Ready to Rumble
A look at the top teams in the Windy City.
Breakdown: When Lamont Bryant took the Hyde Park job, he brought with him a vision of success that he’s carried with him his entire career. Following the departure of former Hyde Park head coach Donnie Kirksey, a current assistant coach at the University of Illinois-Chicago, coach Bryant wanted to build upon the recent success of the Thunderbirds. He took his team from a respectable group to a force in the Chicago Public League in barely even a month. Junior big men 6-6 Moshown Thomas and 6-7 Juwan Savage both made the switch over from Bogan, and 6-2 sophomore point guard Marcus Smith decided to leave Mount Carmel in favor of Hyde Park. The best part: the three transfers showed up at Hyde Park’s front door without any recruiting done by Bryant. “I don’t recruit. I’ve never recruited in my life,” coach Bryant explained. “The kids who transferred here came for their own personal reasons. My goal is to make these kids buy into my rules and my rules only. I’m not going to meet them half way because I’ve been around this game long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. I think if my kids buy into what I’m trying to do, we won’t have any excuses not to excel.”
Bryant brings back an ultra-talented squad to compliment his new acquisitions. 6-0 junior combo guard Kyle Davis has garnered a lot of attention from some major division one colleges as of late. Davis ranks as one of the best defenders in the Class of 2013 in Illinois and absolutely harasses any player he is assigned to guard. Hyde Park’s success will be determined on how well the new players can gel with the rest of the team. They may get off to a slow start with all the new pieces, but look for this team to be a dark horse in the CPL playoffs come February.
Team MVP: Kyle Davis. Davis is the heart and soul of this team. He brings a different level of toughness to this group and plays hard every minute of the game.
Surprise Player: Marcus Smith. Smith was buried behind current University of Illinois freshmen Tracy Abrams last season and spent most of his year on the varsity bench. But Smith is a tall point guard with a tight handle and can get to the rim at will. When Smith’s outside jump shot is falling, watch out.
Breakdown: Back in 1991, Proviso East took the Illinois AA state championship title back home to Maywood. Michael Finley, Sherrel Ford (assistant coach), and Donnie Boyce led the Pirates that season and were dubbed “The Three Amigos.” Donnie Boyce decided that he wanted to bring back the winning culture at Proviso East and accepted the head coaching position this offseason. “It’s a dream job for me,” explained coach Boyce. “This is the only job I could accept. This is where it all started for me. I need to give back to my community. I want to help further these player’s careers along like the former Proviso East guys did for me growing up.”
Boyce inherits a loaded roster filled with an immense amount of talented guards. 6-4 junior wing Sterling Brown, brother of current L.A. Lakers’ guard Shannon (wait, I forgot. There isn’t going to be a season this year…) and former University of Illinois guard Dee, will be a catalyst for the Pirates this season. 6-0 senior point guard Keith Carter can be one of the most exciting players in Illinois to watch when he turns his intensity up a few notches. His floor vision exceeds that of most guards in the state, and he can really attack the rim well for his size. 5-10 guard Paris Burns, a transfer from Curie, should be a difference maker for the Pirates as well. 6-0 PG Paris Lee, a player coach Boyce refers to as a “throwback floor general”, plays with an extremely high basketball IQ and is a coaches dream on the court. Rounding out the loaded backcourt is 6-0 guard Brandon Jenkins. Off pure offensive talent alone, Jenkins may possess the most firepower on the Pirates. His dedication to the defensive end will tell how successful he ends up, but his talent is undeniable. 6-5 big man Trashaun Carroll will bring the low post presence Proviso East desperately needs in order to make a run down to Peoria. His aggressiveness and tenacity will demand the paint and negate some of the height difference the Pirates will see throughout the year. Coach Boyce feels that if his kids buy into his defensive-minded system, they will experience levels of success that haven’t been reached in a long, long time in Maywood.
“If these guys buy into the system, they will see the Proviso East tradition where we hang out hat on defense,” claimed coach Boyce. “I want to help bring back our tradition of every player locking up defensively and playing tough, hard nosed basketball for four quarters.”
Team MVP: Flip of a coin between Sterling Brown and Keith Carter. Heads-Sterling, Tails-Keith… heads. Going with Sterling (I actually did flip the coin for those who were wondering).
Surprise Player: I had an extremely tough time here deciding between Paris Burns and Brandon Jenkins. So, I wimped out on the pick and asked coach Boyce what his thoughts on the matter were. He also had a tough time deciding, but eventually went with Paris Burns because of his recent switch to Proviso East from Curie. “Paris doesn’t get a whole lot of hype due to him transferring in, but he is as dynamic of a player as we have,” an emphatic coach Boyce stated. “ Once people really get a chance to see him play and see his skill set, ability, and personality, fans are going to fall in love with him.”
Breakdown: Any time a team has a player of Cliff Alexander’s caliber, they automatically jump into consideration for state title contention. Alexander, a 6-9 monster sophomore big man, looks more like a 25-year-old man than a 16-year-old kid. He rebounds the basketball as well as any player in the country and has tremendous vision with the basketball in his hands. He can make cross-court passes from the post in the blink of an eye, leaving opposing defenses always on their toes. He dunks everything in sight and is improving his post game daily. Fellow sophomore big man Detalion Jackson will help out Alexander down low. The 6-9 Jackson has a wide frame, blocks shots with ease, and can rebound the ball well in traffic. Curie’s backcourt may be as deep as any in the entire state. 6-0 senior Malcolm Hill-Bey decided to transfer over from Mount Carmel to join his good friend Devin Foster, a fellow 6-0 senior guard, in their quest for a city championship. Hill-Bey handles the ball like a yoyo on a string and brings a flashy, exciting style of play to Curie. Fellow senior guard Jibreel Jackson is an athletic guard who can really get out to defend the perimeter. 6-1 junior sharpshooter Marcellis Davis transferred in from Hyde Park and will bring a new dimension to Curie. If the Condors guards step up to the plate this season, Curie has a legitimate chance at contending for a city title.
Team MVP: Cliff Alexander. If Cliff starts this season where he left off the AAU season, he will make his mark as a top-10 player in the country for the Class of 2014.
Surprise Player: Joseph Stamps. After a 63-point performance in an AAU game this past summer, people have begun to take notice of Stamps. The 6-2 guard shoots the ball at an extremely high level and handles the ball with ease. The Curie staff considers him the best defender in their program as well. Look for Stamps to emerge as one of the better talents in the Class of 2014 in Illinois.
Notable Freshman: Joshua Stamps. The brother of sophomore Joseph Stamps, Josh simply makes things happen on the court. He isn’t a very flashy player but always gets the job done. He, like his brother, can really shoot the basketball. This 6-3 freshman guard should prove to be a great college prospect down the road.