Picking Illinois' all-decade high school basketball team is no less difficult than selecting an all-decade football team. The tendency is to choose players for what they achieved in college and the NBA, not just based on their high school performance. So there is a lot room for argument and debate, which as it should be.
My first five? Simeon's Derrick Rose, Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer, Peoria Central's Shaun Livingston, East St. Louis' Darius Miles and Richards' Dwyane Wade.
My second five? Thornwood's Eddy Curry, Westinghouse's Cedrick Banks, Proviso East's Shannon Brown, Crane's Sherron Collins and Springfield Lanphier's Andre Inguodola.
How do I separate the first five from the second five?
My criteria is: Is there a player on the first team that I would drop to make room for a player on the second team--or any other player? In this case, I am satisfied that my first five is the best of all. I wouldn't trade any one of them for someone else. Would you?
In my view, Rose and Scheyer are no brainers. Rose led his team to back-to-back state titles and was the NBA's No. 1 draft choice. Scheyer is one of only five players to score more than 3,000 points in his high school career in Illinois. Livingston was an NBA lottery pick out of high school and led his team to two state championships. Miles was one of the most athletically gifted players ever produced in Illinois, regardless of his issues in the NBA. Wade probably didn't receive as much publicity as he deserved in high school but his post-high school record speaks for itself.
Third team? Julian's Sean Dockery, Homewood-Flossmoor's Kevin Dillard, Warren's Brandon Paul, Lockport's Alando Tucker and Westmont's Pierre Pierce.
Fourth team? Leo's Andre Brown, Proviso East's Dee Brown, Homewood-Flossmoor's Julian Wright and Marshall's Patrick Beverly and Darius Smith.
Curiously, I chose Sherron Collins for the second team and Patrick Beverly for the fourth team. In high school, as Red-West rivals, Beverly outplayed Collins and was the most exciting performer game after game. But Collins has emerged as the leader of an unbeaten Kansas team that is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
I didn't include Simeon's Calvin Brock on my list at all. He was the Sun-Times Player of the Year as a senior but his career took a nosedive at Illinois. So perhaps we are being a bit unfair in his evaluation. But his high school performance didn't measure up to most other players on this list.
Let the debate begin.