By Sean Moran
The third edition of the Chicago Elite Classic took place over a two day span this past weekend at the University of Illinois-Chicago. While the event did not have the star wattage like it did in the past (Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson, Cliff Alexander, Tyler Ulis, Stephen Zimmerman, Chase Jeter, etc) there were many high major division one players in attendance.
Rawle Alkins, 6’5”, G/F, Christ the King (NY), 2016
The next New York superstar? Rawle Alkins certainly played like it on Saturday night. He dominated all parts of the game as he led Christ the King to an 87-56 blowout over the local St. Rita squad. Both Catholic schools battled hard in the first quarter, but Alkins helped turn the game into a blowout with a 28 point, seven assist, six rebound, and five steal performance. The powerful wing scored in a variety of ways. He buried deep three’s (finishing with four on the night), threw down powerful dunks, and finished with contact in the lane. Minus a brief stretch in the second quarter when Alkins got a bit out of control, he was a man amongst boys. He finished 11-16 from the floor and fed teammates on the break and in the half-court set for easy baskets. Built like Lance Stephenson, Alkins had no problem showing off his New York style when matched up with Kentucky bound guard Charles Matthews. Catching the ball on the left wing, Alkins gave Matthews a few moves before ducking his right shoulder and finishing in the lane. Alkins is currently ranked No. 31 in the junior class by Scout.com, but his stock is set to rise.
Simeon, a Chicago public league power lost in sectional play last year after winning four straight Illinois state championships with Jabari Parker. The Wolverines were young last year, but now the team returns in full and looks to reclaim its title as the top team in the state. As one of the two hosts (Whitney Young was the other) of the tournament Simeon played in the Saturday nightcap against big man Elijah Thomas and Lancaster, one of the top teams from Texas. It was a competitive game for three quarters, but the overwhelming depth of Simeon wore Lancaster down and ran away in the fourth quarter with an 87-72 victory. Simeon starts three seniors headed to Big 10 schools in DJ Williams (Illinois), Ed Morrow (Nebraska), and Isaiah Moss (Iowa) in addition to two talented juniors in Zach Norvell and Ben Coupet. Off the bench, Simeon first brought a “platoon” of five younger players in with talented freshman Kezo Brown running the show in a smooth and steady fashion. Simeon will face some tough competition in the future in Morgan Park (IL) and Bishop Gorman (NV), but they passed their first test with ease in the Classic.
Ed Morrow, 6’7”, PF, Simeon (IL), 2015, Nebraska
A “no frills” big man, Simeon’s power forward Ed Morrow stole the show despite facing the more highly touted Elijah Thomas. The future Cornhusker finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and five blocks. He showed a solid pair of hands down low and threw down numerous two hand dunks throughout the game. More than just a dunker, Morrow also impressed with his mid-range game. Last year Morrow held future top draft pick Jahlil Okafor in check and this year he did the same with Thomas. Morrow is only rated as a three-star recruit, but he will have an impact at Nebraska as soon as he steps on campus. In a few years, observers will wonder where the respect was for Simeon’s big man.
Zach Norvell, 6’3”, SG, Simeon (IL), 2016
The smooth shooting lefty guard started the game off by hitting a three and stayed hot throughout finishing with 18 points. Norvell did damage last year as a sophomore and is Simeon’s main threat from the perimeter. He never went on his own personal scoring run as Norvell managed to score consistently throughout the game. In addition to his 18 points, he also added six rebounds and four assists.
Frank Jackson, 6’3”, G, Lone Peak (UT), 2016
The 2014-15 version of Lone Peak looked just a tad different than the last Lone Peak squad that came out to Chicago for the Classic. In 2012, Lone Peak featured three stars in Nick Emery, TJ Haws, and Eric Mika. This year, junior guard Frank Jackson ran the show with some help from sophomore Christian Popoola. In a close overtime loss, Jackson finished with 28 points and seven rebounds. He was able to power his way to the basket with his size and strength and also hit several three’s after a slow start in the first quarter. Jackson de-committed from BYU in November and is a hot prospect due to his size and ball skills.
Massachusetts bound, Luwane Pipkins struggled with his outside shot all game against Lone Peak but still had the confidence to drain the game winning three point shot from the right corner. He scored 14 points on 4-17 shooting and never got in a rhythm, but he did hit the most important shot of the game.
While Pipkins struggled for Bogan, senior 5’9” guard Tom Johnson picked up the slack scoring 15 points.
Rawle Alkins was the star for Christ the King, but Tyrone Cohen was also impressive scoring 22 points. The 6’3” junior guard scored from inside and outside the arc and also ran the floor with ease on the fast break.
Kentucky bound Charles Matthews scored 16 points for St. Rita in a loss, but struggled with his shot shooting below 40% for the game. In the second half he connected on two three’s from the right wing, but missed a handful of others and never really impacted the game as expected. When Matthews is able to step into his jump shot and elevate properly his shot looks good, but more often than not the ball either falls short or is all over the rim.
Elijah Thomas was the attraction for Lancaster, but he struggled to impact the game and was saddled with foul trouble throughout. Point guard Deon Barrett used his speed to get to the basket and kick out to teammates on the wing. 5’7” guard Dominique Fobbs came off the bench and hit 7 out 10 three’s on the game. Also, senior guard Antwon Portley showcased a nice skill-set hitting several three’s and using his length to finish down low.
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