National teams display basketball skills at Chicago Elite Classic

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THE 2019 Chicago Elite Classic game held the weekend of December 9, shows the fan support teams received this year. (Photo by Joseph Phillips)

Chicago Public Schools in collaboration with NIKE Chicago and several sponsors, hosted the 2019 Chicago Elite Classic Friday December 6, and Saturday December 7, at Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago.

Now in its eighth season, the event featured some of the top high school basketball players in the nation.

“The biggest thing is that we get to showcase Chicago,” said Robert Smith, head coach of the Simeon Wolverines and co-founder of the event, about the rich history of the Chicago Elite Classic.

“Coach (Tyrone) Slaughter and I would attend these other tournaments outside the city and realized we could do this for Chicago. We get to showcase Chicago for what it’s really worth, not just for what people see on TV.”

Coach Smith expressed his views and love for the annual Classic during an exclusive NIKE pregame press conference held for the media Friday, December 6, at Wintrust Arena.

Smith also shared that this year’s Classic featured top teams and players from Pace High School in Atlanta, St.Frances High School in Baltimore, Duncanville High School in Texas and Vashon High School out of St. Louis.

“We get to show them our beautiful downtown and businesses,” said Smith. “We are grateful to our staff because they really are the ones that make this thing go. They are top notch. Knowing that they are volunteers means a lot. They had kids who attended these Chicago public schools. They could have moved on when their children graduated but they didn’t, and we are grateful for them.”

Smith believes the Classic was something needed for the city prior to the holidays and that it happened at the right time.

“People are looking forward to this (year’s) Classic,” said Smith. “We are working to make it one of the premier tournaments in the country.”

The Chicago Elite Classic featured the State of Illinois Top 5 recruits: DJ Steward, a 6’2” point guard out of Whitney Young High School (who will attend Duke University in the fall of 2020 on a full scholarship offer), Adam Miller, a 6’4” point guard from Morgan Park High School (who will play for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini next fall), Keshawn Williams, a 6’3” shooting guard from Bloom High School (who will attend Tulsa University in the Fall of 2020), Isaiah Rivera, a 6’4” small forward out of Geneseo High School (a current Colorado State University commit), and Martice Mitchell, a 6’9” center from Bloom High School (who will attend the University of Minnesota in the Fall of 2020).

BIG GAME MATCH UPS AND SCORES OVER THE WEEKEND:

Throughout the weekend, a wide range of highly ranked outer-state and interstate-ranked teams faced off against each other, including Baltimore St. Frances, MD upsetting Simeon 61-57, Bloom defeating Atlanta Pace, GA 84-54, Duncanville, TX defeating Young 57-55, Lincoln Park edging Kenwood 49-48, and Morgan Park closing out the night with a 73-72 win over St. Louis Christian Brothers, MO.

Other scores earlier in the tournament, Evanston defeated Notre Dame 62-53, Fenwick upset Oak Park-River Forest 55-48, Lane defeated New Trier 57-47, and Homewood Flossmoor girls basketball team edged Simeon 50-49.

According to the organization’s mission statement, the Chicago Elite Classic (CEC) is the premier high school basketball showcase in Illinois, co-founded by two of Illinois’ perennial basketball powerhouses Whitney Young and Simeon Career Academy.

The event showcases nationally ranked teams from throughout the country and utilizes basketball to promote and encourage a champions in life message.

The theme for the 2019 Chicago Elite Classic was “Be What Chicago’s Famous For,” part of a NIKE campaign airing through several ads and TV commercials across the city of Chicago.

The group donated brand new state of the art uniforms that were worn by the players from Simeon, Whitney Young, and Morgan Park.

They were also supplied with a pair of new “Kyrie Irving 6’s,” an athletic shoe designed by NIKE.

Chicago Crusader Players of The Game:

Dante Maddox Jr., Bloom (IL), three first quarter three-pointers, 30 points.

Caleb Love, Christian Brothers (MO), 26 points

Brandon Weston, Morgan Park (IL), 25 points.

Darnell King, Kenwood (IL), 23 points.

DJ Steward, Whitney Young (IL), 21 points.

Ahamad Bynum, Simeon (IL), 21 points.

Adam Miller, Morgan Park (IL), 21 points.

Joseph R. Phillips is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 15 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q & A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at sports@chicagocrusader.com.

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