In early June of 2010, coach Scott Miller watched his Glenbard East team put together an impressive run at the always-loaded Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.
A little over nine months later Glenbard East won regional and sectional titles and was in Peoria playing in the state semifinals, where it lost to Simeon, 56-53. But the R-B Shootout jump-started a dream season for the Rams that ended with a third-place finish in Class 4A.
"It was definitely a springboard for us and always is," says Miller of his team's annual trip to the R-B Shootout. "It's the start of the summer, a new team. It's still summer, but you're seeing the best teams and seeing where you are as a team very early. When you do well it definitely gives you a little confidence."
Proviso East won the event in 2011 and then went 32-0 before falling in the 2012 state championship game to Simeon. Last year Proviso East and Simeon met in the R-B final and both reached Peoria again this past March, with Simeon winning its fourth straight state championship.
The 11th annual Riverside-Brookfield Shootout tips off this Saturday. There won't be student sections or a band playing during warm-ups this weekend. There isn't a sectional title or a state trophy on the line. It isn't during a "live" recruiting period, so Division I college coaches won't be in attendance. It's not even the "unofficial" offseason state tournament, though some might call it that.
But the R-B Shootout has grown in size, popularity and has earned its praise as the best offseason event in Illinois since it began in 2003. There isn't a spring, summer or fall event in Illinois that brings together more high-profile teams and players than the R-B Shootout will this weekend.
The Hoops Report gives you a half dozen reasons why the 36-team Riverside-Brookfield Shootout is so darn good.
1. The official turning of the page
The 2012-2013 season ended in March, much like the previous three seasons before, with Simeon winning a fourth straight state championship. Well, Simeon is no longer a prohibitive favorite as the Wolverines head into the 2013-2014 season and every top team and contender in Class 4A can dream of winning a state championship.
The R-B Shootout is like a breath of fresh air in what has become nearly a 12-month basketball calendar. No, the season doesn't officially begin until November, but the R-B Shootout is about putting the previous season in the rearview mirror and ...
2. Getting a sneak peek at 2013-2014
If the Hoops Report put out its preseason rankings for the 2013-2014 season in June, nine of the Top 10 would be playing at Riverside-Brookfield this weekend. Of the six Class 4A Chicago area teams that won sectional titles last year, each one will be at Riverside-Brookfield. So expect more of the same in the coming year.
3. Great geographical representation
Whether it's powers from the Chicago Public League (Simeon, Young, Morgan Park and Curie), the Chicago Catholic League (St. Rita, De La Salle and St. Joseph), the south suburbs (Marian Catholic, H-F, Hillcrest and Bloom), the western suburbs (Proviso East and West Aurora) or the north suburbs (Stevenson, New Trier, St. Viator and Zion-Benton), this event brings together the best throughout the Chicago area.
4. The state's top players
While the state's top prospect, Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor, won't be playing at Riverside-Brookfield -- the nation's No. 1 ranked player in the Class of 2014 will be busy with U.S.A. Basketball -- virtually every top player in Illinois will be.
Maybe at the conclusion of the event we could have an all-star game, a great five-on-five battle that would look like this:
The Riverside All-Stars: Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis, Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop, Young's Paul White, St. Rita's Charles Matthews and Zion-Benton's Milik Yarbrough.
The Brookfield All-Stars: Stevenson's Jalen Brunson, Curie's Cliff Alexander, Sandburg's Malek Harris, St. Viator's Ore Arogundade and Morgan Park's Josh Cunningham.
5. $5 admission and $1 programs
All you parents who have been carting around your sons and daughters, maybe a grandparent or two, to your son's AAU events all spring long, deserve a break. And your wallet deserves a break.
The drive to Riverside-Brookfield is short and the admission is just $5 per person, which is a far cry from the outrageous $15 AAU events charge per day.
The $1 program would seem like a very trivial item on a list like this, but it's not for all the small college coaches from the likes of Lake Forest, Augustana, Benedictine, Illinois Wesleyan, Elmhurst, Olivet Nazarene, St. Francis, Millikin or any of the countless number of coaches that will be in attendance at R-B.
You see, many coaches from small college basketball programs have been driven away from AAU events, particularly those that are run during the April evaluation period. These coaches are required by event organizers to pay anywhere from $150 to $250 to attend an AAU event during the April "live" period. That gets them in the gym with a program and, if they're lucky, a meal at the event. That doesn't fit in a lot of small college basketball budgets, so paying for a $1 program is a breath of fresh air for many.
6. An organized, first-class event
When it comes to out-of-season events, whether it be run by high schools or the AAU world, sometimes organization can be, well ... a bit inconsistent. Aside from the top-level teams and the star-quality individual talent on display over the two days, the R-B Shootout is always exceptionally well run. The schedule doesn't change, games are on time, teams show up, high school officials are working each game and those that are playing seem to respect the event as well.
Shootout director Mike Reingruber and the Riverside-Brookfield basketball coaching staff have made this the premier offseason event in Illinois.
For more information on the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, including schedules and results, go to the R-B basketball website here.
What: Riverside-Brookfield Shootout
Where: Riverside-Brookfield High School
When: June 1-2 (games begin Saturday at 9 a.m.)
Recent R-B Shootout Results
2012 Championship: Proviso East 72, Simeon 69
Co-MVP: Sterling Brown and Paris Lee, Proviso East
2011 Championship: Proviso East 62, St. Joseph 52
MVP: Keith Carter, Proviso East
2010 Championship: Glenbard East 67, Downers South 66
MVP: Johnny Hill, Glenbard East
2009 Championship: Riverside-Brookfield 74, Glenbard East 70
MVP: Sean McGonagill, Riverside-Brookfield
Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport