange, who continues to try and convince people he's more than just a super athlete--who have a chance to open more eyes. Simeon plays in the Marshall County Hoopfest against Oak Hill Academy on Saturday night and then squares off with Thornton on Sunday night at Chicago State.
HELLO, MY NAME IS
The 3 p.m. Sunday matchup between Hyde Park and T.F. North features a pair of talented players that have not played under the big lights much in their high school careers. Anthony Dixon of Hyde Park has blossomed into a versatile player and has signed with San Jose State. Kyle Cain of T.F. North, meanwhile, has quietly raised his stock. The two get their chance to showcase their abilities in a high-profile event.
A few other players that hope to make the most of this opportunity are Payton's Chris Eversley, Simeon's Brandon Spearman and Hillcrest's Eric Gaines. Eversley, who signed with Rice in November, doesn't receive the hype in the city as many others do. Spearman, in a twist not very typical of the Chicago basketball prospect, has actually been more highly viewed nationally than locally. Sunday's matchup with Thornton will be Spearman's first run at Simeon after transferring from Hales and opening the season Saturday night against Oak Hill Academy at the Marshall County Hoopfest. Gaines is a multi-talented and up-and-coming junior guard.
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