A whole lot of basketball has taken place all across the state over the past 10 days. The City/Suburban Hoops Report provides a quick rundown of the holiday tournament highlights.
Biggest Statements This Holiday Season
■ Morgan Park
It's not just that Morgan Park won the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, it's how they won it. The Mustangs were dominating, beating highly-regarded Proviso East 82-57 in the title game. The guard play, team speed and depth Morgan Park is able to throw at you just wears opponents down. Teams are going to have to figure out a way to take care of the basketball if it wants to beat Morgan Park. In five wins at Proviso West, the Mustangs created an average of 22 turnovers a game, which allows coach Nick Irvin's club to get out in transition. An interesting matchup with Normal U-High and Keita Bates-Diop is set for this Saturday, while a Red-South Showdown with Simeon is two weeks away.
■ Whitney Young
The Dolphins traveled to South Carolina and captured the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach. Although the Beach Ball Classic wasn't nearly as strong as the loaded City of Palms Tournament in Florida a couple weeks ago, the 4-0 record and title is impressive. Among the four victories, Young beat the same Bishop Gorman team out of Las Vegas that knocked off Morgan Park. How balanced was the Whitney Young attack? The junior foursome of Paul White (19 ppg), L.J. Peak (17.7 ppg), Jahlil Okafor (16.3 ppg) and Miles Reynolds (10 ppg) all averaged double figures in Myrtle Beach.
■ Marian Catholic
Everyone keeps waiting for the Spartans to slip, to stumble and come back to reality. But all junior guard Tyler Ulis and the Spartans keep doing is win. The program made history with its first trip to the McDipper semifinals, then made the most of the appearance by beating Chicago Heights neighbor Bloom to capture its first title and move to 13-1 on the season.
The Panthers went 4-1 and finished third at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, which included a lopsided win over previously unbeaten Homewood-Flossmoor. Oswego is poised to be among the top four teams in the Bolingbrook Sectional, though it hasn't faced any of the top challengers (Benet Academy, Neuqua Valley and West Aurora) this season. Senior guard Miles Simelton has been the Hoops Report's posterboy, but Elliot McGaughey has matured as a player and is playing within himself. The senior guard averaged 18.4 points in five games at Proviso West, while shooter Darion Reddick and Jack Kwiatkowski continue to play their roles perfectly.
■ Malcolm Hill
The Illinois commit has long been the Hoops Report's No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2013 in Illinois behind Jabari Parker. He again showed why with some big-time numbers at the Collinsville Holiday Tournament in leading Belleville East to a 3-1 record and third-place finish. Hill averaged 27.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game at Collinsville, while showing an ability to get to the line and knock down free throws. Hill made 31 of 37 from the charity stripe.
■ Jalen Brunson
The Hoops Report gushed about Brunson last week in this space, but 6-1 sophomore point guard demonstrated why he's one of the most polished players in the Class of 2015 in high-level performances against Hinsdale Central and St. Charles East, then taking over in the final few minutes in a win over Maine South in the quarterfinals. In five games, Brunson averaged 18.6 points a game. Brunson, who has been one of the Hoops Report's top three prospects in the sophomore class for the past year, also picked up offers from Purdue and SMU.
■ Jabari Parker
Yes, it's still possible for Jabari Parker to make a statement. Anyone who watched the Simeon star early in the season was left wondering just how long would it take for the 6-8 senior to get back to his normal self. Solid performances against both Curie and West Aurora at Pontiac showed he's made major strides since early December and is getting closer to being the Jabari of old. The Hoops Report will put the Jabari Parker-meter at 80 percent as we head into January.
■ Cliff Alexander
Anyone who took in the Curie star's performance at Pontiac left knowing it just watched one of the elite prospects in the entire country. The powerful 6-9 Alexander averaged 20.8 points, 9 rebounds and 3.3 blocks a game while shooting 79 percent (38 of 48) from the field. Big Cliff is now showing he's on the verge of becoming a consistent dominating force and presence.
Rising Stock in 2013
■ Miles Simelton, Oswego
The high-scoring guard received an extra dose of motivation after being somewhat ignored following a strong finish to the July evaluation period. The player the Hoops Report has billed as the best unsigned guard prospect in the senior class -- and has shouted from the mountain tops "he's a Division I player!" -- is adding admirers. He provided one of the best individual performances of the holiday season when he tore apart Homewood-Flossmoor in a quarterfinal victory. People are now finally taking notice and singing his praises after averaging 22 points a game in leading Oswego to a 4-1 mark at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. He's explosive and a natural scorer with great shooting range.
■ Morris Dunnigan, Joliet West
Keep an eye on where Dunnigan lands after a couple of years of seasoning at the junior college level. He was an absolute monster in the second half of a game against Bloomington at Pontiac, finishing with 28 points. He also poured in 25 points in a loss to Curie. The 6-2 guard has inched his way up among the top 30 prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings.
■ Josh McCauley, West Aurora
The classic late-blooming big man prospect has emerged as a Division I prospect. The 6-7 senior made a jump this past summer (while teaming up with Miles Simelton on the Illinois Attack AAU team) and has continued to make positive strides. A long, agile 4-man who can step out and knock down the 12-16 foot face-up jumper with great touch, McCauley should continue to develop as a scorer. He put together a few impressive performances at Pontiac in helping the Blackhawks to a second-place finish.
■ L.J. McIntosh, Marist
Is it safe to say McIntosh was a darn good recruiting find for Pan American? What a tournament the 6-1 senior guard put together at Centralia, where he earned tournament MVP honors. McIntosh had games of 24, 31, 22 and 22 as he made 16 of 37 from the 3-point line.
Rising Stock in 2014
■ JayQuan McCloud, North Chicago
The Hoops Report has gone over the top in proclaiming McCloud as the most overlooked prospect in the junior class. The silky smooth 6-2 guard helped lead the Warhawks to the State Farm Classic title in Bloomington. Boasting a beautiful jumper and excellent range, McCloud poured in 32 points in a title game win over Rock Island.
■ JaVairius Amos-Mays, North Chicago
The big-bodied 6-4 guard plays with a non-stop motor and has added consistency to his perimeter jumper. That has vaulted him into top 20 status in the Class of 2014. Amos-Mays put together quite a tournament in helping lead North Chicago to the State Farm Classic title. The junior averaged 17.5 points and knocked down 12 three-pointers in four victories.
■ Josh Cunningham, Morgan Park
The pogo-stick athletic wing has been among the better prospects in the junior class for quite some time. And although he still has to continue to further develop his perimeter skills, the 6-6 Cunningham took a big step forward at Proviso West with productive performances. He led Morgan Park in scoring and rebounding at Proviso West, averaging 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds, while blocking 7 shots and registering 8 steals. In semifinal and title game victories, Cunningham combined for 35 points and 26 rebounds.
■ Gordon Behr, Wheaton Academy
Who? This no-namer would have only been watched by accident at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, where Wheaton Academy went 1-2. But the 6-8 junior impressed. He has size and face-up ability, knocking down six 3-pointers in three games (46 percent) while averaging 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. Just another name to add to the growing list of 2014 prospects.
Tournament MVPs/Outstanding Player Awards
Pontiac: Jabari Parker, Simeon
Pekin: Larry Austin, Springfield Lanphier
Rich South: Tyler Ulis, Marian Catholic
Proviso West: London Perrantes, Crespi Carmelite (Calif.)
Centralia: L.J. McIntosh, Marist
Collinsville: Malcolm Hill, Belleville East
Wheeling: Matt Mooney, Niles Notre Dame
Kankakee: Jubril Adekoya, Andrew
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