Tonight and tomorrow Chicago gets to do something it has been able to do quite often in the last several years — be a center-point for the consciousness of high school basketball in America.
Still the current home of the McDonald’s All-American Games, which in all-star fashion bring together the very best boy and girl players at the prep level, Chicago handles the title well, as it does in producing at least several nationally-ranked individuals every year from the city’s Public and Catholic Leagues as well as the greater suburbs.
Alongside the proving grounds of national exhibitions and day-to-day competition there’s also the weekend showcase and/or tournament, as regular a sign of the coming of December as Christmas carols and blockbuster online sales.
As far as weekend showcases go, the Chicago Elite Classic is as good as they get. Established in 2012, the CEC celebrates its fifth year this weekend at its home, the UIC Pavillion, and as it has every year it welcomes several of the best teams in the nation all featuring future big time college players and certified NBA prospects playing in their most natural environments alongside the guys they’re most familiar with.
But offsetting the familiarity of stars repping the schools they go to every day is the match-ups themselves, many acting as certified dream clashes for those who follow top high school recruits.
Given that its still early in the high school basketball season as well, everyone is out on the court with something to prove, an unproven narrative that still needs defining.
With the CEC, Chicago gets to celebrate one of its most home-grown cultures — basketball — while welcoming the attention of that culture on a level where energy trumps ennui and possibility overtakes pessimism. Nobody’s conserving anything this weekend and don’t expect anything to be taken off beyond young reputations and the trajectories of a new series of outstanding basketball players.
2016 Chicago Elite Classic Schedule
Friday, Dec. 2
Loyola Academy vs. Niles Notre Dame — 6:00 p.m.
Curie vs. East St. Louis — 7:30 p.m.
Oak Park-River Forest vs. Fenwick — 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3
Orr vs. Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) — 10:30 a.m.
Uplift vs. Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) — 12 noon
U-High vs. Hyde Park — 1:30 p.m.
Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kan.) vs. Gray Collegiate (West Columbia, S.C.) — 3:00 p.m.
Joliet West vs. North Lawndale — 4:30 p.m.
Evanston vs. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) — 6:00 p.m.
Simeon vs. Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.) — 7:30 p.m.
Young vs. Kenwood — 9:00 p.m.
*Bold = Chicago city schools
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