For Sun-Times Media | @joehoopsreport
Oct. 5 9:08 a.m
The lineup has been set for the fifth annual Chicago Elite Classic, which will once again be held at the UIC Pavilion the first weekend in December. Here is a look at the matchups for an event that has turned into a two-day basketball extravaganza.
Friday, Dec. 2
■ Curie vs. East St. Louis
The Chicago Elite Classic starts out with a bang as the state’s top prospect, Illinois commit Jeremiah Tilmon, takes on the defending Class 4A state champs. These two figure to be among the state’s elite in Class 4A this season.
For Curie, it’s a great opening-game test and showcase for standout guard Elijah Joiner and Company as the Condors begin their repeat quest.
■ Loyola vs. Niles Notre Dame
A pair of top-notch north suburban basketball programs meet in this Chicago Catholic League vs. East Suburban Catholic Conference showdown.
Loyola is led by veteran senior Ramar Evans, a stat-sheet stuffing guard (14.3 ppg, 6.8 rig, 3.3 apg) who recently committed to Division II Maryville in St. Louis, while Notre Dame returns 6-6 Jeameril Wilson, 6-5 Chris Heinichen and guard Matt Stritzel.
■ Oak Park-River Forest vs. Fenwick
Always a fun one as community rivals that sit less than a mile apart travel to the Pavilion to square off.
Fenwick has dampened the spirits of OPRF the first week of December in each of the past two years, winning the last two matchups with their city rival in this event. Fenwick’s veteran seniors, Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon, hope to make it three in a row.
The Huskies are talented and will be built around the senior tandem of 6-5 Cameron Gross and 6-6 Jared Scott, along with a host of young, up-and-coming talent.
Saturday, Dec. 3
■ Uplift vs. Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.)
There is no Jayson Tatum this year for Chaminade, but the defending Missouri state champions still have a very formidable team, led 6-5 junior Karrington Davis, ranked among the top 150 juniors in the country.
With the return of the Jacobs brothers –– sophomore Markese, who recently committed to Kansas, and Demarius, one of the top uncommitted prospects in the senior class –– Uplift comes into the season with high expectations.
■ Orr vs. Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.)
This might not be the Miller Grove of a year ago that played in the Chicago Elite Classic –– superstar guard Alterique Gilbert has moved on to UConn –– but it’s still a perennial power in Georgia. This program has won seven state championships in the past eight years.
Orr makes its first appearance in the Chicago Elite Classic and will ride in with a talented junior class, featuring 6-5 athlete Raekwon Drake and guard Brian Hernandez.
■ U-High vs. Hyde Park
A neighborhood matchup plays out in the Pavilion. U-High, with the return of Yale recruit Jameel Alausa and 6-6 Oliver Maciak, begin the season with high expectations.
The well respected Javon Mamon takes over as coach of the the Hyde Park program after leading Richards to a South Suburban Red Conference title last season.
■ Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kan.) vs. Gray Collegiate (West Columbia,S.C.)
A pair of out-of-state programs meet in Chicago. Gary Collegiate brings in some headline talent. Jalek Felton, a 6-3 senior guard ranked among the top 25 players in the country, is headed to North Carolina. Juwan Gary, a 6-5 shooting guard, is ranked among the top 20 players nationally in the sophomore class.
■ Joliet West vs. Kenwood
The heavily-hyped team from Joliet, led by the Division I tandem of Teyvion Kirk (Drake) and Trevian Bell (Wisconsin-Green Bay), will get a test from a revamped but talented Kenwood team.
Manny Patterson, a 6-7 senior and Division I prospect, is a veteran presence inside. Look for senior point guard Bryce Langdon to provide a steady hand in the backcourt for a group of young and talented perimeter players finding their way.
■ Evanston vs. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Highly-regarded Evanston and star Nojel Eastern will have their hands full. But it’s a chance for the Wildkits to measure itself up against the very best early in the season.
The program that has produced recent stars Ben Simmons (76ers) and D’Angelo Russell (Lakers) and won three consecutive national championships comes to Chicago. And Montverde is loaded again.
The marquee name for Montverde? This year it’s a young one –– 6-6 R.J. Barrett, the No. 2 ranked player nationally in the Class of 2019.
In addition to Barrett, the talented roster loaded with size, athleticism and an endless list of Division I prospects includes: 6-5 junior guard and North Carolina commit Rechon Black; 6-8 junior forward Simi Shittu, who has offers from UConn, Louisville, Syracuse and UCLA among others; senior point guard Marcus Carr, who has offers from Vanderbilt, Houston, Baylor and Pitt; Buffalo commit Davonta Jordan, a 6-1 point guard; 6-8, 240-pound Silvio De Sousa, who sports offers from LSU and Florida; and 6-10 four-star senior Bruno Fernando.
■ Simeon vs. Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.)
There will be a whole bunch of perimeter firepower on display between two nationally recognized high school programs.
Simeon’s backcout punch comes from senior point guard Evan Gilyard, juniors Kezo Brown and Talen Horton-Tucker and sophomore Kejuan Clements. Miami-Florida commit Chris Lykes, a dynamic 5-6 point guard, and junior guard Prentiss Hubb, a top 50 prospect, lead Gonzaga.
■ Morgan Park vs. Young
When voting took place for the preferred matchups in this year’s Chicago Elite Classic, Morgan Park-Young was the fans’ choice. The vote brings these two Public League powers from the Red-South and Red-West together.
For Morgan Park, it’s now Ayo Dosunmu’s team. The junior star is one of the top 25 players in the country in the Class of 2019. A talented Whitney Young team features Lucas Williamson, an overlooked 6-4 senior wing, and point guard Xavier Castaneda, one of the top five juniors in the state.