So who you like?
The East Suburban Catholic? It has three teams currently ranked among the top 10 in the Chicago area.
The Red-South boasts three teams in the Top 25, including both No. 2 Simeon and No. 3 Morgan Park.
Even though the Red-West may not be what it has been, the state's No. 1 team, Whitney Young, resides there. And so does a top 10 team in Orr.
Those are the three conferences people will debate over as to which one is the best basketball league in the Chicago area this season. Go ahead and make an argument for any of the three.
But how about the individual talent in each conference? If you could take any five players from the conference, form a team, add a sixth man (I got you thinking now!) and then go at it in a gym somewhere, NOW who do you like?
The Hoops Report breaks down the top six all-conference teams -- and seeds them for our tournament. In our six-team tournament format, the top two teams -- the Red-South and Red-West -- will get first-round byes. Then the remaining four will play it out in first-round matchups.
Now the Hoops Report isn't going the way of the modern era all-conference teams. You know, where they name like 12-plus players (or more), they all receive all-conference recognition and all receive their little certificates to put in a frame and hang on a wall. Nope. We're keeping it at five players, along with a sixth man. That's it.
I tried to keep it by position, but it's tough with so few big men in high school hoops. But I did do all I could to at least include one player with size and at least one true point guard on each team.
So here are the best of the best when it comes to the top conference's starting five.
1. PUBLIC LEAGUE'S RED-SOUTH
• Billy Garrett, Jr., 6-4, PG, Morgan Park
• Kyle Davis, 6-0, 2G, Morgan Park
• Kendrick Nunn, 6-1, 2G, Simeon
• Jabari Parker, 6-8, WF, Simeon
• Luwane Pipkins, 5-9, PG/2G, Bogan
Sixth Man: Kendall Pollard, 6-5, WF, Simeon
Comment: There is no true center here, so we surround 6-8 Jabari Parker with four talented guards with various attributes. The team's greatest strength? Toughness. You won't find a "tougher" roster than this one, not with the likes of bulldogs like Kyle Davis, Kendrick Nunn, Luwane Pipkins and Kendall Pollard on this roster. This is a defensive lockdown team that will give opponents fits.
2. PUBLIC LEAGUE'S RED-WEST
• Ausar Madison, 5-8, PG, Whitney Young
• L.J. Peak, 6-4, 2G, Whitney Young
• Paul White, 6-9, WF/PF, Whitney Young
• Tyquone Greer, 6-6, WF, Orr
• Jahlil Okafor, 6-11, C, Whitney Young
Sixth Man: Miles Reynolds, 6-2, PG/2G, Whitney Young
Comment: We take Whitney Young's starting five and insert Orr's Tyquone Greer in with them and have a heck of a starting five and sixth man. The East Suburban Catholic Conference will try its best with big man Sean O'Mara, but no one matches up with the Red-West's cornerstone, 6-11 Jahlil Okafor. Ausar Madison is the unsung player here as he's the lone true point guard on this Red-West roster.
3. EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
• Tyler Ulis, 5-8, PG, Marian Catholic
• Ore Arogundade, 6-2, 2G, St. Viator
• Matt Mooney, 6-3, PG/2G, Notre Dame
• L.J. McIntosh, 6-1, 2G, Marist
• Sean O'Mara, 6-9, C, Benet
Sixth Man: Lexus Williams, 5-11, PG, Marist
Comment: Any team with a difference-making point guard (Tyler Ulis) and a hard-to-find big man (Sean O'Mara) is going to be tough. But imagine the attention Ulis and O'Mara will draw from opposing defenses, leaving the likes of Matt Mooney, L.J. McIntosh and Ore Arogundade spotting up in transition and on the perimeter?
