This much is certain when it comes to the Chicago Elite Classic: No event on any day or in any gym in the state of Illinois will feature more individual high school talent this season than what fans will see Saturday at the UIC Pavilion.
The second annual Chicago Elite Classic, with seven games highlighted by both state and nationally-ranked teams, brings together the top four players in Illinois in the senior class: Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor (signed with Duke), Curie's Cliff Alexander (signed with Kansas), Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis (signed with Kentucky) and Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop (signed with Ohio State).
Fans will also get to see the state's No. 1 ranked junior and sophomore prospect in St. Rita's Charles Matthews and Simeon's Zach Norvell, respectively, along with a couple of top players with local college ties: Simeon junior D.J. Williams is committed to Illinois and St. Rita senior Vic Law is headed to Northwestern.
Add Benet big man Sean O'Mara (Xavier), Whitney Young's Paul White (Georgetown) and Miles Reynolds (Saint Louis), St. Rita's Dominique Matthews, Simeon's Donte Ingram (Loyola) and junior Edward Morrow, along with a host of others, and the in-state collection of talent is off-the-charts good.
Then there are the six loaded out-of-state powers with their individual star power. Go ahead and take the top five Illinois prospects and match them up against these five:
■ Stephen Zimmerman, 7-0, Jr., Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
The nation's No. 2 player in 2015 will match up with Curie's Cliff Alexander.
■ Chase Jeter, 6-9, Jr., Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
A consensus top 25 prospect in the country in the junior class just added a Duke offer.
■ Dedric Lawson, 6-7, So., Hamilton (Memphis)
Regarded as one of the top 10 players nationally in the Class of 2016.
■ Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, PG/2G, Jr., St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
Currently Rivals.com's No. 5 ranked player in the senior class.
■ Daniel Hamilton, 6-6, Sr., St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
Ranked No. 18 by Rivals.com, No. 26 by ESPN.com and headed to UConn.
CHICAGO ELITE CLASSIC
When: Saturday, Dec. 7
Where: UIC Pavilion
Tickets: Currently on sale at all participating schools, the UIC Pavilion box office and through Ticketmaster.
For more information: www.chicagoeliteclassic.com
• Fenwick vs. Normal U-High @ 10:00 a.m.
Fenwick is holding its own while it awaits the return of star Scott Lindsey, a Northwestern recruit. There will still be a Big Ten recruit on hand: U-High's 6-7 Keita Bates-Diop, an Ohio State commitment and one of the top 30 players in the country in the senior class.
• St. Rita vs. Gonzaga College High (Washington, D.C.) @ 11:30 a.m.
Coach Gary DeCesare's club started the season with an overtime loss to talented Curie, though the Mustangs were shorthanded as three key starters were out of action. Vic Law and Dominique Matthews, who is fresh off a 39-point performance, will be ready, while Charles Matthews hopes to give it a go after sitting out the Curie loss. Gonzaga won 26 games a year ago and features star junior guard Bryant Crawford, who sports offers from UConn, Georgetown, Indiana and other high-major programs.
• Marian Catholic vs. Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) @ 1:00 p.m.
A terrific pairing as two talented point guards both ranked among the top 50 in the nation go head-to-head. Marian Catholic's dynamic Tyler Ulis, who is headed to Kentucky, squares off with Etiwanda's 5-11 Jordan McLaughlin, who committed to USC over offers from Arizona, Connecticut, Gonzaga and Indiana.
• Benet Academy vs. Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) @ 2:30 p.m.
Led by Xavier-bound Sean O'Mara, a veteran 6-9 presence, Benet (4-0) will face the defending Division II CIF State Basketball champs from a year ago. Redondo Union won 28 games last season and returns a boatload of talent from that team, led by senior point guard Ian Fox, the Southern Section 2A Player of the Year, and talented 6-6 junior Jeremiah Headley, a Division I prospect. Plus, Redondo Union will welcome the addition of transfer Terrell Carter, a 6-8, 270-pound post player who will go head-to-head with O'Mara in an intriguing matchup inside.
• Simeon vs. Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) @ 6:00 p.m.
The four-time defending state champs reload with 6-5 senior Donte Ingram and a bevy of young players, including 6-7 junior D.J. Williams, 6-6 junior Ed Morrow and 6-4 sophomore Zach Norvell. Hamilton features the brother tandem of 6-7 senior K.J. Lawson, a Memphis recruit, and 6-7 sophomore Dedric Lawson, who is currently ESPN.com's No. 4 ranked player in the Class of 2016.
• Curie vs. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) @ 7:30 p.m.
A big test for a Curie team looking to show it's among the very best locally and nationally. A battle of elite big men as Curie's 6-9 Cliff Alexander leads the Condors against Bishop Gorman's 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman, currently the No. 2 ranked prospect in the country in the Class of 2015. Another talented junior, 6-8 Chase Jeter, has offers from Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina among other high-major programs and returns from last year's 29-3 team.
• Whitney Young vs. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) @ 9:00 p.m.
The season opener for Jahlil Okafor & Company will be a dandy with true star power. Okafor, the nation's top prospect, along with Georgetown commit Paul White and Saint Louis-bound Miles Reynolds, face a loaded St. John Bosco team in the finale. St. John Bosco boasts a pair of superstars in UConn commit Daniel Hamilton, a 6-6 wing ranked among the top 25 prospects in the country, and 6-4 junior combo guard Tyler Dorsey, who is the No. 5 ranked player in the country, according to Rivals.com.
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