By Joe Henricksen
No, it's not Proviso West or Pontiac in late December, the two premier holiday tournaments in Illinois. It's not the annual City-Suburban Showdown tripleheader in February, which offers up tantalizing matchups every year. And it's not the state finals in Peoria in March. But the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout has established itself as the best darn out-of-season high school basketball event in Illinois and, if there is such a thing in the offseason, must-see hoops for fans.
There will be plenty of eyes watching and a whole lot of interest in the 2012 R-B Shootout this weekend. There won't be a high school team event with more high-level talent, including the state's big three prospects of Simeon's Jabari Parker, Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor and Crane's Cliff Alexander.
The top-notch, respected and always well-run event, which is put together by Riverside-Brookfield assistant coach Mike Reingruber and the Bulldogs basketball staff, continues to grow and gain notoriety each year. This year the elite field is at 36 teams and will play Saturday and Sunday at Riverside-Brookfield High School. Among the list of teams is defending state champion Simeon.
"It's a chance to get the guys back together and the sooner we realize last year is over the better," says Simeon coach Rob Smith about the opportunity to kickstart the offseason with an appearance at R-B. "It's an opportunity to find out what we need to start working on."
This event is loaded, featuring top individual teams and an endless list of highly-regarded Division I prospects. In addition to Simeon, the R-B Shootout will include the likes of Whitney Young, De La Salle, Proviso East, Curie, St. Joseph and a host of others that figure to be ranked among the Hoops Report's top 25 teams in the preseason next November.
At the end of the day on Sunday there won't be any banners raised or trophy presentations for the winners when they return to school, but as always, the R-B Shootout is an early barometer and measuring stick for all 36 coaches and their teams.
"R-B is the premiere high school basketball shootout of the summer because it has so many quality teams, programs and players involved," says Loyola Academy coach Tom Livatino. "I think the shootout gives you a great indicator as to where you are as a team at the beginning of the summer and allows you to identify areas you need to improve as a team, but more importantly, we are able to see where our personnel is as they relate to the best players in Illinois."
R-B Shootout's Top 20 Prospects (regardless of class and listed alphabetically)
Jubril Adekoya, 6-6, Andrew (Sr.)
Cliff Alexander, 6-9, Curie (Jr.)
Ore Arogundade, 6-2, St. Viator (Jr.)
Jordan Ash, 6-0, St. Joseph (So.)
Sterling Brown, 6-4, Proviso East (Sr.)
David Cohn, 6-2, York (Sr.)
Alvin Ellis, 6-4, De La Salle (Sr.)
Alex Foster, 6-7, De La Salle (Sr.)
Billy Garrett, Jr., 6-4, Morgan Park (Sr.)
Tommy Hamilton, 6-9, Whitney Young (Sr.)
Charles Matthews, 6-4, St. Rita (So.)
Kendrick Nunn, 6-1, Simeon (Sr.)
Jahlil Okafor, 6-10, Whitney Young (Jr.)
Sean O'Mara, 6-9, Benet Academy (Jr.)
Jabari Parker, 6-8, Simeon (Sr.)
Kendall Pollard, 6-5, Simeon (Sr.)
Gavin Schilling, 6-8, De La Salle (Sr.)
Jaylon Tate, 6-2, Simeon (Sr.)
Paul White, 6-9, Whitney Young (Jr.)
Milik Yarbrough, 6-5, Zion-Benton (Jr.)
A complete list of teams at Riverside-Brookfield: De La Salle, Homewood-Flossmoor, St. Rita, Curie, Simeon, St. Joseph, Morgan Park, Hillcrest, Whitney Young, Proviso East, New Trier, Bloom, York, St. Patrick, Downers Grove South, Riverside-Brookfield, Neuqua Valley, Providence St. Mel, St. Viator, Mundelein, Morton, Benet Academy, Zion-Benton, West Aurora, Von Steuben, Evanston, Andrew, Nazareth Academy, Ridgewood, St. Ignatius, Mount Carmel, Glenbard East, Loyola Academy, Oswego, King and South Elgin.
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