4. CATHOLIC LEAGUE SOUTH
• Charles Matthews, 6-4, PG/2G, St. Rita
• Alvin Ellis, 6-4, 2G/WF, De La Salle
• Vic Law, 6-7, WF, St. Rita
• Alex Majewski, 6-7, PF, Brother Rice
• Alex Foster, 6-7, PF, Seton Academy
Sixth Man: Dominique Matthews, 6-2, PG/2G, St. Rita
Comment: Love the size, length and versatility in this group with the likes of 6-4 Charles Matthews, 6-4 Alvin Ellis, 6-7 Alex Majewski and 6-7 Vic Law.
5. NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE
• Jalen Brunson, 6-1, PG, Stevenson
• Milik Yarbrough, 6-6, WF, Zion-Benton
• Sam Downey, 6-9, PF, Lake Forest
• Evan Boudreaux, 6-7, PF, Lake Forest
• Sean O'Brien, 6-6, 2G/WF, Mundelein
Sixth Man: Connor Cashaw, 6-3, 2G/WF, Stevenson
Comment: So many nice pieces here. The mix includes an elite point guard in Brunson, a heavy-lifting scorer in Yarbrough, high-level rebounder in Boudreaux and versatility in O'Brien. Also, you could add Mundelein's Robert Knar if he wasn't injured.
6. SOUTHWEST SUBURBAN BLUE
• Morris Dunnigan, 6-2, PG/2G, Joliet West
• Ben Moore, 6-8, PG, Bolingbrook
• Prentiss Nixon, 6-0, 2G, Bolingbrook
• Maurius Hill, 6-5, PF, Homewood-Flossmoor
• Malek Harris, 6-7, WF/PF, Sandburg
Sixth Man: Kenny Williams, 6-5, PF/C, Bolingbrook
Comment: A sleeper, for sure, in this six-team tournament. Blessed with some size and length inside and some big offensive weapons in Morris Dunnigan and Prentiss Nixon on the perimeter, this team would be dangerous. But lacking a true table-setter could be a problem against these teams.
No. 3 Seed East Suburban Catholic vs. No. 6 Seed Southwest Suburban Blue
Really, a tough task for the Southwest Suburban Blue in this matchup. Huge advantage at two key positions -- point guard and center -- for the ESCC. Plus, no league as a whole has a better fan base/student sections than the ESCC, which will create a homecourt advantage in this matchup. East Suburban Catholic wins rather easily and moves on to a semifinal date with No. 2 seed Red-South.
No. 4 Seed Catholic League South vs. No. 5 Seed North Suburban Lake
The North Suburban Lake team petitions to borrow a couple of North Chicago players from the North Suburban Prairie. The Catholic League South petitions to add Loyola Academy's Jack Morrissey, who plays in the Catholic League North, to add some outside shooting to its roster. Both are denied.
The inside size and defensive presence from the Lake Forest tandem of 6-9 Sam Downey and 6-7 Evan Boudreaux creates a bigger problem than the Catholic League South expected. And a cold shooting night from some inconsistent shooters on this Catholic League roster keeps the underdog, North Suburban Lake, in the game. Then the play of pure point guard Jalen Brunson -- absolute money at crunchtime -- leads the North Suburban Lake team to an upset win no one saw coming.
No. 3 Seed East Suburban Catholic vs. No. 2 Seed Red-South
We're talking some serious guard play in this matchup with a total of nine Division I guards duking it out. But the Red-South keeps throwing bulldog after bulldog (Nunn, Davis and Pipkins) at Tyler Ulis to slow him down. The Red-South cuts the head off the dragon and prevails to advance to the title game.
No. 5 Seed North Suburban Lake vs. No. 1 Seed Red-West
The North Suburban Lake has no answer for Jahlil Okafor inside. Game. Set. Match.
No. 1 Seed Red-South vs. No. 2 Seed Red-West
Now THIS would be fun! West Side vs. South Side. Jahlil Okafor will be a ton to deal with for a Red-South team that lacks any true size outside of Jabari Parker. But you keep going back to sheer toughness on that Red-South team, which gets the slight edge in this one to claim the All-Conference Team Tournament title.
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