The inaugural Chicago Elite Classic brought some of the nation's top talent and teams to Chicago last December. The 2013 version looks to be even bigger and better.
Highlighting the event, which will be played Dec. 7 at the UIC Pavilion, is the special tandem of Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor and Curie's Cliff Alexander, along with six Chicago area teams -- Whitney Young, Curie, Simeon, Marian Catholic, St. Rita and Benet Academy -- that all figure to be among the top teams in the state this season. Normal U-High, a Class 3A threat, also returns to the event.
Including Okafor and Alexander, arguably the top two prospects in the country in the Class of 2014, the event will showcase the top five senior prospects in Illinois in Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis, Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop and Whitney Young's Paul White. Plus, the 2015 class will be well represented with the state's top two prospects: St. Rita's Charles Matthews and Simeon's D.J. Williams.
"The contrast between last year and this year is this state's talent level in the senior class," says Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter, the brainchild behind the Chicago Elite Classic. "This group is pretty special, and we've been able to monopolize that individual talent by bringing in the very best."
The mix of Illinois powers will be joined by elite national programs, including Bishop Gorman out of Las Vegas, California powers St. John Bosco and Etiwanda, Gonzaga in Washington, D.C., and Hamilton High School in Memphis.
Here is a brief rundown of the out-of-state powers headed to Chicago:
▪ Stephen Zimmerman, a 7-foot junior ranked among the top five players in the country in the Class of 2015, returns for a Bishop Gorman team that finished 29-3 a year ago. In addition to Zimmerman, who has offers from virtually every high-profile program in the country, 6-9 Chase Jeter, one of the top 40 prospects nationally in 2015, also returns.
▪ Etiwanda in California finished 28-4 last season and boasts one of the premier point guards in the country in Jordan McLaughlin, who has Connecticut, Gonzaga, UCLA, Indiana and Kansas high on his list.
▪ National power St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif., won 24 games last season and returns a pair of stars in senior Daniel Hamilton, a UConn commit, and junior combo guard Tyler Dorsey. The 6-6 Hamilton is one of the top 20 players nationally in the Class of 2014, while Dorsey already has offers from Duke, Louisville, Arizona and UCLA among countless others.
▪ Washington, D.C. power Gonzaga College High School finished 26-5 last season and features high-major junior point guard prospect Bryant Crawford.
▪ A pair of highly-regarded brothers, 6-6 junior K.J. Lawson and 6-7 sophomore Dedric Lawson, lead Hamilton in Memphis. K.J. Lawson is among the top 30 players nationally in 2015, while Dedric Lawson is one of the elite sophomores in the country.
A look at a few other events that have been scheduled for the upcoming 2013-2014 season.
➥ Glenbard East's When Sides Collide, Jan. 25
Presented by the City/Suburban Hoops Report
Sandburg vs. Plainfield East
Glenbard East vs. Palatine
Stevenson vs. Marian Catholic
➥ Curie's Team Rose Shootout, Dec. 1
Gordon Tech vs. Von Steuben
Farragut vs. Providence St. Mel
East St. Louis vs. North Lawndale
St. Rita vs. Curie
Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Morton
➥ City-Suburban Showdown, Feb. 22 at Niles West
Lake Forest vs. Marian Catholic
Stevenson vs. Simeon
➥ National Guard Hoops Showdown, Jan. 25 at Hinsdale Central
Milwaukee (Hamilton) vs. Benet Academy
Hinsdale Central vs. Fenwick
➥ Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Challenge
Dec. 14 at St. Viator
Leo vs. St. Patrick
Fenwick vs. Benet
Loyola vs. Niles Notre Dame
St. Ignatius vs. St. Viator
➥ War on the Shore at Loyola Academy, Feb. 1
New Trier vs. Niles Notre Dame
Evanston vs. Benet Academy
Loyola vs. St. Viator
➥ Kaneland Shootout, Feb. 15
Limestone vs. St. Charles North
North Chicago vs. Larkin
Hillcrest vs. Kaneland