Some things to pon­der as sea­son nears

Chicago Sun-Times - - HIGHSCHOOLBASKETBALL - Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ joe­hoop­sre­port. JOE HENRICKSEN

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.

New faces

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.

| WORSOM ROBIN­SON/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES

Fen­wick’s D. J. Stew­ard ( shown in ac­tion last sea­son) is one of the top sopho­mores in the coun­try.

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