It’s still early in the season, but the cream is beginning to rise to the top for area players and teams. Here are a few highlights that have caught our eye so far in 2016-17:
Curie and Simeon are really good, again.
The Curie Condors have started off hot in early December. At the Chicago Elite Classic, the Condors topped a tough East St Louis team led by five-star Illinois commit Jeremiah Tilmon, before heading to Kentucky and topping reigning 3A champs Belleville Althoff and Jordan Goodwin. Curie’s hot start has attracted national attention, earning the Condors a spot in USA Today’s national rankings. Elijah Joiner was the star in Curie’s win over Althoff with 31 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. The senior Tulsa commit is already making a case for City player of the year.
Simeon is also off to a hot start, topping nationally ranked Gonzaga (D.C.) at the Chicago Elite Classic and city rival Brooks earlier this week. That hot start has shot the Wolverines up to no. 11 in the USA Today national rankings. Simeon’s experienced backcourt of Evan Gilyard and Kezo Brown is one of the best in the state, but it’s been the star play of junior Talen Horton-Tucker that’s been most notable so far this season. The 6’4″ versatile wing had 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead Simeon over Gonzaga. Set for a breakout year following the graduation of Zach Norvell and Ben Coupet, Horton-Tucker is also picking up interest from high-major college programs:
Fenwick vs Oak Park River Forest is fun.
The highlight of Friday night’s action at the Chicago Elite Classic was Fenwick vs. OPRF. The last game of the night saw student sections from both schools pill into the UIC Pavilion. The result was a high energy game that wen’t back-and-forth all the way to overtime, before Jacob Keller led the Friars to the win. Since the start of the Chicago Elite Classic, the event has been known for attracting some of the best high school programs in the country (including Gonzaga and Montverde this year), but not for intense rivalries and big student sections. This game was a welcome exception that resulted in a thrilling high school game.
The jury is still out on Morgan Park
There’s no doubt that Morgan Park is good. Led by Ayo Dosunmu, one of the top juniors in the country, the Mustangs are a talented bunch. The question is, are they good enough to compete with Curie and Simeon for a city title? The loss of Charlie Moore to graduation leaves a big whole to fill, but thus far Morgan Park has passed early tests against Detroit Western (in Detroit) and Chicago rival Bogan on its way to a 3-0 start. Thus far, the Mustangs have filled helped fill the void left by Moore with a platoon of talented younger players, including freshman Nimari Burnett. If those younger players can mature quickly and gel together around star Ayo Dosunmu, Nick Irvin and co. could be primed for another electric season.