Boys Basketball: Holiday tournament previewJabari Parker of Simeon gets a shot off over Young's Paul White. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Updated: December 24, 2011 12:08PM
It isn’t Young or Proviso East that Simeon phenom Jabari Parker thinks is the Wolverines’ top rival this season—it’s Warren.
“They were on my mind for the whole summer,” Parker said in the preseason. “That’s going to be the number one team we need to beat to reach our main goal. They have a lot of people coming back. They are coming in very strong, I just hope that we can compete with them.”
The Simeon-Warren rivalry began during the Derrick Rose years and has grown since. Last season the Wolverines beat Warren in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament title game and the state title game.
“This year before we get to Pontiac we will have played six or seven games instead of two or three games,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said before the season. “That will be huge for us. Warren has the bulk of their team back, [Coach Chuck Ramsey] does a great job. We will have our work cut out playing them, they have size and even the guards are big. It’s always been a good game, always comes down to that last minute or two and who makes the plays. So far we have made the plays and hopefully that continues.”
The Pontiac Holiday Tournament is older than March Madness, older than the NBA and the Super Bowl or most any non-baseball or college football event you can think of. The tournament has a long and storied history, but this 81st edition ranks among the best ever.
It features Parker, who many scouts consider the top amateur player in the country, and a host of top-notch teams, including Parker’s Wolverines, Curie, Warren, Peoria Manual, Joliet West, Waukegan, West Aurora and Oak Park. Curie soph Cliff Alexander has a chance to develop into a possible NBA first round pick—that’s two possible first round picks in one holiday tournament.
Simeon is the heavy favorite, but the Wolverines have a very challenging road to the title, including a possible semi-final matchup with Peoria Manual, the top-ranked team in Class 3A. Warren or Curie will likely be waiting in the final, two teams that the Wolverines are very familiar with, and two teams that won’t be intimidated by them.
PROVISO WEST: The local excitement surrounds undefeated Proviso East, led by point guard Keith Carter and Sterling Brown. Carter may not be the best point guard in the tournament however, as Rockford Auburn’s Fred Van Vleet is considered a possible Mr. Basketball contender. Van Vleet, a Wichita State recruit, could meet up with Proviso East and carter in the semifinals. The Pirates are the favorites, but experienced squads from New Trier, Hillcrest and Homewood-Flossmoor have the firepower to knock them off.
MCDIPPER: All signs point to a possible title game featuring unbeaten teams: Seton and Bloom. Crete-Monee has the talent to crash the party though, the Warriors are back at full strength and have only one loss since point guard Michael Orris, an Illinois recruit, returned from injury. The Bolingbrook vs. Marian Catholic first round game showcases two interesting young talents, Marian soph Tyler Ulis and Raiders freshman Prentiss Nixon.
HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT PRIMER
Favorite: North Chicago
No. 1 contender: North Lawndale
Dark horse: Oswego
Best player: North Chicago’s Aaron Simpson
Keep an eye on: Normal U-High’s Keita Bates-Diop
No. 1 contender: Bloom
Dark horse: Crete-Monee
Best player: Crete-Monee’s Michael Orris
Keep an eye on: Marian Catholic’s Tyler Ulis
Favorite: Springfield Lanphier
No. 1 contender: Plainfield East
Dark horse: Washington, Ill.
Best player: Lanphier’s Everette Clemons
Keep an eye on: Pekin’s Nate Taphorn
No. 1 contender: Warren
Dark horse: Peoria Manual
Best player: Simeon’s Jabari Parker
Keep an eye on: Joliet West’s Marlon Johnson
Favorite: Proviso East
No. 1 contender: Homewood-Flossmoor
Dark horse: Hillcrest
Best player: Rockford Auburn’s Fred Van Vleet
Keep an eye on: Brooks’ Erick Locke
No. 1 contender: Notre Dame
Dark horse: Lake Park
Best player: Prospect’s Mike LaTulip
Keep an eye on: Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson
Favorite: De La Salle
No. 1 contender: Downers South
Dark horse: St. Ignatius
Best player: Downers South’s Jerron Wilbut
Keep an eye on: Waubonsie Valley’s Jared Brownridge
Favorite: Metea Valley
No. 1 contender: Schaumburg
Dark horse: Providence
Best player: Brock Benson, Hinsdale South
Keep an eye on: Tyrone Terrell, Eisenhower
No. 1 contender: Ridgewood
Dark horse: Lemont
Best player: Crane’s Willie Conner
Keep an eye on: Crane’s Issaiah Hayes