Here are the top 10 storylines of the year in area high school boys basketball.
1. The final page: Since committing to Illinois as a freshman, Jereme Richmond became one of the most touted and scrutinized players in the state’s history. His every move on and off the court was dissected. In 2010, he put the final touches on his storied high school career, and he didn’t disappoint, leading Waukegan downstate again while averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three blocks and one steal. His season earned him the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award and Mr. Basketball.
2. Unknown to well-known: A year ago, 6-foot-10 forward Anthony Davis was known as a basketball star among the few hundred students at Perspectives High School. Today, he’s a star to the whole country. Davis' stock rose dramatically from the end of his junior high school season to the start of his senior year. In between, he played his first club basketball since grammar school, dominated from coast to coast, was offered by nearly every high-major school, signed with Kentucky and was ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2011 by ESPN.
3. Simeon is still Simeon: Three years after winning its last state championship with Derrick Rose, Simeon again was on top of the Illinois high school basketball world in 2010. The Wolverines won the Class 4A state championship in March, have been dominant so far this season as the No. 1 team in the state and earlier this week won another Pontiac Holiday Tournament title. Sophomore Jabari Parker could be the program’s next pro.
4. The rise of Benet: In the past year, Benet won its first regional since 2005, its first sectional since 1983, pushed state champion Simeon to the brink in the super-sectionals, had two players sign with Big Ten programs (David Sobolewski to Northwestern and Frank Kaminsky to Wisconsin) and just recently won the historic Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Entering 2011, the Redwings are 14-0 and appear again to be Simeon’s greatest challenger.
5. Wayne’s world: Morgan Park star Wayne Blackshear had plenty of moments throughout 2010, but none was bigger than in the Public League championship. With his team down by one, he hit a game-winning runner over a Marshall defender in the final seconds to lift the Mustangs to the title. Afterward Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said, “Wayne Blackshear is a bad man.”
6. Chi-town is Weber’s town: Illinois coach Bruce Weber snatched four highly-ranked Class of 2011 Chicago commitments, which may just be his greatest recruiting feat. Weber will bring in ESPNU Top 100 players Mount Carmel point guard Tracy Abrams, Orr small forward Mycheal Henry and De La Salle power forward Mike Shaw along with St. Ignatius center Nnanna Egwu, who is the 10th-ranked center in the country.
7. Boatright is all right: East Aurora’s Ryan Boatright may not be the most highly-ranked player in the area, but he is the most entertaining. He not only scores a massive amount of points, but he does it while putting on a show with crossovers, dunks, acrobatic jumpers and more. He was sensational against Hales in November with a stat line of 55 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals, three assists and two blocks. He scored 63 points against Proviso West earlier this month. He even ended 2010 by scoring 43 points on Dec. 30. He also added some drama to year by committing to West Virginia, de-committing shortly after and then committing to Connecticut.
8. Sign here: The Class of 2011 is considered one of the state’s best ever, and it made last month’s signing period one of the most memorable. Anthony Davis signed to Kentucky, Wayne Blackshear went to Louisville, Ryan Boatright to Connecticut, Sam Thompson to Ohio State, Illinois inked four top players and DePaul and Northwestern each grabbed two area star players.
9. No. 1 to us: Not everyone agreed with ESPNChicago.com, but we placed Hillcrest atop of our final 2009-2010 season rankings ahead of Simeon. Hillcrest won the Class 3A state championship and finished the season 31-3. The Hawks didn’t face as tough of a playoff road to their state championship, but we argued they had a better season than Simeon.
10. The battle of Vincennes: One of the most entertaining and hyped games of the year occurred just eight days in. On Jan. 8, a capacity crowd packed Simeon for its Public League Red South matchup with Morgan Park, a fellow Vincennes Avenue school. The home team pulled out a 54-48 victory, but Morgan Park got its revenge in the city playoffs. Their 2011 matchup has already been moved to a larger venue.