Some things to ponder as season nears
It has been 242 days since the last meaningful high school basketball game was played. With the season set to tip off Monday, here are six things to keep an eye on during the 2017- 18 season:
Public League dominance
Will anyone be able to crack the stranglehold the Chicago Public League powers have on the state basketball scene? Young, Morgan Park and Orr won the Class 4A, Class 3A and Class 2A titles, respectively, last March.
Orr and Morgan Park are expected to repeat this season, and Simeon, Curie and Young are the three biggest favorites in Class 4A.
Is it Orr’s turn in the city?
While Orr did break through by winning the Class 2A championship last season, there is still plenty of hunger on a team that returns virtually intact.
All of the city heavyweights — Simeon, Young, Curie, Bogan, Morgan Park, Farragut and North Lawndale — have won a Public League championship. The lone power missing from that list is Orr, which has yet to reach a city title game.
South- suburban struggles
For decades, the south suburbs have been a hotbed for high school basketball. Thornton, Thornwood, Hillcrest, Homewood- Flossmoor, Bloom and Marian Catholic have been in the headlines and taken their turns as ranked teams in recent years.
This year, not one of those aforementioned south- suburban powers will be ranked in Michael O’Brien’s preseason Super 25 rankings.
The lone south- suburban school ranked in the preseason Super 25 will be Lincoln- Way East, a program still in search of its first regional championship.
Individually, there is only one player from the south suburbs — Lincoln- Way East’s Sam Shafer — ranked among the City/ Suburban Hoops Report’s top 50 prospects in the Class of 2018.
Battle for No. 1 in Class of 2020
Here’s what you need to know about Morgan Park’s Adam Miller and Fenwick’s D. J. Steward: The sophomores are absurdly gifted talents who play for highly ranked teams and are ranked among the top 30 prospects in the country.
Watching their development will be a fun sidebar to how their respective teams fare this season. Miller andMorgan Park will square off against Steward and Fenwick in the When Sides Collide Shootout on Jan. 20 at Glenbard East.
Hinsdale South’s Zion Griffin and Corliss’ George Conditt are the No. 3- and No. 4- ranked players in the senior class, but a majority of high school basketball fans never have seen either play.
Niles North and Romeoville are preseason top- 10 teams with big expectations.
Yes, there are some fresh, new faces this season — individually and from a team standpoint.
The Upstate Eight River race
The Upstate Eight’s River Division will be impossible to ignore, with balance up and down the conference.
It starts with a pair of ranked teams in Larkin and St. Charles East and continues with Geneva, which has won 105 games in the last four seasons, St. CharlesNorth and Batavia.
When you factor in the rivalries and proximity of the schools, there won’t be a conference race that will be more entertaining this winter.
Fenwick’s D. J. Steward ( shown in action last season) is one of the top sophomores in the country.