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Basketball Tue Dec 04 2012

Whitney Young and Simeon Salvage Elite Classic for Chicago

php8t2PxBAM.jpgAfter the first session of Saturday's Chicago Elite Classic -- billed as "Chicago vs. The Nation" -- things seemed lopsided in favor of the visitors. Then Whitney Young and Simeon took the floor for the night games and all was well.

The city's two top-ranked teams dominated the final session in front of a big crowd at UIC Pavilion. Whitney Young's 72-58 beat-down of DeMatha Catholic (Md.) in the first game wasn't expected. Junior Jahlil Okafor -- a unanimous top-five player nationally -- had his way with DeMatha senior and North Carolina State commit BeeJay Anya, notching 34 points and 9 rebounds. Simeon had no trouble with defending Georgia state champion Milton, downing them 56-35. Though the big story was the unexpected return of senior Jabari Parker, who looked understandably sluggish and rusty in just 10 minutes of play, senior Illinois commits Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn filled the highlight reel for Simeon.

But Chicago-area teams did not fare so well earlier in the day. Proviso East, playing without suspended senior Sterling Brown, was crushed 84-46 by Utah power Lone Peak, whose trio of Brigham Young commits put on a show, nailing deep threes and throwing alley-oops at will. The other two "Chicago vs. The Nation" match-ups were much closer. St. Joseph struggled to establish a rhythm, but still kept it close in their 65-55 loss to national powerhouse Mater Dei (Ca.). And Normal U-High -- a bit of a stretch to call them Chicago-area, yes -- had a chance to tie their game against St. Vincent-St. Mary (Oh.) at the end of regulation, but Keita Bates-Diop's three missed off the front rim.

So what was learned on Saturday? Well, Whitney Young is very good. Simeon, too, though they won't have a full-strength Jabari Parker until January. More importantly, we learned that it is possible to get some of the nation's best teams to come to a high-class event in Chicago. Hopefully this isn't just a one-year thing.

Photo by Chicago Tribune/Nuccio DiNuzzo

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